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…
The good ship Youthwork was launched by John Buckeridge, initially as a pull-out in Alpha (no, not that one) magazine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
1993: 65% Male – 35% Female
2016: 57% Male – 43% Female
1993: Majority volunteers
2016: Majority paid
1993: Working alone
2016: Lack of support
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
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.
Yes, in 1995, the real reason you all read the magazine arrived – the jobs’ pages!
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.
FIRST COLOUR COVER
Huzzah! Youthwork entered the modern age with this jazzy monograph cover.
‘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’.
YOUTHWORK GOES MONTHLY
In response to demand and a growing readership, the magazine moved from bi-monthly to monthly and got a new logo.
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.
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.
COMPUTERS AND EMAILS!
Ahead of the cultural curve as ever, Youthwork embraced the brand new platform for mass communication – email!
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.
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.
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.
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.
SKATEBOARD MINISTRY EXPLORED
As innovative and pioneering ways of doing youth ministry emerged, Youthwork started to cover ‘niche’ ministries such as skateboard outreach.
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.
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.
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.
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.
THE FIRST LOOK AT...SELF-HARM
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
This alarming (and vaguely terrifying) cover was created in order to persuade youth workers of the importance of online safety. We think it worked…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
YOUTH WORK DEGREE COURSES
Along with the increasing professionalisation of youth work came the introduction of youth work specific training, and recognised JNC qualifications.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SCHOOLS’ WORK RESURRECTED
Three years after declaring schools’ work dead, Youthwork publishes an article with a new vision for schools’ work.
THE FIRST LOOK AT...EATING DISORDERS
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
THE FIRST LOOK AT...INTERFAITH WORK
THE FIRST LOOK AT...PORN
THE FIRST LOOK AT...DEPRESSION
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.
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.
Youthwork’s logo, look and feel changed with 2011’s rebrand.
THE FIRST LOOK AT...MENTAL HEALTH SPECIAL ISSUE
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.
SARAH WYNTER BECOMES EDITOR
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.
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.
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.
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.
PHOEBE THOMPSON BECOMES EDITOR
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.
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.
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.
Rev. Sally Hitchiner, founder of Diverse Church, shared how Christians of all theological traditions can sensitively offer a pastoral response to LGBT young people.
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.
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.
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.
JAMIE CUTTERIDGE BECOMES EDITOR
THE FIRST LOOK AT...TRANSGENDER TEENS
HAPPY 25TH BIRTHDAY!
We can’t believe we printed that…
Yep. There really was a time when Clipart was the bee’s knees.
Please tell us no one actually drove without a permit?
We don’t think young people today will buy this.
Couch potatoes? Major’s minors? Branson’s babies? Blyteenies? Say what now?
We are so horrified that this was printed that we have covered it over! Shocked face emojis all round.
There’s taking a holistic approach to youth work, and then there’s...this.
Were they ever acceptable?