Top-Rated Free Essay

Should the Church Have Focused Ministry for Young People or Should They Seek to Worship Together

Topics: Youth / Pages: 28 (6970 words) / Published: Jul 4th, 2011
Should churches have focused ministry and mission with children and or young people, or should they seek to work with all ages together.

Abstract

This assignment will examine whether focused ministry specifically with young people has a place within the church and whether mission should focus on different age groups, or be all inclusive. It will look at the biblical issues surrounding mission and consider what the scriptures say about the different approaches to ministry. Developmental issues will also be explored by looking at the ways in which both types of ministries help young people in their development or hinder it. It will then look at the sociological implications and explore the different ways that young people learn and interact. Finally it will delve into focused ministry with parents and look at various issues of passing on the faith. The conclusions drawn from the assignment are that focused ministry and mission play an important part, but it is equally important to work with all ages together. By working with young people as a group, workers are able to focus on needs which may be specific to that age group. However there may be issues which can be more adequately addressed by all ages sharing experience and knowledge on a wider scale. The assignment clearly shows that both methods of ministry and mission have their place within the church and young people develop best when they are exposed to both.

Introduction

Historically the church has been a place where members of the community from all age groups come together for worship and biblical teachings. It was not until late nineteenth century that congregations were broken up into smaller groups and children and young people were taught separately from the older members. Andrew Root noted that,
Children have always played meaningful roles in societies and the church has always worked to pass on its faith to its young people. But age specific ministry to young people -youth ministry- is no older than the late nineteenth century.

This would suggest that focused ministry with young people is not new, however ministry and missions with young people is still developing and finding its place within the church.

Focused ministry with young people can be in the form of youth groups, para-churches and different programs and events which are geared towards helping young people in their spiritual growth. Focused ministry allows youth workers to structure programs which are designed to meet specific needs of young people and deal with issues which pertain to their age group. Sara Savage describes youth ministry as ‘Explicitly faith-based activity. It works from the assumption of a shared knowledge base about the Christian faith and sees its role as being to disciple, guide and even socialize young people into the faith.’ Savage explains that youth ministry is all about programming activities which will appeal to young people and develop them in the faith. Whether this type of ministry is the most effective way of conveying the gospel and ministering to young people is what this assignment seeks to find out.

Mission is often perceived as missionaries taking the gospel to other countries and sharing the word of God with people who may not have been exposed to Christianity. This however is only one aspect of mission as it is, ‘Engagement outside of the church, when we engage with people outside of the Christian faith.’ This engagement can take place at anytime in the form of evangelistic ventures and programs designed to share our faith with non-Christians, or during the encounters we have with people on a daily basis. It is the purpose of the church to carry out Gods mission by bringing the gospel to all people irrespective of their age and background because, ‘The Christian faith is intrinsically missionary.’

The objective here is to examine whether mission geared towards young people should be carried out exclusively by youth pastors and youth workers or whether the whole congregation should be involved.

The assignment will focus on mission and ministry with young people with an age range of between thirteen and twenty five. This group has been chosen for the assignment as this is the age group that I am currently working with.

Biblical Issues

The Great Commission given to the disciples by Jesus was the plan of God for the salvation of all humanity. His instruction to them was to continue the work he had begun by spreading his message of redemption throughout the world. He commanded them to,
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20

This instruction has been carried out by the church throughout the ages and continues to be Gods divine will and purpose for his church. If mission is Gods objective then it is imperative that the church discover the most effective way to transfer the message of salvation to the different groups it will encounter.

David Bosch explained that mission is,
Missio Dei, ‘Gods self-revelation as the One who loves the world, Gods involvement in and with the world, the nature and activity of God, which embraces both the church and the world, and in which the church is privilege to participate

As the church seeks to participate in mission with young people it must evaluate whether mission is most effective when it is done through focused mission or by the church working together. Bosch speaks of Gods involvement with the world, this involvement could be in the form of the different engagements made with young people outside of the church; which could be done through school contacts and assemblies, out reach projects with homeless teenagers, or befriending a struggling teenager.

Being involved in mission that is focused on young people in different establishments or situations could mean that outreach is more tailored to their needs, thus making mission more relevant to where they are at. Gardner argues that,
The church needs to realize exactly how much of a mission context it finds itself in when trying to reach young people, so that it can produce culturally appropriate methods of introducing the concept of faith in Christ.

Gardner supports the need for mission that focuses on young people, mission that is in tune with the world that they are engaged with, be it their music, icons or language. He implies that knowledge of their world will better enable the church to carry out mission that is more effective and will have a greater impact. His argument suggests that in order to impact young people missional engagement should be based around knowledge of their culture. This way of thinking was championed by the Apostle Paul who said, ‘To the Jews I became as a Jew that I might win Jews’ 1Cor 9:20. Could we interpret Paul’s writings to mean that when working with young people we should become culturally aware so that we might win them? Garners way of thinking is supported by Dean who states,
Adults in youth ministry have long viewed themselves as missionaries to an alien culture, a special breed of theological anthropologist who must learn the language, taboos, artifact, and rituals of the teenage universe in order to make the gospel accessible to them.

Their argument suggests that knowledge or experience in working with young people is needed to take part in missions. If this is the case what part can the wider church play in being involved in missions? Could this imply that adults who are connected to youth ministry are more capable at conveying the gospel to young people than other adults in the wider church? Root argues that,
Outreach and mission is not just youth pastors going to adolescents but church communities receiving adolescents; it is the invitation (maybe represented by one person) to participate in the life of multigenerational community of persons meeting persons in the new humanity of Jesus Christ.

Here Root suggests that mission is the responsibility of the entire church working together in welcoming young people into the body of Christ. He does not present an argument which necessitates knowledge of young people and their world as Gardner and Dean, but he advocates the entire church family being involved in mission. He believes, ‘If incarnational youth ministry is to be missional place-sharing, then it must be practiced by the whole congregation not just the youth pastor and his or her team.’

Root speaks of the church being incarnational, this was explained as,
‘The heart of the new experimental form of Christianity - the transformative movement attempting to unify the world under the banner of the evolving church. It calls for a non-offensive form of the gospel.’

Roots argument has highlighted a negative aspect of missions that is influenced by youth culture. Mission that is more concerned with gaining young people opposed to young people being converted is in danger of not accurately conveying the message of salvation. Mission that is activity based may result in youth work which does not share faith. The church should be aware of the possibility of overcompensating for young people and presenting a gospel which is far removed from the commission given to the church. ‘Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you, (Matthew 28:19-20) could be lost in our efforts at making the gospel more compliant for young people.

The church working together in its efforts in mission could ensure that missional programs transfer the message of salvation although they may be influenced by youth culture. Where the pastor is involved in the planning he or she could ensure that the youth pastor and the team have Gods mission as their focus. Involvement of the older members in receiving the young people into the congregation and playing a part in their formation will present a broader example of Christian living.

In the book of Titus Paul admonishes the church to work together in ministering to the needs of the younger members. He encourages the older woman to be ‘Teachers of good things’ (Titus 2:3) and that the younger men should be encouraged to, ‘Be sober minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works.’ (Titus 2:6-7) Here Paul encourages the church to work together in ministering to young people. His referral to women loving their husbands and their children could be expanded to include all the various issues that commonly face young people. Older members of the congregation could act as a source of information and advice because of their life experience and knowledge of Gods word.

Dean speaks about the need for the whole congregation to participate in ministry with young people. She draws reference to an eighty-five year old Sunday school teacher but she does not restrict engagement under the umbrella of youth ministry. She states,
Godbearing youth ministry means helping the entire congregation recognise its role in raising up a child in faith – a vow we make at an infants baptism, and one we take rather seriously in the case of young children but routinely abandon to “youth leaders” come adolescence.

It is conceivable that Dean’s observation takes place in many congregations as the responsibility of ministry is passed over as young people grow older. The church relinquishes its duty to engage, nurture and develop into the hands of a few people who are “called” to minister to young people. This is not to say that youth ministry does not do the job of engaging, nurturing and developing but the question of whether it should be the overriding or main source of ministry is what the church needs consider.

The negative side of focused ministry being the main source of nurturing is that it moves away from Paul’s view that older members should pass on their wisdom and instruction. His analogy of the church is that of mother and father passing on the knowledge and faith to their children. Focused ministry in the form of para-churhes or continuous separated teaching and worship would not allow this engagement as the wider church would be excluded.

Biblical references to teaching and ministering to young people are in relation to the passing down of faith. Paul passed down to Timothy and he encouraged the elders to pass down to the young men and women. Moses entreated parents and grandparents to pass down the faith to their children, ‘These words which I command you this day shall be in your hearts and you shall teach them diligently to your children.’ (Deu 6:6-7) It could however be maintained that focused ministry was the approach used by Jesus’ with his disciples as they were young men who were ministered to away from the wider church. Although the scriptures are not explicit about focused ministry with young people the church will benefit when both approaches to ministry are used in conjunction with each other.

Developmental Issues

The church is constantly faced with the challenge of finding different approaches and methods to aid and encourage young people with their spiritual development. The question of whether the church can work with all ages in development will be determined by the ways in which the church seeks to develop young people. In Youth A Part the coverage on development and young people in the church appears to take place in programs designed for young people which are separate from the wider church. The writer explains that,
Young people have opportunities to develop their faith both through individual searching and by a range of opportunities which they can develop and take part in, provided by others in the church.

It goes on to list the different activities which are provided to encourage development, all of which are essential to spiritual growth but it is noticeable that all take place under the umbrella of youth work. Listed among the activities are residentials, camps and holidays, retreats and festivals, all of which are fashioned especially for young people. It is clear that youth development is seen to take place in focused ministry as the writer explains that the development of young people ‘Takes place by extremely committed and caring individuals who are seriously concerned about young people within the church’

In contrast Karl Graustein explores the effect that church members have in the lives of young people. He professes that young people develop by being a part of a Christian environment where they can observe the examples of mature Christians who they can learn from. Graustein believes that young people, Can watch and listen to pastors and be inspired by their commitment to study the word and apply it to their lives. We can observe our teachers and learn how they apply their Christianity to studies and living in this secular culture. We have a great opportunity to humble ourselves and learn from the mature individuals around us.

This suggestion denotes a more involved approach to development which does not only include adult youth workers but could include many members of the church. This contribution to development is not separate from the mainstream church but takes place continuously as young people engage with the whole church. Graustein differs in his idea of development as he indicates that growth is more determined by adult relationships and interaction opposed to development through activities.

There are positive and negative aspects to both writers’ views. A positive aspect to Grausteins way of thinking is that young people may be influenced by the passion they witness in mature Christians. Passion can be very contagious and young people who are surrounded by passion filled Christians may also become passionate about their faith. Positive examples of Christian living can also have lasting if not life changing effects on their spiritual development. As young people observe adults setting good examples in the way they live, they may be challenged to live out the examples they have seen.

A negative aspect could be young people who are surrounded by dispassionate Christians. If the only mature Christians surrounding them are indifferent and apathetic, there is a high probability that development will be mediocre. Peter Gilbert affirmed that, ‘It is always worth remembering when it comes to this point of demonstration that those who we lead and serve will always attach importance to that to which we give priority.’ Bad examples from adults could have a great impact on how young people develop in their faith, these examples could be ingrained in the way Christianity is interpreted and in the way it is practiced.

A positive aspect of focused ministry and is that it is centered on young people and it is designed to ‘Help them understand themselves and the world around them as well as helping them realize their potential.’ It also gives young people a space to be themselves, to explore and develop away from the often judgmental eyes of adults and their parents. Here they can have a voice and establish a sense of belonging with other peers who share the same beliefs as they do. On the negative side however, focused ministry could be too inclusive and while providing a space for young people it could exclude the involvement of adults from whom young people could benefit. This could mean that young people are learning from each other and their youth leaders but development could be limited as they are not being exposed to the lives and experiences of adults in the wider church.

Gilbert argues that ‘Development and disciplining of adolescents will not only service to integrate them better into church life, but will also better equip them to be the church of today.’ From Gilbert’s comments it is clear that development plays an important part in ensuring that young people are a part of the church and that they also experience a sense of belonging. This sense of belonging will serve to diminish the disparity between the different ages and encourage the different groups to work together. He also speaks of equipping young people to function in the church which could be done by giving them the opportunities to develop their skills and gifting not only in youth settings but also within the church.

He places great importance on the church being committed to developing young people as it is an essential part of building a community where all ages work together. He states,
It is important as we seek to integrate our young people into the life of our family and our church family through careful active discipleship that we are developing a commitment to be committed to development.

Integration into the church family will also mean including young people in evangelism and other missional programs. Here development will be essential as young people need to be prepared and equipped in sharing their faith. This can be quite a daunting experience as it requires them to step out of their comfort zone and express belief in a faith which may be rejected or ridiculed by their peers. Adults will need to play a very important part in sharing their experience of mission and transferring their passion to young people. Their involvement by sharing experiences and giving ideas of how evangelism could be approached may give young people the confidence and encouragement they need to share their faith.

Strommen and Hardel believe that,
Nothing can create a greater sense of family in a congregation than for all children, youth and adults to be motivated by a strong sense of mission outreach. When members feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, they tend to bond and unite the congregation.

This is very enlightening as they present an argument which suggests that mission can bond a church together and unite young and old. Why would mission have this effect and how would it help young people to feel more a part of the church? Stommen and Hardel provide the answers as they go on to explain that studies have revealed that organization who demonstrate three integral factors of development ‘Vision, mission and belief system’ become united in their shared belief and cause. By having the same belief in Christ and jointly working towards sharing that belief with others, young and old can work together in missions. Dean suggests that
God views young people as participants in Gods mission rather than targets of ours God does not send out a few teenagers in a church van to represent Christ in the world on behalf of the church; God sends the whole church. Dean is in agreement that when the church works with all ages in missions it promotes a sense of family and belonging. If this is the case the church should seek to develop young people in missions and adults should pass on their experience and knowledge. Not only will this make young people more prepared for missions but it will also integrate them into the church allowing them to feel more a part of the wider vision.

Sociological Issues

The church needs to examine and understand the sociological differences between the way young people and adults learn. With a greater understanding the church will be better equipped to adequately meet the ministerial and missionary needs of both groups. The Church of England report, Children in the Way, supports all ages working and learning together however it simultaneously recognises the need for adults to have deeper engagement and further interaction which may exclude younger members. The report states,
The nurture of children is parallel to and also continuous with the education and growth of teenagers and adults. As adults and children work together questions may well be raised which adults need to develop and pursue at a different level in adult groups.

The report states that further engagement for adults may be necessary but does it consider that young people would also benefit from further engagement and deeper discussion with their peers? Young people are exposed to a different environment and culture from adults, meaning that their approach and outlook may differ on various issues. The church should be aware that as there is a need for adults to look at issues from a different perspective the same need exist for young people. Malcolm Payne argues that young people have a great need for help and mutual support from their peers, he states,
‘Being with others, especially if they share some of the same experiences, can reduce people’s feelings of being alone in their world. New friendships and support networks can be built’

His discussion is based on the effectiveness of working with young people in a group setting which gives them space to delve deeper into issues and questions. Working with groups of all ages may inhibit young people from sharing their true feelings as they may feel that they are misunderstood or misjudged by adults. Young people may think that adults do not understand them as they do not share the same experiences and they may be seen as old fashioned and out of date in their outlook and view point. It could also be difficult to share their feelings regarding relationships, family issues, problems at school or any other subject which may require them to be honest and open about their feelings and opinions.

Jason Gardner introduces an alternative perspective on young people sharing the same experiences, he argues that,
People of the same age group may live through the same historical events in the same country, and yet interpret those events in quite different ways according to the social generational unit to which they belong.

Gardner argues that agreement or a difference in opinion may not be determined by age alone but could also be determined by background and shared community. This way of thinking could be in support of both focused ministry and ministry with all ages as it implies that age does not guarantee similarity in thinking or reasoning. If community plays an important part in how people think and relate, then age should not be a hindrance in people working and learning together. ‘It appears both in theory and practice that much of our learning and growing could be done in all age groups.’

The Church of England report seems to encourage all ages working together but at the same time it advocates the need for adults to separate in order to gain deeper insight into any questions raised. This appears to be conflicting as the report firstly implies that the nurture of young people is equivalent to that of adults but then goes on to state that adults may need to separate for further learning. Kendra Creasy Dean advocates ‘Settings where teenagers could “eavesdrop” on mature faith.’ It could be argued that the separating of adults in order to establish greater knowledge and deeper insights to a question would not do any service to the young people or the adults. Such separation would not answer some of the probing questions that the young people themselves may have and it would not allow them to gain knowledge from the further discussions and possible conclusions drawn by the adults.

Gardner argues that some criticize the church of, ‘Failing to unite the generational strands and may feel that the church is simply acting as a service provider, tailoring to the needs of individual groups.’ This point is in opposition to the separating of age groups for ministry as it implies that focused ministry is a way of complying with the demands of different groups. The questions which arise from this point is whether it is wrong to tailor to the needs of different groups or should the church seek to minister to all ages in the same way? Also by catering for different age groups is the church succeeding in meeting different needs or is it encouraging division or further distance between the generations?

Catering for the needs of young people may involve looking at the differences in culture and how they respond to worship. Steve Emery-Wright states, ‘To contextualize worship into the culture of young people means that it will be substantially different from the culture in many main stream churches.’ If this is the case then the church needs to understand how young people relate to worship and work alongside them in creating worship that they feel a part of. If worship is staid, out dated and out of touch with the current generation, young people will be less inclined to take part and have a sense of belonging. As a part his research Emery-Wright found that,
The traditional and all-age service at all four of the churches were created by trained clergy or lay preachers, which left the young people feeling like passive spectators unable to engage with worship.

If the aim of the church is to work with all ages together, the church should seek to understand what young people need in worship and how to cultivate an atmosphere that interest and attracts them. Some would argue that this is ‘tailoring to the needs of individual groups,’ but in contrast we could view it as the church seeking to work with all ages by creating an environment that has something for all ages.

Peter Ward confirms that there is a need for contextualization, however he highlights the probability that it may shrouded by fear of change. He claims, The problem arises with the emphasis put on the word ‘change,’ when that which is changed is never defined. Often the change that occurs is cultural in that a dominant culture superimposes a cultural Christianity on the second culture. The second culture does not contextualize the gospel rather it assimilates or conforms to the values of the dominant culture.

Moving from more traditional ways of worship such as the singing of hymns and the reading of liturgy could evoke fears that young people are taking over or that the world is infiltrating the church. Changes to more upbeat songs and music which embraces pop culture may only serve to distance the generations and cause dissatisfaction amongst older members. How the church deals with this transformation will determine whether the different groups with concerns will work together in creating an environment that caters for everyone.

Whether this is easily achieved is debatable but both Ward and Emery-Wright argue that there is a need for the church to have a better understanding and work towards the inclusion of today’s culture in worship. If the church is to succeed in working with all ages there needs to be more communication which will help to nullify the misunderstandings and misconceptions of worship which is influenced by culture. Ward noted that
Mainstream church life is culturally divorced from young people. Most groups therefore have found that a separate service is needed in order to gain a distinct ‘cultural space’ where worship can be developed which arises from popular culture.

Wards comment is evidence that the church is not succeeding in meeting the needs of young people in worship. If young people can only experience culturally influenced worship when in a separate group, the gap between generations will not be mended and the needs of the young people will not me met in mainstream church.
In his research Emery-Wright could find no arguments that opposed the need for change. ‘All suggestions mentioned the need for a greater and deeper involvement of young people in terms of creating and participating in services.’ His findings suggest that the church will only succeed in working with all ages together if they are prepared to listen to the younger generation and allow them to be apart of the transformation.

A negative aspect of this transformation could be inappropriate balancing of cultural invasion. By this I mean that culture could infiltrate the church to such an extent that many of the primary practices of mainstream worship are lost. Hymns that have strong messages and deep meanings could be seen as archaic and old fashioned. These hymns may be completely replaced by upbeat songs and fast music which although meaningful may not provoke spiritual persuasion and deep inward reflection as sacred hymns.

Earlier Gardner argued that when dealing with young people the church could be guilty of ‘Acting as a service provider, tailoring to the needs of individual groups’ This point could again be argued here as change in worship could be influenced by the overwhelming desire of the church to bridge the generational gap. The need for the church to worship with all ages is crucial to growth and unity; however it should not do away with its fundamental practices in order to accomplish this.

Communication is vitally important and leaders should ensure that the older members are also involved in transformation as change may be most uncomfortable for their age group.
Ministry and mission involves meeting people where they are and enabling them to move forward with change. This may mean that we ‘Make the services interactive and less tense and formal’ for the younger generation while at the same time we communicate clearly to the older generation who may be, ‘Resistant to changing the form or function of the church in order to fit in with the current cultural climate.’

The goal of the church should be to understand the sociological differences between the different ages, so that ministry and mission can be integrated into all areas of the church decreasing misconceptions and separation.

Family Issues

As we explore the role of focused ministry and mission with young people, we can not ignore the importance of working alongside parents in their role in ministering to their children. Strommen and Hardel argue that ‘Parents are the primary educators of their children’s faith.’ This statement suggests that the role that parents play in faith development is of chief importance and their contribution is crucial in ministry and mission. They found that ‘Religious practices in the home virtually double the probability of a congregation’s youth entering into the life and mission of Christ’s church.’

Various questions arise from the arguments presented by Strommen and Hardel. If parents are so fundamental in the passing of faith to young people, should the church seek to have focused ministry with parents and would the church benefit from helping parents in their awareness of the role they play in ministry and mission? Also are they suggesting that the reason why young people are non committal or fall away from faith is due to a lack of religious practices in the home? These questions also arise from the points made by Dean were she states,
‘Parents matter most when it comes to the religious formation of their children. While grandparents, other relatives, mentors and youth ministers are also influential, Parents are by far the most important predicators of teenagers’ religious lives.

Dean supports Strommen and Hardels argument as she observes that ministry in the home is of vital importance. Her conclusions suggest that parents are of utmost importance and are second to none in building faith and ministering to young people. Marjorie J Thompson explained that ‘Our childhood experience of intimate relationships within the family circle has an enormous impact later in life, not only in our capacity for intimacy with each other but also with God.’ If Thompson and Dean’s arguments are correct, then parents contribute to the growth of their children not only be overtly teaching Godly principles, but also in the way they interact in their relationships. Daily examples of faith would be lived out in the home and in various situations which would provide actual examples of convictions and beliefs.

This brings us to the question of whether the church could benefit from helping parents with their role in ministry and mission in the home. Dean observes that,
Many adults lack confidence in articulating much less teaching their own faith. What if parents and volunteers are no more religiously prepared than teenagers are? How do we speak with conviction about a faith that we have trouble explaining ourselves?

Her observations suggest that focused ministry with the family which helps parents to present the gospel in the home would be of great value to the church and parents. Parents would be more equipped in passing the faith to teenagers and they would be more aware of the importance of ministry and mission in the family. The church would benefit as young people would be more exposed to faith teachings from home which would make the churches efforts easier as they would be supporting the examples taught in the home.

On the other hand however consideration should be given to young people who are from a non-christian home and whose parents have no faith or maybe adverse to the Christian faith. Dean writes that,
Research is nearly unanimous on the point: parents matter most in shaping the religious lives of their children. This is not to say that parents determine their children’s spiritual destinies. Even the Bible has apostate parents with spiritual children.

This suggests that although ministry in the family is of great importance to spiritual development and mission is most effective when conveyed in the home, young people from non-christian homes are still able to have firm Christian beliefs and develop a strong faith.

Focused ministry in the form of mentoring and discipling would be most beneficial in such cases as young people from non-christian homes could learn from the examples of mature Christians. Strommen and Hardel suggest that ‘One-to-one mentoring, because of its immediacy can get through to kids. This individual can be there when the parent, usually a single mother is too busy trying to make ends meet’ Here the writer focuses on help for single parents but what the writer fails to consider at this point is that mature Christians could also fill this role where parents do not have the same faith as young people. It does not explore the possibility that some parents are without faith and are unable to contribute to spiritual nurturing. Where this is the case focused ministry among young people should be essential, as the need for ministry and help outside of the church would be of great importance.

The general consensus among writers is that parents are the primary example in developing faith and the home is a perfect missional context where parents can lead there children to Christ. Parents are in the best position to develop their children as they are observers and witnesses to their daily lives where they can be ‘Eavesdropping for the sake of the gospel.’ Dean explained that this means, ‘Being in touch with the teenage world of music, values, images, icons, fashion, heroes and magazines, and finding implicit connections with the message of Christ. Parents are at a primal position of influence as they are aware of the culture surrounding their children and they are able journey alongside them in their decisions, experiences and challenges.

Much consideration should be given when contemplating focused ministry with young people and parents. Ultimately By focusing on parents the church is helping to nurture and develop young people at home where they receive their greatest influence and example of faith. Focused ministry with young people and their parents will result in ministry which is more supportive and effective as home and church will be working together in building and developing faith.

Conclusion

Much consideration has been given to the question, should churches have focused ministry and mission with children and or young people, or should they seek to work with all ages together. Focused ministry and mission both play an important part in the life of the church and young people are served well when their programs are structured according to their needs. The wider church however also plays an important part in meeting the needs of young people, as it is here they find living examples and testimonies of real life experiences and Christian living.

Ministry that is focused around activities which young people find appealing is important. They help to build friendships among young people which gives them a sense of belonging and it provides a space where they can be themselves while facing different challenges. They can grow together and be a supportive group who share the same faith and the same beliefs. Focused ministry on it own however does not provide all the support and ministry that a young person will need. They will need to be a part of the wider church so they can befriend older members and observe the way they live out their Christian lives. In order to develop in their understanding of the word and Gods mission for the church they will need to be a part of the teachings in the church so that they can learn from the questions and discussions.

Youth Leaders have an important part to play in mission that is geared towards reaching young people. They are aware of the culture that surrounds young people and they understand how to engage with them on their level. This does not mean that mission should be carried out exclusively by youth leaders, but they should help to educate the church on how best to proceed with mission. Youth leaders are ambassadors who help to merge the gap between young people and the church by bringing them into a better understanding of each other. It should be the aim of the church to involve everyone in mission to ensure that new Christians are properly catered for and welcomed into the church family.

This assignment highlights the importance of young people being exposed to older members of the church so that they can build meaningful relationships. These relationships would also help young people to feel more apart of the wider church. As they grow closer to adults relations could develop into young people gaining surrogate mothers and fathers or aunties and uncles. Acceptance is an important part of any organization and the church working together with its young people would be a place of well being where young people can grow and develop.

As youth workers it is our responsibility to do all that we can to build a bridge between young people and the church. Making it easier to come together and create an environment where all ages can learn and work together.

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All quotations from the New King James version

www.crossroad.to/quotes/church/post-modern/incarnational.htm January 23.2011

Bibliography: Bosch DJ, Transforming Mission Paradigm Shifts in Theology Of Mission (New York: Orbis Books, Maryknll, 1991), Dean KC. Almost Christian (New York: Oxford Press, 2010) Dean KC, Foster R The Gobearing Life, The art of soul tending for youth ministry (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1998) Emery-Wright S, Passionate Worship (Essex: YTC Press, 2009) Gardner J, Mend The Gap (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008) P. Gilbert, Understanding Teenagers (Nottingham: Crossway Books, 1993) K Harrison R and Wise C, Working with Young People (London: SAGE, 2005) New Directions for the Church’s Children, Children in the Way (London: National Society Church House Publishing) Root, A. Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry (Illinois: IVP Books, 2007) Savage S, Collins-Mayo S, Mayon B, Cray G, Making Sense of Generation Y (London: Church House Publishing, 2006) Strommen MP, Hardel RA. Passing on the Faith (USA: St Mary’s Press, 1989) Thompson MJ, Family The Forming Centre (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 1996) Ward P. The Church and Youth Ministry (Oxford: Lynx Communications, 1995) Youth A Part, Young People and the Church, (London: National Society Church House Publishing, 1996)

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