Theology and youth work need each other. That's the heart of the Youthscape / St Mellitus College Annual Lecture.
About the Youthscape / St Mellitus Annual Lecture
Youth ministry is effective when it is grounded and rooted in a rich and deep understanding of God and theology. When we are understand our story, our heritage, when we wrestle with who we understand God to be and what that says about us; we begin to outwork that in the way that we work with young people every day.
Similarly theology and academics is most effective when it is grounded with the reality of pastoring, caring and supporting young people day in and day out. Theology is never more profound and transformative than when it speaks to the heart of people, wonderful, ordinary people and their every day life. St Mellitus College and Youthscape are passionate about seeing youth workers inspired and equipped in their ministry by a deep understanding of God, and in turn to allow their ministry to keep them pursuing a thirst for theology that transforms.
In 2018 Youthscape began an exciting collaboration with St Mellitus College: an annual youth work lecture that combines practical and theological insight to equip youth workers, church leaders, and the wider church amidst an ever-evolving youth culture. For more information about St Mellitus College and the programmes they offer head to stmellitus.ac.uk.
2023 Lecture: A CHURCH FOR GEN A
The church thrives when it has young people as part of its community - but can we find space for a new generation who see themselves and the world differently? In the 2023 Lecture Chloe Combi shares her work listening to the voices of Gen A, and Canon Chris Russell helps us reframe the urgent task of making room for young people in the church. Their presentations were followed by a Q&A dialogue, hosted by Youthscape's Alice Smith. You can catch up on the whole event with the lecture video + audio download on the Youthscape Store.
2022 Lecture: Translating God
What does it mean to 'translate God' for a new generation? How do Gen Z see the world and how could that inform youth leaders and the work of the Church? In 2022's annual lecture, hosted by Youthscape and St Mellitus College, Dr Lucie Shuker drew on new, unpublished research to paint a picture of how the world has turned for young people over the last ten years. What are the defining trends that shape their culture, and what do young people themselves make of this? In response Dr Sara Schumacher considered how young people’s imaginations are formed by that culture. How might the Church help them to imagine a better world, and what can we learn about the kingdom of God from seeing the world through their eyes? Their presentations were followed by a Q&A dialogue on these themes with Lucie and Sara, hosted by St Mellitus' Dr Mark Scanlan. You can catch up on the whole event with the lecture video + audio download on the Youthscape Store.
2021: With you in Spirit? Towards a theology of presence in online youth work
What is the difference between physical and online work with young people? Practically? Theologically? Given by Revd Dr Sam Wells, this year's lecture explored the dynamics of physical and online presence, something we've all had to wrestle with this past year. What is a theological understanding of being present with a young person online and how is it different to being physically present? Do we need a different understanding of presence and incarnational ministry to work online? What is the theological framework for engaging with young people remotely? The lecture was followed by a discussion and Q&A with hosts Dr Phoebe Hill (Youthscape) and Dr Mark Scanlan (St Mellitus), and you can catch up on the whole event with a video download + lecture transcript on the Youthscape Store.
2020: A theology for the rebellion
St Mellitus College and Youthscape held the 2020 Annual Lecture on Monday 2nd March 2020, titled 'A Theology for the Rebellion'. Since the late 1990s, we’ve been living through a period of profound cultural revolution. We have to ask God again - how do we bring the gospel to bear in this new unprecedented era? What lessons we learn from past revolutions and revivals to help us navigate the present? How can we nourish our missional imaginations with stories of courage and faith, gaining fresh insight for the future through dialogue with the past? Equipped to lead through prayer with confidence, wisdom and the Holy Spirit’s power how do we shape an emerging generation seeking to change the world around them? This lecture and associated conversation explored all of these questions and aim to equip youth workers, parents, carers, clergy and others working with young people with a vision for what youth work looks like in these changing times. Our speakers were Dr Sarah Williams, from St Benet’s College Oxford, and Dr Mark Scanlan, from St Mellitus. A download of both their talks can be purchased here on the YS Store.
2019: Marooned on Love Island
The 2019 lecture was titled ‘Marooned on Love Island: The Emerging Sexual Ethics of Young People’. Lahna Pottle performed a spoken word piece shedding light on the reality of sexual ethics for today's young people. She spoke about complex relationship young people have with sex, the shift in sexual ethics in the last 20 years, and where that leaves youth workers today. Both the Revd Dr Sean Doherty, Lecturer in Ethics at St Mellitus, and Youthscape’s Rachel Gardner, spoke about the shifting sexual ethics of Generation Z and their implications for pastoral ministry. Together we were encouraged to think beyond the traditional ways we have engaged with this topic, and to once again theologise for a renewed and contexualised approach to engaging with young people around sex. They tackled questions we often find ourselves asking, how does Gen Z’s perception of marriage, cohabitation and monogamy compare to that of their parents? Are technological changes shaping the way teenagers relate to each other and themselves? This lecture saw an even greater attendance than the first year, selling out with over 200 church leaders and youth workers attending. The recording of the main lecture and accompanying presentations are available as a free download from the YS Store.
2018: The stories in which we find ourselves
The first annual lecture in February 2018 was titled ‘The Stories In Which We Find Ourselves’, and explored the growing impact of social media on our values, relationships, ideas of community and how we present ourselves to the world. It asked the profound question: If social media has changed the world, does the church need to change in response? Youthscape’s 16-19s Specialist Lahna Pottle explored the social reality of a constantly connected life for young people, and gave a whistle-stop tour of the social media world today. Jesuit theologian Dr John McDade then gave the main lecture, exploring how biblical/theological perspectives might help us understand the present moment, and why recent changes demand a ‘revolution in mission’. Youthscape's Martin Saunders then brought these two thoughts together to offer practical suggestions about the church’s response. It was grounded in the practical reality of working with young people everyday, recognising the challenges, the generational dissonance, and the gospel that we can bring to them. The response was inspiring with youth workers coming together to think theologically and pragmatically about how we engage with this "digital culture" and support and challenge this nation's young people. The recording of the main lecture and accompanying presentations are available as a free download from the YS Store.