One of the rare joys of my job is when an unexpected package arrives on my desk with a book in it! This week it was this timely one authored by Nigel Pimlott on Christian youth work and politics: Embracing the Passion. I can still remember as a teenager a conversation with a student called Phil at the church I attended who was saying how as Christians it was our responsibility to vote and to make our voice heard. I think I have voted in every national and local election since I was 18. This book helps youth workers explore why it is important to engage in raising political awareness with young people as well as having lots of practical ideas how this can happen.
This paragraph is one which particularly resonates but also gives a flavour of the insight and wisdom to be found in the book:
Whenever I work with young people or youth workers, I pray I will be a blessing to them. I want to bless people by facilitating political solutions and helping them resolve challenges. This means using political skills – asking tricky questions, telling parables, being a provocateur, jester, dissenter, revealer of paradox, and an antagonist – in order to help people discover what truth is for them on the next stage of their journey. Recently there have been lots of cuts in youth work provision, including cuts in provision churches have offered. I have intervened to try and protect these services, because the cuts deny a potential blessing to young people. This has meant being political and campaigning, arguing, petitioning, and visiting people and projects to try and protect services under threat. The sad thing about modern politics, including politics practised by Christians, is that there has been a tendency to reverse the ideal of blessing others. All too often, politicians simply curse one another. I hope youth workers will model something different in their political activism and bless others in line with the call of the prophet Jeremiah:
Seek the shalom of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in the shalom of it shall you have shalom (Jeremiah 29:7, Hebrew Names Version).
Reference: Nigel Pimlott, Embracing the Passion. London: SCM, 2015, p29-30. Buying the book through the link above supports youth work with young people.