In our youth work, I believe we have been influenced negatively by two movements. The first is ‘revivalism’. While I do not negate that God has used Billy Graham, one method he used has not assisted our youth work. ‘Revivalism’ has been influential in what I call the ‘ten-minute evangelistic talk’ model. Now, I contend that nowhere in the Bible is youth work condensed into a ‘ten-minute evangelistic talk’. I would argue a more biblical model is that of ‘catechesis’, where young people are systematically taught the great truths of Scripture. I therefore propose we need to go beyond a simple ‘seek the Lord Jesus and repent’. Of course, this is a vital part, but we need to go deeper. We are in a post-Christian society, where young people do not have the Christian categories, so we need to go back to basics and teach our beliefs about God, about people, what God has done in Christ, etc.
The second negative influence, I believe, is the ‘homogenous unit principle’ (HUP). his idea comes from the Church Growth movement, and posits that people come to faith easier surrounded by their own social group, as there is less of a wrench in aking the spiritual/social move to Christianity. We see its influence in all kinds of niche congregations, professionals, students, youth, etc., leading to certain groups prioritised over others. But when we look in the Bible in the Book of Acts, all God’s people are together (Pentecost reversing Babel, etc.) and are sent out to reach all. The HUP can be seen in how we run separate youth works for ‘church’ and ‘non church’ young people, and where young people come into the church for a club but have no contact with the wider church. We must expose all our young people to worship, to see baptism and communion, to the Word preached and to the wider all age fellowship. Now, maybe we need to think how to do this, but we can never teach in a segregated group.