Does Autumn Soul Help or Hinder the Youth Ministry in Local Churches?

The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of youth worship events on local church youth ministry. Specifically, the study looked at whether Autumn Soul, a youth event run by the Irish Methodist Youth and Childrens’ department, helps or hinders the youth ministry in local churches.

Research was gathered via two means. Semi–structured interviews were carried out with those who organise Autumn Soul and with four youth workers who bring young people to the event. Focus groups were held with four youth groups from the greater Belfast area that attend the event.

The research aimed to look at three main areas. These areas were; the benefits of Autumn Soul upon young people; the impact of Autumn Soul upon the churches from which the young people attend; and the impact upon the faith of the young people who attend: focusing upon their view of church.

The research has highlighted a number of points. Autumn Soul is beneficial to those young people who attend, and has the potential to be of even greater benefit. Autumn Soul is also beneficial to the local churches from which the young people regularly attend. The research brought to light the importance of church leaders processing an understanding of the event; its aims and purposes. The main issue that arose during the research was surrounding the churches’ ability to appropriately support the young people who return to their congregations from Autumn Soul and other similar events.

In order for Autumn Soul to reach its potential churches need to be committed to working more closely alongside the event. Autumn Soul shares the same gospel and beliefs as local churches, but is able to do so through a relevant and engaging medium. However, for many churches this is an area in great need of development.

Philip Patterson

Philip studied with CYM Ireland and graduated with a BA Honours degree in Youth & Community Work and Practical Theology in 2014.