Christian Faith-Based Youth Work: Systematic Narrative Review

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Christian faith-based youth work is a valuable complement to school-based religious formation. This paper provides a review of research on Christian faith-based youth work. Five bibliographic databases were searched using terms to express the concepts (youth work) AND (Christian faith). The eight studies meeting the inclusion criteria were synthesised by four major themes in the papers. (1) The purpose of Christian faith-based youth work could be viewed as existing on a continuum between social purpose (supporting reflecting on issues of identity and life purpose) and evangelism. (2) In terms of processes and practices, holding spaces of meaning for young people was important, including giving young people roles of responsibility. (3) Amidst declining engagement with formal religion, the focus was more on involvement of young people in recognising need and addressing contemporary concerns. (4) Purpose, agenda, bias and professionalisation were highlighted as issues in relation to faith-based youth work. Creating places of meaning where young people feel valued and listened to in relation to spiritual issues was regarded as valuable within the social pedagogy of youth work. This synthesis of research provides a reference point for those engaged in practice, teaching or scholarship in Christian faith-based youth work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-460
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Beliefs & Values
Issue number4
Early online date27 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the marvellous support of Joanne Knox, Subject Assistant Librarian, Ulster University for her assistance with the literature searching that underpinned this review.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Christian belief
  • youth work
  • youth ministry
  • youth studies
  • literature review


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