When did you first realise you were called to youth ministry? It may have developed gradually over years, with small inklings along the way pointing you in the direction of working with young people. Or perhaps it was a sudden eureka moment, a lightning bolt from above, when you knew deep down in your soul that youth work was what you were born for. Or maybe you just stumbled into it, and aren’t really sure why you are doing what you are doing, or why you are reading a magazine about youth work.
For me, it was a consequence of two teenage girls. I shall forever be indebted to them (and possibly, sometimes, ruing the day I met them). I had just finished university, and was headed back home to work for a brief time at the church I grew up in, helping out with the youth work while they awaited a full-time replacement. Aside from being a young leader in my youth group I had never done youth work training in any capacity, and the thought of helping out with the church’s youth work while I was at university hadn’t even crossed my mind. But my vicar knew I was at a loose end, and as they needed some assistance, it seemed like an ideal stop-gap.
Part of my role involved helping out with the Bible study on a Wednesday, where I met and got to know these two girls: Emily and Rosie. It was through these relationships that I discovered something about myself: I love teenagers. I love them. I love spending time with them, chatting to them, hearing their woes, and dancing around like maniacs with them. This is the common fibre and DNA that all of us youth workers share (perhaps without the dancing around like maniacs part).
I then faced a dilemma. I felt God calling me to London, away from this youth group I felt so passionate about. How could I be called to this, but also called elsewhere? It made no sense. I wrestled with this question for a while, and decided that it was right to move to London.
Well – God’s got a good sense of humour. Because here I am at Premier Youthwork, which is where I arrived, somehow by accident and also somehow by God’s divine plan, a role he was preparing me for in that short time which left an indelible mark on my life. And I continue to enjoy nothing more than hanging out with the young people in my youth group.
It’s clear to see God’s plan looking back, but it’s often hard to discern God’s calling in the midst of the confusion of life; hindsight is a glorious thing. This month we asked seasoned youth worker Fuzz Kitto to share his thoughts on discerning your calling, and whether or not a youth ministry calling is for life. I hope that for those of you in uncertain job situations, or facing new seasons, his thoughts might be helpful.
It was also fascinating to interview Roy Crowne this month, former national director of YFC and someone committed to youth ministry for the long haul. We talked at length about his calling to evangelism and young people, and how he began to understand what God wanted him to do with his life.
It’s often in the specifics that things get confusing. We may feel called in a general sense to youth ministry, but does that mean we should be a full-time youth worker, or just volunteer with the youth group in our spare time? And which job is the right one if employment does seem the correct path? What if our job ends?
There are no straightforward answers to these questions, and it will take a lifetime of discerning to get there (and maybe still not even then). But thank God for this glorious calling to youth ministry in whatever form it finds us, and I pray that as you read through this issue you will be reminded once again of why you love young people so much.
THIS MONTH... We decided to get intensely practical. We love a bit of blue sky thinking as much as the next person, but sometimes you just need some good old-fashioned straight up and down wisdom! We hope you enjoy our specially-themed ‘How To’ edition of the magazine.