If the cues for work amongst young people beyond the fourth wall involve taking our cues from the street , where do we take our cues from for leading/managing work amongst young people beyond the fourth wall?
In a lengthy quality conversation a month ago, with community based youthworkers at Cafe Leadership in Manchester, it became clear that we could validate our work with young people, its value, its place and its need, and that because our work collectively would loosely be described as kingdom/missional rather than ‘youth ministry’, and as a result started in community, in the space of the young people. Yet as we spoke, it became noticeable, that our reference points for an emerging leadership within christian youthwork were places within the walls of commerce/retail (ie bad/good experiences from ‘secular’ work, or from business), the walls of the church, education or walls of sport, yet as relative pioneers navigating in community based christian youthwork where should we take our cues from if leadership is needed in that space? where are the cues for leadership if the ones learned from other fields have limitations?
Might leadership within the interactive space of beyond fourth wall work encapsulate the artistic, creative and poetic? And how might management encapsulate youthwork & possibly Christian values – that have empowerment, servantheartedness, mercy and equality at their core?
What might leadership mean when the notion of leader is so easily critiqued and deconstructed – leader seems almost a bygone term that sits within Business leader or church leader – when other people based professions have adopted ‘worker’ – ‘coordinator’ or ‘manager’ – the world of sport has almost no mention of ‘leader’ at all.
One thing about detached work is that the space is equalised, and leadership is firmly diminished. There is limited difference in the status of each person in the team – until the first people speak, and even then it might not be obvious. But that is on the streets, and not every act of youthwork is set there. Yet often young people relate to a youthworker as a person first, rather than an authority figure second, given that its only after the relationship is established that a young person might ask about ‘what a youthworker is’, and if they get paid.. the other day on detached a young person asked what my job actually is, not believing that being as informal could be a paid role.
What might leadership, (if leadership at all) would look like in an improvised space of mission beyond the fourth wall (of working with young people outside of the structured spaces of church, school, business, social work) when so often the theories of leadership are taken from within those walls, as they hold the power of narrative, of academia, and practice. Life on the street, taking cues from the street might be a place of leadership neutrality. It might emerge, rather than be implemented, it is negotiated rather than dictated, earned & given, not delegated. Yet if leadership is authentic to the Theodrama, then it becomes appropriate to the ongoing context, and according to the place of the play set before us, and reliant on reflection in and on practice. Maybe thats where peer supervision is an aide to leadership, in that its for others ahead in the field ( and i use this loosely) to peer supervise those emerging, and have a continued conversation, which is probably why Cafe Leadership and its conversations floated my boat particularly.