Relational Youth ministry and beyond

I read a brilliant article on Post-Relational Youth Ministry from the Youthworker, you should read it! It charts a history of Youth Ministry, Programme to Relational and asks the question whether this is too individualistic an approach and if we need to re-discover the whole-church approach to Youth Ministry.
“The church is the radical alternative community that is the presence of Christ on this earth. As we minister to teenagers, we believe we must settle for nothing less than this as our purpose. The church isn’t the entertaining youth program that makes God fun. Nor is it the really cool adult with whom to have a relationship. It’s a people movement. It’s a community of belonging. It’s a transformative force on our culture and in our world. It’s a place to belong and be changed into the likeness of Almighty God”
This comes at the same time as an interesting article by Pete on the teaching of Paul and the life of Jesus, wondering if currently we are re-looking so closely at Jesus as a pattern for ministry that we overlook major Pauline sections of the new testament. Conrad Gempf has responded to this article as he is proposing a book called (and I like the title) “How to like Paul again”
This raises some interesting questions for me, a lot of our youth ministry happens in a way that is isolated from the main church, volunteers and employed workers are encouraged to go away and do it. However even if we disagree with this as a model, it’s a very pragmatic approach given that Church really isn’t where young people are at. We’re back to my old battle cry of “getting church more involved in young people and young people more involved in Church”
I’m left with a bit of a chicken and an egg conundrum though: Until young people are really involved in Church its not going to change but until it changes young people are not going to enagage with it.
Any thoughts on a Whole Church approach to youth ministry? ….

4 Replies to “Relational Youth ministry and beyond”

  1. I think the dilemo posed raises difficult questions. Ones that im not in a position to answer!! For me as a community youth worker with the task of engaging with young people who are both unchurched and possibly “unchurchable” i have to work from the premis that the young people i work with and the church set up are so far apart that an incarnational approach is teh only place to start. there is very little benefit in working from a church groeth perspective, the yp are not going to be intergrated within the current set up so either the church has to change its model and approach or we need to develop a new form of church which does “work” for them. For me personally i favour the doing mission and developing church out of that rather thandoing mission to bring them into existing models. I suppose some might call that a plant. I hope that as a brand new thing developsthe 2 will gradual develop a closer relationship over time, but in the mean time if i don’t work this way then the yp of my area will continue to be “outhere” and not part of Gods kingdom.

  2. Kinda fits into the emerging Church debate too. Also it depends on which particular yps – ‘Churched’ yps have a better chace of being able to integrate into into an established Church whereas ones from an unchurced background are really going to struggle with all the cultural packaging. (See above comment!)There is also the question of specific interst based Churches, like ‘youth church,’ and the questions this poses about what the body of Christ is meant to look like etc etc. Knobbly knees?
    Sorry, no answers, just more questions. I suppose the Church is God’s and he’ll do with it as he sees best. Good job.

  3. David
    Thanks so much for your thoughts, I think the point about being “unchurchable” in the sense of what the church currently culturally is, is absolutely right.
    We have to be incarnational! But maybe the question is how can we get more Church people to be where the young people are so we can still communicate/be/live community and become Church? And sadly I have no answers. I hope though that there can be some thinking outside of the box so that it’s not assumed that “the building and the service” is all that Church is. I take as a small encouragment that new expressions of church based on mission within cultures is happening.
    I’m also encouraged, David, by projects such as the one that you are part of!
    I wonder what Church historians will say about this period?

  4. “Whole church youth ministry” – shouldn’t that just be called “church”?
    Seems the “seperate the youth & children” thing started with the Victorians – and it didn’t work for them either! They too found a gap between youthwork (Sunday school) and “real church”.

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