Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
As I thought about how I would respond, I remembered this quote from Ronald Osborn—a 20th Century Disciples theologian:
What do we mean by the Disciples mind? It is a way of approaching the Scriptures with a reverent intelligence. This style of professing Christian faith has accepted the reproach of advocating a “head religion” hurled by those who profess a “heart religion.” Emphasizing faith with understanding, the Disciples mind puts the highest premium on rationality and faithfulness in action.How about you? How would your respond? Or, how will you respond when a youth asks you about the blasphemy challenge?
- Play some quiet instrumental music and allow time for silent meditation and prayer.
- Show a PowerPoint presentation of images of the nativity story from around the world and allow youth time to sit in silence and just soak it all in.
- Set up areas for youth to draw or paint on themes related to Advent.
- Show the NOOMA "Noise" DVD and help students reflect on the "noise" in their own lives and suggest practices that might help them hear God's voice above the din.
- Designate your youth room or chapel as a "talk free zone." With quiet music or nature sounds playing in the background, invite youth to find someplace to sit where they will be comfortable. Give each participant an envelope. As the Spirit moves them, they are to take one card at a time from the envelope and follow its suggestion. Cards might say such things as "Meditate on the word 'silence'", "Go to the table and make a list of your hopes for the world," "Sit in a different place in the room for awhile," "Lay on the floor and rest," "Silently affirm others in the room with a touch on the shoulder," "Go to the easel and add your image of God's peace to those drawn by others," "Take a walk around the outside of the church in silence, listening for God's presence in the world around you."
- Project or post Advent related scripture passages (or passages depicting Jesus praying in silence) in the retreat space and encourage youth to reflect on the passages through the use of clay or Play-do or finger paints.
- As Advent is also a time of making a pathway for God into our lives, consider providing teens with a handout with an image of a road map or path. Invite them to make notes or images that depict the important moments, experiences, and people they have encountered along their journey of faith.
- Make an indoor labyrinth with masking tape and use ideas from here to create stations for meditations.
Finish your time together by allowing youth to share about their experience of silent waiting. Brainstorm ways they might continue this practice on a daily basis throughout Advent.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
“I made some bad decisions that I’ve written about, there were times when I got into drinking and experimented with drugs.. there was a whole stretch of time when I didn’t really apply myself a lot.”
It’s just not a good idea for people running for President of the United States who potentially could be the role model for a lot of people to talk about their personal failings while they were kids because it opens the doorway to other kids thinking, ‘well I can do that too and become President of the United States,’” Romney told an Iowa audience today. “I think that was a huge error by Barack Obama…it is just the wrong way for people who want to be the leader of the free world.”
In either context, Romney's statement is ridiculous. God forbid our politicians should be honest with us, but God help you if you are trying to lead a youth ministry program and you can't be authentic with the young people you serve. Teens don't need perfect adults with perfect manners teaching them how to be perfect people. They need to know that we struggle with the same things they do. They need to know that have, do, and will make mistakes. They need to know that we on a occasion (or even more often) let an expletive slip our lips, curse bad drivers under our breath (or out the car window!), fail to tell the truth sometimes, and not to put to fine a point on it: sin!It’s just not a good idea for someone leading a youth ministry who potentially could be the role model for a lot of people to talk about their personal failings while they were kids because it opens the doorway to other kids thinking, ‘well I can do that too and become a Christian.’”
I believe that one of the defining aspects of Jesus' ministry was table fellowship. So, each Sunday night, our youth share a meal prepared by a member of our congregation. But last Sunday, we decided to do something a little different. Instead of sharing a meal that has already been prepared, we cooked our own Thanksgiving feast. Sharing cooking responsibilities with sixty youth can be quite an adventure. But, we had some awesome adult volunteers who did a wonderful job! The meal was delicious.
The highlight of the evening, at least for me, was watching the interactions between our youth and guests. For our meal, we decided that it was important we share the table with others. So, this year, we invited guests from Woodhaven--a DOC based organization that provides care for individuals with developmental disabilities. When I look at this picture, I envision the kingdom of God. Last Sunday, we had individuals from all walks of life sharing a meal, giving thanks, and rejoicing in faith and fellowship. Surely, this is the true meaning of the gospel.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
But I believe the world is burning to the ground
oh well I guess we're gonna find out
let's see how far we've come
let's see how far we've come
Well I, believe, it all, is coming to an end
oh well, I guess, we're gonna pretend,
let's see how far we've come
let's see how far we've come
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I often tell the young people I serve to trust in the WAY of Jesus, but I always follow up that statement by asking "But just exactly what WAY is that?" Beyond all the identity statements we make for Jesus (messiah, son of God, savior), what is it about Jesus we are inviting young people to trust in? What do you understand the way of Jesus to be? What does it look like? How is it manifest in real life?
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
- I use materials from Group/YS/Simply Youth Ministry. 13%
- I use materials from Group/YS/SYM but I have to adapt them theologically to fit my group. 15%
- I get ideas from youth ministry blogs/websites. 28%
- I write my own curriculum materials. 34%
I was not surprised that many of us get ideas from the web and write our own curriculum, but I now would be interested in knowing why you do this? For Jacob and I, it is often because we find much of the published curriculum out there does not fit our churches or youth theologically. After awhile, it gets tedious having to adapt everything and just easier to write our own materials. The challenge with this, of course, is that there is good curriculum writing and poor curriculum writing (more on this soon).
On another note, I wonder what all of us are doing with this curriculum we are writing. Are we sharing it with others? Are we willing to make it available online like the folks do at DiscipleDocs?
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
[A] Contemplative approach to youth ministry does not entail teaching youth to become contemplatives. It entails a leadership team committed to a contemplative process of its own that enables its members to see ways of crafting programmatic action that authentically participates with God in nurturing life and faith in young
Last weekend, I attended the Youth Specialities Conference. Hopefully, in the next couple of days, I’ll be able to provide a review of the event. But, I’m happy to say now, overall, that I really enjoyed the weekend. I thought the worship was good, the speakers were insightful, and there was a true sense of community.
I spent one afternoon listening to the teachings of Chap Clark, a professor from Fuller University. I was impressed with Chap’s insights regarding junior high students. He claimed, and I agree, that the number one question junior high students want to know is: Do you like me? It’s almost as if our younger students have these little tentacles protruding from their head, sensing out whether or not they feel liked. And, unfortunately, these tentacles do not allow for cognitive responses or reasoning, only emotional responses.
So, I wasn’t too surprised this morning when I came across this article. Research shows that abstinence programs are not working. Big surprise. Our youth are so intent, in my opinion, on being liked that they will do anything, including sex, to be accepted. We’ve mentioned before that sexuality is a gift from God that needs to be treated appropriately. But maybe we haven’t spent enough time reflecting on why youth are so sexually active. If there’s such a strong desire to be accepted, which there obviously is, how can we encourage our youth to find other ways to be liked? And, what is the role of parents and the church? I’m thinking of hosting a one hour session for parents on the realities of adolescence and sexuality. It’s an issue that cannot be ignored, but must be openly discussed, both in the church and at home.
I was especially shocked this weekend when Chap showed a documentary from HBO entitled: Middle School Confessions. Has anyone seen this? I think I may show it to the parents of my youth. We have to understand that our youth are driven by affect. Their only concern is how they feel in the moment, there is no logical thinking. But, I’m convinced that cumulative messages, through youth ministers and parents, regarding the gift of sexuality, can help youth make wiser choices.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
A great follow-up to this activity might be a discussion or worship experience centered on being attentive to God's presence in the world all around us. Invite youth to spend a day noticing the little things they might miss in their regular flurry of activity that can draw their attention to God: the beauty of a fall leaf, the sound of children playing, the person in the school cafeteria who is eating alone, the taste of food, the gift of a moment of silence. Challenge them to take a moment each time they find themselves being attentive to God's presence to stop and offer a simple prayer of thanks.