Over the next 40 days of Lent, I am going to try and write a series of 40 encouraging articles on aspects of youthwork practice, of management of learning, people and the church. Not every one will start ‘encouarged by…’ but it might be a good discipline for me to do so. For those that know me, and have read some of my previous pieces, you will know that me and critical do go hand in hand, especially when things are challenging, and they are right now. So, this will be good for me, and hopefully you might enjoy reading the next posts.
Without giving many of the details away. I have started to realise how encouraged I am when genuine collaboration begins to take place. For one it is becoming more and more evident in some aspects of youth work when some of the barriers between voluntary and statutory sector , and even ‘faith’ sector, are being gradually eroded, though these are not helped in a competitative market for funding, outcomes or even young peoples attention.
Ive heard stories over the last few weeks of organisations that havent spoken to each other for decades, where suspicion between them, envy, ignorance and superiority complex, have had to begin dialogue, sharing time and space, sharing idea and giving time and space away to each other, for the semblance of more common goals.
In another situation Ive seen people in different churches work together to think about transforming a community, and because of relative common goals intentions and previous compatibility and relationship, this process has not taken too long, formed of genuine shared intention and being collaborative in practice and organisation.
Over three years, 5 organisations in the north east have been working on the Equip course ( see
menu above) yes its ‘only ‘ a gap year scheme, but its the fruit of alot of work, and is the beginning of a chapter of change for training in the north east amongst young people and for youth ministry.
I think what encourages me the most is that people and organisations might know that working together might enable each to have more longevity, but also that greater goals might be fulfilled when this happens. Separate organisations and people do have give something away, their protectionism, and work towards common, shared goals and new identity. It is undoubtedly difficult, and might be easier when the task is new ( such as equip) – rather than to form something else.
The energy in the room is quite electric when the barriers start breaking down, when there are ideas and potential is such an encouragement, and this undoubtedly spreads into the culture of that organisation and project, sadly without dwelling on the opposites too long, broader cultures of unco-operation, or reluctant cooperation form only a mask in which it becomes more of a challenge to function in between.
In a way it is both a good youthwork value and Spiritual prerogative. To have reconciled relationships, to encourage community. It takes undoubted effort at times, and the process of breaking down barriers and seeking human and collective flourishing for broader goals is tough, but it is possible, the barriers are usually artificial and based on myth, fear and history, none of which is in any way helpful for developing community for genuine collaboration to occur. I would be a few pennies, that collective organisations that have failed have done so not only because of poor governance, but that the governance has had to navigate in a culture of noncooperation with other similar agencies. When protectionism and separation occurs, thats when to worry.
In collaboration people are willing to give, to contribute, to share and be part of something, not for their own gain, it is in collaboration where people give of their gifts to make something happen, willing because the purpose excites and they trust the people.
So, today i am encouraged by collaboration, or the working towards this, as an essential future direction for both youth work in the North east, and the Mission activity of the church deep in its local communities.
Day 1 of Lent over – what will I be encouraged by tomorrow?