If only there were lots of books to read that congregations and churches could read to help them think through the pressing issue of trying to attract, trying to keep, and trying to disciple young people in churches. If only there were just so many, that there would be an exhaustion of so many to choose from.
But faced with the task, no, faced with the pressing need of trying to make church, discipleship and faith real for young people – where do churches and congregations turn? Well, its not books.
Therefore it is not those who think through, and do research about young people. For study
It is not the youthworkers of the past who have written up their experiences, shared their story and reflected it in way that makes it accessible for others.
And, without having an hankering for thinking and theory – what do current practices rely on? – just experience? just the latest fashion? just with the second hand learning of others? the youthworker youre about to employ, the student who is amazing, and just hope they know what to do.
What am i getting at? Whats my problem.
Well, i wish I was surprised. Im just a bit disappointed. I thought churches cared about young people, i really wish, the desire to connect with young people, and understand their world was really like. At least try.
At least engage with actual research. Published , verified research by one of the UKs leading statisticians on church numbers and data.
This is what I am getting at.
Are churches bypassing books to read up themselves and just employing someone to get their knowledge?
But reading a book might solve a lot of hassle.. mightnt it?
The following book was given to me last week for free.
I was given it free from the North East Religious resources centre (RRC), as they were having a clear out.
It was in their youth ministry and childrens ministry section, yes it is a title from 2001. But why was it given to me free?
Because it had not been taken out of the RRC for 10 years.
Actually, the last person who did did so in 2007. That is 12 years.
12 years when no one from any church congregation in the north east took out a book that detailed statistics, findings, analysis, reflections on the lives of, the thinking of, the behaviours of young people aged 8-13 in the UK. Statistics and reflections from one of the UKs leading statisticians on churches and church growth. (his website is http://www.brierleyconsultancy.co.uk)
12 years where it doesnt appear that churches really wanted to do any difficult work around young people and think through things.
It may be out of date now, but it really wasnt in 2007,8,9, 10…
12 years where something else was more important.
12 years where research about young people hasnt defined or shaped practice in regard to young people – but something else might have done.. And im not saying general research is everything, on these pages you will know that i have issues about such general research and making generalisations. But at the same time, what might it say that this kind of book hasnt featured in any thinking about youth ministry, childrens ministry in the north east for over 12 years.
Maybe it also says something about how many people know about the fabulous religious resources centre, and please do register, connect and make use of the fabulous resources. And the books. The many 1000’s of books. Almost free, with an annual fee to join…
So, when youth work books are being given away for lack of use, what is going on? – what isnt going on?
What priority does youth work actually have ? And who might actually be prepared to graft, to read, to think about it, before embarking on the long term journey of it..
Books may be out of fashion, but come on, leaving them unused, unread and not part of the process of developing youth ministry practice… really?
Im not shocked, just a bit disappointed. When a resource this good has been laying dormant. What a waste.