Today’s post is a little different, as it’s an reflective guest post from youth worker Dan Crouch who also attended the Youth Work Summit I’ve been raving about the last week. In it he explains why he loves the Youth Work Summit, despite the fact that in general he’s not a big fan of conferences. Take it away Dan…
This time last week I was at an early day event at the London School of Theology with Mark Oestreicher speaking on vision. This was followed by the Youthwork Summit day on the Saturday. I’ve taken about a week to think about this not just because I have been busy, but also because something that has such a significant impact needs to be given appropriate time and consideration.
I was going to spend some time going through the speakers that made an impact on me and sharing their messages but there were just so many that spoke in various ways and I don’t think I would do them justice. So I’ll just come out with the very core truth. I’m not a massive fan of conferences. There, I said it. I’m not a massive fan of conferences. I am a creature of comfort, I like the familiar, I dislike travelling and I can be very grumpy in social situations. Yet, I attended the first Youthwork Summit in 2010 and have been an advocate for it ever since. Why?
I think for me one of the really special things about the format of the Youthwork Summit is that it truly embodies the values that it promotes, it practices what it preaches. From the top to the bottom each and every individual is making a contribution and there is little sense of hierarchy. You get the feeling that someone has to present the day, and Martin Saunders and Beth Tash drew this ‘short straw’ and yet complement each other well. ‘Team intern’ (Tom Wade, Sean Skinner and Jamie Cutteridge) make a huge contribution technologically (and in many other ways I am sure) showcasing creativity, imagination and skill that inspires. Laura Haddow seems to take on the directing role, making sure that everyone else can focus on their unique role.
There are several other individuals from Urban Saints and LCET that I don’t know, yet I get the sense they are a community that love youth workers and love each other. This is gushing praise and I could be seen as a suck-up, but I truly value this aspect of the event and then I realised: these guys are all youth workers. They get it. They understand. They put together a conference that feeds, encourages, challenges and nurtures youth workers because they are youth workers. Maybe this is what makes it special?
As I listened on Saturday to the various contributors, not one of them presented in such a way that made me feel I was in the wrong place, that as an Anglican I did not belong. In fact, they helped remind me of my unique perspective and contribution to youth work. They didn’t present answers, pre-packaged ways of doing ‘successful youth work’. But they reminded me that called by God, I am making a unique impact on the lives of young people. Indeed, it may even be possible for me to contribute to a future summit, not motivated by the ‘fame’ this would bring, but reminded that in my own context and in my own way I am making a difference.
The conversation continues on twitter and I have met loads of incredible people that continue the conversations. This is what I love about it. The interaction, the engagement and the discussion. As an introvert I find twitter a very useful tool in expressing my ideas having thought them through. When I meet someone in person I have engaged with on twitter it helps me.
At the summit I met again @gabriellrusso @haysiegirl @rachelblom @helenseb @rootmcc @rickyrew @debzwhybrew @paulmtilley @theonographer @inimooralclaws @laurahaddow @emilyhewson @gemmadunning @engageworship @loydharp @mattdh
I also met @smoorns @roothieb @lexiebradders @loufunnell @jhosborn for the first time
I saw @martinsaunders @seanusx phoebethompson_ @jamiecutteridge @paulwindo @bobweasel @revbott @lizzie_rascal84 @jimmyyoung @clairemurphy09 @sarah_bladen from afar
Once again values
At the vision day, Marko challenged us to consider our own values, those things which we subscribe to ourselves and I realised that many of my values are visible at the Summit, just a few of them are below:
- Non-denominational – We are all gathered together as followers of Christ. Young people don’t care for denominations, neither do I and neither does this event. I love this.
- Unity, not uniformity – We are united in our faith and come together to worship, but we are not all the same and in fact difference is celebrated at this conference.
- Diversity of opinion – Youthwork Summit celebrates diversity of opinion which is something I am striving towards in my own practice and I want to ensure I personally desire.
- Relationships – We follow a relational God, all of my youth work is relational and the relational aspect of the Youthwork Summit is what motivates me to be so passionate about it.
- Discussion not truth – The value that is placed on the sharing of ideas for discussion, rather than ‘answers’ is important to me as an individual and in my work.
So, in a nutshell, I like the Youthwork Summit and can’t wait to head to West Brom on 18th May 2013 for #yws13. See you there?
Dan Crouch is a youth worker in an Anglican church in Keynsham, the same church he started attending as a young teen. He’s married to Sarah. Dan is very active on Twitter (follow @dancrouch) and he’s part of the #ywchat community on Twitter, where most of the people he mentioned in his post (including me) can be found at one time or another. So join in the conversation and get connected to other youth workers!