Youth Ministry = Christian Youth work, discuss

This is a recurring theme of the youthblog, “Is there a difference between Christian Youth Work and Youth Ministry?”
It’s a debate we keep having and at times I’m tempted to withdraw into an answer drawn from the “Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy” that knowing the answer precludes understanding the question and conversely, knowing the question rules out having the answer!
A further look at this has been prompted by Sudders who drawing on work by Danny Brierley wonders now if it’s a false dichotomy (the only slight difference possibly being in the concept of incarnation) and by “Betty” (I’m not sure if this is a non de plume?) putting forward this statement: “If I believe I am called by God to minister with young people my “philosophy” and focus should not change depending on the manner in which that calling is expressed!” ( i.e in a Christian or “secular” setting)
So, in essence (I think) both of the above, see Christian youth work and youth ministry as essentially the same. This has been helpful to my thinking and I can see much that makes sense in this approach. Youth work and Social work both recognise that you cannot be neutral in your approach, your beliefs, values and ethics will shape the worker that you are and therefore the work that you deliver.
“Minister” seems only to mean, “One who is authorized to perform religious functions in a Christian church, especially a Protestant church”
Christian youth workers including volunteeers are authorized in the widest sense to perform religious functions in the church, so they do minister!
That all seems quite neat and from a theoretical point of view I feel quite comfortable with
Youth ministry = Christian youth work, QED!
However I think I am still slightly dogged by the wide range of practices that I see. I guess it comes down to what you are defining ministry as, meaning that Youth Ministry and Christian Youth Work can be harmonised or been seen as different. Personally, I am still left wondering whether there is in fact a continuum that starts with Christian Youth work (by mere nature of the practitioner having a faith) and continues on to the far end, to a well developed idea of youth ministry (where ministry is a verb, ministry is an active intergrated part of work with young people). But then again, maybe I don’t understand the question?

JNC and Occupational Standards

Am going to blog again on the whole Youth Ministry vs Christian Youthwork thang. Thought it’d be good to pitch in where you can find the occupational standards if you want/haven’t got them. If you’re not up to reading 160 pages right now, this is the summary page (click to enlarge).

What a mate we have in Jesus

I’m grateful to Richard’s blog (Connexions) for pointing me in the direction of the “Hymns Modern & Ancient.” site.
Modern & Ancient.JPG
Confession time though, I actually really like (as well as finding it funny) “What a mate we have in Jesus!” Maybe it’s ‘cos I know some really cool Australian Christians, maybe its just cos I remember Christain Choruses from the 1970’s

This Church is Wicked!

Just been to the opening of THE coolest Anglican Church in the UK (I know I should save Hyperbole for when I really need it!), St Laurence in Reading. Technically it’s a re-opening because the shell of the Church has been there a long time but it now houses Church for a vibrant team of youngish volunteers and paid-team who focus on working with young people. I’ll probably end up blogging some more about this but they are doing some awesome stuff in their community through all sorts of projects and the like. Spoke to some of the young people who have become involved in the life of the Church there, “Wicked” was one observation! The one I loved though was from a seriously cool guy of about 16 or 17 who wore Gangsta bling stuff and wore it well, he said he really liked the “warm friendly environment!” …. not the phraseology I was expecting, the sentiment however came from the heart.
I said it was seriously cool .. here’s a couple of phone snaps I took. Really great fusion of the old and the new as well as being a really versatile space for worship, community and teaching.
Image (4).jpg
Image (6).jpg
Many emerging Church conversations have struggled to know how new expressions and the familiar can be bridged. It’s great to see one place where a denominational mainstream church is actually the home to a dynamic and active Christian community genuinely missionally involved in its communities. I’m too old/Anglican to use the expression, wicked, I’ll have to say, it’s ineffably-sublime!

Badgers, Mushrooms & E-bay

I’ve got that Friday feeling, the one that says, “Gooooo doooooo youthwork!” but alas I have no youthwork to do today, just college work and admin stuff!
Inevitably that has involved some high level procrastination. (Which is kind of ironic as I had intended to look at some Time-Managment stuff for my college course!). If anyone else wants a meaningless diversion then can I recommend the Badgers and the E-bay song. You can then redeem them as useful work by letting me know how you could use them in a youth work session, ok!

Youth Group T shirts

t shirt lousy.jpg There’s been a some Google searches that have found Youthblog through looking for “Youth Group T Shirts” plus a couple of people asked me how they can make them. I’ve scribbled something down which I hope will be useful! (It’s in the Youthblog Resources).
I love any ideas that build ownership and identity in a group!


My colleague and I were invited to do an informal session at a conference for Church Leaders last night. We wanted to do something fun but useful, a kind of Thinkertainment (I think I’ve just invented this term but let me know if I’m wrong!)
FieldOfDreamsBig.gif We titled the evening, “Film, Church. theology & Popcorn”
and used seven film clips (all great to watch) that resonated with questions about How we do Church and the future of the Church. For each clip we asked an “I wonder?” question.
For example, from a clip of Finding Nemo, when Dory and Marlin get directions and then face the trench, “As we look to the future, whose voices are we listening to AND whose are we ignoring?”
If you want the full list of Films and questions they are in the extended entry, oh and I’ll upload a pdf of the Pictures and questions to the Youthblog resources page.
Film montage.jpg
Anyway an interesting experiment, I hope we’ll get some feedback. I for one would value more strategic discussions that involve Popcorn!

Continue reading “Thinkertainment”

A Gender Agenda

I read with interest that the Boys Brigade are going to be holding a Ballot on whether or not to allow girls to join. The Girls Brigade were at the Youthwork conference but I heard no mention of them having corresponding plans (if you see what I mean). This sent me off into a whole realm of speculation as to the emergence of the Boys and Girls Brigade and the Girls (Not boys) Brigade. I also then tried to work out what would happen if a Boys Brigade splinter group formed that didn’t recognise the results of a yes ballot. “The Boys, Forward in Faith, Brigade” perhaps?
Seriously though! There seems to be a lot less single sex work happening and there is a massive emphasis on co-ed work. Good thing? Bad thing? Youthwork magazine once quoted a Market research company whose teenage focus groups are always composed of young people of identical age and of the same sex. The reason being that otherwise there is less honesty and too much posing and pretending! Interesting eh?
Less seriously though I remember one of my colleagues leading a discussion on the way forward for some young peoples work which was at the time divided into boys groups and girls groups. One lady realised that they may need to have a new approach and asked,
“Would it we be better then if we were bi-sexual?”