Professional development for Youth Ministers about youth work.

We know that a significant number of our readers are youth ministers who are seeking to develop a deeper understanding of young people and youth work. We commend this endeavour. One of the slurs thrown at youth ministry is that it is little more than games and coffees… We disagree wholeheartedly. Youth work in a church context has become more and more complex over the years. More youth ministry professionals have sought to bring the training of youth ministers in line with their secular counterparts injecting developmental and psychological understanding into the theological context. 

Over the last couple of years we have had the opportunity to support a number of youth ministries to develop their youth work capacity. Particularly, we have been involved with a movement of the Church towards relational based work with young people. Our work has been to provide a sounding board for ideas and a check and balance process when implementing them. We have also had the privilege of training a number of chaplains in supporting young people, mandatory reporting, suicide intervention and emergency management. These chaplains now have more training than the teachers and principals they work with in adolescent welfare. Over all we have seen a marked increase in training and professional development for those in youth ministry roles towards a more traditional youth work focus.

One group we have been keeping a keen eye on is the team at Youth Vision Victoria &Tasmania. YV, as they are fondly known, have spent a lot of their time developing youth ministers within the Churches of Christ denomination. YV run training and internships, regular professional development breakfasts as well as a number of programs for young people. One other thing that is put out is their quarterly journal ‘Youth Vision Quarterly’.

YVQ February 2014
In the latest edition two articles in particular stood out to me. The first by Mark Conner looks at self care for youth ministers. It could have come straight out of one of our posts on self care with the model used looking very familiar. I was glad to see self care being championed as this is an area that we are really passionate about. The second article by Keith Farmer looks at some of the transitions happening in ministry in Australia. One area that Keith illuminated was that of deeper relational focus in the work. This is also a huge area for youth workers to grapple with.

If you are a youth minister or an interested youth worker I highly recommend the work of the YV crew. Check out there website at http://vic.youthvision.org.au

Aaron Garth

Aaron Garth is the Executive Director of Ultimate Youth Worker. Aaron has worked as a youth worker in a number of settings including local church, street drug and alcohol outreach, family services, residential care, local government and youth homelessness since 2003. Aaron is a regular speaker at camps, retreats, & youth work training events and is a dedicated to seeing a more professional youth sector in Australia. Aaron is a graduate of RMIT University and an alumnus of their youth work program. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Jennifer & their daughters Hope, Zoe, Esther, Niamh and son Ezra.

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