4 Views of Youth Ministry and the Church

4 Views of Youth Ministry and the Church

YOUTH AND COMMUNITY

If you are involved in youth ministry, by this I mean working with young people by means of the church context, then how would you describe your ministry?

In this book, Mark Senter (ed) draws alongside three other highly experienced individuals from the field of youth ministry (Wesley Black, Malan Nel & Chap Clark) from across the world, to present four different views of the purpose of youth ministry. Each view is formed by whether the emphasis is on building leaders in the church (fellowship) or evangelism (mission) and whether it is for the purposes of the here and now or for the future. The four views that they refer to are summarised as follows:

• Fellowship now (Inclusive Congregational Approach)
Focusses on how we can be more inclusive of young people within the practices of the church in order that they are not merely an add-on, but that they are an integral part of the church body.

• Mission now (The Missional Approach)
Using responsible evangelism to disciple young people into church.

• Fellowship in the future (The Preparatory Approach)
This is an approach by which we are discipling and training our young people into being the leaders of the Church in the future and giving them foretastes of this now (e.g. youth-led services).

• Mission in the future (The Strategic Approach)
This view sees the youth group as an offshoot of the church that itself could become a church plant.

Whilst I would argue that these four views are not comprehensive and that each one is a caricature of a particular approach, there may still be some value in considering whether our youth ministry is closer to one or other of these approaches and indeed whether that is also the view of the church leadership. If we have been taking a preparatory approach and providing young people with more opportunities to lead, but they are not getting such opportunities in Church services, then this could be a source of frustration. Likewise, if our ministry is focussed upon the strategic approach and creating a new ministry, but the church’s emphasis is on an inclusive congregational approach, then there clearly needs to be a conversation about expectations.
One of the biggest issues that I see in relation to youth ministry is that the Church leadership and those involved in youth ministry do not spend time discussing their expectation. If we do not discuss these expectations and the merits of different approaches then we end up seeing frustrated congregations, youth ministers and young people.

Graeme McMeekin
Vice Principal Scottish School of Christian Mission

Universal Youth Work

Universal Youth Work

YOUTH AND COMMUNITY

In theological terms, the subject of universalism (the theological principle that ‘all will be saved’ rather than an elect) has been a hotly debated issue in evangelical church circles, however within youth work, universalism has a very different meaning and has not been as well discussed within the Church.
Universal youth work are interventions that are open, at least in principle, to all young people and not targeted at specific participants, although in many cases the activities may only appeal to particular participants.

The Edinburgh Youth Work consortium in partnership with the University of Edinburgh have recently been doing some work on this subject (goo.gl/yit6SN) and write:

“It is widely argued that universal youth work provision exists on a spectrum moving from open access work with an equally open purpose and curriculum to a pre-determined focus on specific intervention outcomes. That said, it is important to recognise that in reality much provision lies somewhere on a spectrum. Similarly, provision that is universal in principle may in reality target specific groups, whether this targeting is tacit, implicit or otherwise.”

For Christians engaged in youth work or youth ministry done in and on behalf of the church, we ought to consider to what extent is our work universal or targeted. If we don’t have a clear target group then does that mean that the services we offer become so generic that it doesn’t help any of them to grow and develop? The flip side is that that by targeting our work, we are at risk of becoming an exclusive group.
For many engaged in youth ministry, there is a tendency to have a universal approach to outreach activities with more targeted activities focusing around discipleship and spiritual development for those who have made a decision to become a Christian, however perhaps we need to re-think how we do this and whether our discipleship can be done in a new and fresh way that is not just targeting those that have made a decision but also those who may simply be enquiring at this stage.

Graeme McMeekin
Vice Principal Scottish School of Christian Mission

The (contemporary) theological library

The (contemporary) theological library

Library

The changing nature of how education is delivered has been creating a set of new and complex challenges for those delivering library services and managing library spaces.

The libraries of the 21st century can no longer be familiar repositories for books. They should be changed and expanded, be rethought and redesigned. Libraries should now provide an increasing range of different services, using a multitude of media, and attempt to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Social trends underwrite the need to review what a library should be in terms of physical space and the historic library atmosphere of hushed silence is no longer appropriate in a culture of dynamic learning and social interaction. A library should be a neutral place that plays a distinct role in collective culture where different age, social and cultural groups with differing needs come into contact.

The Grogan Library aims to:
• Build and preserve a library collection with a breadth and depth of subjects, religious and theological perspectives.
• Raise awareness of responses to contemporary social issues from a faith perspective.
• Provide access to a specialised resource base on Christian theology and practice, particularly its role in local, national and international mission.
• Promote research, learning and education regarding Scotland’s Christian heritage.

Meeting these objectives will be done through the modernising of library service delivery and updates and proposals will be discussed in future blogs. It is important for libraries to encourage community collaboration when developing library services and managing related resources. Any suggestions, opinions or support/criticism can be emailed to the College Librarian.

Colin Wilson
College Librarian
Scottish School of Mission