As part of our series about different types of youth work, this week we have an interview with Neels Redelinghuys, a youth pastor in South Africa.
1. What type of youth work do you do?
At the Klipkerk Congregation (“Klipkerk” is “Stone Church” in English), we work with youth from age 4 all the way up to the mid-twenties. We have a “relational approach” to youth ministry where we focus on ‘four types’ of relationship:
- The relationship between God and the youth, where the focus is on teaching and learning about God (sermons and teachings);
- The relationship between the youth and God, where the focus is placed on worship and sharing our hearts with God (prayer and praise & worship services);
- The relationship between the youth and the church, where the focus is on fellowship (small groups and social events);
- The relationship between the youth and the world, where the focus is on mission and trying to make a difference in the world (outreach programs).
2. What do you do in an average week?
An average week for me consists of making sure my admin is up to date; organizing and presenting the mid-week Grade 11 teachings; counselling teenagers and handling the grievances of parents; running and organizing the Sunday school; managing volunteers; making sure our social networks are functioning well; attending church leadership meetings and every now and then doing a sermon or two.
3. How long have you been doing this type of youth work?
I’ve been doing this type of youth work since I joined the team at the Klipkerk Congregation in 2011; two, going on three, years then.
4. What other types of youth work have you done previously?
All in all I’ve been involved in some form of ministry, on a regular basis, since the year 2008. My contributions to youth work have ranged from being a Sunday school volunteer, worship leader and bass guitarist, to providing counselling and leading a small-group.
5. What age range do you work with?
My job entails looking after the youth from age 7 to age 18, although my own personal preference is working with the church’s teenagers.
6. What’s unique about your particular type of youth work?
In a society where things have to be spectacular, happen very quickly and are focused on the individual, we try to keep things basic. Our philosophy is modeled after Jesus’ take on the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:36-40 – love God and love your neighbour. On these two principles we base our programs and subsequently they form the foundation for our ‘relational approach’.
7. What are some of the good things about your type of youth work?
For me, the best thing is being able to teach kids about Jesus Christ and guiding them in their faith; providing them with necessary principles so that they can go out and really make a difference for the Kingdom.
8. What are some of the challenges of it?
The biggest challenge I currently have is helping the youth to understand that they have to take ownership and responsibility for the programs that we run. In the end, all that we do isn’t about me, so things should be able to function effectively when I’m not there.
9. Why are you passionate about this type of youth work?
I get to work with a range of kids who really love God and are committed to get to know Him more and more. When any one of these kids then decides to commit their lives to spreading the Gospel and being disciples of Christ, I am filled with a joy and gratitude towards God that I can’t describe to anyone.
10. What would you recommend for someone wanting to get into this type of youth work?
What I recommend is teamwork. The success of the ‘relational approach’ hinges on all members of the volunteer team working together for the greater good. If you take on this approach, you have to simultaneously be a manager and a leader and there’s definitely no room for doing everything on your own.
11. Is there any special training or qualifications required?
You don’t need any special training or qualifications – just a lot of patience, humility, dependence on God, and a willingness to learn and grow.
12. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
The most important thing that I’ve learned can be summed up in one word: passion. A mentor of mine once said to me: “You have to be so sure of your passion that when the tough times come, your passion will be enough to pull you through.”
Hi there! I’m Neels, I’m 26 years old and I currently hold the position of youth worker at the Klipkerk Congregation in Bloemfontein, South Africa. My specialties include research and teaching. I’m doing a Master’s degree in Old Testament studies, I tweet a lot about rugby, and there’s nothing that gets me going like a good cup of coffee!
You can connect with me on any of the following platforms:
Please feel free to use the comments below if you have any questions about youth work in South Africa. If you’re also a youth worker or youth pastor in South Africa, we’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments too.
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