Tag Archives: youth worker

Do We Really NEED Another Youth Event?


Do we really need another youth event? - I know they’re fun (if you’re an extrovert) and they’re cool (if you’re a faux-hipster) and an ego-bump (if you’re a youthworker) and they look like you’re doing something (if you’re a trustee) – but do we really need them?

A big flash-bang-wallop youth crowd event is something like a rite of passage for a youth worker: ‘you just haven’t made it until you’ve done one!’ You haven’t properly broke in your adrenaline-soaked, caffeine-fueled, slightly-demented Youthworker brain until you have. And it needs to be big – with big names and people and broken guitar strings and florescent jackets and lanyards… oooo the lanyards. It needs to have an explosive name, like … explode! Or a cool revitalising, flavored water sounding name like … revitalise (spare no creative expense here).

How Long Can We Keep It Up? - After the dying glow sticks are cleaned away and all the lollipops have been swapped for fake email addresses. After you’ve had three weeks to sleep it off and you’ve had the shouting match with your treasurer about your doctored event-expenses, what do you do then?

How many of those young people do you ever see again? How many ‘seeds’ were really planted? How long can you keep competing with the ‘youthphoria’ nights the local nightclub keeps running? How long can you keep telling people, we really need this event! How long can you keep telling yourself that this is what successful Youth Ministry looks like?

Smelling The Rat - I was brought up in event-driven youthwork culture. My youth group was a youth church with full-on band, lights and comfy chairs. We regularly ran big nights with famous Christian bands and speakers. We got shed loads of young people there and had a whole bunch of leaders too. I eventually became a leader in this setup and carried on the tradition, then furthered this by working with events across London. But somewhere the novelty wore off, and the young people started to smell the cheep, imitation rat.

My Beefs With Crowd Events - Don’t get me wrong – youth events can do things that other programs can’t… with some thought. There is a place for them… sometimes. Some kind of crowd interaction is needed in a successful, healthy youth ministry… somehow, somewhere.

My big beefs though, are these:

1. They are often flat-packed, copies of something else with no evidence of any thought put into the local context at all.

2. They drain things: people, money, resources, time, effort, program shapes. You need to have a godly approach to stewardship but crowd events tend to throw this out of the window.

3. They only cater to part of the young people population and psyche – often the popular-hungry extrovert. Whereas the solitude-seeking introvert is hiding in a corner wanting (understandably) the floor to swallow them up.

4. They often don’t fit into a broader youth work strategy of followup and discipleship.

5. They often steal from from other groups without thought for their own programs or relationships.

6. They tend to present a dishonest view of the Gospel thought a sugar-vibe. That’s lots of crazy, hyped up experiences that model ‘look, this is what Christianity really looks like.’ Which works (kind of)… at least for the duration of the sugar high.

7. They thrive off crowd-driven mentality, but they seek individual responses. Want to guess which overrules the other?

8. They can encourage passive ‘entertain me’ young people, rather than productive, participatory experience seeking young people.

9. They often compete with (and dilute with) secular consumerist culture which simply does it better.

10. They mostly simply don’t work. On their own, with no thought to context or strategy they fumble, burn out and often die (taking people with them).

So is There No Place For Them? - No, of course there is. My problem with events is that most that I’ve seen advertised to my young people, and most that I’ve worked with are cookie cutter and haven’t come out of seeking to fill a real need.

Crowd events can be amazing when they create safe space to develop family, mimic the celebration of heaven and seek to give secular culture a run for its money. The gathering of worshipers is an amazing missional tool – when done right.

So How Do We Do Events Right? - Start by asking the big questions:

1. Do we really need this right now? // Is this where we are in our Youth Ministry Journey?

2. Do we have a core group of developed relationships with young people to build out from?

3. Has God given us the resources needed to create this properly?

4. For what purpose do we want to run this // what need is it fulfilling?

5. Have we talked to local pastors and youth workers about potential harmony with their programs?

6. What else could we do creatively with the resources that we have?

7. How do we intend on doing followup?

8. Do young people here really care who these ‘Christian big names’ are? // What else could we market it on?

9. Are we trying to represent who we are, or repackage who we are?

10. Are there already things in the area that we can partner with?

11. How will the Gospel be presented and how will other elements help or hinder this?

There’s obviously a bunch of other bits n’ pieces to throw in, but I felt a wee bit ranty – so this is all you get! Enjoy ;-)

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CPAS Pitstop – a retreat experience for full-timers in youth ministry.

Being a youth minister is more than a full-time job. Lots of time and energy is spent encouraging, engaging with and discipling others in their faith while our own souls are often left malnourished.

Finding space and like-minded people to engage with in critical thinking and theological reflection is sometimes hard, but vitally important to stay fresh and to keep on growing in our ministry.

Pitstop is an opportunity to do just this and it does exactly what the name suggests – provides an opportunity to pull over for a couple of days, have some time to reflect on where you’re up to and receive some input yourself.

This 48 hour event will:

  • Offer a space for you to engage with critical thinking.
  • Help you think through the unique challenges of longevity in youth leadership.
  • Provide an opportunity for individual consultation on particular issues you are facing.
  • Feed you well – both spiritually and physically.
  • Be kept deliberately small (up to 25 participants) to create a sense of community.

Monday 23 May to Wednesday 25 May 2011

Windmill Farm Conference Centre, Bampton, Oxfordshire


How to book
You can book your place online or calling 01926 458425.

For more information please contact:

Ruth Hassall
E rhassall@cpas.org.uk
T 01926 458416

Andy Castle
E acastle@cpas.org.uk
T 01926 458422