25 years of (Premier) Youthwork: The good, the bad and the downright dreadful

For this special 25th anniversary issue we’ve embarked on a nostalgic trip down memory lane, dusting off the Youthwork archive, and unearthing all manner of weird and wonderful things from our past publications. From theory-shaping articles to wildly inappropriate games, recordable CDs to birth, death and re-birth of youth work activities, we’ve selected the best and most interesting for your perusal. 

All humour aside (and trust us, there’s plenty of it) the back issues of the magazine provide a hugely insightful temperature gauge of the youth work community – and the wider Church at large – as each year passes. Over the past 25 years, we’ve seen an increasingly professionalised work force, at its peak throughout the 90s with a flurry of youth work activity, roles and funding. Burnout, weakness and departing for different jobs becomes commonplace in the 00s, as too much was demanded and expected of youth workers. However, hope is on the horizon, as a re-envisioned, mature and nuanced youth work emerges in the latter years, with longer-term youth work being in vogue, genuinely innovative approaches to youth ministry coming to the fore, and a new excitement for youth work burgeoning. The past issues of the magazine therefore offer us, 25 years on, a privileged retrospective of where we as a youth work community have been, the mistakes we’ve made, and the best steps forward. Buckle your seat belts and hold on tight, as we journey to the dark and distant Youthwork past…

1991

ISSUE 1

The good ship Youthwork was launched by John Buckeridge, initially as a pull-out in Alpha (no, not that one) magazine.

1991

OBSTACLES TO YOUTH WORK

Even at the very start of its life, Youthwork acknowledged the difficulties involved with the unique calling that youth work is, and sought to equip those heading into the field.

1991

DOWNWARD TREND IN BELIEF REVERSED

A longitudinal study of secondary-aged children in East Anglia found a greater openness to the religious dimension, but also a decrease in interest in religious education and Church tradition.

1992

YOUTH WORK FROM SCRATCH

At the magazine’s inception, many churches were just dipping their toes into youth work, and exploring what engaging with the next generation might look like. The magazine reflected the general temperature of the Church, seeking to help them on their new venture of youth work.

1993

COMMUNICATING WITH TEENAGERS

In an effort to enable all people to speak the lingo with their teenagers, and ensure hip, hop and happening relevance at all times, Youthwork provided a handy (and hilarious) guide for the clueless youth worker.

1993

THE FUTURE OF YOUTH WORK

Only two years after the magazine was launched, key thinkers were already reflecting on what might be next for youth work, and how the youth work community could remain flexible to the unique challenges and trends they were seeing in young people.

1993

DANGER ZONES SURVEY

As the Church woke up to the decline in teenagers attending church, this survey analysed the key reasons behind the shift, finding that the majority of teens listed the church being ‘irrelevant and outdated’ as their main reason for leaving.

1993

GETTING THE BEST OUT OF VIDEO

Ah, the days when hiring videos from your local video store was a weekly activity. How we miss them!

1993

YOUTH WORKER LOCAL AUTHORITY CUTS

Cuts to statutory youth work services are not a new thing. Youth workers have always had to justify their role and to fight for the funding they deserve.

1993

SOUL SURVIVOR IN ITS SECOND YEAR

It’s hard to imagine a youth work world without the eminent Soul Survivor happening each summer. Youthwork reported on the second ever festival, which saw 4,000 young people gather at Bath and West Showground in Shepton Mallet.

1994

YOUNG PEOPLE LEARN ABOUT SEX AND DRUGS FROM THE MEDIA

Perhaps unsurprisingly, teens in the 90s learnt about sex and drugs from the media, as many do today. The media in question however is different: for the 90s’ teen, magazines and TV were the main source of information, whereas today’s young people have unlimited access to the internet and social media.

THEN & NOW

1993 Reader’s survey results

How have our readers changed over the years?

GENDER

1993: 65% Male – 35% Female

2016: 57% Male – 43% Female

AGE

1993: 27

2016: 35

PAY

1993: Majority volunteers

2016: Majority paid

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

1993: Working alone

2016: Lack of support

READING

1993: The typical Youthwork reader buys and reads nine Christian books a year

2016: 37% of readers buy six or more Christian resources or books each year

1994

13% OF UK YOUTH ATTEND CHURCH

What would have been a shocking statistic for readers in the 90s would now be encouraging; recent surveys and censuses suggest that church attendance among teenagers is lower than 13 per cent. It’s also interesting to note a reference in the survey to young people being more likely to attend a rave than church – something pretty specific to the 90s youth culture.

1995

JOBSEARCH LAUNCHED

Yes, in 1995, the real reason you all read the magazine arrived – the jobs’ pages!

1995

BELIEFS AND VALUES SURVEY

In this fascinating survey of 13,000 young people, ‘values’ (which are determined to be moral behaviours) are contrasted

with propositional beliefs from Christianity (i.e. Jesus is the son of God). Perhaps most interesting is the section on sexual morality, in which 39 per cent ‘agreed’ that homosexuality is wrong, 72 per cent said that they are ‘unsure’ whether or not contraception is wrong, and 70 per cent said they are ‘unsure’ whether or not it is wrong to have sex outside of marriage. We suspect that results from a similar survey today would be markedly different.

1995

FIRST COLOUR COVER

Huzzah! Youthwork entered the modern age with this jazzy monograph cover.

1996

‘YOUTH A PART?’ SURVEY RESULTS

This ground-breaking report, presented to the General Synod, was significant in shaping the Church of England’s thinking around a ‘theology of youth work’.

1996

YOUTHWORK GOES MONTHLY

In response to demand and a growing readership, the magazine moved from bi-monthly to monthly and got a new logo.

1997

EDEN LAUNCHED

In its first iteration, Eden was launched by the World Wide Message Trust as a mega youth group on an estate in Manchester. Today, Eden is an incarnational movement of long-term and intentional investment on estates around the country.

1997

YOUNG GIRLS AND PROLIFERANCE OF TEEN MAGAZINES

Anyone remember Sugar mag? As the most popular media outlet for teenage girls, Youthwork here analysed the messages being relayed to young people through the magazines.

1998

COMPUTERS AND EMAILS!

Ahead of the cultural curve as ever, Youthwork embraced the brand new platform for mass communication – email!

1998

YOUTH CONGREGATIONS DEBATED

An on-going theme in Youthwork through the years, the rise in youth congregations was a hotly contested issue among key youth work thinkers and practitioners.

1999

COLOUR FEATURES THROUGHOUT THE MAGAZINE

Colour burst onto the inner pages of the magazines in 1999. Wonderfully, the first ever colour feature was an ‘idiot’s guide’ (excuse our language) to using the latest technology, such as recordable CDs.

2000

YOUTH 2000 LAUNCHED

In an interview with Youthwork, Soul Survivor’s Mike Pilavachi shared his plans for Youth 2000, a mission in Manchester involving 3,000 youth leaders and 20,000 young people.

2000

CHALLENGE FOR THE CHURCH: CHANGE OR DIE

At the start of the millennium, Youthwork served up a challenge to the Church to change its ways if it wants to reverse decline in youth attendance.

2000

SKATEBOARD MINISTRY EXPLORED

As innovative and pioneering ways of doing youth ministry emerged, Youthwork started to cover ‘niche’ ministries such as skateboard outreach.

2000

HARRY POTTER RESPONSE

Remember the big hoo-hah about Harry Potter and whether or not it was appropriate for Christian young people? Youthwork waded into the conversation with this sensitive piece by Jenny Baker.

2001

BURNOUT BECOMES AN ISSUE

Ten years on from the magazine’s launch, burnout becomes an issue for youth workers, as the demand for productivity and expectations of churches increased.

2001

CHURCHES LOOKING FOR YOUTH WORKERS

The demand for paid youth workers continued to rise, as churches threw more and more resources at youth ministry; vision remained high. Amazingly, an article encouraged youth workers to be picky about the roles they eventually take, and interview the church as much as the church interviewed them. We’re not convinced youth workers today always have this luxury.

2001

CHRISTIAN BANDS AT LARGE, CHRISTIAN MUSIC SCENE IN ITS PRIME

The early 00s were the heyday of the Christian music scene, with Delirious? and other great Christian bands well and truly at large.

2001

THE FIRST LOOK AT...SELF-HARM

2001

TEN YEAR EDITION – SPECIAL GLOSSY COVER!

To celebrate ten years in production, Youthwork went metallic and glossy (and vaguely futuristic… a la early 2000s). Seems pretty self-congratulatory to do a whole issue celebrating a birthday...

2002

NEW LOOK RESOURCES

Youthwork rebranded its resources to create a pull-out and keep ready-to-use section, not a million miles from what we produce today.

2002

CRB CHECKS

It’s amazing to think that CRB’s and DBS checks were not always part of the youth work landscape but in 2002 we printed a safeguarding article, outlining new legislation regarding workers and a need for greater background checks.

2003

VIDEO GAMES ON THE RISE

With new media came new challenges and concerns. As the popularity of video games increased, so did the need for youth workers to engage with this new realm of teenager’s lives.

2003

LEAVING YOUTH WORK

After the flurry of excitement around youth work in the 90s and a wave of new recruits, youth workers started to ponder what was next for them.

2003

CYBERSAFE

This alarming (and vaguely terrifying) cover was created in order to persuade youth workers of the importance of online safety. We think it worked…

2003

RELATIONAL YOUTH WORK

As the professionalisation of youth ministry continued and the amount of reflection around youth work increased, relational youth work emerged as one of the key ‘buzz’ phrases for youth ministry.

2004

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT – DUFFY ROBBINS

No longer simply a case of skilling up for the practical elements of youth work, Duffy Robbins explored the softer and more important side to youth ministry: personal formation.

2004

THE DEATH OF SCHOOLS’ WORK

As the climate in schools starts to change and as receptiveness to Christian involvement starts to wane, Chris Curtis offered this challenge to youth workers to radically re-shape their approach to schools’ work.

2004

FREE CD WITH THE MAGAZINE!

For one time only (we are not sure why this didn’t take off…) we gave away a free gift with the magazine – a compilation of worship hits. Time to bring this back we feel! Next month: a worship compilation, performed by Team Youthwork.

2004

MARTIN SAUNDERS BECOMES EDITOR

After 13 years, founding editor John Buckeridge stepped aside and Martin Saunders (previously deputy editor) took over the reins on the magazine.

2005

YOUTH WORK DEGREE COURSES

Along with the increasing professionalisation of youth work came the introduction of youth work specific training, and recognised JNC qualifications.

2006

1,700 ATTEND YOUTH WORK THE CONFERENCE

A staggering 1,700 youth workers attended Youth Work the Conference in 2006. Ten years on, no large youth work conferences are taking place this year.

2006

LONG HAUL YOUTH WORK

Youth workers were getting older, and a new vision for what youth work looks like was required: no longer the domain of just young adults, youth work grew up.

2006

ANNOUNCEMENT OF HOPE 08

Key leaders gathered together to plan a whole Church mission in the UK in 2008, in which young people could take a lead.

2006

KEEPING THE FIRE AFTER FESTIVALS

As summer festivals became an increasingly significant part of the youth work calendar, so did the need to cement young people’s festival experiences in the weeks and months that followed.

2007

SCHOOLS’ WORK RESURRECTED

Three years after declaring schools’ work dead, Youthwork publishes an article with a new vision for schools’ work.

2007

THE FIRST LOOK AT...EATING DISORDERS

2007

YOUTH CHURCH – A DEVELOPMENT ON YOUTH CONGREGATIONS

Pete Ward reflected on the past 30 years of youth work, and how youth ministry – intentionally or not – had started to look like church.

2007

THE ROLE OF PARENTS IN FAITH FORMATION

As youth ministry matured and reflected on the role of the youth worker in the wider picture of faith development, we started to see more integrative models of youth ministry emerging in the magazine. Here the key role of parents in the faith life of their teenager is highlighted.

2008

GET A PROPER JOB!

As youth workers commit to the long haul, a new vision and confidence was needed for older youth workers in their continued calling to young people, despite questions and critique from others.

2008

RIP CHRISTIAN MUSIC

The flurry of excitement around the blossoming Christian music scene of the 90s and early 00s came to an end, as Youthwork investigated.

2009

SPECIAL BIG ISSUE

A whole magazine devoted to hearing from the leading thinkers and practitioners about the current situation regarding young people and youth work, and where youth work was headed.

2009

THE FIRST LOOK AT...INTERFAITH WORK

2009

THE FIRST LOOK AT...PORN

2010

THE FIRST LOOK AT...DEPRESSION

2010

LAUNCH OF THE YOUTH WORK SUMMIT

In addition to the annual Youth Work: the Conference, the Youth Work Summit launched in 2010 – a one-day TED-style conference for youth workers.

2010

BIG SOCIETY AND YOUTH WORK

In a climate of cuts and David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ Youthwork investigated how young people would be adversely affected by the Government’s legislation.

2011

REBRAND

Youthwork’s logo, look and feel changed with 2011’s rebrand.

2011

THE FIRST LOOK AT...MENTAL HEALTH SPECIAL ISSUE

2011

HOW IS CHRISTIAN YOUTH WORK DISTINCTIVE?

As the remit of a Christian youth worker grew ever wider, Youthwork began to explore what the distinctive role of Christian youth work is, and what a theology of Christian youth work practice might be.

2012

SARAH WYNTER BECOMES EDITOR

2012

CHILDRENSWORK MAGAZINE LAUNCHED

We gave birth to our sister title Childrenswork in 2012. (Yes, we know that’s not how families work.) This was a big step in recognising the professionalisation and distinction of children’s ministry.

2012

WHOLE CHURCH APPROACH

Separatist models of youth work had not proved as successful as hoped, and research from

America suggested that a whole church approach to youth work was most effective with regard to discipling young people. Krish Kandiah pleaded to the whole church body to re-engage with the task of youth work.

2013

LOTS OF CHRISTIAN WORKERS IN DEBT

A survey revealed that 25 per cent of Christian workers were in debt. As full-time roles became scarce, many found that they have to make ends meet while pursuing their calling.

2013

THE END OF CHRISTIAN GAP YEARS?

Once a standard route for those wishing to delay university by a year, gap years – and specifically gap year mission trips abroad for Christian young people – became less popular than ever. Many young people seemed to be opting for mission years at home, reaching out to their local communities, rather than heading overseas.

2013

PHOEBE THOMPSON BECOMES EDITOR

2014

WHAT’S IN A NAME? YOUTHWORK BECOMES PREMIER YOUTHWORK

The name of the magazine has always been a controversial one: Youthwork or youth work? Here’s our little secret – the magazine is one word, the ‘thing’ is two words. Why? No idea. Somewhere along the line (around 2003) two words became one, before, in 2014, we stuck ‘Premier’ on the front of it, to recognise our parent organisation and stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends at Premier Childrenswork and Premier Christianity.

2014

SLAVERY

As the modern slavery bill went through Parliament, Premier Youthwork investigated the state of modern slavery, and what youth groups around the country could do to prevent trafficking in their area.

2014

YOUTH EDITION

For one month only, eight bright and enthusiastic young people took the lead at Premier Youthwork Towers and created a magazine that they wanted to read - a magazine for young people, rather than youth workers. Highlights included their perspective on the future of the Church, poems and illustrations written and created by them, as well as an original Manga comic by Siku.

2014

DIVERSE CHURCH

Rev. Sally Hitchiner, founder of Diverse Church, shared how Christians of all theological traditions can sensitively offer a pastoral response to LGBT young people.

2015

RISE OF THE NONES

The number of young people selecting ‘no religious affiliation’ (often called ‘nones’) on national surveys was higher than ever before. Reflecting on this finding, Len Kageler pondered why people had become ‘non-religious’, and how youth workers could best reach the ‘nones’ in their midst.

2015

YOUTH WORK RESEARCH

We know that youth work works. But why does it work? For this August special issue, we got to grips with the latest research available, and reflected on how it should shape our youth work.

2015

CALAIS

As the political drama rumbled on and the Calais jungle grew day by day, Premier Youthwork headed across the border to talk to the refugees stuck in no-man’s land. Off the back of this visit, Premier Youthwork launched the ‘Love Calais’ campaign, through which youth groups around the country contributed to building temporary shelters in the camp, housing migrants through the winter.

2015

JAMIE CUTTERIDGE BECOMES EDITOR

2015

THE FIRST LOOK AT...TRANSGENDER TEENS

2016

HAPPY 25TH BIRTHDAY!

We can’t believe we printed that…

1992

CLIPART

Yep. There really was a time when Clipart was the bee’s knees.

MINBUS GUIDE

Please tell us no one actually drove without a permit?

NON-ALCOHOLIC COCKTAILS

We don’t think young people today will buy this.

1994

ADULT-TEENS

Couch potatoes? Major’s minors? Branson’s babies? Blyteenies? Say what now?

1996

SO RUDE

We are so horrified that this was printed that we have covered it over! Shocked face emojis all round.

2000

FITNESS SCHEDULE

There’s taking a holistic approach to youth work, and then there’s...this.

2008

CHRISTIAN T-SHIRTS

Were they ever acceptable?

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