Youth Work After Christendom by Jo Pimlott, and Nigel Pimlott follows on from Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World by Stuart Murray.  It attempts to look at how ministry should be done in a post-modern world, a world where Christianity isn’t really well known, a world where biblical illiteracy is increasing.

In one sense this book is the Anglo version of Marko’s book Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where We’ve Been, Where We are and Where We Need to Go which I reviewed here.

Similar to Marko, the Pimlott’s book has very few answers, lots of questions, and lots of things I struggle with.  Many youth practicioners struggle with the church at the moment – youth ministry (probably as usual) is ahead of the adult church in the way that it is engaging in mission and then developing discipleship from these new forms of mission.  This can lead to big frustrations, so I enjoyed this quote from a frustrated church worker:

The church isn’t good at change. There are now glaciers moving with greater pace than that with which our church is embracing social change.

I felt the most helpful part was their deconstruction of modern youth ministry, especially the challenges around the role of festivals and camps in a young person’s spiritual life.  They were very strongly of the opinion that many of these festivals are a left over of Christendom with a traditional mode of preaching and worship and that they highlight the consumeristic state of modern Christianity.

The other big jump out point was the discussion around the mission of God and the Homogenous Unit Principle (HUP).  Maybe I’m too modern to get this.  I understand that young people feel most comfortable in their own context and interest, e.g. skaters interest other skaters, goths hang out with other goths and in the church where I work we run a number of groups that are targetted at certain types of young people.  But I would be concerned if we were to start splintering our youth ministries to focus our work with these groups – partly due to a lack of resources, and partly because I do think there is something important in a mixed body of Christ.  This is certainly an area where I’d love to do a half-day with some other youth leaders and bounce ideas on this.

More helpfully, I think the church needs to understand that in the last century it has developed a focus on buildings which means that mission is much more about inviting young people into church rather than meeting them where they are at.  This leads to very few young people having a missional perspective towards their friends and peers. This is a real challenge to those of us working with young people on a regular basis in churches, and something we’re exploring at the moment with a 3 week series on mission on our Sunday evenings.

It’s a good book that asks some great questions, and leaves me wanting a large lunch with some of my youth worker friends to bounce ideas over.

the mission of God and the Homogenous Unit Principle (HUP) were interesting and provided some insight into how this can work in different settings.
Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

0 thoughts on “The Presence of Jesus”

  1. thanks for the reminder …. it’s a book i keep going back to. I’m trying to restructure my days at the moment so there’s a good balance between admin/management, getting input (reading and prayer) and spending time with young people.
    It’s amazing how much time youth workers spend at their desks!

    1. I like the idea of the restructure, let us know how it goes, as our ministry grows I seem to spend more time being a manager than a minister which at times is fine but at other times seems to have missed the point.

  2. Tapped into your messages through your name being highlighted by a speaker coming to Houston, Texas (USA) that was impressed by you at the Lausanne Conference. As a pastor, I am impressed by your observations of the need to spend more quality time with the youth to build good relationships. It was my Dad’s dilemma as a pastor, and it certainly is & has been a challenge for me with my own children and the others we attempt to reach in the inner-city 3rd Ward area of Houston. Keep up the good work Chris. I will get the book. Pray for us here in America & my church–Houston Praise And Worship Center–in particular. We will pray for you. Blessings! Bishop/Atty. Frank A. Rush

  3. Hi Chris
    This Friday can we just have another talk and also sometimes i get really get sooo angry so Could you ask Mrs Souten if i could have a time out card please it would really help

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