Losing Heart: what we aren't talking about

Posted on December 08, 2016 by Lahna Pottle
Categories: Primary, Secondary, 16-19s,

In case you haven't heard, Youthscape now has its very own Centre for Research. We believe that innovation is rooted in research, and that the key to long-term effective work with young people lies in deep reflection on our practice and the contexts we are working in. The Youthscape Centre for Research is a Think Tank situated at the heart of who we are.

The most recent report gathered reflects on the Church's engagement in children's work and youth work. The statistcs are incredibly eye-opening and hold a particular revelation for us schools workers. 

One key finding is that the Church is not tackling the key issues young people most want to talk about. Of those churches surveyed the majority "never" talked about the subjects of pornography, same-sex attraction, other world faiths and drugs and addiction with their young people. These same topics were some of the top ones that young people surveyed wanted to talk about. Our young people and students are desperate to talk about these important issues, but the Church is failing to engage with them. Although this can be tough to hear, it offers a unique opportunity for schools workers.

For some church based youth workers maybe the worry about what parents might say, uncertainty about their own theology or their church's teaching is stopping them from talking about these somewhat polarised topics. But for those of us working in schools, we can hold these conversations in a more neutral environment, where both the young people and ourselves may feel able to talk more freely about these issues. We can meet young people where they are at, open up discussion, and help them to process their own reflections on these topics. 

There are so many important things we want to share with students in school, that we know are beneficial to them. But if we aren't willing to talk about the things they want to discuss, why should we be surprised if they don't want to listen to what we have to say. Maybe we need to put aside our own agenda, and engage with what they want to talk about. We need to balance our desire to share our good news with a deep commitment to serve students needs. If we want them to listen, we have to listen to them first. "People won't care how much you know until they know how much you care".

"We need to balance our desire to share our good news with a deep commitment               to serve students needs. If we want them to listen, we have to listen to them first."

Another finding revealed that more churches, especially smaller ones, do more children's work than youth work. This pattern is also found in the church's engagement in schools. The statistics below highlight the percentage of churches surveyed doing schools work or assemblies, split into size and type of school.

63% of small churches
75% of medium churches 
82% of large churches

33% of small churches said they did schools work / assemblies 
49% of medium churches
72% of large churches

The report goes into more detail about the intricacies of what this means, but questions clearly need to be asked. Why are churches engaged more with children's work than youth work? Is it perceived as easier, or maybe there are just more resources available for this age group? 

Perhaps the uncertainty of how to engage with the topics above, is keeping schools workers from engaging with young people. The report picks up on a significant lack of confidence in many churches, particularly smaller churches. 

Here at SchoolsworkUK we are passionate about equipping work in primary schools, secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges. We want to create and find the best resources to support schools workers as they serve this nation's children and young people. 

For more information around self harm and mental health visit: selfharm.co.uk

For more information around sex and relationships visit: romanceacademy.org

Do have a look through our own website for more schools work resources and always feel free to get in touch with any questions or feedback.

You can read the full report here: https://www.youthscape.co.uk/r...