Developing strategies to engage young people Matt SummerfieldExecutive Director, Urban Saintsmsummerfield@urbansaints.org
Why are we here today? • Over 90% of young people are outside the church • The majority of those inside the church are not fully devoted followers of Christ
The challenge to the church… • Crisis of foresight • Crisis of vision • Crisis of creativity
2 Chronicles 12:32 (tribe of Issachar)“…understood the times and knew what Israel should do”
What is happening to our young people? • Cultivating a Kingdom vision • Urban Saints’ vision • Developing a healthy youth ministry • Leading for the long haul
‘…all youth are reckless beyond words’ Greek Poet Hesiod in the 8th Century There’s nothing new under the sun…. ‘Youth has no regard for old age and the wisdom of the centuries is looked down upon both as stupid and foolishness.” Peter the Hermit in the 12th century
“In a global culture whose citizens are wealthier, healthier and more privileged than ever before, children grow unhappier every year. From the disgruntled and disoriented to the depressed and dysfunctional, we seem to be raising a generation with nothing to love but its attitude problem.” Sue Palmer, Education Specialist
The tsunami of consumerism “Consumerism proclaims pleasure not merely as the right of every individual but also as every individual’s obligation to him or herself” Yiannis Gabriel and Tim Lang “The Unmanageable Consumer
The tsunami of consumerism The total net worth of the child-oriented market, including ‘pester power’, is estimated to be around £30 billion a year!
The tsunami of consumerism “I love brands… Brands not only tell me who I am, but also protect me from problems with the others in my class” A quote from an 11 year old in Martin Lindstroms book, BRANDCHILD
The tsunami of consumerism Key Challenge: How can we help children and young people understand the false promise of the consumerist worldview, as well as presenting the true promise of a biblical worldview?
The apathy for healthy living Diet Sleep Mental Health Sexual Activity Alcohol Consumption Smoking and other drug use Self Harm Suicide
The apathy for healthy living Key Challenge How can we inspire and equip children and young people to develop healthy lifestyle habits that positively affect their overall well-being?
The inequality of wealth Over 3 million child in the UK today are currently living in poverty
The inequality of wealth “…the poverty in Britain is worse than poor countries because it’s so isolating. The discrepancy is staring you in the face all the time – on TV, in the shops. Children learn very early to associate lack of money with lack of dignity.” Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company and The Place2Be
The inequality of wealth “All too often, the culture of debt becomes a part of young people‘s lives from the word go. That can be a daunting prospect, and debt can very quickly become first a habit, and then a downward spiral that becomes overwhelming. More than ever before, sound management of one's personal finances is an essential requirement for young people as they start their adult lives.” Keith Tondeur, National Director of Credit Action
The inequality of wealth Key Challenge How can we ensure that every child and young person has the opportunity to engage in our activities, regardless of family wealth? How can we provide opportunities that encourage and equip young people to handle money effectively so as to avoid debt and/or poverty?
The evolution of education Schools to become the hub of communities
The evolution of education “Every Child Matters” agenda ‘stay safe’ ‘be healthy’ ‘enjoy and achieve’ ‘achieve economic well-being‘ ‘make a positive contribution’
The evolution of education 1,000 pupils were permanently excluded from Primary Schools in 2005 and more than 8,000 were excluded from Secondary schools
The evolution of education Key Challenge How should we play a role in the education system, particularly in terms of our relationship with schools?
The fragmentation of family • Every week 3000 young people are facing the pain of divorce. • 700,000 children are growing up never seeing their fathers.
The fragmentation of family • Effects of divorce (2001 Survey): • perform worse on academic tests, • display more behavioural problems, • have low self esteem, • have weaker social relationships, • become depressed, • become drug or drink dependent, • get involved in crime, • have unhappy marriages themselves.
The fragmentation of family • “I’m often asked by parents what they can do to help their child success at school. The simple answer, born out of research, is talk and listen. Or maybe that should be listen and talk... All the prescriptions for successful parenting come back to key two words – time and attention… the key to successful child development is presence, not presents;” • Sue Palmer, Toxic Childhood
The fragmentation of family • Key Challenge • How can we promote the importance of strong families and offer support to parents in their key task of raising children and young people?
The power of the media • Is society paranoid schizophrenic? Young people are vulnerable and in need of protection Young people are a threat to society and we need protecting
The power of the media • 71% of stories in the press about young people are negative and • only 14% are positive
The power of the media • 1.5 million people in Britain considered moving away because of fear of trouble • from young people • 2004/05 British Crime Survey
The power of the media • In 2003 alone… • 35% of children aged 10 to 15 were victims of crime, with 19% experiencing 5 or more incidents
The power of the media • “Young people are 10 times more likely to be actively volunteering in the community than committing offences” • Elaine Peace, NCH children’s charity
The power of the media • Key Challenge • How can we act as advocates in society promoting value and respect for children and young people today?
The pervasiveness of technology • In 2006, 8 out of 10 children aged 5 to 16 in the UK had a TV in their room • Nearly 1.5 million young people (approximately 1 in 5 children) have access to the internet in their bedroom. • In 2006, 49% of children aged 8 to 11 and 82% of those aged 12 to 15 had their own mobile phone.
The pervasiveness of technology • Key Challenge • How can we help children and young people to make appropriate use of technology, and also provide paths to help them out of destructive habits (e.g. internet pornography)?
The influence of peers • In a 2001/02 survey • just 45% of boys and 56% of girls aged 11 • in England stated that their friends • were ‘kind and helpful’
The influence of peers • % of young people who are sometimes… • “afraid of going to school because of bullying” • 28% of girls and 20% of boys aged 12 to 13 • 22% for girls and 15% for boys aged 14 to 15
The influence of peers • Key Challenge • How can we provide regular opportunities for children and young people to mix with different peers for the purpose of positive influence and respect?
The drought of play facilities • Only 17% of young people agreed with • the statement… • “My area cares about its young people” • 2006 Good Childhood inquiry, initiated by the Children’s Trust,
The drought of play facilities • Positive outcomes of structured play activities/facilities: • Lower rates of school failure and drop out • Heightened school engagement • Better academic performance • Increased aspirations for the future • Reduced problem behaviour • Development of personal and social skills • Improved mental health • Increased self-esteem and sense of identity(2006 Public Policy Research)
The drought of play facilities • Key Challenge • How can we work with communities to provide an exciting range of activities that are accessible for children and young people in every area across the country?
The side-lining of the church • 50% of churches have a youth ministry • Only 4% - 10% of UK youth are regularly connected
The side-lining of the church • Key Challenge • How can we help the church be ‘re-positioned’ as a life-giving hub of the community? • What can we offer that young people really need e.g. guidance, acceptance, love and significance?
The “signs of the times” • The tsunami of consumerism • The apathy for healthy living • The inequality of wealth • The evolution of education • The fragmentation of family • The power of the media • The pervasiveness of technology • The influence of peers • The drought of play facilities • The side-lining of church “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” Proverbs 22:6
The “signs of the times” "This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me, no one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute because the enemy has prevailed” Lamentations 1:16 “Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street.” Lamentations 2:19
SHALOM The good news that brings wholeness and well-being to the whole person