Losing ‘youth’ and adopting ‘YA’ – taking a lead from the film industry

Most weekdays I drive in my car from my home in Hartlepool to my work at office of Durham YFC in Durham, listening on the way to a couple of Pod-casts, one of which is the wittertainment podcast, with the good doctors Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode with their witterings on film, culture and responding to the various conflagations of the church of wittertainment to which the listeners all belong. However, aside from the meta aspect of this assumed church, a church of up to 2 million people globally..(itd be one of the larger denominations) – that’s not what this reflection is all about, its that over the last few years there has been a profligation of films for young adults that have encompassed relationships, horror, Goth culture, and more recently apocalypse – such as Hunger Games, The insurgent/divergent series and this last week the Maze runner series. When describing these films, they have a new genre- or at least have an abbreviation YA – as in Young Adult. So maze runner is a YA apocalypse/dystopia film, based on YA fiction.

For years youthworkers have tried to rid people aged between 11-20 or so of labels such as ‘youth’, ‘young person’, ‘teen’, ‘kid’, or ‘adolescent’, as they all carry with them associations of biological development, transitions between, storm/stress, victim or perpetrator (for more details read Roche & Tucker or Wyn & White), often the church in its organisations and institution follows suit, with again, each of the notions for ‘young adults’ having some connotation or other.

And so, in referring to the YA film and book genre – has this mega million pound entertainment industry sought to validate the time-period of the age, even for ill gotten commercial gains, long before YA-workers, YA-centres, YA-clubs or YA groups have done? and yet as YA-workers should we not have dropped the ‘youth’ ages ago. See the problem of youth for youth work.

And how might church need to reconsider itself to accomodate the YA’s? – those who do read books, think, and want to explore faith, YA’s who are caring politically, and want to change the world, YA’s who are technologically more literate, have access to more knowledge.

One of the sayings on the aforementioned film podcast and show is that (oft repeated) is that the current generation is more clever, more advanced, and has more access to more knowledge than the previous. If that is just on films in culture and in life – is that the same mantra for the YA’s and their  reality of life in church communities.

What would YA-Church look like? if churches considered how to shape themselves around the actual lives, needs, thoughts and capabilities of  11-18 yr old young adults…


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