Dwelling in the borderlands; Co-producing Church

Ive often said that one of the beauties of being a detached youthworker, actually more to the point a community youthworker is that sense of learning about life in between the structures. Learning about young people on the streets, away from the structures of their homes, schools, churches and other agencies is space of what Banks refers to as ‘messy’ or ‘unbounded’ (2012), where they are unlikely to follow a script or pattern. Whether this is the same young people turning up to after school groups and its drop in nature, or as we discovered on detached this evening, young people might just interrupt a conversation to decide to play a game, or walk off. The situation in the border lands is the kind of genuinely messy and unscripted and plays to a different drum.

Yet in the borders is a space of freedom, of genuine to and fro, of young people able to negotiate, converse and choose. As Butcher argues, ‘Community problem solving has an emergent quality about it’, it is a mutual space of learning, of dialogue hopefully, a place where ongoing respect is earned, and ongoing learning occurs through praxis. Its a space to co-produce the solutions to the problems, to ask the young people what are they going to do about the problem and help them, rather than be the walking talking fixers.

Community solutions co-produced by young people in the space of the borders.

The question is, if solutions to community attitudes, actions or problems are co-produced with young people in that space- what about the ‘problem’ or exploration of faith? – might this also be as co-produced and emerged from within the same space?

what would a co-produced dialogical church look like? would this not truly be the ‘community’ church that ‘community’ churches were hoping to be. One developed in community, with ongoing learning and negotiation and space to reflect, listen and empower participation in the ongoing emerging script. Can the emerging co-produced church stay in the margins, to challenge the core? I can only ask these questions because i don’t know what this feels like, or looks like, it might look like some of the examples in ‘Here be Dragons’ – yet again it might not.

Its not to say that to co-produce is to lose the element of the wise guide prompting and provoking, maybe the youth worker, but the emphasis would be to co-produce in the space, to follow the unscripted acts, obey the Spirit in the midst, and be faithful to the whole of the gospel. Dwelling in the borderlands, to co-produce church, i’m looking forward to giving this a go…


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