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29 February 2016

New research centre launches to innovate youth work in the Church

New research centre launches to innovate youth work in the Church

Youthscape has launched a new research centre this month to lead innovation in youth work.

The charity, which has been helping young people with their emotional, social and spiritual development since 1993, has already recruited 230 nationwide youth workers to help with research.

While the centre directly helps with young people in the local community, it's hoped this UK-wide research will help shape the way the Church works more widely.

Currently, only 25 per cent of churches in Luton do youth work, with just 13 per cent of those being outward-facing.

If this figure is true beyond the Bedfordshire town, many young people are not being reached by the Church, and therefore the gospel.

Phoebe Thompson, who has been appointed head of research for Youthscape, said: "If this has any bearing on the Church then we aren't heading for a problem, we already have one."

The head of the new research centre, who was previously editor of Youthwork and Childrenswork magazines, said that youth culture is changing at an unprecedented rate, and the Church needs help to keep up.

"As youth work practitioners we want to 'do stuff' - but we've been guilty of repeating old paradigms.

"This is an opportunity for the youth work community that we love and are a part of to take time out and have a look at what's happening."

The centre is currently carrying out a baseline survey of church youth work, finding out how many young people there are in churches and what kind youth workers the Church has – whether paid or otherwise.

The plan is to then carry out research into sex and relationships.

Much of the material currently being used, Youthscape warn, was written before the huge growth of social media and therefore is out-of-date.

Then the centre wants to look at apologetics and young people.

"What were the big questions of the Christian faith did you have when you were 15?" Phoebe Thompson asked.

"I'd be surprised if any doctrinal or theological issues you thought about are now on their radar. It's more about the Church's attitude to certain things.

"The problem with apologetics is for too long we've been answering questions that young people simply aren't asking."

Youthscape also have a range of national projects, such as Romance Academy, selfharmUK, SchoolsworkUK and the National Christian Youth Work Awards.

For more information about the work of Youthscape and the new research centre, visit youthscape.co.uk/research.