Youthwork - Aug 2009I’ve read Youthwork Magazine for many years, but the August edition is the best I’ve ever read.  If you haven’t read it, get hold of a copy.

The Editorial team decided to ditch all the usual parts (the news, the pull-out resource section, the reviews and features) and provide an anthology of vision for youth work in 19 different areas, e.g Pete Greig on prayer, Krish Kandiah on next generation leaders, Chris Curtis writing on schools work, holistic discipleship by Jill Rowe and Mike Pilivachi writing about the youth leader,  to name a few.

This was an edition were people wore their heart on their sleeve – sometimes it clicked with me and sometimes it didn’t, but either way I came away with strong reactions.  This edition invigorated me to think about the vision we’ve been developing at Tonbridge Baptist Church over the last year.  We’ve used the following process theology to describe the journey of faith many individuals go through:

  • Serve
  • Engage
  • Transform
  • Grow
  • Release

Under each of these headings (and volunteers, parents, the wider church, and other organisations) we’ve written goals for 2010, 2012, 2014, 2020.  I’m excited by some of the crazy things we believe God has been laying on our heart, and excited as we get head down into that this coming academic year.

There were a few areas that I would love to have seen a mini-article on, for example, working with volunteers, counselling and pastoral care, preaching and teaching, but I do understand that in a magazine of 50 pages there are going to be limits to what can be included and what can’t.

I think the other crucial thing that made this edition work, was the roundtable discussion with 6 different youth workers.  It was disappointing that two other female youth workers were unable to attend, I think they would have brought further insight and clarity into the discussion, but the concept of having a group of ‘normal’ youth workers to share their opinions on the articles was really helpful.  I love the fact that they said what they thought, and looked at it from a realistic heart.  Sometimes youth work thinkers can get either a bit carried away in their dreaming or overly theoretical and yet get to the end of article saying so what, I know this already, how does it affect what I’m doing this week, the roundtable brought some of the articles back to ground with a bump – it would be interesting to hear the authors responses to the panels comments.

I would like to encourage Martin and the team to look at how they could go some way towards repeating this exercise.  I’m sure that trying to get 8 people together to read 19 mini-articles is no small feat, but there must be ways in which ‘real’ youth workers can earth some of the thinkers thoughts.

I was sad to read Jenny Baker’s A PS to my article in Youthwork magazine, I understand her frustration that…

Next time, I would hope to see more diversity among the people who are asked to contribute, with equal numbers of female visionaries instead of a paltry five out of 21.

I think it would be great to have more female insight into the future of youth work, especially given the church engages with more women then men.  But I am not sure that Jenny’s criticism should be directed towards Martin, Sarah and the editorial team, as it seems to be, because surely this is a reflection of the state of youth work in the UK. 

I’ve been in and around the youth work scene in the UK for five years now as a full-time worker and I’m not aware of masses of well-known female youth workers, and most of the main stage speakers, female or male, at Youthwork the Conference are normally ministers or church leaders so there isn’t a big profile for female youth workers.  Which women should the Youthwork Magazine team have asked to write an article – maybe Juliet Kilpin on community – who else?

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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