Benign Indifference and missional youth work

Mayo, Collins and Nash’s book the Faith of Generation Y is good stuff, but the concept of Benign Indifference never sat to well with my experience and I could never quite put my finger on why. In the light of the two recent posts about there not being an In and asking the wrong questions, I wanted to revisit it.
I rarely ask questions about faith, and once a conversation is sparked rarely experience the benign indifference. I wonder if this is because I am asking different questions, and that I ask within the context of a robust relationship that allows me to probe answers and not let young people off with easy outs. For example Flow came about by asking “What does it feel like when you skate?” and taking the risk to say “I think that maybe God”. This did not locate God or Spirituality with something outside of the young persons experience but within, and this opened a journey. I never presume to have the truth or tell young people what truth is, rather create an environment for dialogue and discussion. I think StreetSpaces resistance to an eccelesiocentric (church centred) approach to mission, helps us find the questions that are rooted in the lives of young people rather than an implicit or unconsciously church led questions or experiences. It has always been this way for me 20 years I used to ask young people in detached in the summer to be quiet for two minutes and then tell me what colour was their silence was. Recently I have used the word “church” to help locate some my questions within a christian tradition, eg whilst at the skate park asking could this be church?
Central to our approach is an embedded (non dualist) notion that G-d is as present on the streets as anywhere and that of going on a journey to discover with young people who G-d is, what is church, what is belief. What has been interesting is we have robust conversation, even young people taking steps of Faith to come on a journey although are without any notions of imaginary boundaries or lines to cross, and we have “fruit” in terms of a changed landscape, improved communities, turning away from crime, better relationships, but we rarely have benign indifference except perhaps when we ask the wrong questions.

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