Sally Nash has kindly replied to my review of her book, the following is her response:
The interpretation that Mark offers of my book is different to my intentions in writing it. What I intended to do in the first chapter was give a little bit of context for youth ministry today. The only philosophy I was communicating was that youth work should be multi-faceted and the intention of that was to promote a more holistic view of youth ministry, one that looked at the whole life of the young person and one which encouraged looking at youth work through a variety of roles to encourage a wider range of people to get involved with work with young people as I believe that young people benefit from having a wide range of Christian role models. The views in the chapter were mine, I did not consult with anyone else when I wrote it so it shouldn’t be seen as the CYM view. The bit of the introduction that was most significant to me is that which wasn’t addressed in the critique. I begin and finish the introduction by talking about love and this is what underpins what I believe and what I thought I was saying. After some examples I write “I started wondering what the implications were for those of us who talk about a God of love, and how yet again we may need to revisit the way we try to communicate the gospel to young people”. Thus my first comment about youth work overtly talks about communicating the gospel to young people and I finish this introduction by talking about attaining our goal of building the Kingdom of God among young people and quoting in full Eph 3.16-21 which talks about knowing God’s love and finishing with giving glory to God in the church. It would be impossible to believe and write that if my philosophy on youth ministry was as described.
I think my theology has perhaps become more implicit and in saying about abundant life from John 10.10 I strongly believe that this is found in Jesus but for those who are not willing to commit to Jesus we still have a responsibility to help them fulfil their potential and be concerned about their well-being. I regularly challenge students as to how and when they give young people an opportunity to respond to the gospel and share the critique we made in the Faith of Generation Y that young people want to talk about spiritual things more often than youth workers give them the chance. My comments about everything else were framed in the earlier comment about communicating the gospel to young people but that isn’t mentioned in the review. The bit about Shalom was supposed to communicate that what we are helping young people achieve is Shalom which is a biblical concept that means so much more than how it is often expressed which is peace. The link to Every Child Matters was supposed to show that we can communicate to those we work with outside of the church in terms that they understand but which for us have a biblical resonance and underpinning. Quite a lot of youth work now gets external funding and learning how to connect biblical principles and professional practice can be quite important. Implicit in being made in the image of God is that each individual human has worth and potential. I have spent 30+ years working with young people on the edges and margins of society who have little sense of this worth and little vision for potential. However, I always believe this is best accomplished through a relationship with Jesus.
I am sorry if my writing was unclear but feel that the framing of the entire chapter within the context of communicating God’s love, communicating the gospel and building the Kingdom did show that I have at the heart of my ministry a desire that young people encounter Jesus and have an opportunity to respond. Thus I feel a misrepresented and appreciate this opportunity to put forward my perspective.