Premier Youth and Children's Work
Ok, deep breath. Let’s get this out of the way: welcome to the final issue of Premier Youthwork. That wasn’t so hard, was it? From next month, we’ll be combining with Premier Childrenswork to create the snazzily titled *drum roll* Premier Youth and Children’s Work. (Yep quite wordy. We’ll probably refer to it as YCW quite a lot of the time.)
Look, I get it. You’ve got questions (so have I). You’ve got concerns (so have I). You’re at least slightly worried about it (so am I). Change is scary. And we’ll cover all that, I promise. But first, Mike Pilavachi.
Last month, we included an interview with Mike in which, sadly, one line stood out: “Generally the quality of youth workers has gone down dramatically.” Oof. Talkaboutkickingyouthworkers when they’re down, right? Let me be honest: I didn’t love publishing it. It was tough to see in print. But do I defend Mike’s right to say it? Absolutely. Over the last few decades, Mike has earned the right to say what he wants, and most of the time, he’s spoken powerfully and prophetically. Do I agree with him? Well, as someone who’s only been in the game for a decade or so, I’m not sure I’m in a position to tell, but I heard it. And wrestled with it. And discussed it. And let it sink in. If we’ve learnt one thing during the 25 years this magazine has been around, it’s that if Mike speaks, it’s worth listening. And as he clarifies later in this issue, he’s more frustrated with the lack of funding and support youth ministry receives, than with individuals.
But here’s what I do get: the timing wasn’t great. Morale is pretty low among a lot of youth workers at the moment. Funding is being cut. Another training institution stepped away from providing degrees this month. For many of us our specialism, our vocation, is being squeezed into an all-encompassing ‘children, family, youth and animals’ job title. The thing we live, breathe, studyand pour our heart and soul into is being merged with something that perhaps we don’t ‘get’… sound familiar?
I realise that for some, the merging of this title with our Premier Childrenswork sibling might be painful: another gut-punch at a time when we need hugs, chocolates and glasses of red wine. So it’s super important that you hear this: we recognise youth ministry as a unique calling, specialism and vocation, and the new magazine will continue to honour that. We promise.
So this is where we’re going: the new magazine might be a combination of two existing titles, but it’s bigger than that. We believe that youth and children’s workers need more joined-up thinking. We believe we’re better when we’re all on the same page and that more cohesive thinking can stop drop-out of young people at those key transition points. We believe that the only hope the Church has is working together, thinking together and praying together, when it comes to children and young people.
We believe we need more in-depth thinking, more critical reflection, commitment, hope, prayer and discipleship not only among young people, but in those working with them. We believe this could be a prophetic step in the world of all-age ministry.
Is it a perfect solution? Nope. Is it going to take a bit of getting used to? Absolutely. But I’m going to repeat this, put it up on the walls of our office and get it tattooed on my bicep: we still believe that youth ministry and children’s ministry remain distinct specialisms, and the new magazine will continue to serve both of those groups as individuals as well as collectively.
It’s equally important that you hear this: thank you. For the late nights running youth groups. The early morning assemblies. The lack of sleep at residentials. The quiet prayer sessions that no one knows about. Thank you for pouring your lives out for a bunch of, at times, ungrateful teenagers. You are fabulous. You’re unreal. We’ve had your back for the last 25 years, we’ve still got your back and a new title isn’t going to change that.