Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Paid Church Youth Workers - have we plateaued?
I was just wondering if the UK trend for churches employing youth ministry people had hit its peak and was now in decline?
I have no empirical evidence, and there's still plenty of jobs on Jobsearch! I have, however come across several areas where youthworkers gatherings/networks have significantly shrunk. Not just because people aren't coming out (although experience tells me that encouraging people to see wider than their own "thing" can be difficult), but because there are less workers in the areas.
Is this a "blip" or is the trend changing (or the growth slowing down)?
And why might that be? (I have a few ideas about poor employments and clashing expectations).
Or am I mis-reading the situation?

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Blogger Roy said...

think you may be right. We have/are losing the "its trendy to employ a youthworker" thing (at last!) but there may also be the sense that more people recognise the hidden costs of an employed worker these days, as opposed to days of old. I know of 2 churches looking to appoint again but are no longer as satisfied with first applicants at interview and are re-advertising. Churches that do have youthworkers seem to be getting much better at recognising their needs and requirements.
It may also be that some more entrenched youthworkers have built good support groups of their own and the more public networks are not a need for them in the way they once were.
A long comment with a few thoughts, no doubt we could add gazillions more!

8:55 am  
Blogger St said...

When I started working at CYFA/CPAS in 1992 we had a database of 50 full-time youth workers in the Church of England. Over half of them came to a retreat we ran for a few year called Churchbuilders.

Within five yars that number had topped 1,000 and in 2002 people were saying there were 2-5 thousand full(ish) time youth-workers in the Christian church in this country.

Clearly it had to stop or the entire population of the country would have been youth workers by 2016 at that rate.

I suspect that the work of that group of people has encouraged, trained and equipped a new generation of volunter leaders.

There will always be a need for full-timers but the very best of them tend to do themselves out of a job in ten years.

Nice to find you. Will visit again.

12:55 pm  
Anonymous Tim said...

I agree with you, Lev. I think the problem is that we all strive to create stable, consistent, and predicable youth ministries. Although stability has some merit, the stability should be found in the relationships within the ministry, not the ministry itself. It's just like our spiritual walk: may we never plateau in our spiritual growth. If we do, change needs to take place. And, in fact, if we plateau, change apparently needed to take place a long time ago.

With our ministries, when it plateaus, change is way overdue. My hope is to create a ministry that stable in relationships, but never in how we do ministry. Change and evaluation needs to be a constant thing.

4:32 pm  
Blogger Pete Lev said...

Thanks - helpful comments.
Tim - you mention evaluation. I think that is something that has been lacking in the church world often. We do criticizing and moaning but not evaluating!
St I hope that the paid youthworkers are raising up volunteers and not just creating a dependency
Roy I'd like to think churches are gradually becoming more thought out in their staffing as you suggest!

5:10 pm  

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