Book Review – Sacralized Youth Work – Sally Nash

The Grove Booklet Series is one that, for me at least, helps to provoke thinking and discussion.  Their very nature means that they are easy to digest but they are best read when chewed over for a time.  One of the most recent in the youth series is “Sacralized Youth Work” from Sally Nash.

This booklet questions our approach to youth work and helps Christian youth workers bridge the gap between the secular and the sacred.  Many of the ideas expressed here relate with the ‘Generation Y’ books recently published and so, to those that have digested them, this is a whistlestop tour of the developed thinking there.

According to Nash, there are 5 key elements to sacralized youth work which are: Place, Conversation, Shared Experience, Fun and Journeying.  These are fleshed out a little through the booklet and worth wrestling through with your team.

The one quote that has stuck with me over the last few weeks since reading my copy is; “young people wanted to talk more about spiritual matters, more than the youth workers gave them opportunity.”  This quote should challenge us all.

Get hold of a few copies and read it through – it will be worth it!

not as many on twitter as we think!

Being on twitter with lots of youthwork type folk and it feels as if lots of people are on twitter.  However, last week, I was at a conference where there were over 50 attendees and no-one else tweeting from the 4 day event.  Last night in Cambridge (see previous post) there were few ‘tweeters’ active in the 800 or so attendees.  All this is a far cry from the plethora of folk at yws11 and ywc11 – to be honest, it was a surprise.

The truth is, there are not as many people on twitter as we think!


The youthwork summit 2011 was a resounding success with a good mix of contributors leaving the assembled throng plenty to reflect upon, debate with and be challenged by. It’s style was similar to the TED talk approach with short presentation and opportunity for debate following for those that wanted. The worship aspect of the day was more traditional – as if Rend Collective Experiment could ever be traditional, and the end of the day has people wanting more and the call for summit 2012 ringing in the ears.
There is no doubt that the event itself was ‘top drawer’ but it is by no means perfect. There are downsides, an event like this is high energy and drains the reflective soul, the length of the day means that aspects of youthwork practice/theory are paid scant attention, yet for all these the event works extremely well and scores highly in the sense that it achieves those things that are its target goals.
A quality event that is/should be an important part of a youth workers calendar. May 19th 2012 is the date for next year, cancel your champions league final tickets, set your TiVo to record day one of the Olympic torch relay and plan to be in london at the youthwork summit 2012.

Retreating @yws11

It was a long fifteen years ago that I engaged in a 24hr retreat set up by YFC and led by Mike Yaconelli. It was a turning point moment that challenged my very being to the core. My commitment was to have a retreat like this every year.

The follow up to this is in Manchester 2011, where Mark Yaconelli led a retreat. It was similarly encouraging and challenging. With a much larger group of people it was less intimate but still had some powerful moments. The afternoon was a bit more “touchy feely” which is not my scene but that does not negate its impact.
The challenges and questions that I face are not for sharing here – too personal – but it was a day well spent, a day that encouraged the soul and a day that requires me to take some action.

Big thanks to the youthwork team for setting it up, much appreciated.

salaried or volunteer youthworker?

For the last few years, I have ceased to be a full time salaried youthworker/minister/whatever.  Thankfully, the role for which I now draw a salary has some engagement with young people but it is no longer the primary role.  This means that much of my contribution in the youth work world is done as a volunteer and after over 15 years in salried roles, this has been quite a change.

The advantages of being a volunteer in youth work and ministry?

1) The politics of organisation can be more readily avoided (not ignored though!)

2)People in authority often treat you better

3) It is easier to avoid the red herrings to effective work

4) Influence on behalf of the youth team is expanded

These were my top four – it has to be said that I miss aspects of that salaried role but nevertheless, love the things I am doing now.  Neither is better, or worse, its just different.  A little like the Starbucks logo change……hmmmmmmm.


employing a youthworker

After several conversations in the past few weeks, thought it was worth throwing this up.  Hope you find it helpful.

If you want to employ a youthworker;

1) Ask, “Why do we want/need a youthworker?”

2)Ask, “Can we do the task without a youthworker?”

3) Ask, “Is it necessary to appoint a salaried youthworker to do the task?”

4)Ask, “what would be our expectations of the appointed worker?”

5)Ask, “Are we able to adequately support and supervise the appointed worker?”

Before you do anything, ASK!  These 5 simple questions, if answered honestly, will help you determine whether you should even begin the journey of having a youthworker.  Feel free to ask them.

Oh yes, feel free to get great advice from AMAZE – quality resource material that will help you do things well.