The Power of the Story; the Weakness of Definition! Does is make a difference to young people in emerging faith communities if they self-define, or accept external definitions, of their group?

Youth ministry involves holistic practice enabling both young people and practitioners to journey towards a new place of discovery. During student-hood it has become apparent that there needs to be a change in the role and language of church and mission.

This research intends to investigate young people’s thoughts on the issue of defining their community groups. It explores the insights and experience of youth and various ministerial practitioners, seeking implications for Christian youth ministry and future practice.

The research seeks to draw on varied texts, exploring the experiences and reflections of practitioners, theorists and theologians in the relevant fields. It includes four focus group interviews involving twenty-five young people, eleven unstructured interviews with ministerial practitioners, and three structured interviews with youth ministers.

Research results indicate a need for a paradigm shift in missional approaches to youth ministry and the future of fresh expressions of church.
This dissertation concludes with recommendations for practice. It demonstrates that it does matter to young people how their Christian communities are defined. ‘The Power of the Story and Weakness of the Definition’ illustrates that where definitions are too fixed it can hinder innovation and development of an emerging Christian community.

Tracey Hallett

Tracey graduated in 2014 with a BA (Hons) in Youth work, Communities & Practical Theology from Bristol CYM.