Just imagine, what if every parish church ( let alone every church in every denomination) was involved in some kind of provision of youth work, for children and young adults?
So, thats 200 odd parish churches in most dioceses, and I would hazard a guess that most of these churches do ‘something’ – whether a boys brigade, or a youth fellowship – but what if every church was doing this, investing in a positive way with young people in local communities, not for the sake of the church, but for the sake of the young people, the community, the family and society itself?
At a time when charitable organisations are generally struggling for funding, my own included, and when council provision for youth services has been virtually eradicated, churches have not only an opportunity but an obligation to educate, inspire, invest in young people for the common good. If a church doesnt have young people ‘in’ it, then there will be young people in its parish, it has to find a way, of beginning the interaction, of equipping and training volunteers and of starting a process of developing provision for young people.
There are many options: Brigades, Scouts, Guides, Chaplaincy, youth fellowship, Sunday schools, detached work, local issue groups, open clubs.. and there’s more, and many many churches are doing these things already, and this is to be celebrated, encouraged and commended.
Then there’s the organisations, like FYT and YFC, Urban saints and others who can advise, as well as Diocesan officers, there are people on hand to train and resource, as theres many unemployed youth workers around being consultants… (see the menu above..)- all to help with the start up of working with young poeple in the parish.
All of these are potential options for a local church to be involved in the lives of young people, to make it easier for churches theres such an array of resources for childrens work, messy church, open the book and others, and then from these develop long term groups and relationships so that young people enjoy and like spending time together.
The time of ‘suggesting it’, ‘encouraging it’ is over.
Could Punitive action be what is required ?
Youth work is needed in every village, in every town and parish. It doesnt need money or time, it needs prioritising. Churches need to be overworking their diocesan youth officers with ideas, suggestions and plans.
I dont think there needs to be much of an excuse not to get involved in youthwork anymore. ‘The council used to do it’, was a great excuse, its not anymore.
Of course, the easy way not to would be to take a fine. And maybe a £1000 ‘fine’ to a youth work charity locally would go some way to help them, but thats the soft and easy option.
Come on churches, lets get messy in local communities and begin developing creative and unpredictable youthwork, or at least something.
(yes of course im not serious….;-)… young people are priceless as is the effect of youthwork with them, £1000 is far too small and insignificant an amount…