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The Youthscape / St Mellitus Annual Lecture


An annual academic lecture hosted at St Mellitus Theological College in partnership with Youthscape.


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 we 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.


The 2020 Lecture: A Theology for the Rebellion

Mark Scanlan lecture quote

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.

Dr Sarah Williams is a specialist in the field of nineteenth and twentieth-century cultural history. She trained as an historian at the University of Oxford, where she subsequently taught as Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Harris Manchester College, Lecturer at Trinity College and Praelector at Lincoln College. She taught British and European political and cultural history, from the period of 1685 to 1939. After seventeen years at Oxford, in 2005 Dr Williams moved with her family to Vancouver, Canada, where she taught the History of Christianity at Regent College, before returning to Oxford to take up her current post. She has written numerous books, including the acclaimed 'The Spirituality of Time' in which she develops her ongoing work on historical consciousness, pedagogy, and incarnational theology.

Dr Mark Scanlan is Tutor in Theology and Youth Ministry and Lead Undergraduate Tutor at St Mellitus College. He holds a PhD in Theology from Durham University and an MA in Youth Ministry from Kings College London. Mark's particular research interests revolve around the role that youth ministry can play in shaping the life of the church and also how the theological expression young people can be encouraged and harnessed. Prior to working at St Mellitus Mark was involved in both local church and parachurch youth ministry for nearly twenty years, including a number of years leading the youth ministry and youth centre team at Stopsley Baptist Church in Luton


Previous Lectures


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.

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