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I have just finished reading a new book by Jason Gardner, Youth Project Researcher of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (and a member of my extended family), I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to any Christian as the issues it covers relate to the whole of the church body and the relationships within it, but particularly to those wishing to change and shape church leadership. Below are a few comments;

Jason Gardner begins by carefully examines society and in particular the nature of young people and their relationship to adults over the last 100 years and looks at the changes that have occurred in a measured rather than in a sensational or rose-spectacled way.

He then looks at how the church has mirrored society in its treatment of the young, the contradiction of expectations and the polarisation of church communities. Not just in terms of youth congregations and ageing churches, but in terms of how churches create niche groups by age and how leadership delegates youth management responsibilities (appoint an underpaid, under respected youth pastor to reach and deal with ‘youth’, so the leadership does not have to).

I won’t spell out all the recommendations, but to say that the proposals that Jason Gardner outlines are challenging to the church but necessary to avoid a greater distancing of the generations and ultimately the breakdown of the church. With the external challenges faced by young people in particular, and different role that the church fills in society it is so important that churches can be the one place that generations can be side by side working together for Christ and the Kingdom. Through analysis, practical examples and suggestions, this book makes a positive contribution to achieving this aim.

On a side note, of particular interest to me were his points on parenting, one of which suggested that as parents feel guilty about spending inadequate time with their offspring, the time that they do spend becomes child-focused which does ring true. This can lead to the parent-child relationship being about fulfilling a child’s needs rather that the parent preparing the child for adult life. Maybe I should feel like it isn’t such poor parenting by getting my son to help with the DIY rather than doing something he would choose to do. This isn’t a parenting book, it is just one point that I found interesting.

Mend the Gap by Jason Gardner is available through IVP.

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Following on from my post last October regarding young people on the findings of George Barna, Eric Jones has some insights on the challenges fro churches with this age group.

Jones sees discipleship as the key;

Life-on-life mentoring, or one-on-one mentoring, is critical as mature Christians invest time, energy, prayer, and commitment into the lives of twentysomethings.

And challenges churches not to be bogged down with the church esperience;

… let’s stop underestimating the depth of the twentysomething generation. Let’s stop assuming that they are just looking for a cool, comfortable, and relevant time.

Found via: Smart Christian

Christianity Today has an article about youth workers (youth ministers) using myspace to keep in touch with the the young people they are working with.

So rather than just being aware of myspace (instead of ignorant), actually using it to subscribe to the blogs of the members of the youth club. As they say;

“They’ll get the word faster if I post it as a MySpace message than if I try to call them,” she said. “Most of them check their profiles so many times each day.”

But more than this, they are even acting as web guardians;

Some youth ministers serve as watchdogs as they scan their students’ sites. Students sometimes post full names and even personal calendars on their profiles. Michael Davison, an associate regional minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky, said he is concerned that young people see the internet as far-reaching but still anonymous.

There is a good article on Nathan’s blog about church marketing. It is specifically written for small churches which makes it relevant to my situation.

It contains 10 points including the obligitory post on creating a church website and important points relating to youth.

The kids are the single most important part of your [church’s] ministry. Spend a lot of time, money and effort on having a good children’s program … You have a responsibility to those kids to give them a good foundation.

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There is an interesting suggestion by Jonathan Blundell on using YouTube to promote churches. This follows on from well-known companies using youtube or google video to use viral marketing to promote their brands. The promotional videos that were created for these companies may have been parady or even satire, but they still brought the companies attention.

He poses the question:

What if your church held a contest for the youth and/or members to make a one minute ad talking about your church?

Found via: Church Marketing Sucks

In Sydney, David Horne has been appointed the new Internet Evangelist for the church there. From January he will be using a website set up by the local diocese to reach technological savvy non-Christians.

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Why is it that churches cannot seem to retain the youth that grows up in them?

I had always thought that the reason that the church I belonged to was unable to keep their young people when they left home was because there was no university in the area, so people had to leave to continue their education. Even if they did not want to continue education, being inside the M25 London orbital road meant prohibitively high house prices resulting in young people moving up north.

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