I guess this is a kind of response to the comments and emails I've had so far to my post should churches employ youthworkers?
The predominant role of the church youthworker is to work with young people - those who belong and do belong to the church - and either keep them in or draw them in the church community. The youthworker will create youth orientated acitvities and programmes running at the same time and at separate times to the wider church services and programmes. When the youthworker is doing a really 'good' job adults and young people rarely come into contact in the church.
What about if the predominant role of the church youthworker was not to work with young people, but to encourage, equip and empower parents and other adults to be those who engage young people? Here the youthworker facilitates the whole church to be youth and children orientated. Their role is to help integration and communication, to give the church the means to be responsible for reaching out to young people, to give the church the means to fulfil their dedication or baptismal promises. This, I would argue, require a reimagining of church, for the implications of changing the role of youthworker would affect and impact who and how we are church. Children and young people would be present and visible in our churches. They would become active worshippers and disciples. This would cause us to (re-)examine what it means to be a community of God's people - who we are would now includes children and young people all the time and not some of the time. This is sorely needed not only children and young people, but for all of us who have become church consumers, where attendance at a worship service/small group has become the badge of Christianity. Ending a specific and separate youth ministry would demand that we face the questions of what it means to be God's church. From a Baptist perspective it would face us with the questions of are we a prophetic, inclusive, sacrificial, missionary and worshipping community? Youth ministry avoids us having to ask those questions, at least not in the same way, with respect to our children and young people. I would argue that provision for children and young people - in the form of youth and children's ministry - is not what being an inclusive and worshipping community means.
This post follows on from a number of previous posts and represents the next stage in my thinking as I continue to wrestle with questions of church, youth ministry, children and young people. To see some of my previous thinking go to 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.