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‘Take risks for young people’ says C of E

17 May 2007

by Rachel Harden

Holding short services, going to night clubs, and finding language that is appropriate for the 21st century are three of the many suggestions made in three new books about working with young people. The books have been published by the Church of England this week.

They challenge Christians to take part in risky worship that could allow “tawdry youth culture” into the church, if young people are to feel at home in the pews.

In the first book, Young People and Mission: A practical guide, Diana Greenfield of the Church Army, one of 12 contributors, writes about nightclub chaplaincy, a field she describes as “untapped”. She criticises churches for their lack of work in what she says some Christians call “dens of iniquity”.

Other sections include a challenge to speak in contemporary rather than special Christian language, even at the risk of upsetting older members of the congregation, and to meet young people outside church premises, on their own territory.

There are also chapters on work in schools and with uniformed organisations, and about relating multifaith and environmental issues in the context of youth work.

The second book, Young People and Worship: A practical guide, contains a list of principles for better all-age worship, including “Do not be patronising,” and “Keep the service shorter.” The ten contributors also address questions such as ritual, spirituality, and the creative use of existing liturgy.

Third, Mission-shaped Youth: Rethinking young people and Church, contains case studies of Fresh Expressions of youth work, and input from the Bishop of Maidstone, the Rt Revd Graham Cray, who chaired the working party that wrote the report Mission-shaped Church.

In the foreword, the Bishop of Horsham, the Rt Revd Lindsay Urwin, challenges churchgoers to adapt themselves, and not expect young people to become old before their time. He writes that to allow youth worship to rub shoulders with the “inevitably stronger abiding tradition of Word and Sacrament is to have your faith in the power and love of Christ renewed”.

Young People and Mission (£11.99 (CT Bookshop £10.80); 978-0-7151-4060-4); Young People and Worship (£11.99 (CT Bookshop £10.80); 978-0-7151-4057-4); and Mission-shaped Youth (£7.99 (CT Bookshop £7.20); 978-0-7151-4082-6) are published by Church House Publishing (www.chpublishing.co.uk).

[COL]"I don't know anything about you being an untapped resource, mate, but you can't come here without a tie"

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