As a church our youth work has always been fairly attractional – it is based around clubs and activities that we invite young people to. From there we hope to develop our relationship with them, and as we journey together, to share something of who Jesus is. This is okay, particularly in a middle-class suburb where that is how ‘entertainment’ is done – people go out to events. However it can lack the deep relationships and the fluidity of the incarnational approach.
Danielle Strickland was advocating the incarnational model from her experience of work in Canada – she made some good points but was so focussed on this as a model that it rather put me off some of her points – she couldn’t see any positives from the attractional model. Both Jim Partridge, and to a lesser degree, Pete Brierley are more where we are – the attractional model is at least their church’s starting point in meeting with young people. There is certainly a challenge for us to be more incarnational – to be more fluid and flexible in our approaches to ministering with young people.
The biggest challenge – which wasn’t properly discussed was how do you use a two track ministry (mid-week open youth groups, and Sunday churched groups) – our groups being so open in the middle of the week means a lot of young people link up with the church, but many of them would not want to come on a Sunday to the groups then.