ABSTRACT

This chapter focuses on the management of Christian youth work, within the context of local Christian faith communities. Historically speaking youth work in the UK has its pre-Albemarle roots in a religious and Christian motivated social concern (Davies, 1999). Despite this the Christian faith has certainly not been alone in influencing youth work. Most recently, the emergence of Muslim youth work, and an associated graduate level training programme,1 reflects the growing awareness of what youth work, as a methodology, might have to offer the Muslim community in the UK. The Jewish faith also has a longstanding tradition of vibrant youth work, ranging from Jewish informal education and youth activities (Chazan, 2003), and youth movements (Rose, 2005). This being the case, faith based youth workers, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim,

who have undergone professional training, would want to distinguish between activities that keep young people included in their respective faith communities, and those which work with young people engaging them in their respective ethical and social teaching, and exploring their own identity and wellbeing in contemporary society. This tension is connected to the way in which young people are thought about, and related to, by the faith community. Anxiety about ‘losing young people’ can lead to an atrophying of the educative character of youth work, and a very top-down, adult controlled curriculum. Youth workers in such contexts ‘stand in the gap’ – between generations, cultures and modes of education; to a certain extent they operate at the flux of the hopes of adults, and the aspirations of the young. This anxiety perhaps could be argued to be reflective of the broader attitudes of society towards the young; subject to the same moral panics (Davies, 1986; 2005). Although an argument could be made for certain commonalities in the social and

political experience of faith groups, it is simply not possible to generalize too much about the specific experience of ‘management’ across the whole sector. It is prudent therefore to limit the discussion of this chapter to the managing of youth work within the Christian sector, given that this both represents the majority of faith based youth work in the UK, and best represents the experience of the author. But it is hoped that those who are familiar with the management contexts of other faith communities may find some resonance with the following critique.