Wednesday, February 28, 2007

    Certainty?



    Listening to NPR the other day, I heard a guy offer this old chestnut: "Either Jesus was a liar, a madman, or everything he said about himself was true" (otherwise known as the lunatic/liar/Lord trilemma). I instantly thought of the reader who posted about this quiz on theological worldviews:

    I'd like to point out that many of the statements with which a participant is presented represent false dichotomies. Take, for example, "There is little or no human element in the Bible, it is a divine book." This statement excludes believing it is both divine and contains human elements (and choosing halfway between "agree" and "disagree" is not a satisfying response!).



    Similarly, the above statement about Jesus offers a false choice because it suggests that you can only consider Jesus from one of three perspectives: as liar, mentally disturbed, or self-proclaimed Messiah. It is assumed that we just accept that Jesus declared himself the Messiah. What is missing here is at least one other possibility: what we have in scripture is, in part, the words and witness of the early Christian community and their understanding of Jesus, rather than the actual words of Jesus himself. Thus, in the Gospel of John when Jesus makes the well-known "I am" declarations, it is possible that what we have here are not the historical words of Jesus, but rather assertions of how John's community had come to understand Jesus (e.g. for them he was "the way, the truth, the life.") Thus, the "I am" statements are the words of John's community--not Jesus. Nevertheless, they speak truths about Christ.

    To understand the text this way is to see it not as history recorded (e.g. reading forward in time from the occurrence of the event to the recording of the event) but rather reading it as the way in which the Christian community tried to interpret the Jesus Experience (e.g. reading backward in time). Another example: Last Sunday's lectionary text for Lent dealt with Jesus being tempted in the desert. Not too long ago, I was discussing this passage with a group of youth ministry folk and one person said that this passage is an example of how Jesus sort of had a "Superman switch." He could have done all the miracles the Devil is suggesting, but he chose instead to turn off his "Superman switch." The question was then posed "Why did he do that?"

    To read the passage this way is to read it as a straight forward piece of history. In a sense, reading it forward in time. I find it much more interesting to read it in the opposite direction -- backward in time-- not as history but as metaphor and ask "Why does Luke/Luke's community tell this story in this way about Jesus? What does it say about how they had come to experience him?" For me, it is partly a story about the temptations of power. We are all tempted, I think, in some way by the need for power, even if it is just enough power to keep our lives/families/jobs/belongings secure and safe.

    Those who encountered Jesus, it would seem, experienced in him one who did not (and perhaps could not) use coercive power. He did not use coercive power to stop the Romans. He did not use coercive power to end poverty or hunger or to make the Jews suddenly the "bosses." Instead, they experienced in him humility, servanthood, compassion, and love -- all characteristics that we do not associate with POWER.

    And so they tell this story to explain their experience of one who relies not on his own power or on worldly powers, but on the power of a God who works in the world through humility, servanthood, compassion, and love.


    I share all this as an example of the crucial distinction between the way the "progressive" Church encounters biblical texts differently than, say, the fundamentalist Church. I do not discount the possible historicity of these texts. Rather, I only share that I'm much less interested in whether or not things happened in such-and-such a way than I am in what they mean...and why the early Christians remembered and told these stories in a particular way. I have found that to make these texts relevant to young people, it is crucial that we help them find meaning in this witness of our spiritual ancestors. And if I am able to help them see that at least some of what we find in the text is not just a news report of events, but rather the witness of those who have gone before, perhaps the youth will come to understand that they, too, are part of that ongoing witness to the presence of Christ in the world. Food for thought.
    --Brian

    Sunday, February 25, 2007

    Remember



    People who minister to youth and children need many gifts, but one that is invaluable is the gift of memory -- remembering what it was like to be young, how the world looks different through the eyes of childhood, and the incredible amount of change that happens in the first eighteen years of life. Remembering how easy it is as an adolescent to forget to do that thing you promised your mom you would do just five minutes ago before your friend called to talk to you on the phone. Remembering what it's like to be in school with people judging you and your abilities seven hours a day. To minister to the young, it's imperative to remember how things seemingly insignificant to adults can be matters of earth-shattering importance when you are 10, 13, 16 years old. I've heard someone suggest that you are all the ages you have ever been. You are simultaneously the person you were at 10, the person you were at 18, the person you were at 21, 30, 45, and on. To be in youth ministry is to embrace the awkward child you were at 13, the know-it-all you were at 18, the idealist you were at 21-- all while being authentically who you are right now.
    (Photo is of me around age 8!)

    --Brian



    Saturday, February 24, 2007

    So Who does God Root For?


    Here's why competitive sports and religious faith make terrible bedfellows:

    A Catholic school principal has organized sensitivity training for students who shouted "We love Jesus" during a basketball game
    against a school with Jewish students.


    Full story
    here.
    Photo courtesy of Ship of Fools.

    A Cool Lent


    I passed on this idea for a "COOL LENT" (from the Cool People Care website) to my college students as a way to be more engaged this Lenten season. It would great for youth, too. So many people seem to love the idea of "giving up" something for Lent, but they miss the point that we give it up in order to make space for something else. If you are giving up soda, use the funds you would have spent and give it to a charity. If you are giving up watching TV, use that time for ministry. If you are fasting, use the time you would have spent eating to serve a meal at a homeless shelter. If you are giving up chocolate....Wait a minute! Why would anyone give up chocolate!!?

    Monday, February 19, 2007

    What is Your Theological Worldview?

    According to this quiz, I'm emergent-Postmodern! Who would have thought? Guess I have to stop calling myself a liberal. How do you rate?

    My results:


    You scored as Emergent/Postmodern.
    You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology.
    You feel alienated from older forms of church,
    you don't think they connect to modern culture very well.
    No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much
    to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue.
    Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than
    through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in
    spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should
    help them to do this.

    Emergent/Postmodern

    86%

    Modern Liberal

    68%

    Classical Liberal

    57%

    Roman Catholic

    46%

    Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

    36%

    Neo orthodox

    32%

    Charismatic/Pentecostal

    29%

    Reformed Evangelical

    0%

    Fundamentalist

    0%

    What's your theological worldview?
    created with QuizFarm.com

    Contemplation...


    I'm becoming increasingly convinced of the need for less noise and activity in youth ministry gatherings and more opportunities for quiet contemplation -- something our youth have very little of in their hectic lives. Below I share a short reflection of an "aha!" or "opening" moment that I had not too long ago while attending a Taize worship service. Though it may seem a simple moment of awareness, the experience I share was a profound one, and would not likely have happened in a typical worship service where there is hardly a moment of silence between all the music, talking, and movement:



    I recently attended a quiet, meditative service at church. Sitting by myself in solitude and silence, my attention became focused on one of the many votive candles sitting about the room. This particular votive seemed to have two flames coming out of it, and they seemed to bob and weave about each other, as if fighting. “This is like our relationship to God,” I thought. “We are always moving away and resisting God’s attempt to connect with us.” But then, as I stared longer, I realized what I had originally thought was two flames was actually one flame and its reflection on the side of the glass encircling the votive. What I saw was not two flames in conflict, but rather a dance between the flame and its reflection. “That is what we are like,” I thought. “At our best, we are reflections of God’s love and nature, in a wonderful, intimate, and dynamic dance with the source of all life, love, and being.”

    Saturday, February 17, 2007

    Gay Teens Coming Out Earlier


    An interesting, but not surprising, recent article in USA Today looks at research that shows gay teens are finding more acceptance within the culture and are thus coming out earlier than past generations:


    Gay teenagers are "coming out" earlier than ever, and many feel better about themselves than earlier generations of gays, youth leaders and researchers say. The change is happening in the wake of opinion polls that show growing acceptance of gays, more supportive adults and positive gay role models in popular media.

    "In my generation, you definitely didn't come out in high school. You had to move away from home to be gay," says Kevin Jennings, 43, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a national group that promotes a positive school climate for gay children. "Now so many are out while they're still at home. They're more vocal than we were."

    Still, many continue to have a tough time. The worst off, experts say, are young people in conservative rural regions and children whose parents cannot abide having gay offspring. Taunting at school is still common. Cyber-bullying is "the new big thing," says Laura Sorensen of
    Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center in Ferndale, Mich. "Kids are getting hate mail and taunts on MySpace or Facebook."

    But as young gays become more visible targets, they also have more sources of help, experts say. In the 11 years since Jennings founded the education network, parents have become more supportive of gay teens, he says. Also, the network has trained thousands of school officials on how to reduce gay bashing.

    I have counseled several gay teens in my years of youth ministry. Sadly, these teens had discovered that the Church was the place where they found the least love or acceptance. Based on what they heard from religious leaders in the media, they had concluded there was no place for them in the Church. Certainly, some leaders
    of the religious right have been quick to stigmatize gay youth and to share their belief that gay people, particularly gay teens, tend to be more depressed, and have more drug and alcohol problems than other teens. They offer only faulty and anecdotal "research" to support these claims while using them to demonstrate just how unhealthy (read:sinful) the "gay lifestyle" truly is. But even if these assertions were true, one has to ask: Are these teens depressed because of their sexual orientation or because of the oppressive reaction to their sexual orientation by the surrounding culture? This research would seem to support the latter. And as our culture moves away from discrimination and oppression against gay youth, I think we will see the trend of emotionally healthier gay teens continue to rise (and regardless of one's views on homosexuality, this should be the goal of all people who care about teenagers).

    In fact, the trend does seem to be in favor of gay teens across society. Stats show that the younger a person is, the more likely they are to be accepting of different sexual orientations (see below). Such stats might explain why there has been a flurry of activity in recent years to pass laws discriminating against gay people. The handwriting is on the wall for those wanting to impose by law one particular interpretation of scripture: it's now or never. (See here for an example of what could happen to gay youth if we were to enforce certain literalistic readings of scripture).


    Hat tip to Hit the Back Button to Move Fwd blog for the USA Today article.

    LOVE DIVINE - By Music Artist Seal



    "Cause I need love, love's divine. Please forgive me now I see that I've been blind. Give me love, love is what I need to help me know my name."

    Photo of the Day


    Jesus Loves Osama, originally uploaded by Ronchy.

    From a promotion put on by Baptist Churches in Australia. A good example of how we constantly feel the need to qualify and equivocate on the radical message of the gospel. Read more here. See also this article on Beliefnet.com.

    You Need this Book!



    Here is an excellent review by Jonny Baker of Mark Yaconelli's Contemplative Youth Ministry book. Anyone who is serious about ministry with young people should be reading this book right now. Mark's text offers a thoughtful and theologically-sound alternative to youth ministry programs driven by constant activity and entertainment. I have shared the approach of this text with my youth ministry team and it resulted in our decision to offer a contemplative youth worship service each month during our regular youth group meeting.

    All in the Family

    We are struggling in our youth ministry program to find a way to reconnect the parents of our youth into the life of the church. Many have become somewhat disengaged and, for some, dropping their youth off at church on Sunday nights is as close as they get to worship. So, I love this idea offered at the excellent Emerging Minister site. It would be a great way to invite and involve parents in an evening worship service during youth group:

    We had a cool service last Wednesday night I thought I would share. We started by dividing everyone into 10 groups... we have an all ages congregation so this was old folks and toddlers all together. Next, each group was given 15 minutes to create something to present as an act of worship. The 10 we had were (and be creative here... a lot of these we chose because we were short on time and the prep was easy.. with more prep, you could be more clever) puppet show, drama, poetry, songwriting, sculpture, finger painting, felt board (yes, felt board), breadmaking (for communion), pen and ink sketch, and responsive reading. Then, we had about a 45 minute worship time planned with music and in between songs, we had each group come forward and present their worship.

    Friday, February 16, 2007

    Choosing Church



    I've been reading an excellent text on youth ministry entitled Choosing Church: What Makes a Difference for Teens by Carol Lytch. Based on findings from Lily funded research, Lytch looks at numerous variables that affect youth participation in the whole life of a church. I appreciate that her sample congregations are quite varied: protestant, catholic, evangelical, megachurch, small church, etc. I'm particularly drawn to her assertion that churches which attract and involve youth in long-term spiritual experiences create programs that meet at least two of the three needs below:


    • a sense of belonging - Students need to have a subgroup within the church, most likely with their peers, where they feel a sense of close community and care.
    • a sense of meaning - Students desire to know more about God and life and seek out churches where they are free to explore the tough questions.
    • a sense of competency - Students want opportunities to develop their gifts and skills, whether this is within the leadership of a youth program, or as leaders within the wider church ministries.

    Much of what I'm reading in this book reminded me of a not-so-recent post over at the Wesley Blog entitled: "When Teenagers are Bored by the Worship Service." This blogger posits a concern about pushing youth, particularly unchurched youth, to participate in worship services that don't engage their interests:

    The truth is, we have a limited amount of time each week to reach and disciple teens, and I'm not sure we should spend a big portion of that time making them "do church". Why is the worship service such a sacred cow in churches anyway? Bring an unchurched teenager into a traditional mainline service, and the expectation of silence probably evokes for them memories of funerals and libraries- two places I didn't particularly want to be when I was younger (or now), especially if I had a choice in the matter. Why is the worship service considered prime time? Can teens be part of the Christian community without being in the same room with adults for that one hour? Maybe it's time we did things differently.

    I understand the heart of his argument, but I respectfully disagree. As I've ranted about on this blog before, segregating youth away from the total life of the church (i.e. intergenerational experiences of the whole community) all but guarantees that when they graduate from the youth group, they graduate out of the church. I do agree, however, that we have failed to adapt our worship experiences to approaches that will allow the youth of today to experience the movement of the spirit. Now, I know some churches think they've actually been able to do this by bringing in flashy videos, strobe lights, and loud driving music. But I would argue that these services more often provide youth with distraction and entertainment -- not the presence of the spirit.

    If we want youth to connect with worship -- to CHOOSE to be in church and to worship with the whole body -- I think Mark Yaconelli has a much better path in that direction in his text Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus.
    His work has it's foundation in The Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project, another Lily-funded project. Yaconelli argues that the way to reach today's post-modern youth is not through embracing popular culture but rather reaching back to the ancient contemplative spiritual practices that have always fed the Church. These practices have the potential to provide youth with all the things Lytch argues are so important: a sense of belonging through shared spiritual experiences, a sense of meaning by deepening our understanding of God's call on our lives, and a sense of competency by providing ways for youth to grow as spiritual leaders within their churches.

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Jesus Take The Wheel - Carrie Underwood



    CYNICISM ALERT!

    Okay...my apologies to everyone who loves this video. But where I come from (liberal mid-west seminary, liberal Methodist father, Marcus Borg reader, American Idol fan) this video is just plain "bad theology." Actually, at first I just thought it was funny. Sort of in the vein of this YouTube poster's response: "Why don't you get in your car with a video camera and film yourself as you 'let go and let god' and see what happens as you scream 'jesus take the wheel!'"

    But the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous I find the notion of Jesus on display in the song. Can't you just see "Jesus Take the Wheel" showing up on car bumpers all all the country, right next to "In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned"? But maybe I'm just being cynical...

    --Brian

    Godology


    Not too long ago, I wrote a post on a study that discussed the prevalency in our culture for people to image God as a sort of cosmic do-gooder. This God keeps his distance, except when you want something from him. This God's foremost concern is that we are happy, but beyond that we don't have much need for him. I'm glad to report that my youth this past Sunday demonstrated that they have a much more nuanced understanding of God than that.


    We began the evening by inviting the students to go out into the church building and find some object or artifact that might in some way symbolize or represent some part of their understanding of God. The results were as varied and diverse as the students in the group. Some of the objects the students shared included:


    • A plant, representing the way we experience God in nature.
    • A microphone, to show the way God "speaks" through our lives.
    • A portrait of Jesus.
    • A toy hen, symbolizing God as "creator."
    • An offering plate, symbolizing God as one who gives.
    • A chair, representing God's support for us.
    • The toy game of Operation, symbolizing God as healer!


    Later in the discussion, we looked at a series of scripture texts to consider how our ancient spiritual ancestors experienced God and how they symbolized God. We looked at texts that showed God working through people (Exodus 3:7-10), God as working through the elements of nature (Exodus 13:21), God as immediately present in times of troubles (the Psalms), God in feminine imagery (Luke 13:34 and various passages in Isaiah), and God as love itself (1 John 4: 7-13).


    As we read through each passage, students wrote words or images on a large sheet of paper that they felt reflected the way God's nature was described by the author of the text. We compared these images with an earlier discussion about differences in opinion about how God's power is manifest in the world ("over and above creation" as opposed to God "working through the created order"). As opposed to a common view that God is faraway, watching over us, here were biblical texts that argued for the immediate presence of God in the world all around us, even in one another. Here were texts that argued that God is beyond mere "super-beingness". God is part of all there is, yet beyond all there is (e.g. panentheism). Given all this, we pondered the benefits of putting a moratorium on using exclusively masculine descriptors for God for awhile and instead embracing the great varieties of ways God is spoken of in scripture. In addition, we challenged each other to find opportunities in the coming week to be open to God's presence--in nature, in times of trouble, in love, and in each other.

    Tuesday, February 13, 2007

    Br-r-r-r-r-r!


    From an ice storm in Swizterland! Guess I'll stop complaining about the few inches of snow we are getting in Missouri today.

    Faith Mosaic



    Here is a cool idea from a church in Atlanta. Pairs worked together to create a long paper timeline of transitions in their lives. Of course, you could adapt this to be a timeline of their faith story or a timeline of important people in their lives, etc. They shared the timelines and then wove them together into a cool mosiac. What a great way to "weave" together the various stories of the people of your faith community while creating a great piece of art for your youth room or for display in some other part of the church. This sort of idea is a perfect example of providing for the different learning styles within your group. This project would appeal to the artists, the storytellers, those who like hands-on projects, those who are introspective, and those who like to work with others.

    Monday, February 12, 2007

    A Girl Like Me

    This short doc from the "Media that Matters Film Festival" looks at teen African American women struggling with racial identity. Particularly striking is the scene about half-way through in which young African American children are asked which they prefer to play with: a white doll or a black doll. It reminded me of a book I read in seminary by an African American woman who mentioned her shock as a child at seeing an image of a black Jesus. She rejected that image because she was so enculturated to seeing Jesus as a "white man."

    Friday, February 09, 2007

    Photo of the Day: Precious

    Thursday, February 08, 2007

    Photo Scavenger Hunt

    I mentioned recently the idea of doing a photo scavenger hunt that involves taking more meaningful photos than "your whole group standing in someone's shower" (though, admittedly, I have used that one before and it does make for a good pic -- see below how I'm still able to sneak in this idea). Here are some more suggestions for doing a more thoughtful version of this type of activity:


    THE GREAT POLAROID SCAVENGER HUNTTHIS IS NOT A RACE! This is a challenge of your CREATIVITY and community-building gifts! Use your camera and film to create as many images of the list of items below as possible. Yes, you may combine more than one item into one photo! Each photo must utilize at least two members of your team and everyone must appear in at least one photo. Keep it legal and don’t be a public nuisance! Upon your return to the church, affix your photos to a piece of poster board and provide a caption for each image. Be as creative as you like with your photos and have fun! Photo options include:
    • An ad for Christianity
    • Hugging a stranger(s)
    • The beauty of creation
    • An image of generosity
    • An image of joy
    • A person in the church who has influenced your faith journey.
    • An image of John 13:34 -"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
    • Singing “Jesus Loves Me” to a minister from another church
    • An image of a real random act of kindness
    • Buying a snack for someone who is at work
    • An image of peace
    • A scripture from the Bible (someplace other than a Bible!)
    • An image of togetherness with your entire group squeezed into a small space
    • Pumping someone else’s gas
    • The Garden of Eden
    • An image of some problem in the world today
    • An image of your group with another church youth group
    • Your entire group upside down (like the way Jesus saw the world upside down from the way most people do)
    • An image of Jesus
    • An image of diversity
    • An image of Matthew 25: 40: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you did for me.”
    • A Christian symbol (not on a church!)
    • Washing each other’s feet.

    Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    Body of Christ


    Click on the pic to find out how a youth group used this bread man during worship.

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    To the Future...

    It has crossed my mind more than once lately that I'm not so much nurturing the teens in my group as I am nurturing who they might be at the age of 21 or 25 or 30. Much of what we do in youth ministry bears fruit years later, perhaps in ways we will never know. I remind myself that much of what I'm teaching the youth now may not really click with them until they are older, more experienced, or reach a time in their life when some piece of scripture, some experience in mission, some moment of care offered to them in their teens serves to help them be the person they were created to be. This is also a reminder of the danger of ministry with youth: neither you or they know what sort of influence you are having on them, so be careful what you say and what you do -- you never know when they might actually be listening!

    I'm also more keenly aware lately of what little time we have with these young people. A few hours a week over the course of several years, if that. So there is no time waste. I don't have the luxury of running a youth ministry that spends 50% of its time focused on entertaining teens with ski trips and bowling and laser tag, slipping in Bible study or worship when they aren't paying attention. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not knocking the power of fellowship in a youth program. But even fellowship time can be developed to be meaningful, evocative of the Christian faith, and spiritually edifying. For example, rather than sending youth on a Polaroid scavenger hunt to take photos of them all stuffed in a phone both, or cramming donuts in their mouths, they could instead be taking creative and thoughtful images of such things as "peace," "love," "Christ," and "Do unto others." Don't think that would be as much fun? Give it a try.
    Instead of having a night of Olympics-style competitive challenges, sponsor a "Kingdom Olympics" where the goal is to solve a series of physical or mental challenges together as a group where the key is cooperation, not competition. Make every moment count. Make every moment an opportunity to light "the way of Christ" for them. Make every moment a chance to perhaps get a glimpse of the Kingdom of God in their midst.

    Madison Avenue Christianity






    I can clearly picture those guys that used to visit my college campus, years ago, standing out in the gathering space between McDonalds and the library, waving their Bibles and telling us we were going to hell if we didn't change our ways. They always drew quite a crowd. But it was obvious that most of the students were there not to listen but to challenge, argue with, and taunt them. I doubt anyone felt like they were receiving the Good News.

    This all came to mind this Sunday as our youth and college students, in a combined meeting, watched one of the NOOMA videos called "Bullhorn." In the video, Rob Bell shares his concern that these guys who stand around with their bullhorns on street corners, passing out tracks and condemning everyone, are doing Christianity more harm than good. With the dvd as an inspiration, we asked the students what they would do if they could create an ad campaign to share the good news of the church with people outside of Christianity. You can see above some of the ideas we came up with. "Love" was by far the predominant message they wanted to get across. One pair of students suggested passing out cards that said "free food" on them, symbolizing the importance of our shared meal of welcome in communion, and the way we feed each other through fellowship, worship, study, and prayer. The final image above ("And God Said: This Is Not An Advertisement"), created by several of the college students, is meant to emphasize that, unlike most advertisements, we welcome others in with no ulterior motive, no agenda-- other than love.




    Saturday, February 03, 2007

    Photo of the Day: HOPE


    hope, originally uploaded by jonnybaker.

    Love this photo. Gives me some great ideas for creative worship time with the youth.

    Sermon-ology...

    As with most Saturdays that come before a preaching Sunday for me, I find myself wondering if there isn't a better way. What is this thing we do called "preaching?" Who came up with this idea of a pastor standing in front of the congregation for 15-20 minutes (or more), reading from a prepared text, offering up one person's reading and (possibly) spirit-inspired interpretation of scripture? I know that the notion of the 3-point speech (so beloved of clergy) goes back to Plato, so it's hardly a biblical approach to passing on the faith.

    So, I'm intrigued by this week's gospel lesson that depicts Jesus teaching the people while he sits on a boat out on the water (not pontificating from a pulpit-on-high). At one point, he incorporates an object lesson of sorts by challenging Simon Peter and the other fishermen to put out on the lake and go fishing. In my educator days, this is what we called active learning: involving your student body and soul in the act of meaning-making. Would the lesson of the abundance of the Kingdom hit home so hard if Jesus had simply talked about it rather than let them it experience it for themselves?

    I know some folk who are particularly good at providing active learning "sermons" for youth, and most would agree that youth are not much for passive learning experiences. They want to be part of the action -- they want to interact with the lesson. My friend and colleague Jacob offers such interactive talks in his youth group worship times. My brother Barry has been offering keynote talks at church camps for years and they are full of illustrations, questions, Q & A, visual props, and audience participation -- and the youth eat it up. Why do we not take this same approach with sermons in the Church, where we are surrounded by folks with a wide diversity of learning styles? We know based on brain research that the more actively we are involved in an experience, the more we learn and retain and the more connections we make in the brain. Given all this, we can assume that the one person getting the most out of the speech-based sermon is in fact THE PREACHER!

    I suspect that the emergent church is way of head of the curve from the rest of us on this notion of interactive preaching. More on this later, but here is an interesting article (and links to others) that raise some important questions on the issue.