I heard a story yesterday from a youthwork colleague up here in the North East. It was about how in a local church, a small one, in a stereotypical ex-mining village a young person had started to be involved in the music group. The story started by the mum and three boys all going to an after school drop in space in the church where they received help for food/clothing, as well as time to have a coffee. The young person became in conversation with the youth worker who had helped to set up the space, and was desperate to show him the music he had played on his bass guitar, which he had filmed himself, stuck on you tube and showed it to the youthworker.
This sparked a conversation. Which led a few months later to the young person joining what is in effect the youth praise band.
For so long separating young people as a target audience has been the focus of the attention. Done so in the hope that if the young person is transformed, the rest of the family follow, or that the young person is able to navigate a new changed values in the family home.
I am not sure in the example above that the pretty hard, set in their ways northern parents of these three boys would change their ways if their youngest changed their ways. I’m thinking Billy Elliot, but a Jesus version.
However, because the family have been given practical support as a whole, because the family are the important factor and the gate keepers to the young people, good, supportive youthwork with young people in families no where near to any inherited or missional church model can develop interest and discipleship.
Expecting culture change through one disaffected young person at a time is alot to ask. Transforming whole families from parents first might just.
Good missional youthwork that leads to discipleship will only thrive where there is Good community work and family work. It needs to be a whole family approach.
Killing off missional youthwork might be an extreme, but young people dont just exist in social communities and family, they revolve around them. Whole family approaches to mission and discipleship are required.
What happens if the green shoots of new birth are challenged by parents? do we make young people saved make a choice between parents and faith?
Yes Missional youthork that builds community that exists within the space has its merits, developing church as it emerges. But if we can start with families and parents, is this not a better way?