Many of us charged with the task of ministering to young people are non-experts: we love the 11-18s in our communities but we face challenges that prevent our ministry from flourishing as we would like it to. Rather than develop more and more expertise, we're learning that the simple act of asking better questions can allow us to make progress on the challenges we're facing. If you're involved in 11-18s ministry and want to grow in these skills, Action Learning for Youth Ministry (ALYM) is for you.
What is ALYM?
Action Learning for Youth Ministry is about being supported for the challenges you face, whilst being part of giving support to others and their own challenges by asking simple, supportive and challenging questions.
At ALYM, we use a tool called an Action-Learning Set, which takes place using an online meeting room so you won’t have to spend time on travelling.
At its core, action-learning is simple:
- 3-4 people, who are non-experts, gathering for 4 mornings over 8 weeks, presenting their challenging situations to the group,
- the group members asking simple, powerful questions to aid the presenter's reflection, which leads clearly defined actions
- the presenter reports back on their actions at the next session, leading to another round of action and reflection
Here's what a previous participant said:
Having been in Youth Ministry for quite a few years it’s sometimes difficult to know where to turn for support and challenge. I decided to join the Action Learning set to help me process some of the challenges around a change in focus in our setting and to develop a more effective strategy for discipleship. It’s helped highlight some of what’s held me back and enabling me to be more confident and realistic about what we can achieve.
Action Learning has been used in the business world for many years, but we think it might have a lot of use for those looking to overcome challenges facing 11-18s ministry. For a brilliant description of Action Learning, just watch this 2 minute video:
What challenge could I overcome with ALYM?
Action Learning can be useful for challenges that are complex and have more than one potential solution. For example, we have seen participants bring the following issues to previous sets:
- dealing with the challenge of integrating two different groups of young people into one youth club
- developing a youth ministry strategy from scratch
- exploring how to change the culture of a volunteer team
- refining ideas for funding more employed personnel
If you're unsure whether the challenge you face is suitable for ALYM? Get in touch with us using the form below.
How does action learning work?
Our Action Learning Sets follow a simple recipe (with thanks to 3D Coaching):
R - Each participant takes responsibility for their own progress and success.
E - We work with real situations, real people - we are experience-led
C - We are confidential - only the learning leaves the set (unless it's a safeguarding issue)
I - We use 'I' language, for example: I feel... I think... I wonder...
P - We follow a process, which enables us to then get onto content
E - Everyone has equal opportunity to participate.
Other things you should know:
- There is little-to-no taught content – each participant is supported and challenged by others in the set through careful listening and questioning in an effort to help them gain new insights and knowledge around the challenge they face.
- We meet online - we use an online meeting tool called Zoom. This means you don't have to waste time travelling and you can even phone in if you have bad signal where you are.
- A maximum of 4 participants take part – We're learning that smaller groups make for better participation.
- Each participant presents something they want to make progress on during the course of the set – It’s best if it’s something with more than one possible outcome – e.g. dealing with a challenging team-member, coming up with a refreshed youth ministry strategy, or working out how to start something from scratch.
- Participants agree to attend all 4 online meetings – action learning sets only really work when the entire group is present.
- Participants agree to put into action what they learn and report back at the next session – Each participant is responsible for their own results and their own success.
- We don’t allow people in reporting relationships – E.g. the vicar and the youth worker (or vicar and rural dean / vicar and wardens etc.) from the same church can’t be in the same group, and reports won’t be made back to the manager of a participant.
- Only the learning leaves the group, unless there’s a safeguarding issue – Any disclosures or concerns will have to be reported to the Diocesan Safeguarding Policy by the facilitator (Jon White from the RNG Team) in line with the Diocesan policy for safeguarding.
- We agree to be vulnerable – Action Learning cannot happen unless we are willing to share the real issues and answer as honestly as we feel able.
- We don't work on other things at the same time – you can’t be fully present in at an ALYM Set and answer email etc.
- The person facilitating the set (Jon White from the RNG Team) isn’t there to teach or provide answers – but to support you to use the process and support the group to ask the best questions of the presenter so together you can help them make progress.
Join our next Sets in January 2019
We have people wanting to participate in 2 sets in January, but there are still more spaces. If you want to participate, let us know you're interested by getting in touch. Once we have the right number, we will work out the most suitable times for all of you, and send you some resources so you're prepared.
Questions? Get in touch
If you want to be part of the next ALYM Set, starting late September 2018, or have questions about the process, get in touch with us via email, or using the contact page below: