God is my Director

Youth ministry, movies, no drugs and a variable amount of Rock ‘n Roll

Urban Sense

Posted by Martin on December 5, 2006

I suddenly realised that I hadn’t done any strictly youth ministry blogging for a couple of days, so here’s something – I just ran into Matt Summerfield, a top bloke who for the past few years has had the unenviable task of trying to bring the youth evangelism and discipleship organisation Crusaders up to date. No easy task – they’re a dear bunch of people, but the name alone was enough to tell you that they were in danger of disappearing into the past.

Not everyone will agree with me, but I think that by renaming and rebranding the organisation as Urban Saints, Matt has saved it. It might not at first seem the natural choice – after all, the majority of Crusaders groups are found in rural or suburban settings – but Matt isn’t using the word ‘urban’ in that way. He’s creating a new meaning for the word, or rather, harnessing a meaning for the word which already makes sense in what might be termed British youth culture.

Young people, wherever they may live, view themselves in some way to be citizens of an urban culture. Linked together by developments in technology, they feel connected to the dominant, US-urban led culture, and then interpret it locally in their own way, and in their own tribes. That’s a very rough description of how I believe modern youth culture looks in practice.

So the idea of being an ‘urban saint’ makes much more sense to a rural young person than it does a rural adult. The problem Matt has is that his is an aging organisation, and so he’s had a lot of flak from his constituents. If his new direction reflects the bold sentiment of the new name, and from talking to him today I believe it will, then after time, he may not have that problem any more.

I think it’s a good name. It doesn’t quite suit the organisation at the moment (it feels more suitable to something like the Salvation Army), but as a kind of unavoidable vision statement, it may well lead them to change shape anyway. I think it’s going to both interesting and exciting to watch their future unfold.

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One Response to “Urban Sense”

  1. Amanda said

    My husband works for Crusaders/Urban Saints and I have been continually impressed with the integrity and vision of the organisation, from the way they respect the staff to the management’s obvious passion for young people fuelled by their love of God… check out my blog for a pic of the youngest Urban Saint!

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