Last night we had the fourth of our Lent Talks, which again was on a totally different subject to the previous talks. This week was Ian MacDonald, the Diocesan Youth Adviser talking about Spirituality and Teenagers. The attendance was in general the usual mix of people that have attended previous weeks, with again me probably being the youngest person there. To some extent I thought this would be one of the more interesting of the evenings, and it had become more interesting having looked at the mix of people attending, from the point of view of how many of them would react. A number of them have little or no direct contact with the young people in the Church. It seemed like a great opportunity to help them relate to the young people as whilst they all support the youth work, the impression is that there are quite a few who get frustrated by some of the young people in the Church, in much the same way that the young people get frustrated with them!
Anyway, Ian kicked off with a look at the current generation of young people, and also trying to relate the current media image of young people to the reality. He covered a lot of aspects, including showing us an advert for PlayStation, and a Brittany Spears video. From there we looked in more detail at their spirituality, one of the most important points which is that in many cases young people don’t find the Church to be a particularly spiritual place. After that we had a short group discussion about peoples reactions. The discussion in my group was quite interesting, talking about young people and church services. One lady in our group commented on how when she was young the youth group integrated in to the normal service, however this was compared with a present day Church where the young people meet entirely separately, the question of course being whether this is now one church or two, especially with the style and type of worship diverging from the main congregation. Having talked to people in some of the other groups the other discussions were fairly diverse with somewhat different experiences. One person was decidedly frustrated over the reaction of several in the group who were keen to discuss how to get young people to behave, and not having taken in the message.
Of course I would have been more surprised if there had been a mass transformation, and to be honest as a church St James is pretty good for young people, whilst there are problems and frustrations from time to time, as a Youth Group we do recieve a lot of support. Anyway, the talk was well recieved, and has given a lot of food for thought, even for me with involvement in the youth work already. Hopefully it will be a good starter to allow us as a church to discuss where we want to go with the youth work in the parish, as we discuss plans for the parish as a whole in the coming months.