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?

7 Replies to “Youth Ministry = Christian Youth work, discuss”

  1. excellent stuff, hope things are going well, and suprisingly enough I think I agree with you apart from
    ““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)”
    which i would agree with BUT actually its not us doing the ministry that is the issue its the perception of the secular youth work community ie our philosphy and focus should not change we shouyld be presence and proclaimatory BUT if done in a secular enviornment we would have our situation changed for us. In an interesting way the article in this months youthwork on the death of schools work adss to this, if not tangentally, ie to truely minister in a schools setting we would be both proclamatory and presence BUT we cant we woulnd t get anywhere, so what do we do?
    change our theology or go in under the radar?

  2. Maybe its about purpose and “result”. Maybe the desired “outcome” of ministry is discipleship. Its more blatant than “youthwork” which operates in a different context. Of course I can be open to God ministring through me in a statutory context and we can see Kingdom stuff happen. But calling it “ministry” get a clear focus perhaps???

  3. I need steps to go about setting up a Youth Ministry in the church. I have mission and purpose statement. This church has been in existing for 158 years and they have not been actively focusing on our young people. And there is a need to help our young people. I would like to set up a Support Team, Youth Guildelines and do age appropiate activities. But how do I get the Parents involved with working with their youth.

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