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Mark I think the calling to youth ministry and the calling to sacramental ministry can be the same but I think they can also be different. I don't think a Youth minister who is not a priest is a lesser youth minister just a different one. Of course, having been licensed as a youth minister alongside you (well pretty much - I beleive a mobile phone connected you to the rest of us from your sick bed!)you know that I am strongly in favour of acknowledging the ministry of those working with young people.However I'll be interested to see how that fits with ORDINATION of youth ministers. There is nothing restricting youth ministers from being ordained and there is nothing restricting priests from becoming youth ministers so I would personally not see a need to ORDAIN youth ministers specifically as that. I look forward to seeing what you write for Perspectives.

Hi Sarah,
firstly, I'm not yet saying that all YM should be ordained. However I disagree with your comment about Ordination being an available option for Youth Ministers... you can be ordained as a Priest... then choose to Practise YM, this does not make you an Ordained YM, it does nothing to order the mission and ministry of the Church it becomes simply about personal fulfilment... to me licensing is a step in the right direction but only a step... Notice the way statutory Youth Work is gradually becoming a profession i.e. regional accreditation but not national... national accreditation... national qualification... and now moving towards proffesional qualification (i.e. Degree). Why? because it is impossible to hold both Youth Workers and Youth Work employers accountable for practice when the whole thing is disconnected and unstructured... I am hearing more and more stories of poorly qualified YM and abusive employers... yes I am talking about Churches... something we should have sorted out years ago! Perhaps the reason why more and more of our JNC qualified YM are choosing to go into the statutory field. It also means that it become possible to develop more consistent and overarching strategy.

You may have already picked up that I am beginning to think that the whole Church Based YM experiment has been a failure! Contentious I know... but are we really in a better state than we were 10 years ago... the stats and my experience seem to say not! I do believe that all Youth Ministers should be engaged in a Priestly (as described in the CofE literature) ministry - buiding up the body through worship, teaching, preaching, pastoral care and prayer... if they are not doing that what are they doing? ... and by sacramental I mean - set apart sacrificially, in order to fully model Christ in their walk with those they serve (hence stipendiary). I am not saying that a YM who is not a priest is a lesser YM... perhaps what I am saying is (crudely) that a YM who is not a Priest is a Youth WORKER? A set-apart ministry that is about the above things is Priestly, I think and should be recognised as such

I also believe that just as the CofE resists the scrapping of Parish share and moving to a situation where Parishes pay for ministers because it would mean they would be unable to appoint ministers for strategy and vision and ministers would become pooled in wealthy (middle class) churches... mmm a bit like YM now! we need to question the commercial basis of the status quo!

Ultimately I believe we need a radical rethink of YM... and I mean radical, I do not think that Ordination is the answer (it might be an answer) however I do not believe that the current model of YM can be universally sustained, and therfore not only is it unfair... it may well be unethical... even un-christian! More in the article :-)

Let me just add something to the above (long...should have been a post) comment... Some of you may think there is inconsistency with my thougths about measuring success earlier on the blog and my comment that the YM experiment has failed... In some ways I'm happy to be inconsistent but... I am not dismissing what has happened (indeed what I have done) nor am I saying failure is bad... it is only bad if it doesn't lead to reflection and movement... IMHO the time is more than ripe for some serious reflection and we need to begin to move... "where" and "how" are the questions I am asking.

I agree with the notion that ordination is a recognition and takes youth ministry seriously as ministry. And creates a standard/minimum set of terms of conditions. In the Baptist setting people have been reluctant to go down the route of being an ordained "youth specialist minister", although a few have.
I wonder if part of the problem lies with training. I heard that for Baptists in Canada all do the same 2 years ministry training and then you specialise in 3rd year for youth ministry, pastoral, evangelism or whatever. Makes a lot of sense to me!
And would allow for more specialisms yet with more cross over (I recently posed that maybe its time for more "senior workers").All ministring from a basic understanding of ministry and theology, yet with room for specialisms as necessary.

Just as in your Fresh Education post you state the importance of beginning the conversation from a good starting point, I wonder whether the same applies in this case...

I get the feeling that the language people use when talking about youth ministry/youth work is not always too helpful. I recognise I've been guilty of banging on about this in the past, but I still have real issues knowing what people mean by the terms youth ministry and youth work.

I'm not sure the issue was made any clearer by studying at the Centre for Youth Ministry, for a Youth Work qualification.

You talk about JNC qualified youth ministers going to work for statutory agencies - I wonder how many of them saw/see themselves as youth ministers or youth workers???

I think the way in which you pick up on the trends in statutory youth work is good - the move from regional accreditation to national qualification, and I wonder whether this has some mileage for the Christian scene...then again, I ask myself whether structure and institution is really the way to go???

Don't get me wrong, I think the aims you set out for the article are really good, I think they're good questions. I agree with your comment that there is a need for some serious reflection to happen.

Maybe as part of this Church Based YM experiment there needs to be some evaluation - do those involved in the experiment know what they are a part of?

Ok, ok. I'll try and stop rambling now. Basically I think what I'm trying to say is that the youth ministry ordination question is a good one. Will it clear up some of the language people use to talk about Christians engaging with young people? I think it might. I hope it will. But if it doesn't is it gonna make the situation any better?

Just some thoughts, hope at least some of them make sense to someone...

Lev and Phil,
great comments, thanks.

Phil, I totally agree I am not making an iron clad argument for YMO but for an exploration of it as one way we might begin to address the situation we find ourselves in if we choose to look! It may not be THE answer... well it can't be for congregational churches ;-) but it might kill several birds with one stone AND most importantly allow us to find a way to escape the commercial basis for ministry we have fallen into.

To be honest, I was asked to write this for Perspectives as someone who believes in the basis of a 3fold ministry system and is not yet convinced by APET as a structure we can "buy" into... and the arguments came later... on exploration of the issue.

i spent 6 months as a youth minister on my road to ordination and reading Mark's long comment i agree it is a set apart, 'sacramental' ministry. As a youth minister i was given the 'cure of souls' (to use the old fashioned BCP phrase - about the only time I use the BCP!)of the young people in the parish and the experience was very similar to how i relate to people after ordination. This is a bit confused, i guess what i'm saying is that IME youth ministry and ordained ministry are basically the same but with different groups of people - and my ordained ministry now is about ministering to a specific group of people anyway. So i think there is a strong argument for an ordained youth minstry as the churches recognition of specific gifts and callings as well as the more pragmatic arguements relating to role and oversight and structures.

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