Ali has a great blog and has regularly written in youthwork magazine so I was intrigued to hear him at this session.

Why do we see them through?
Have to – there is nobody else who is prepared to work with the young people are they grow up.
Want to – we love them and want to see them progress in their relationship with God.

Ali argues that a ministry gifting isn’t specific to an age group, e.g. 7-10 year olds, but that we can do it with any age group, we may have a burden for a specific age group. If you’re gifted as a pastor or teacher you should be able to do it with all ages.

Activities v Attention
By age 8 or 9 young people really care who their leaders are – they want someone who they can own. They need detailed care which is more labour intensive.

Programs v Passion
Sometimes the programme is just there for a child to slot into. Young people often leave youth work because they are not stimulated – the focus moves off them as they become the youngest again.

Numbers v Health
Leaders, especially youth workers, can be obsessed with numbers. But health should be more important – things usch as faith nurturing and teaching biblical truth.

Relevance v Relationships
Some people won’t work with young people because they don’t think they are cool enough. But ironically young people always think that grand parents are cool. We must focus on being real, showing them our music etc., and not be a fake.

Attraction v Retention
We often spend a lot of time thinking about how we attract young people but not how we keep them. That needs to be a higher priority in the join with youth work.

Model of ministry v Mystery of God
We need to focus on God. There is a pressure to do the latest thing in youth work, but in children’s work things work because they do – they don’t seem to be as fad orientated.

Talking about God v Talking with God
A shared journey is crucial – we can all learn from it.

Ali then went on to look at some practical areas such as structures, having fuzzy age boundaries, peer leadership and mentoring to name a few. It was a helpful session as someone who is lucky enough to do both children’s and youth work. I am in the fortunate position of being able to completely link our children’s work with our youth work – and Ali certainly gave me a few things to think about and some areas to go back and re-evaluate.

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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