Vocational youth, children's or family ministry in the Church of England? - think again
OK, I am being deliberately provocative with that title, but you would be hard pushed to find a mention of youth, children's or family ministry mentioned on the Church of Englands website. Coming up on May 3rd is Vocations Sunday, what a change to celebrate all that our salaried workers do, up and down the country - week in week out, on the coal face of parish based ministry. But, no . . . here we have the information that "covers" us . . .
Accredited Lay Ministry - There are those who feel called to enable the Christian community to exercise its ministry in the world but who do not believe that they are called to ordination. Accredited lay ministry is open to men and women who are selected and trained in the same way as candidates for ordination. They may work as administrators, educators, missionaries, or in other specialist areas. (Read the whole thing on vocation in the Church of England here)
You can see where the point is being missed about what "vocation" is and what constitutes ministry when you read some general stats about the Church of England here. Under "ministers" you have the work of the clergy, oh and of course a mention of Church Army Officers and Lay Readers . . . under "community involvement" we find that 136,000 people work with children and young people, but, it doesn't appear to be ministry because this stuff is done outside of a worship service . . .
We need to get our act together and recognise ministry as just that, ministry. This is not an argument about the priesthood, and I see ordained ministry as distinctive in its own right - but the Church of England continues to be behind the curve . . . more youth and childrens workers are employed by us across local churches than by anyone else, of those studying for degrees in youth and community work with applied theolgy at the Centre for Youth Minstry, something like 40% are at CofE churches . . . . instead of taking the lead on recognising the incredible work that both salaried and volunterr youth and children's workers do, it has taken Youthwork The Partnership a year or so of thinking and planning to come up with the "We love our youth worker" Charter. It is great that someone has done it . . .
Why don't we value, and applaude youth and children's work at a national level in the Church of England? Got a view, let me know . . . .