Several years ago, Dr. Paul Hill and Dr. David Anderson wrote the book “Frogs Without Legs Can’t Hear,” in it they challenged the church to return to its roots of making disciples—they began with the following story:
A mad scientist wanted to do an experiment to learn about the leaping abilities of a frog and he carefully placed the frog on the laboratory table and shouted, “Jump Frog Jump.” The frog jumped and then the scientist measured the distance, but because he was mad he surgically removed one of the legs and then placed the frog on the table again and once again shouted, “Jump Frog Jump.” Measuring the new distance he then repeated the whole process until the frog no longer had any legs. Carefully placing the legless frog on the laboratory table our mad scientist shouted, “Jump Frog Jump,” the frog didn’t move an inch this time. The mad scientist examining his data concluded, “Frogs without legs can’t hear,” never mind that the very ability to jump was taken away by each passing moment our mad scientist conducted his experiment!

Today 20% of our country is what USA TODAY calls the “nones,” they believe in nothing at all when it comes to God. They are missing out on the greatest news in all of history. In another study we learn that among men in their twenties 90% never step inside a church, and among twenty something women that number is slightly ‘better’ with 75% staying away. Too often we conclude the answer is better programs instead of noticing the glaring truth right in front of us, our frog has no legs!

In other words, Jesus commands the church—that’s you and me in our homes, places of work, in our spheres of influence and beyond—to make disciples by teaching and proclaiming the good news of Jesus. Frogs were designed by our creator to jump, you and I are designed by that same creator to tell the world about a Savior that loves us so much. The greatest gift you can give those around you this Christmas is the good news that, “For God so loved the world he gave his only Son and whoever should believe in him will have eternal life.” (John 3:16) People of God, our creator is shouting to us, “Go” and He promises to be with us! Merry Christmas!

I’ve been working on this post for a while. This poem by Taylor Malli inspired me to post it today:

We like to be on the cutting edge. We like to be on the front lines of culture. I like to be cutting edge and “with it” when it comes to culture. When it comes to youth ministry I love being versed in all the latest philosophies and conversations “out there.” However, in an emergent era of history (or any era really) we must also remember to ask, “What does faithfulness look like?” Yes even in youth ministry we can ask, “What is an orthodox youth ministry?”

I’ve been spending time in some of the historical and prophetic books in the Old Testament lately. You can’t help but hear the pain in the heart of God as his people with one king after the other walk away from his good and faithful Word. Yes, God proclaims judgement through the prophets but the Lord of all creation also keeps offering second chance after second chance through the prophets. Painfully those second chances are often ignored. Exile and destruction finally came.

Truth and righteousness are important to God.
So much so that God put flesh on -ate, drank, walked, bled, died, and rose again so we might be saved.

In hopes of a conversation to follow, in light of the boldness of the prophets, in spirit of the challenge by Taylor Malli, and inspired by the articulation of the Exemplary Youth Ministry Study with well articulated markers in youth ministry like their marks of mature Christian youth I suggest 6 marks of Orthodox Youth Ministry:

MARK 1: Law and Gospel are regularly proclaimed. Over and over again we are to remind youth that sin is reprehensible to God SO in His vast Love he sent Jesus to redeem us. Frequently reminding youth of the God of second chances and to avoid the fate of our spiritual ancestors who ignored God’s covenant and where exiled. Let us not ignore this EXTRAORDINARY gift lest we fall into exile for eternity.

MARK 2: God’s Word is the lens we use to look at the world, programs, leadership development, volunteer recruitment, time management, culture, relationships, ministry philosophy, and whatever other category I didn’t think to write here. Leaders practicing orthodox youth ministry are hounded by a desire to be in the WORD everyday and are passionate about sharing that promise and presence into the lives of youth. Every great era in Christian history includes a renewed focus on God’s Word, this is true in this Great Emergence today as much as it was for the Reformation 500 years ago.

MARK 3: We ARE grateful to God for all those who “show up” but we are not satisfied by it. Orthodox youth ministry strives for marks of Christian maturity (see exemplary study docs on this http://bit.ly/gj8llI ) in youth and in their families through discipleship. I recently heard Mark Driscoll in a very Bonhoeffer esq way put it another way “SALVATION is free but discipleship costs everything”

MARK 4: In response to God’s EXTRAORDINARY gift youth and families following Jesus are ruined by the knowledge that some have not heard or are still ignoring this gift. Motivated by LOVE they are compelled by the Gospel to no longer remain silent.

MARK 5: In the Spirit of Matthew 25 & Philippians 2, and a God who feeds the hungry and touches the outcast WE CANNOT ignore the OTHER in our backyard or across an ocean. Orthodox youth ministries engender a spirit of servanthood and a conviction to never ignore the hungry, thirsty, homeless, forgotten, broken-hearted, imprisoned, and victim of injustice.

MARK 6: Orthodox youth ministries have ministers who seek to be incarnational, perichoretic, and call youth to live Holy lives by the power of the Spirit in and among us. By INCARNATIONAL I mean: modeled by Christ we live into a lifestyle of discipleship and are little Christ’ with and alongside youth and families in daily life as we invite youth and families to do the same. By PERICHORETIC I mean: Modeled by the nature of God in the Trinity we teach and live in dynamic and significant relationships to live out our calling. By HOLY I mean: Remembering we are in but not of the world orthodox youth ministries teach and model asking the Holy Spirit for discernment to live a pietist and holy life.

In an age when how we have always done youth ministry just doesn’t cut it my friend Matt Cleaver pushes us. He is a man of God, a theologian, and a passionate youth minister. Youth ministers, his recent post is worth your time, it may disturb or challenge you but I encourage you to be part of the conversation.

http://mattcleaver.com/

It’s been too long since I blogged specifically on the Great Emergencce.

I recently heard a great sermon that included the life and testimony of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and our call to evangelism (hear part three of the sermon series here: faithabq.org). Bonhoeffer’s witness and writings help us consider what it means to confess our faith in the society marked by a life together through vast global social media outlets. As I look through lens of a Christian in the Lutheran tradition called to youth ministry here is what gets mixed up in my blender:

We can begin to grapple with ecclesiological question in the Great Emergence when we consider:

1. Bonhoeffer says that ultimate reality is found in Jesus Christ.  
2. Global mediums has made us interconnected producers of media – not just passive recepients
3. The Great Emergence suggest the church is wrestling with it’s identity, vocation, & has stirred up the question of the authority.
4. Nearly every expert observes a sea change in youth ministry, regardless of the how, all suggest the biggest change includes a deeper connection with a WHO (see Andy Root’s two recent books)

Given all that I think it leaves youth ministry along with the rest of the church striving to figure out how to be church fully embedded in the world without abandoning the vine which is Christ, or the Word of God which is Christ incarnate.  We are tempted to be synconistic with culture while we are embedded there instead of loving the world towards a place of redemption.

So what does all this academic mumbo jumbo mean for youth ministry?  We have to figure out how live with teenagers because we love them, because we need them, because we all need redemption, and teenagers need to hear and know through relationship the powerful good news of Jesus Christ. It’s not enough to just be “with” on facebook, twitter, or even hang out with on a Wednesday. We must strive to truly live with, suffer with, and boldly proclaim the Gospel in the name of Christ.

As part two of that sermon series reminded me. Bonehoeffer preached Christ to his death, living and suffering with his fellow prisoners in a concentration camp. His life was marked by genuine relationships and a bold spoken overt witness. We are called I think to do both today.

Relational
Relevant
Purpose Driven
Family
holistic
World View
Paradigm
One Eared Mickey Mouse
Post-Modern
Emergent

…Theological?

There are long line of buzz words that seem to change as often in youth ministry periodicals or books as color schemes change as to what’s in and what’s out in the fashion world.

I took a few moments today to read some very thoughtful folks discuss the theological movement in youth ministry. At first I glance I was grateful we youth ministers are finally diving into greater depths…then my pessimistic side wondered is Theological youth ministry just the latest buzz word for those ever changing periodicals? I mean take a look at my list above I bet some of you might even be able to pick out the years those words were used in every other title that Group, Youth Specialties, or your denomination publisher published.

Here is my hope: The theological youth ministry conversation is reforming youth ministry around Christ and his Word rather praxis, philosophy, or event culture.

Here is my fear: The theological youth ministry conversation is an intellectual exercise of a maturing profession flexing it’s newfound professionalism and proving it to the world who still thinks of it as a second class ministry.

I have more thoughts, but first… What say you?

Hey Everybody!

I know it’s been a while again but I’ve just posted a new post for the exemplary youth ministry blog. Please check it out. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Here it is: EXEMPLARY YOUTH MINISTRY BLOG: FOR EVERY SPORT THERE IS A SEASON…

Shine Shalom Choir Tour 2010

Posted: June 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

Shine Shalom Choir Tour 2010.