Posts Tagged ‘Theology’

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 ) 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.


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: 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.

Hi everybody, finally posted a new blog at the exemplar site: #ym #youthministry #exemplarym #studentministry

“The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us….Then he brought them outside and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.” Acts 16

It should come as no surprise that the type of relational didache or teaching that the Great Commission demands of us happens in our most fundamental relationships – our families. The apostle Paul recognizes the intimacy of family so much that he often uses marriage as the closest human imagery of what our relationship with God is like. I think Kenda Creasy Dean in Practicing Passion puts it best when she says, “Belonging precedes Believing.” Her example is poignant, “For teenagers, true love is bound to the promise that they are “to die for,” whether that promise enacted by the Crips or the Bloods or their parents.” (Dean, pg. 178) Therefore any practical theology of Youth & Family ministry but be live and breath in the heart of the relationships where teenagers find their most significant belonging.

Acts 16 give us two examples (representative of many in the New Testament) of evangelism, the power of family ministry, and what I think is a theological foundation for the dynamic of nurture vs. evangelism in faith formation. These texts and others like it outline how we are called to share the Gospel with those who have yet to hear the story and how that message quickly infects the whole household. They eliminate the dichotomy between nurture and evangelism and remind us that both are needed. They affirm the household as faith formative, or as Luther points out in the Large Catechism, “Surely Parents are the apostles, priests, bishops and teachers for their children.” These texts prioritize the role of the household in the Pastoral Epistles in places like Titus 1:6 we are told that the criteria for an elder include passing on the faith to their own children. Deuteronomy gives us the clearest command to pass on our faith through our families and it provides a long history to remind us to remember this essential discipline of faith.

Andrew Root noted that “Education often happens in community of faith and not in class rooms” and at its best family is our first and most frequent experience of community.. So if ministry precedes theology like Root suggests and belonging precedes belief then the family sits at the center of the theological formation of the Church as affirmed by both the Scriptures and our Confessions.

HOWEVER, as I re-read what I wrote 3 years ago in a coffee shop on the last day of March…maybe you are asking what I’m think…yeah that’s all true…but…so what?!! Remember when Josiah rediscovered the book of Deuteronomy and realized how off the mark Israel was from God’s vision? After generations of asking families to drop them off with us instead being the central location for faith formation we are asking them to make the same kind of radical shift that Josiah led. God’s Word just like Josiah certainly provides the blueprints but it seems to me we also need to equip folks how to understand. Holy Spirit help us answer the so what questions for our ministries, for our families, our churches, and for your glory!

NOTE: I first wrote this (along with part 1, part 2) in 2007 parts of which are included in my thoughts on the Great Emergence: intro, part 1, part 2, part 3, & part 4 (more…)

NOTE: I first wrote this in 2007 parts of which are included in my thoughts on the Great Emergence: intro, part 1, part 2, part 3, & part 4 (more…)

Life teams Part IV: Jesus Shows UP! Check out my latest blog on exemplary youth ministry: EXEMPLARY YOUTH MINISTRY BLOG

I’d love hear your thoughts and especially some of your God sightings too!

Check out this post I wrote on a new blog called Exemplary Youth Ministry based on the study by the same name. There are some great contributers, I’m the exception to the rule. Check out what I wrote about Life Teams today and tomorrow: