Over the past few days, the Church of Scotland may have decided to do something significant. At General Assembly 2015, (its annual big church meeting), the church decided to consider whether those involved in youth work and youth ministry for the Church of Scotland should be regarded as official ministries of the church.
Good. I like this recognition that youth work and youth ministry can contribute towards the life and health of the church. By giving considering giving parity to Youth Ministry, the work with young people on behalf of the Church of Scotland becomes a valuable partner and tool for the existing ministries.
It is a great opportunity to ask the question “what do we want the work with young people on behalf of the church to look like?” Is it a space for conversation and dreaming. At the heart of the conversation will be issues such as proper support and oversight from ministries council, the possibility of a process of discernment before employment and a provision of training for youth ministry from the colleges that train ministers for the Church of Scotland.
I do hope for a wider consideration of issues such as what is the difference between youth work and youth ministry. (Can the CofS work out what Youth Ministry is and can be when the theorists don’t agree?) Further is official Youth Ministers actually a thing the church wants to embrace. Do we really want to have age defined ministers, and do youth workers want to become ministers and ministry staff?
As someone who volunteers carrying out youth work and youth ministry on behalf of the Church of Scotland, I honestly don’t know but I look forward to the discussion.