If you read this please see Tom Allen's response and my reply.
My church is in the early stages of looking for a new youthworker and as I look at youthwork magazine I am left wondering whether we've lost the plot a bit on youthworkers. It seems to me we've created a culture of competition where churches, of all denominations, are competing for youthworkers. so the larger churches with more money and larger youthwork tend to get the best of the crop. Smaller churches, like Clapham Baptist, where my friend Amie currently works, is unable to attract a youthworker because it can't afford the prices and perhaps Clapham doesn't have the attraction of a suburban setting. I'm also concerned that the youthworkers being churned out by CYM, Oasis and others, are expecting (some maybe demanding) wages that are equal to the secular youthmarket.
So some youthworkers cost more than a minister. Youthwork magazine a few months back asked the question whether youthwork was a calling. I want to firmly say yes that christian youthwork is. The first question for every youthworker is where is God calling me, not how much are they offering. I have to wonder how much this is down to youthwork magzine, who charge over £300 for an advert. Again not all churches have that kind of money, so they lose out, by having no advert or a small one.
I am pleased that the BU council last year voted against allowing the Baptist Times to advertise churches in their paper. Instead, they decided that the settlement process where the names of ministers seeking a church are placed on a list, where upon the regional ministers across the country gather together
and pray about where the ministers names should be sent. A church can only proceed with considering one minister at a time. I wonder if at list as Baptist we should youthworkers (or perhaps youth ministers is better) to do the same.
Another related question is most youthwork training is generic, that there seems little or no exploration of whether there is an Anglican understanding of youth ministry or a Baptist understanding of youth ministry. Certainly with regard to how denominations understand church and understand decision making there are some big differences. So working in a Baptist church is and will be different to working in a Anglican church.
Yes we should applaud the growth of Oasis, CYM, Moorlands and the such like, but there are some serious questions that arise with the emergence of the 'professional christian youthworker'.