Youth work and theology need each other. Youth workers are theologians, which means they should be intellectually engaged, attentive to the theological and pedagogical nature of their work.
And theologians who serve the church mustn’t stay shut in ivory towers: they should be switched on to the cultural rhythms of the next generation, engaged with the questions young people are asking.
The two disciplines aren’t always in conversation: theological study or research can sound like an indulgent excess to youth workers swamped with time-consuming activity. Theologians – and church leaders – don’t always take youth work seriously, missing both its importance and the opportunity that it entails. The Youthscape Centre for Research supports the development of a range of learning opportunities for youth workers, that integrate theological reflection, research evidence and the experience of the Youthscape team.
Youthscape’s interest in theology and academic training takes several forms: a Research Masters (with scholarship) run with the London School of Theology; two accredited courses run in collaboration with academic institutions in the UK and the US ; and an annual lecture event on youth work and theology.
Princeton Theological Seminary’s Institute for Youth Ministry is partnering with Youthscape to offer a 6-month International Certificate in Youth, Theology and Innovation.
St Mellitus and Youthscape together hold an annual lecture on youth work and theology that explores some of the most current trends and issues facing youth ministry.