I am heading over to Sydney to meet with the Youth Vision Australia crew next week. We thought that we may as well take in a conference whilst there.
The Sydney Anglican youth department (YouthWorks) are running this Theology of Youth Ministry conference. It looks quite the academic style conference you would expect from the Sydney Anglicans. The week before the conference, all the speakers notes come out in a PDF.
This one caught my attention. The speaker is Graham Stanton, Principal of the Youth Works Bible college. His topic? All Things to All People? The Incarnation and Relational Youth Ministry.
In his notes are the following thoughts and reflections on a book by English Youth Minister and Author Pete Ward;
This incarnational approach (also referred to as ‘relational outreach’) follows five
basic stages: contact, extended contact, proclamation, nurture and church. The aim is
to move young people who are well outside the social group of the existing church to
see them established in their own church, one where the gospel is contextualised
within their own culture. The process seeks to establish a relationship (contact:
‘going to places where [young people] naturally “hung out”’ p.47), and develop that
relationship (extended contact: ‘moves a relationship physically away from the point
of contact’, with the youth worker ‘signalling that [the young people] are significant
to him’ and the youth are ‘expressing an acceptance of the youth minister’, p.53).
The aim of this relationship building is to move to a significant new stage when the
youth worker looks for opportunities to proclaim the gospel message. The
importance of contact and extended contact as pre-cursors to this stage is summed up
in the imperative (attributed to Jim Rayburn, founder of Young Life) that youth
workers ‘earn the right to speak’ (p.60).
Once young people make a response to the gospel the focus of the ministry moves to
nurture and church. Notable in Ward’s approach is that this work of discipleship
needs to be done outside existing church groups. Ward notes, ‘we are hoping that the
faith can become real within their own subcultural setting’ (p.63). The final outcome
will be a new church where the gospel is ‘contextualised amongst a group of people
who were not previously part of the Church. The hope is that Jesus can become real
within the subculture which these people share’ (p.18).
Wow! Sounds like a Forge conference to me! Not sure the S.Anglican crew would recognize it as such, but boy, some of the stuff being suggested looks like something from Neil Coles Organic Church or as I said, a speaker at a Forge gig. Well they say there is nothing new under the sun, and if God is making moves to disrupt the way we have done church and church planting for a while who says it will not be coming out from all sorts of places, in fact it would be arrogant of me to ever think Forge or even the emerging church in general has some right to claim ideas such as the above as their own – they are starting to leak out in all sorts of odd places! Must be God 🙂