Darin Stevens from Reign Ministries has recently written new material for our year 3 module “YTH300 Topic 1: Missional Youth Ministry”. Over the Christmas holidays I proofread the material. It was a delight to read. The study guide explores several approaches to change-management, some written by experienced youth ministers, and some written by business consultants. Alongside the theory there are plenty of examples and case studies. The material closes with sessions on the pain involved in change and how to learn from it and includes exercises and reflections to help students apply it and thus be prepared for mission.

There was one particular exercise in YTH300 which really stood out. At the end of session 1 students are asked to write a vision statement for their ministry and this reminded me of the vision statement I wrote when I was a church youth worker.

Back in 2007, whilst I was completing my MA, the youth worker at my home church in Poole was moving to pastures new (for the right reasons). As someone with plenty of youth work experience, excellent theological education and who was familiar with the church and the community I was offered the job. However shortly afterwards a youth worker from another church asked me what my vision was.

I had no idea of what my vision was for this ministry until I read Chapter 1 of Bill Hybels’ book Courageous Leadership (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002). This is what I wrote:

“To always be there as a role model, committed to the young people, welcoming everyone into a place of safety, acceptance and belonging where Jesus is presented appropriately to enquirers; where new faith can be nurtured; where hurts can be healed; and where the talents and giftings of our beloved youth can flourish as their faith grows.”

Ten years later, as I re-read this I still feel pleased with what I had written, but with hindsight there is a glaring omission. This statement is ideal for maintenance-ministry. It is focused on the young people in the church (and their parents would probably have loved it). ForMission wants to equip missional leaders. We want our students to be effective in missional-ministry.

Maintenance-ministry is important, but without missional-ministry we are not really fulfilling Jesus’ commission (Matt. 28:19-20). ForMission encourages student to be reflective practitioners. In this case I had to practise what ForMission preaches. I am still involved in youth work as a volunteer. I hope that my youth work will have a missional edge to it from now onwards.

ForMission offers youth ministry modules at its Intensive Campus for years 1, 2, and 3. The year 2 youth ministry module is offered as an option for all students. The concept of “missional-ministry” permeates everything we do.

Peter Cooper is the Undergraduate Programme Assistant. He teaches ecclesiology, pneumatology and youth ministry and he is fascinated by New Testament manuscripts. His is a voluntary member of his church’s youth team. He and his wife are leading a trip to Soul Survivor in the summer.