The Great Emergence & Youth Ministry

Posted: April 29, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Phyllis Tickle in her new book “The Great Emergence” tells us about what Anglican priest Rev. Dryer talks about as the 500 year rummage sale.  Every 500 years or so changes in culture, technology, knowledge, and world views in society have converged to transform how we see the world.  This title wave has usually been centered around a theological question whose ramifications are felt deep and wide in the life of the Church.  Think Reformation, the Great Schism, the Dark Ages, etc.  Phyllis Tickle says we are in the middle of one of those 500 year rummage sales right now.

I recently wrote a masters thesis that noticed how so many authors in the field of youth ministry think youth ministry needs to change if it is to be faithful and effective.  Many youth ministers are feeling the pain of having “what always worked” no longer be effective, or observe the sad truth of weak return of the harvest when we consider the # of 20 somethings once in youth group but no longer in the circle of faith.  Each export author offers their own view on what the problem is and what needs to change.  But I wonder if they are all right, and by themselves incomplete.  My thesis suggests that the new era of the Great Emergence has found it’s way to youth ministry.  I will be posting bits of my thesis for discuss on this blog.  I look forward to the conversation and your thoughts on the way forward.

The question of faithfulness and effectivness plagues me.  Can we be faithful and not effective?  Can we be effective and not faithful?  It seems to me one of the common denominator’s each each of these 500 year shifts has been a recentering and indwelling of Scripture.  As we get further along I’ll share what I think might be the theological question that swirls around in this rummage sale.  For now I look forward to your thoughts.

  1. I literally can’t wait to read more of your thoughts about how the emerging church conversation impacts our understandings of youth ministry. I’ll be reading with great interest and anticipation!

    • Jerry Watts says:

      Thanks Erik I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I’m excited to engage in conversation around The Great Emergence, Youth MInistry, the Church, and really what difference this might all make in our world today.

  2. Jim says:

    Look forward to hearing more

  3. Joy Gruth says:

    Out of mouths of babes, my son whom is 14, states, “It is like that whole psychology thing, if you expect great things of the youth they will do great things”

    Your thoughts are great! I hope to hear more about how you want to solve this problem.

    • Jerry Watts says:

      Thanks, sounds like your 14 year old has a sense of what it means to really have a vocation in life. Or for sure he’s looking for one.

  4. emergingyouth says:

    Great topic and excellent posts so far. I love the idea and innovative theology as it finds implications and applications in youth ministry.
    It will be interesting to flesh out how this philosophical approach works out in the lives of students in contextual situations.
    great ideas
    you and I are on similar journeys of discovery

    • Jerry Watts says:

      THANKS, One of the questions I’m asking is, “What if our interpretation of context and how to do ministry started with God’s theological reality instead of starting with just context and trying to then squeeze God in?” That being said if we can’t contextualize all these concepts then they are just meaningless academic pursuits that I think Jesus wouldn’t have much use for. I’ve enjoyed your blog on shifts too, we are are indeed asking a lot of the same questions. Looking forward to more conversation.

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