Mark MOntgomery book

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undefinedOur diocesan Youth Officer has just published a chapter in a new book about difficulties that can occur in Christian youth work. The Revd Mark Montgomery – who also recently presented a paper at an international conference about youth ministry – is the author of a chapter titled ‘Crossing the Line' in the new book.

Mark is the only British author in the American-published book ‘It Happens: True Tales from the Trenches of Youth Ministry’. His chapter deals with the sensitive issue of what happens when young volunteers in Christian youth ministry date members of youth groups.

Specifically, he gives the example of an 18-year-old youth leader who started dating a 17-year-old member of the youth group.

Though there is nothing illegal in two people of that age starting a relationship, it poses great problems if one of the individuals is in a position of leadership in youth ministry.

Mark said: “What I’m saying in the chapter is that there is a cost, a sacrifice, which isn’t explained often enough to people. When people step into Christian leadership they need to be made aware that they probably will need to make sacrifices.

“In youth leadership, even where the leaders are themselves young and volunteers, it is important that everyone knows where the boundaries are. You can’t lead a group of young people impartially if you have certain feelings for just one member of the group.

“It is a sensitive area. I make the case in the book for special training to be given to all youth group leaders, even temporary young volunteers, so that they can fully understand and accept the sacrifices they must make to carry out their ministry."

Mark, who has been in youth ministry with our diocese for nearly 10 years, is also an honorary curate at St Mary’s Church, Upton, Wirral.

He recently gave a paper at the global conference of the International Association for the Study of Youth Ministry, held in Cambridge. He spoke about the ‘missing gap’ of those aged from 20 to 30 in church life.

Some of the reasons why those from that age group are relatively under-represented in Christian life are, said Mark: (a)  non-recognition of parents as young adults with their own needs; (b) in some cases, up to three generations being removed from church attendance; and (c) lack of recognition of the distinct life-stages that young adults go through.

Mark’s research for his paper started through work on the Growth Action Planning (GAP) of St Mary’s Church.

'It Happens: True Tales from the Trenches of Youth Ministry' is published by CYMT Press of Tennessee. It is available through www.amazon.co.uk

The book’s cost will vary slightly, but as a rough guide it will be under £10 (hard copy), £6.50 (for Kindle).