The planned 2020 run for this study course has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. We’ll post dates for a new course on this page when it is announced.
What is the course & why is it needed?
Running over five days full-time, this course is accredited by Middlesex University and is based at The London School of Theology campus in north London. More than thirty students took part in the 2019 cohort.
The world is changing – and fast – and no generation is more impacted than young people. Technology is shaping how young people express their identity, engage with their peers and learn about the world. Mental health and wellbeing is a growing concern and issues like social isolation are increasing. Young people are connecting and gathering in different spaces and places, both real and virtual. Understanding, interest and perceptions about Christian faith are shifting.
How does church youth work respond to these changes – what should mission, pastoral care and discipleship look like over the next decades?
In light of this shifting landscape, Youthscape and LST have partnered to create a week-long course accredited by Middlesex University to explore what theologically reflective innovation in youth ministry might look like. How might a renewed focus on innovation offer insight and direction to the church’s work with young people?
Chris Curtis, the Lead Tutor says “It’s been brilliant to work with LST on this week. The word ‘innovation’ is used everywhere, often just as a marketing tool, but it’s actually crucial for youth ministry to think deeply about how we innovate our models and practice. This course has felt like a great place to start that process.”
The course will give you skills in design theory, alongside an understanding of the theological foundations of youth ministry, to enable you to be a confident youth work innovator in your own context. If you want ministry that’s effective in a changing world, this is the perfect place to start.
Who is the course suitable for?
- Paid and volunteer youth workers who want to develop their skills and knowledge.
- Others involved in work with young people in organisations and projects.
- Those leading strategy in youth ministry in churches, denominations and charities.
There are no entrance requirements in terms of formal qualifications but students will need to be confident reading, discussing and working with material at Level 5 equivalent to a diploma of higher education (DipHE).
The first day starts by exploring the etymology and meaning of 'innovation'. What exactly is 'innovation' and how does a word that's mainly used in commerce have any relevance to ministry? It moves on to ask if the church has ever innovated in its work with young people and, if so, what can we learn? The day concludes with by exploring what areas of youth ministry need innovating, and what new challenges are arising in culture that require a different kind of approach?
The second day moves into building a theological understanding of both innovation and youth ministry. It introduces a new way of framing innovation: improvisation. What might the big picture of the Bible, and youth work too, have in common with the creative discipline required by jazz musicians? How do we understand youth work from a theological perspective and what are the main theological models available to consider?
A change of scene brings you to Bute Mills for the third day to interact with the Youthscape team and our innovation process.You'; explore and critique the Innovation Wall, which outlines the five-stage process of innovation that our resources and projects go through. There’s a big gap between ‘the idea you just had in the shower’ and the enduring kind of innovation that answers deep needs. This process helps understand the difference.
The fourth day begins with an exploration of the concept of ‘creative destruction’: the old dying so the new can come. Innovation also often requires experiencing failure and opposition. How can youth workers deal with these in their work? How can they learn strategically from historic, once-controversial innovations about pursuing creativity in ministry? The teaching also draws on insights from Nick Shepherd and Michael Moynagh, experts in youth ministry and missiology.
The final day introduces the concept and theory bering UX Design (also known as user experience design), the process of enhancing an audience’s experience of something through reshaping the way that they receive and use it. UX Design is often used for developing websites and technologies, but it can apply to youth work too. It gives you a process to think through how different young people experience youth work and how to adapt your models to better suit their needs.
Feedback from the 2019 cohort
- "An amazing week of gaining theory and practical application of such an important topic from some brilliant communicators."
- "Helped me to see that innovation needs to be at the heart of our youth work practice rather than a luxury bolt-on."
- "Have loved it. Best youth work training I have done."
- I cannot recommend this highly enough. It has inspired me, re-focused me and brought me in to contact with other youth workers looking to step out into new things.
- "Opened my eyes to theory and encouraged me to dive deeper into my thinking."
- "The course has inspired me and encouraged me to continue as a volunteer youth leader in the future."
- "Youth ministry is always in need of innovation. This course will help you make sure you think theologically about the process of doing new things for young people. Same gospel, new responses."
- "It was a great week to think about the importance of innovation in the context of youth work and how you can see that through. It's also a great time to meet other youth workers."
- “The course has been refreshingly eye-opening and inspiring. I would totally recommend it to anyone interested. Everything I have learnt this past week has already started to shape my thinking and practice."