Beyond youth work

Yesterday I watched 100 young people explore what it would look like to lead in the seven spheres of society. 

Some were as young as 13, but they were asking ‘could I work in the media, in government, in education, in business?’   The individuals running the youth conference knew what it was to be a building block.  They knew that youth work is about more than young people, it’s about people who are youth right now, but won’t be forever.  They made space amidst the talks on stepping up, living with integrity, sharing Jesus with their mates and impacting their schools to talk, teach and envision these young men and women for what came next.

It’s always exciting to see leaders look beyond their remit and connect to the bigger picture.  Forthese guys it was looking beyond youth to adulthood.  For myself, as a student worker, there was so much to focus on with student mission, bible studies and family lunches that considering what came next seemed like bonus material.  However, I am realising now that acknowledging that those students were almost-graduates wouldn’t just have caused me to put on a prep for graduation event before they left.  That bigger perspective would have transformed their entire discipleship throughout their student years.

If I had kept post-graduation in mind, then I would have spoken not just about good working practice, but about what kind of work they wanted to pursue.  Our church community couldhave connected them with mentors in their desired fieldwho could also offer work experience and help with job applications.  As well as encouraging them to make the most of living in 24/7 community I would have helped them process what it looks like for faith to be robust in the face of solitude.  After all, lonely and missing the peer-interaction is where many found themselves a year later.  A bigger perspective might even have brought into greater focus the brevity and uniqueness of the university experience.  Ironically, looking beyond my remit could have kept my passion and sense of urgency for it burning brightly.  

Seeing those youth workers investing beyond their area of responsibility made me question how much I saw the ministry I was passionate about as a building block.  More often than not, I saw it as the big picture.  

Do we need to have a bigger perspective when it comes to our ‘remit’?  How might considering youth as one-day-students or one-day-workers affect your youth work?  Is looking ahead really our responsibility, and do we do this automatically if we’re discipling young people well? 

Over to you.


Pippa Elmes

Ministry Training Leader

Pippa supports those in church based student ministry to do their job really well. She loves challenging churches to work with students and equipping them to pioneer new mission opportunities to reach students.                     

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