Monday, January 12, 2009

    Youth Ministry & the Parable of the Hidden Treasure

    "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. " Matthew 13

    There was a time when I subscribed to the notion of Christian education as being like putting a funnel into some one's head and pouring in knowledge. "What is it youth need to know?" I would ask myself. "The books of the Bible. The major biblical characters? The teachings of Jesus? The dogma of the Church? The Trinity? The church seasons?" And on and on. It eventually became exhausting trying to figure out how I would cram all that and more into teens' heads in the few short years I had them under my influence.

    But gradually a new metaphor for Christan education began to take shape in my thinking. That of "fellow travellers." In this understanding, youth pastors become less like teachers and more like spiritual companions, accompanying youth on their own journeys of faith so that we do not so much lead, as walk beside.

    That's where the Parable of the Hidden Treasure comes into play. It reminds us that mentoring youth is not about simply handing over our knowledge or the precepts of Christian faith to teens. It's not about telling them what to think (and what not to think!). Rather, it is about helping them discover the truths of the Way of Christ for themselves. Like uncovering buried treasure in a field. It's not enough to just grab the treasure and run. You must go an buy the field, so that you own it, and its contents, for yourself.


    livefish said...

    Our High School group has been going through the Gospel of Matthew this year while also listening to Bonhoeffer's voice in "The Cost of Discipleship." The last three weeks have focused on Jesus teaching the disciples to give in secret, pray in secret, and fast in secret.

    I have become more and more fascinated with this idea of the "Hiddenness of God," which Martin Luther talks about. So much so that when we get into later chapters of Matthew we will have entire art projects devoted to this theme.

    One will have students choosing two objects in a parable that they can cut out of paper. Then they have to cut similar shapes out of seven other pieces of paper until it looks like one object has morphed into other. This will open up questions about where they see themselves in the spectrum of understanding the parable, or God's activity in their lives that week.

    The idea of ministry alongside young people as opposed to ministry to young people is something I also whole heartily agree with.

    Brian and Jacob said...

    Sounds like your kids are lucky to have you as a leader. Bonhoeffer and creative art projects! I love the idea you shared, cutting things from paper. I'll definitely use that!