featured articles: informal education, lifelong learning and social action

 youth work and youth ministry

from the brigades to the church youth club

the main forms and philosophies take shape
history and development menu


We review the development of uniformed organizations (such as the Boys Brigade and Guiding and Scouting); the contributions to thinking and practice made by settlements and missions; and the emergence of the church youth club

the brigades

old Boys Brigade badgeWilliam Smith and the Boys' Brigade.

Robert Baden Powell as an educational innovator. Famous for his contribution to the development of Scouting, Baden-Powell was also able to make a number of educational innovations. His interest in adventure, association and leadership still repay attention today.

settlements and missions

Settlements and social action centres: What are settlements and social action centres doing today? How did they develop from university and social settlements, and educational settlements?

The Barnetts and Toynbee hall: A brief outline of the contribution of Samuel and Henrietta Barnett.

Richard Henry Tawney, fellowship and adult education. R. H. Tawney was a noted economic historian, democratic socialist and educator. Here we make a brief assessment of his contribution as an adult educationalist - and his strong belief in fellowship.

In the archives:

Samuel A. Barnett - university settlements: his classic talk outlining the nature of settlement work.

Robert A. Woods (1912) The recovery of the parish. Originally an address, this piece makes a strong argument for neighbourhood fellowship and association and looks to role that churches can, and should, play in their cultivation.

the church youth club

Club work: a review of the development of club work with young people and adults.

The making of popular youth work: Mark K. Smith on the history of youth club work.

James Butterworth, Christian youthwork and Clubland. The Rev. James Butterworth made a very significant contribution to thinking and practice around youth work in the church. He pioneered a more youth-oriented approach within the Methodist Church and established a lasting Christian institution - Clubland - in Walworth, London.

Leonard Barnett and the church youth club. Leonard P. Barnett was a key figure in the development of youth work within the Methodist Church. He also wrote two classic texts on youth clubs that provide workers with a coherent and informed basis for their work fostering learning and fellowship.

further reading

For an overview of the Christian youth work literature go to our guide to reading. There is also a guide to reading for general youth work history.

Davies, B. (1999) From Voluntaryism to Welfare State. A history of the Youth Service in England. Volume 1: 1939 - 1979, and From Thatcherism to New Labour. A history of the Youth Service in England. Volume 2: 1979 - 1999: Leicester: Youth Work Press. A useful review and analysis of the development (and decline) of the youth service with a focus on central organizational change and policy shifts. Good on the national reports etc. and policy shifts but does not bring out the changing shape of practice and the movements at the local level.

Eagar, W. McG (1953) Making Men. A history of boys clubs and related movements, London: University of London Press. 437 pages. Quite the best historical treatment of UK youth work. Eagar begins by discussing the recognition of adolescence; the development of church and philanthropic concern around youth; the emergence of ragged schooling, clubs, settlements and missions and then charts the history of the boys' clubs movement. There is some material on girl's clubs. He is particularly strong on the idea of the club, linkages into schooling and rescue, and how these related to other Victorian institutions and concerns. Thoroughly recommended.

Percival, A. C. (1951) Youth Will Be Led. The story of the voluntary youth organizations, London: Collins. 249 pages. Useful overview of the development of voluntary work. Percival sets out to 'give an idea of how one impulse after another urged men and women to be come workers in the field, answering the need that seemed most pressing their day; to show how the founders of various associations often "builded better than they knew" and to indicate the characteristics, the problems and the philosophy that lie behind the work being done' (p. 12). Chapters on early history; middle class needs (YMCA & YWCA); the Brigades; the village girls' club (GFS); clubs (lay and church); scouts and guides; 'common interest' associations (young farmer's etc.); federation and partnership; state intervention; present trends; characteristics and motives; conclusion.

Ward, P. (1996) Growing Up Evangelical: youthwork and the making of a subculture, London: SPCK. 242 + x pages. Part one provides a partial history of youth work within the Christian church in Britain - with a special emphasis on the impact of evangelism upon the development of practice. Part two explores youth work and worship. Part three, 'safety and subculture' examines a 'subcultural approach to youthwork' and brings out some of the tensions within evangelical youthwork. Pete Ward bravely examines the tendency for evangelical youthwork to build an alternative subculture - and the possibility of fostering closed rather than open perspectives. He asks 'is evangelism essentially adolescent?' This book is important because of the way in which historical material is drawn together, and because of the questions raised for evangelical youthwork.


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