How does participating in Local Community Action impact the Christian Faith Development of Young People?

The practice of Christian Youth Work necessitates appropriate mechanisms and catalysts which facilitate holistic personal formation; this paper intends to develop such a method, investigating the potential impact of participating in local community action on Christian Faith Development. It draws upon the insights and experiences of young people and youth workers, seeking implications for Christian Youth and Community Work practice.

The research seeks to understand the opportunities volunteering presents young people in the process of shaping their spirituality, specifically in terms of a Christian Faith. Drawing on a wide-range of texts, this paper opens up the insights and reflections of practitioners and theologians operating in the relevant fields. These contributions affirm a positive change in the personal development of young people, naming it transformational.

The research includes interviews from twelve young people, all with experience in local community action, and three youth workers with experience working with young volunteers. Study of their responses explores the transformation impact of such community action, focusing on both the nature and causes of change. Results demonstrate a clear maturing in faith, with changed attitudes and behaviour as well as new skills and experiences.

The paper concludes with several recommendations for practice, outlining the opportunities local community action presents for developing faith in participating young people, offering potential applications for a range of contexts. The study demonstrates that participating in local community action presents suitable opportunities which catalyse and initiate personal transformations of faith in young people.

John Wheatley

John graduated from Bristol CYM in 2010 with a BA Honours degree in Youth & Community Work and Applied Theology.