This is the nineteenth installment in my on-going series as I try to discover current issues facing youth ministry. Over the past several months I’ve collected interviews from youth workers all over the world. Dot Gosling is a Senior Lecturer of Christian Youth Work & Applied Theology at Chester University in the U.K. Check out her blog at dot gosling.
What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is struggling with today?
- A lack of understanding of youth work and youth ministry by many people involved in working with young people in the church.
- Not enough long term funding, funding in general.
- A lack of professionalism in some circles- e.g. volunteers have always done youth work and that is who the church expects to do youth work. Why is this OK when they wouldn’t send their children/young people to teachers, doctors, nurses, etc who aren’t trained and were only doing it in their spare time.
- Decent supervision for youth leaders.
- Lack of good English resources both academic and curriculum based, for the wide range of church traditions in this country.
- Lack of young people engaging with God.
What do you see as some of the main issues youth ministry is responding to effectively?
Some people are seeing the need for professionalism in youth ministry/work and making sure it happens not just for the sake of young people but also for the worker. Some good training events are being put on, Core Competencies being written for those working with young people on behalf of the Church of England (I have to say that since I was part of the group that put them together!!)
In what ways does youth ministry need to change?
- Starting where young people are instead of where we want them to be.
- Working with each other across boundaries that churches put in the way, by networking instead of competing, and by going back to the basics that God wants us to Love Him with every fibre of our being, and to love our neighbours (be they next door, next street, next county,next country, different faith or none) as we love ourselves. And that for some youth workers will mean they need to take time out for them and for their relationship with God to grow and develop.
- To start thinking outside of their church tradition is important. In other words, not assuming anything and to challenge each other in our understanding of God, to move, grow and develop in all aspects of our lives.