Youthwork Learning Community - Not What You Expect?
"Why would I want to do that!?"
Pete Wynter had just invited me on a Youthworker Learning Community run by Onelife and the words came out of my mouth before I could stop them! It sounds like a strong reaction and thankfully Pete is a gracious and persistent guy.
For me, I had been in youth ministry for ten years and I was tired, I was disillusioned and I had a very very long to-do list. The idea of taking out 24 hours to spend in a room full of other youth workers didn't appeal. I expected awkward conversation, bad coffee and rich tea biscuits!
I managed to free myself from the stereotypes in my head, spoke to my Line Manager and together we worked out the benefit for me and my volunteer team to go on this journey. We realised that it was worth investing time and a bit of money in training up the people that were leading our young people to Christ. If we were really taking youth ministry seriously then we needed to invest time and resources to raise the bar for the young people we were alongside.
So with a slightly cynical mind and a few nerves I walked into the church which was hosting the YLC with three of my volunteers alongside me. What awaited me blew my cynical attitude out the water; I was greeted with Procecco and chocolates and I was looked after as if I was the most important person in the room! The culture that was set by the Onelife volunteers rippled out and real friendships were made, in a context of vulnerability, out of a vision to see lives transformed with the Gospel and with the desire for youth workers to be equipped to do their job really well and not be half dead in the process. Together we listened.
Together we learnt, from the material and speakers but also from each others experiences. Together we shared our highs and lows and together we set ourselves reachable targets and cheered each other on to run after those goals with everything we had! The YLC was the turning point for me in youth ministry. I just wish I found it earlier.
This January, we are relaunching our Learning Communities and so its my turn to invite you or mention this to your the Youth Pastor at your church. I promise from first hand experience that its not what you expect.