Tag Archives: YWS12

Developmental Priorities of Adolescents // YWS12 Early Day

At the YWS Early day Marko shared how the priorities of adolescents have changed over time. He suggested that teenagers have three developmental priorities Identity, Autonomy and Affinity. Explaining that in the later 20th century teenagers’ primary priority was in gaining Autonomy, and the other priorities were then understood and worked out in the context of Autonomy. Where as there has now been a shift towards Affinity [understanding where do I belong] being a priority with the other elements being set in the context of to what to I belong

A key point being that many of the models of Church youth ministry that we use are based on the model of helping young people develop autonomy by working with them seperately from the body of the church. Where now we should be focusing on helping them to see where they belong. However it has now struck me that two of the youth work values that we are taught to uphold as sacred in youth work, are also aimed at autonomy. Voluntary Participation and Empowerment, as valuable as they are, should perhaps be joined by a value to Enable Belonging. In the context of my own community based youth work, where the primary aim is not discipleship, I can now see this working our in that the young people are developing a sense of belonging to the project. This also helps me to understand why my attempts to empower them in their community have been met somewhat with less enthusiasm than I envisaged.


But what does this say about longevity and commitment to youth work. I am convinced that short term community youth work can be more damaging than nothing at all – a funding requirement in a previous project meant that I was never able to work with young people for more than 8 weeks. Given the what I have written above, young people would in this situation be looking to us to see if we offered a place where they could belong… just as we stopped. I did not need today’s teaching to show me this was a bad model to work with. However the alternative does then cause us a danger to slip towards the endless pressure put upon youth workers in supposed relational youth work – where there is never enough time to spend the time with every young person that deserves it

There is therefore a need to recognise the importance of creating a sense of belonging, brought through longevity in youth work, without that belonging being focused on us as individual workers, but belonging to God’s family through Christ. How we practically do this? I’m not quite sure…

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YWS a further reflection

Recently I’ve been doing my best to encourage anyone I know to come to Youthwork Summit 2012. Email, conversations, printing ‘45 reasons‘ and posting them up around the office & leaving programmes conspicuously on peoples desks.

Whilst doing that I have been reflecting on why I loved last years summit so much.

Last year I was in a place where I knew I needed to get back into ‘christian’ youth work of some kind – having worked in a secular setting for previous 2 years. Whilst looking for jobs I felt I needed something to help prepare me. I read a lot about #YWS11 amongst the various youth workers I follow on Twitter and decided to travel up to Manchester.

One of the things I have always found about youth work is how isolated I’ve felt. I think its partly the nature of our work and partly the nature of where I live – there just aren’t many other youth workers around. But at Youthwork Summit I found a huge sense of solidarity and oneness. A sense that I was with a group of people that understood what I did, that understood the struggles and the joys. There was teaching that engaged with the things I get excited about. Worship that enabled me to actually worship wholeheartedly in a way I had not for ages. In a sense it felt like church, or rather how church should be.

Since the summit and back on Twitter I’ve now found even more youth workers to follow, and in doing so the same sense of solidarity. I’ve no idea whether all the other youth workers on Twitter know each other offline, but in some of these conversations online that I’ve had, and I’ve overread of others, there is a sense of community amongst like minded individuals and support for each other.

One of the many things I took away from the summit was a challenge about online identity reflecting your real self (I can’t do the talk justice here so watch the video if you were not there [Youtube]). But what I have realised is that in many ways Youthwork Summit was a reflection of the community on Twitter. Or the people I met and sense of solidarity I felt at YWS11 is closely reflected by the conversations that continue online.

Maybe last years summit just came at the right time for me having been made redundant and in a church that felt like it was in meltdown I needed people but I also needed to get away. A few months on, I’m in a much better place than I was, and perhaps YWS12 won’t mean quite as much. But I don’t think so. At the beginning of the term we had a team quiet day, and it was great to be given permission to stop, to pray, to reflect and to read. And I can’t wait for 18/19th for another chance to stop, to hear teaching relevant to me, to worship and pray, to reflect and talk. And to do that with my brothers and sisters.

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