Last week at Durham YFC we took the Bishop of Durham out on detached with the team. He’d walked about 12 miles during the day on his deanery prayer walk, and its transpired he’d done detached youthwork before, back in the early 1970’s.
One thing that we tried to do, and its possible to do, is not only to give him an authentic experience, but also that it proved the leveller that detached youthwork is. Once he’d donned the team jacket, and volunteer badge – he was a stranger, a new volunteer to the community, to the young people. For the young people who he spoke to, or spoke with the team he was with, he was just anyone else. He was able to, like we all do, to remove ourselves and our role from the stage, but to focus on the young people, being the best, most approachable, real person that a young person would want us to be. He wasn’t given any special respect, honour or grace, but the few young people connected with him because he was there and interested in them.
He didnt see many young people, that’s because we didn’t want to manufacture young people, ring ahead, or prepare them for a ‘special’ night. He saw it as it was. Gilesgate at its unpredictable best. Young people in their space.
It was undoubtedly great for the team, and i, but i hope it was also good for the Bishop, his wife and Chaplain who joined us, saw how meeting young people in their space, takes time, is valid, and is the way to discover in the informal spaces faith conversation and belief, none of which is planned, predictable or organised, yet as church, to improvise beyond the walls, in the land of dragons, takes time.