35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’ 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. (John 1:35-37)
A few years ago I was at a retreat where this verse was used for our morning Lectio Divina exercise. We were asked to identify the word that grabbed us. My word was “again”. — What? — Why “again”? — Why couldn’t I have a cooler word, Lord?
As I began to wonder and pray about what this word “again” might mean for me; I realized I was really anxious and angry about having to start a new program year at the church and all the monotony that would come with it. I would have to try and make Jesus become really important to a bunch of youth again. I would have to try and motivate a congregation to support their youth again. I would have to convince parents that they play the primary role in the faith formation of their kids again. It all seemed so exhausting to me. Continue reading
Kenda Creasy Dean’s Almost Christian has gotten a lot of attention in the past year and I am glad. I was beginning to think that we (as a Church) had glossed over the findings of the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) too quickly. Kenda offers us an antidote to the Moralistic Therapeutic Deism of the NSYR by looking into the lives of highly devoted young people. These youth register as highly devoted youth because they … Continue reading
Yesterday was my son’s birthday. He is eight. This day causes me to pause from thinking about youth ministry to reflect on fatherhood instead. My son’s name is Elijah Gabriel. I chose the name Elijah after taking Mark Throntveit’s Elijah/Elisha class at Luther Seminary. I chose the name Gabriel after having read The Giver the day before he was born. We chose his names because they were meaningful, but little did we know how meaningful they’d become and little did I know how much I would learn about faith from Elijah and the biblical stories that bear his names. Continue reading
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
How do we bring good news to our youth? How do we proclaim release to our youth and the recovery of sight? How do we let our oppressed youth go free or proclaim God’s favor to them? These are the questions that arise when we begin to understand youth ministry as proclamation. Continue reading
If your goal is to simply socialize youth into the church and its routines, then you do not need to read any further. Good luck with that.
However, if your goal is to invite young people into a life of discipleship, then it is critical that we start seeing ministry as discernment and not as a process of socialization and that we view the practice of discernment as ministry and not only as a tool for planning ministry.
In the youth ministry world, I often hear and see the (false) polarization of action and contemplation. Youth ministries tend to lean towards either one or the other of these two (false) poles. Either a ministry emphasizes a devotional life of prayer, reading scripture, attending worship regularly, listening to Christian music, etc. OR it emphasizes a life of service, leadership and engagement. Neither of these are wrong, but both are only half-truths. Discernment is a singular practice that consists of both action and contemplation. Continue reading
I believe the primary task (or practice) of youth ministry today is the hermeneutical task, or interpretation. This is the first practice of the anti-model presented in an earlier post. Youth ministers often find ourselves in the role of interpreter – interpreting youth culture for adults, interpreting adult culture for youth, interpreting church tradition for youth, interpreting middle schoolers for high schoolers, etc. But there is more to this work of interpretation.
Interpretation, as one of the primary practices of youth ministry, means that our work centers on the task of helping young people re-interpret their reality in light of God’s Good News. We interpret their reality in light of God’s Word and we interpret God’s Word in light of their reality. Continue reading
Let me preface this by saying that I am absolutely grateful to be living in a democracy and by no means does this post imply that I want a revolution in America. But I’m curious . . . Continue reading