Emerging Church – Youth Work For Grown Ups? part 2

In part 1 I suggested that the church is full of ‘bored adults’, a product of the phenomena of  having once been ‘teenagers’.

Principles and Values

Youth Work is based on some principles.  Different places have different core principles or core values.  In Scotland the core values outlined by Community Education Validation and Endorsement (CeVe) are:

  • Respects the individual and the right to self-determination;
  • Respects and values pluralism;
  • Values equality and develops anti-discriminatory practice;
  • Encourages collective action and collaborative working relationships;
  • Promotes learning as a lifelong process;
  • Encourages a participating democracy.

Of course these values apply to the full range of community work activity but within that they cover youth work.  I’d like to suggest that if we were to try to write a similar list of core values for the Emerging Church the list would not be very different.

The Emerging Church seems to me to be:

  • respecting of the individual, placing strong emphasis on our own story or faith journey
  • and the right to draw from different traditions and experiences to form our future
  • based in a theology which values all and challenges inequality
  • all about working together in all kinds of ways
  • engaging people in worship, projects and experiences that are steeped in learning
  • centred on people being involved in the life of the community

I wonder if these values that Emerging Churches seem to display are at least partly a product of the people driving new forms of church having been involved in youth work, either as young people or as leaders?

Youth Work and the Emerging Church seem to share a value base.  Is that coincidence?  I don’t think so.

People, these ‘bored adults’, have in many cases had a good experience of church as young people.  They have been encouraged to participate, to learn, to value and respect each other and to be responsible for planning and delivering their own activities.  Imagine their shock when they are faced with ‘church’.  Sit there, be quiet and listen…

Is it any wonder that people are seeking out ‘new’ ways to be church?  But then I suspect that many of these ‘new’ ways aren’t new at all… they were born in youth work.

6 thoughts on “Emerging Church – Youth Work For Grown Ups? part 2”

  1. See my comments on part1.
    I do wonder if EC (or what I’ve come across) develops much beyond the second bullet point. But that’s maybe its challenge of course.
    Interesting to see the parallels though. Here’s a question though – is youth work good practice the basis, or has youth work simply codified what church has been doing (to a better or poorer degree) for a long time?

  2. Hmmm… Good question. I’ll have a think about that. It’s one of the things that was buzzing around my head when I started this wee series.

    What do other’s think?

  3. hey Stewart,
    reading your blog remind me of a mate of mine, Jason. Check out his site.


    I’ve also been involved in youth work for a while – now out of it, I’d managed to work myself into deeper faith, out of a job and out of the church…

    Happy Christmas

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