Helping your child process their test results – Kirsten Witchalls

A short helpful set of thoughts on test results by Careers Adviser, Kirsten Witchalls. Kirsten is also the wife of Alan Witchalls from Video Bible Talks – make sure you check them out!

 

I am at GCSE results day in my role of a Careers Adviser. My role is the difficult one of picking up the pieces when things haven’t gone so well.

Here’s some advice to parents based on my observations today:

  • Whatever people say about changes in grade boundaries, the new GCSE’s are much more rigorous than the old GCSE’s. These young people have been put under huge pressure to succeed, regardless of whether or not you think they have worked hard enough for them.
  • Please put aside your disappointment to focus on supporting your child who will feel the burden of not wanting to disappoint you.
  • Don’t add to their confusion by putting onto your child any prejudices you may have towards alternative qualifications.
  • Please be aware of trying to persuade your child to fulfill your unfulfilled aspirations.
  • Times have changed… apprenticeships and alternative qualifications are well respected by employers and definitely not a last option.
  • PLEASE encourage your child to plan for alternatives so they have options if things don’t go as planned!
  • At the end of the day, exams are not the only measure of success. We will all have our own stories on how we have used disappointment to shape us to be the people we are today. How you deal with this disappointment will also have an impact on your child.
Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

The difference between ‘millennials’ and ‘GenZ’. Part 2 by Jonny Price

Jonny returns to his discussion of the differences between ‘millennials’ and today’s young people (‘GenZ’) here in part 2; focusing on the differences needed in approach. If you missed part 1, you can check it out here.

 

Recently I wrote about 5 Differences between today’s young people and Millennials. In this blog I want to lay out some potential ways that we as youth workers might start to engage with some of these ideas.

1. Emphasise what we stand FOR, rather than what we are against

For decades the church has been known by those on the outside by what it is against. It is anti-science, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women and anti many other things too. Within the church this has been seen as a sign of the church being counter-cultural, or of the church standing against the tide of society for the sake of the Gospel.

Outside the church though, this has been seen as the church persecuting those who don’t conform, and, far from being counter-cultural, it has been seen as the church promoting the established culture. GenZ are intrinsically egalitarian, they are shocked at the existence of racism, sexism, or any other ism. Combine this with their lack of knowledge of the Christian faith, then they don’t know why the church is standing against those things.

But what about what we stand for? We are for redemption, for equality, for renewal, for the least and the lost. I am certainly not arguing that we should give up our markers in the sand, or that we should keep quiet about what we are against, but maybe we need to re-think or re-emphasise. Are we promoting personal holiness through individual action, or are we promoting systematic cultural change?

2. Emphasise the everyday-ness of spirituality

For a long time the idea of ‘spiritual but not religious’ has been a catch-all group for those who believe but don’t belong. While many writers argue that GenZ are neither spiritual or religious, I’m not sure that is the case. It seems that many members of GenZ are intrigued by the spiritual world, but they don’t use the code words we in the church look for to signal that they are spiritual.

Combine this with the way we have made Christian spirituality about a special time and place (Sunday morning, summer camp etc.), then why should young people expect to see God in the world around them?

We can help our young people to see God at work in the world through the people around them and through the amazing things that happen each day. We have a huge help in this from the advertising industry, which has trained this generation to be discerning and skeptical. If we can help our young people to use their incredible skills of discernment, then we can help them to see God at work in the everyday world, and help them to see how they are a part of God’s work in this world.

3. Peter, not Paul, should be our example for conversion and faith

We love dramatic conversion stories. We love to see people’s lives changed suddenly, so that they are redeemed and renewed, and we should. These stories are fantastic and inspiring. These stories stand out, however, because they are unusual. It’s much more difficult to see the hard won, life-long search for truth and the struggle to live out that truth.

Which is why I think Peter is such a good example for us to hold to when we are thinking about conversion and faith development. It is not that he is holier, or superior, but that maybe his example is more timely for us today. How many times did he mess up? How many times did he not get it? How many times did he fail? And yet, he was never abandoned, never rejected, always called back.

By emphasising dramatic conversion, epitomised by Paul on the road to Damascus (which wasn’t as sudden or dramatic as we think, but that’s for another time), we set our young people up for disappointment when they don’t experience this sudden transformation in their own lives.

Emphasising Peter over Paul allows us to tap into GenZ’s understanding of change as incremental and slow, and will help us to develop lifelong disciples, rather than summer converts.

In Conclusion

There is no radical rethink here, no reforming of the Christian faith into something new. Instead we need to look at our contemporary culture and, as faithful Christians have done for centuries, see where the contact points between that culture and our faith is and emphasise those.

It can be uncomfortable, but if we can do this well, we can show the rest of the church how it is done and, more importantly, help a generation of young people see that there is a God who loves them, and offers them redemption not just to a new way of life today, but to an eternal life tomorrow.

 

 

Jonny Price is the Youth and Children’s Ministry Leader for a Clifton Parish Churches in the North of beautiful York, where he lives with his wife, Carly, and son, Ethan.

When time allows he can be found cycling, either road or mountain, cooking or reading.

He holds a BA (Hons) in Mission and Ministry with a specialism in Youth from Cliff College, and is currently studying for an MA.

He loves Jesus and the Church, and wants to see the Church work to help young people live transformed lives by experiencing the redeeming love of Jesus.

Photo by Ben Duchac on Unsplash

Why I Wrote ‘Follow Me’ – By Ali Campbell

Ali Campbell, youth work consultant and founder of ‘The Resource’ takes us behind the scenes as he releases his new book ‘Follow Me: Transforming and shaping lives for the journey.’

 

I wrote “Follow Me” because I am fascinated by the relationship between Jesus and Peter. As I have worked with young people over the years, I’ve not found a more helpful picture for young people of what it means to be a disciple than to have a look at the life of Peter as we find it in the Gospels, Acts and his letters.

The title of the book is because these are among the first words Jesus speaks to Peter and among the last as he says after his resurrection: Follow Me!

What is most fascinating about this interaction at the end of John’s Gospel is just how human Peter is. I know he is a human; I just mean the honesty of the narrative. Here is Peter, having stuffed up big time, denying Christ as he was tried and then crucified. Then we have Jesus lovingly re-instating him afterwards. And what does Peter say? “Thanks Lord, I don’t know what to say?” Nope, he says, “What about him?” pointing at John!  Unbelievable, but so like us. Another reason for the title is right there, Jesus is saying “Follow ME”. He isn’t saying follow your youth leader, or that dude over there who seems to have it all together. When he calls us and when he calls young people he says, as he did to Peter, “Follow Me”.

I wrote ‘Follow Me’ a devotional following Peter’s conversations, interactions and the times he is present with Jesus, witnessing all that Jesus says and does. Sometimes Peter is amazing, sometimes he is a bit of a dunce – just like us.

My prayer is that – through following Peter’s journey – young people (and anyone else who wants to read it) might be encouraged and inspired in their own walk with Jesus.

 

Fantastic. Get your copy of ‘Follow Me’ from here.

 

What are people saying about Follow Me?

 

“Deep thinking and really relevant ideas that will help young people get to grip with what it means to give their all in pursuit of Jesus.”

Rachel Gardner.
Director of National Youth Work at Youthscape, President of Girls Brigade England and Wales

 

“This is a generation in desperate need for relentless love, rock solid truth and game changing role models.  Engaging in Follow Me will warm the bones, strengthen spiritual muscles and captivate young people with the compelling person and message of Jesus. It is punchy, fun, innovative and inspiring. It will change the lives of all who throw themselves into it.”

Phil Knox.
Head of Mission to Young Adults, Evangelical Alliance

“Ali’s heart, to put the voices and lives of young people at the heart of our engagement with them, has yielded this great resource. Creative, informative and full of wisdom it stems from his many years of experience working alongside young people and enabling discipleship, centring on a passion for Jesus and a commitment to Scripture. I can’t wait to use it with my own nurture group and am sure the depth of material here will keep us pondering far beyond the 40 days!”

Alice Smith.
Lead Tutor for Theology and Youth Ministry, St Mellitus College

“Follow Me is an engaging resource which will enhance the spiritual lives of young people in the church.  Readers are invited to go on an explorative journey through 40 concise chapters that are rich with knowledge and relatable stories.”

Liz Edge.
Youth Work Practitioner

5 Differences between today’s young people and Millennials… with Jonny Price

This week, Jonny Price, Youth and Children’s Ministry Leader in York, returns to give us some insight into his research into ‘GenZ’, and how young people today are actually quite different to ‘Millennials’ – just like him!

 

Millenials are everywhere, saving the world or destroying industry depending in your point of view. But the young people we work with today are not millennials. Instead they are Post-millenials, GenZ, iGen… they go by a few labels.

But the important thing is, their values are significantly different to the values of millenials, and so we need to engage with them instead of getting sucked into the church’s (slight) obsession with engaging with ‘millennials.’

However, before I do, I just want to sound a note of caution. Much of the material that I have found comes from the marketing industry. While it is slightly concerning that those most interested with the attitudes and beliefs of the next generation are those wishing to sell to them, that is not the main concern. We should be wary as to how much marketers are reacting to generational trends, and how much they are setting them. If a group of people grow up confronted regularly with a certain set of values, it is only natural that those values will affect how they see the world.

Here I have tried to look past the obvious ones like ‘shorter attention spans’, or ‘better multi-tasking’, and instead dig into the values they hold and the causes for them.

Now, on with the list

1. Progress, but not seismic shifts

Millenials seem to believe that if they can just sort that one thing out, then everything will be better. Whether they are talking about racism, sexism, exploitation of the workforce, wealth inequality (they are such an earnest lot), that in each of those issues there is a key point, and if it could be changed it would improve. This is unsurprising in a generation that have seen the growth of the internet, the change in the world since 9/11, and the impact of the global recession in their lifetimes. If it goes down, it must go up.

GenZ are much more pragmatic in their approach to change. They believe that small changes will lead to big change, and that improvement in life will come slowly. This makes sense; the phones, computers, and tablets that influence so much of their world are constantly being updated with new fixes and small improvements. It makes sense that they would see the world this way.

2. There is only sub-culture

Millenials see themselves as part of the wider world. They see the shapes and trends in culture and react to them. While there is significant individualisation in their own particular subcultures, through the things they consume and the values they hold, there is still an overarching culture they see themselves as part of

For GenZ, the wider culture has far less impact on them. In many ways there is now only sub-culture, with each individual or group of friends setting the norms and values for themselves without recourse to the adult world.

3. If we can’t influence it, we’ll make our own

Millenials have regularly been described by both their lauders and detractors, as anti-authoritarian. They want to push back against the world, they want to challenge those in authority and want to make changes to the way the world is.

GenZ are also anti-authortiarian, but in a very different way. Instead of imposing themselves on the adult world and attempting to change it, they will instead create their own spaces in which to flourish and grow, ignoring the external society and culture, although to what extent this is a result of the life stage they are at is debatable.

4. I’ll do it my own way

Millenials are a communal generation. They want to work together to achieve their goals, they value community life, and will search out those with similar interests or experiences to them to form communities.

GenZ are far more independent. This has implication across this cohorts life. They are less likely to attend higher education and more likely to enter the workforce sooner. They are less likely to seek work and are more entrepreneurial. They want to do it themselves.

5. ‘Internet famous’ isn’t a thing anymore

Millenials, remember a time before the true growth of the internet, and have inherited their parents slight snobbishness about the internet. However much they invest in it, it still isn’t quite real.

GenZ have no such compunctions about the internet. Influencers actually influence them, internet famous is actually famous. While this may seem a trivial point, it has significant implications. That YouTube celebrity you dismiss as just another internet guy? That person probably has more influence and impact on our young people’s life than we do.

So where does that leave us?

It is still early days for GenZ studies. Like millennials, they will lauded and lambasted, they will be the generation to save the world, or the one that is destroying the way things are.

How should we as youth workers react to these changes? That is a topic for another blog.

 

Jonny Price is the Youth and Children’s Ministry Leader for a Clifton Parish Churches in the North of beautiful York, where he lives with his wife, Carly, and son, Ethan.

When time allows he can be found cycling, either road or mountain, cooking or reading.

He holds a BA (Hons) in Mission and Ministry with a specialism in Youth from Cliff College, and is currently studying for an MA.

He loves Jesus and the Church, and wants to see the Church work to help young people live transformed lives by experiencing the redeeming love of Jesus.

Photo by Kendra Kamp on Unsplash

Discussing 13 Reasons Why and How to Respond – by Cassandra Smith

13 Reasons Why has been a hugely challenging and uncomfortable television series that explores teen suicide. Cassandra Smith navigates the waters and suggest ways our youth ministries can engage.

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix original series based the book by Jay Asher. The drama is centered around high school aged characters whose narratives include abuse, bullying, sexual assault, self-harm, and suicide. Despite its TV-MA rating, teens are binge watching content that highlights intense issues in graphically dramatized, highly emotional narratives.

This leaves us with key questions:

  1. Do we, as concerned adults, watch the show or not? Is that helpful or harmful?
  2. With so many of our students watching—what is our best response?
  3. How do we, as ministers of the Gospel, tackle hard issues in relevant ways?

To Watch or Not to Watch

If we choose to watch 13 Reasons Why for entertainment value—I believe it could be harmful. If we watch for sake of education—there is a potential to learn a great deal on situations young people face. That being said—even with the right intentions the episodes could prove triggering for adults as well. The show does not shy away from brutally graphic portrayals of sexual assault, pornography, sexuality, and completed suicide.

Though I do not condone the show—I did watch it. Why? Because I wanted to be able to provide tools for others who might feel unsure of how to tackle such heavy material. Even with that—I could not stomach several scenes. For those of you who are uncertain about episode content, I have made a full Discussion Guide available, complete with content warnings.

Make sure you make the right decision for you—as how it affects you matters too.

What is our Best Response?

Netflix should not be the ones leading conversations about difficult topics—the church should. Over and over, my students told me they felt understood by the characters in 13 Reasons Why. The relatability piece gave them a sense of belonging. They had a script with which to attach their confusions, emotions and hurt. But I never want a streaming TV service to be the source my teens to find the language for what they feel.

Knowing that content like 13 Reasons Why is out there should push us towards leaning in to student’s stories in appropriate avenues. This may mean initiating one on one meetings with students we know are struggling, forming small groups in which it’s safe to ask messy questions or housing forums for “tough stuff” nights. Anytime we can communicate to students, “Your confusion is welcome here, let me help you find the language and tools to work through it in a healthy way” we form the sense of belonging they crave.

Tackling Tough Stuff

 Though students identify with the characters or content of 13 Reasons Why, they are also set up for disappointment once the season concludes. To stir up emotions to that magnitude and not have a pathway of hope is a real problem. Directing students towards hope is one thing a streaming media service does not have—but we do.

We have a reason for our hope. As believers, we carry a message of hope for those who are hurting. How do move that message of hope forward? Often if comes with leaning in to listen, earning trust, providing wise counsel and sharing the Gospel in the right way, at the right time, when a hurting heart is open to receiving it. It is a delicate balance—but through appropriate, intentional pursuit we have the ability to model the hope of Jesus to those looking for it.

A Pathway of Hope for Those Who Watched 13 Reasons Why

Knowing 13 Reasons Why would surface the struggles may young people face—I didn’t want them to be alone. Additionally, I didn’t want Youth Workers, Pastors and parents to feel alone.

It is why I created a Season Two Processing Guide for viewers, parents and youth workers. Students need help understanding the complex nature of issues like abuse, addiction, bullying, depression, hardship at home, image, self-harm and suicide. As we give them room to talk freely about their thoughts on these matters—we teach them how to handle them in a manner that lines up with the Gospel.

You are not alone in seeking to point young people towards the hope and help they desire. May you be given strength and encouragement as you walk with students in difficult places.

 

About Cassandra

Through fifteen years as a youth worker, crisis counseling, non-profit work, mentorship and training of millennial’s, Cassandra Smith seeks to direct teens and young adults towards a pathway of hope. Her Processing Guide for 13 Reasons Why is now available at www.BeyondTheReasons.com

Follow her at www.ChangeYourNarrative.org and on Instagram and Facebook

Living with Cancer as a Youth Worker

This brave and honest post has been written by youth work volunteer Megan Dyer, who recently was given the all clear after treatment for cancer. We hope this will be an encouragement to anyone walking through similar challenges.

Cancer, My Youth Group & Me.

Cancer:

In August 2016 I was diagnosed with a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which is a type of blood cancer. It meant that I had to have lots of different treatments and medications and trips to the hospital and in turn meant that my life became very isolated, quiet, and slowed down quickly.

It was an extremely tough time full of experiences and situations that I never expected to happen to me, and I pray will never happen to anyone ever again. It wasn’t a fun time. God, however, is absolutely amazing and has a pretty awesome way of restoring hope, love and joy; and bringing the right people around you!

‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.’ [Psalm 28:7]

My Youth Group:

I volunteer at a youth group called Redefine on Sunday nights. It’s an amazing team with fantastic young people, and it is very very special to me – for multiple reasons. How they all reacted and supported me through my cancer and recovery just astounded me and made me so very very thankful!

The Sunday after I was diagnosed I talked to the team first, and then the young people. I said that I had cancer, and that I would be going on a series of treatments and medications. This would mean that I wouldn’t be able to volunteer as much as I would like for a period of time, but that when I was better that I would come back. They were all so amazing about it – and I was fully aware that they were all praying for me. This was a huge comfort!

I kept them updated throughout my treatment and was hugely comforted and held-up by their messages back.

Me:

I am 100% fine and healthy now, and I’m back at Redefine and I love it!

One of my favourite teaching series that we did a while back was called ‘what makes us tick’ where each volunteer was given a session to speak about anything they were passionate about.

Part of my talk in this series was telling the whole group how their prayer and my prayer was answered at a pretty critical part of my treatment, and how ridiculously grateful I was for all their love and support! Their prayer meant that I only had to do four months of chemotherapy instead of six, which was amazing!

What I’ve learned

Life is an adventure. Which means it can be both wondrous and fun and exciting as well as bleak and tough and exhausting. What’s amazing though is that we don’t have to do it alone. We have God but we also have people. If you’re a leader going through a tough time, then trust the people around you. Let them help. If you’re a team with a leader going through a tough time, be there for them. Encourage them and support them. Check in on them. It often means the world that people care enough to remember and send a message to just say ‘hi, hope you’re ok, we’re here and we’re praying’.

 

I work as a volunteer for YFC at Redefine youth group with Tim and some other awesome people. I’ve been a part of the Redefine team for almost three years now and I adore it! I have two jobs! You’ll either find me building websites or laughing with customers in the retail shop I work in. And at home you’ll find me watching murder mysteries, reading for hours on end, or out and about, walking.

 

 

 

 

Photo by Logan Nolin on Unsplash

Dr. Andrew Root’s response to my critique

Earlier this week I posted a critique of Dr. Andrew Root’s work, particularly on relational or ‘incarnational’ youth ministry. My hope was to encourage a little more critical reading of his works considering his slightly unorthodox theology.

I’m a great admirer of Root and wanted to give him the opportunity to read and respond to that post before I published it. He graciously did so, and his reply is below in full. I incorporated some of his suggestions and clarifications, and I agreed that my lack of engagement with his later books puts me at a disadvantage. However, as he agrees, many of my issues still remain.

My drive behind this dialogue is not to make anyone simply agree with me, or even with Dr. Root, but to engage in a public exercise that encourages more critical reading of the resources we adopt.

With that in mind, here is – with his permission – Dr. Root’s reply:

 

Tim,

Thanks for this email and thanks for engaging the work.  I think this is fine and mostly fair, but there are parts I’m not sure about.

First, the reduction of evangelicalism is a fair critique but this must be read next to my support, affirmation, and commitment to an evangelical perspective in Christopraxis.  As a matter of fact, to truly understand what I’m up to, you’d have to look there.  The other works, as you mention, are trying to balance idea construction with the practice of ministry.
Second, no doubt, I’m bound to Bonhoeffer as a theological dialogue partner, and seem to understand the atonement different than you.  But to understand this all you’d have to engage the conceptions of Luther and the passivity of human action.  My point is that your critique is not so much with Bonhoeffer as it is with Luther.  Looking at work from Christopraxis on will show a deeper engagement with orthodox and Pauline conceptions, which don’t show up in your review.  You mainly just stick with 2007, 2009, and 2011 work.  I hope I’ve developed since then.  So putting your critiques in dialogue with Christopraxis, Faith Formation, and Exploding Stars would be important, I think.  I’d imagine some of your concerns will remain.

Third, the burnout thing is most troubling.  I’ve mentioned in multiple places that you can only be a place-sharer to about 5 young people.  The push of the perspective is to change the youth worker’s conception from being the one doing all the relational ministry to ordaining other adults into ministry, to take responsibility for their young people.  I’ve also discussed a lot about open/closedness and claimed that place-sharing provides starker boundaries than other forms of ministry.  And this is based in a certain anthropology.  You may rightly disagree, but it isn’t right to assume that my perspective doesn’t see or deal with boundaries.  Also, you mention Blair and Christy’s review, but don’t offer how I responded to their critiques.  You’re welcome to critique my responses to them and call it inadequate…but I did have responses to their critiques you don’t mention.

Finally, and this is probably where we differ, my whole project revolves around conceptions of revelation.  I’m simply trying to explore where and how we encounter the living presence of God.  I think a legitimate critique is found in contrasting my views of revelation with those of others.  The first question really is, “Do you see ministry as centrally about revelation, or something else?”  So critiquing my conception that ministry bears the weight of revelation is fair, as is offering an opposing view of revelation.  At the end, stellvertretung (place-sharing) really isn’t the center of my thought (I mean, it’s close to the center) but the real core is ministry as the constituting reality of God’s act and being.  So yes, sin, salvation, etc. must be seen through the biblical narrative of God’s act to minister to Israel, to be a God who is found in historical acts.  Again, wrestling with Christopraxis will more clearly show this.

These are simply my reactions, since you kindly asked.  But again, thanks for writing something up.
Blessings to you,
Andy

 

Dr. Andrew Root (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is the Associate Professor and Carrie Olson Baalson Chair of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary, Minnesota. He is the author of fifteen books on ministry and theology, and an experienced youth worker.

 

A funny thing happened on the way to the tomb…

Great video to share with your youth groups with Easter Sunday. From SpeakLife.

What does a Church-based youth worker do? With Jonny Price

Welcome to our new series: the variety of youth workers. We’re going to be looking at six types of Christian youth worker including; The Consultant, The Freelance, The Parachurch, The Church-based, The Secular, and The National Role. Each will be written by a known practitioner in that field.

Last week Liz Edge told us about being a Freelance worker, and the week before Ali Campbell explained his role as a consultant. This week, Jonny Price, Youth and Children’s Ministry Leader in York, returns to tell us about being a Church-based youth worker.

 

What does an average week look like?

There is a strange mix of regular, set in stone, activities; those things that need doing week-by-week, and then some less regular things which come around monthly, annually, or are just a one off. The few things that I know will be in the diary each week are:

  • Staff meeting
  • Wednesday Youth Cafe
  • Friday Drop In
  • Sunday morning
  • Younger JAM, our Discipleship group for 11-14s
  • Older JAM, our Discipleship group for 14-18s

Around those I generally have prep time, admin time, supervisions, and meetings. Meeting up with young people, meeting with volunteers, meeting with other youth workers from around the city… just generally a lot of meetings!

Each week I try and make sure I have one solid office day. This is so I can really get my head down and power through my to-do list, as well as take a slightly wider look at what is going on across the ministries I oversee. Alongside that I have half a day reading time each week as well, although often that is the first thing to get squeezed out when things get hectic.

Finally, there are the things that come up within the calendar. At the moment, for instance, we are looking ahead to our Good Friday sleepover, and putting together all the practical things for prayer stations, food, films, popcorn, and all the rest of it.

What are your top priorities?

There are three really that carry across everything we do in Clifton Parish. They are:

Make sure that my volunteers are equipped and feel able to fulfil their roles to the best of their abilities.
Give all the young people and children we come into contact with the opportunity to explore their spirituality, and to introduce them to Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Make sure that – across everything we do – we are allowing our young people and children to take the next step in their faith, and to take their faith wherever they go in the world.

I feel that I need to explain why my volunteers are at the top of my list of priorities. Without them, nothing else can happen. If my volunteers are well equipped and trained, if they feel called to what they do, and if they feel confident in what they do, then everything else will follow. If they aren’t, then priorities 2 and 3 are a bit pointless.

What are the hardest things about being in church based youth work?

There are a couple that really stand out to me. The first is that often you are treated as a young person because you work with young people. I have lost count of the number of meetings I have been in with clergy who have felt the need to explain to me how I should be doing my job, as if it is not something I have spent a significant amount of time and energy thinking, praying, and reflecting on.

The second is the weight that you can carry for other people. Because of the part we can play in young people’s lives they will unload their burdens to us, open up to us about things they haven’t told anyone else, and they can lean on us heavily. The challenge in creating boundaries so that we can serve them safely, look after ourselves, and not create a culture of dependancy, which can be really hard.

What are the best things?

Because you are investing in a community and (hopefully) spending a significant amount of time there, you see young people grow up. I spent nearly seven years in my last job, and seeing the young people grow from young teenagers to adults was one of the greatest privileges.

As well as that, I love seeing people step out in faith and try things for the first time. I have a number of people on my teams who have stepped out of their comfort zone to get involved in youth or children’s ministry, and it has helped them understand what gifts God has given them, and has had a wider impact on their lives.

How do you think Church based youth work is different to other kinds of youth work?
Being Church based means that we can be more holistic in our approach to young people than many other organisations. We can offer them the chance to become part of an multi-generational movement through which we can transform local communities.

Many organisations can do the individual bits which make up church based youth work, but having the church as the basis for the work that we do is what gives us the opportunity to have long-term, significant, and hope-giving impact on communities which otherwise struggle to find any hope in the world.

What would you say to someone considering becoming a church based youth worker?

‘Great, are you sure?’

It is a fantastic role and I would not have spend the last 9 years doing anything else, but you need to be ready for it.

Talk to people who have been doing it for a while, find out what to expect, make sure they are telling you about the ugly bits of it, and then pray. If God wants you in this, you won’t be able to stay away.

And before you jump in, make sure that you have people there to support you when things get tough.

Anything else you’d like to add?

This is the best role in the world. We have the opportunity and privilege to connect a generation to the church, and through doing that to transform both. We can see young people discover who God made them to be, see them step free of damaging patterns of behaviour, and watch them have a positive impact on the world around them.

And if we occasionally have to explain why we don’t want to be vicars, then I think I can live with that.

 

 

Jonny Price is the Youth and Children’s Ministry Leader for a Clifton Parish Churches in the North of beautiful York, where he lives with his wife, Carly, and son, Ethan.

When time allows he can be found cycling, either road or mountain, cooking or reading.

He holds a BA (Hons) in Mission and Ministry with a specialism in Youth from Cliff College, and is currently studying for an MA.

He loves Jesus and the Church, and wants to see the Church work to help young people live transformed lives by experiencing the redeeming love of Jesus.

 

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

Why study at Nazarene Theological College? By Alia Pike

Alia Pike shares with youthworkhacks why you should consider studying at Nazarene Theological College. This is the second in our series on Youth Work Training. See the first, by Sally Nash here.

 

Hello, my name is Alia Pike and I am the Youth and Community Course Coordinator at Nazarene Theological College (NTC). This course is actually delivered at both NTC in Manchester and at the Scottish School of Christian Mission in Glasgow, which means it has joint professional validation with the National Youth Agency (NYA) and the CLD Council for Scotland. This is one of the only courses to offer this… plus I get frequent trips to Glasgow to stock up on Scottish Tablet for a yummy sweet treat! 

Reflective Practice

My role at NTC includes teaching and my favourite class is what’s called the ‘Placement Seminar’. This is where students talk about their placements and we reflect together as a group. This space is an essential part of our degree course as it gives students the opportunity to link theory to practice, drawing on their knowledge of theology, experience of Youth and Community Work, and understanding social policies, theory, and professional standards.

Reflective Practice is so important when working with people as it allows an individual time to think through the decisions they made and the action that they took. It is also about looking at yourself as the Youth Worker reflecting on your personal values and how you are developing and changing as a person.

Since I’ve been working at NTC I have reflected on my experience of training to be a Youth Worker and how much both I and my Youth Work practice changed during those years. Even now I am constantly reflecting and challenging myself to develop as a practitioner. I guess that is why I am so passionate about professional Youth Work degrees and continuous training; because I know the difference it can make to have a solid grounding in theory and theology. 

The Theological and Professional Core of NTC

It is theology that comes first at NTC, embedded in Wesleyan Holiness, as students who study with us leave with a BA(hons) Theology and specialism in their chosen pathway of either Practical Theology or Youth and Community.

The Youth and Community pathway provides students with the added bonus of gaining a professional qualification which is important as Youth Workers are being asked to work in a range of settings including hospitals, schools, and prisons, as well as the traditional youth clubs and detached projects.  Knowing that they have a University of Manchester degree with accreditation from the NYA and CLD gives our students confidence and validity when speaking with Social Workers, Teachers, and other professionals.

Youth Work has often been seen as the poorer relation to Social Work as the role doesn’t come with the power or legal framework of Social Work. The tide is turning, however, and as public services are being cut, it is Youth Workers who are stepping in to fill the gaps. This really excites me as I see our graduates becoming part of a work force which is diverse, professional, creative, and able to work where the greatest needs are. Last year’s graduates are working across the UK and abroad in roles that include youth drop-ins, women’s aid work, as well as the traditional church Youth Worker.

We work hard at NTC to ensure our students graduate with an excellent degree and employability skills, so they are work ready.  

Graduation and Study Patterns at NTC

Graduation is truly a special time at NTC as it brings together the whole NTC community and we are able to celebrate the success of our students. The ceremony takes place at Whitworth Hall at University of Manchester where students can bring as many guests as they like to clap and celebrate with them. We then all come back to the NTC campus for an afternoon tea party and lots of photos.

Before I sign off I’ll just explain the pattern of study at NTC for a Youth and Community student as the course is a blend of both Placement and Classroom based learning. Students spend 15 hours a week on Placement and this can be in a community project or a church, where they are supported by a Line Manager and working with young people aged 11 – 25. Placement is usually between a Thursday and Sunday and NTC classes take place Monday to Wednesday.  Our students also complete an Alternative Placement which gives them the opportunity to experience a different Placement and increase their knowledge and skills. 

Find out more

If you or someone you know would like to find out more about studying at NTC come along to one of our regular Open Events as advertised on our website. And, if you’re in Manchester any weekday at 10.45am, feel free to visit our campus and join us for coffee.

Thanks for reading, pop along and say ‘Hi’ to me on our NTC exhibition stand at Spring Harvest Harrogate, Big Church Day Out North, and Soul Survivor week A in Stafford.

 

Alia is the Youth and Community Course Coordinator at Nazarene Theological College (NTC)

Email: apike@nazarene.ac.uk

Twitter: AliaPikeNTC

Website: www.nazarene.ac.uk

 

Photo by Jenny Hill on Unsplash