Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Attempting a Series

We finally are situated in our new home, which consequently means I finally have my office set up and a place to (sort of) call my own. This being the case, I am going to attempt to undertake a series on a book that I am reservedly excited about. It's called Jesus Centered Youth Ministry. I am excited because this is the approach to youth ministry that I (hopefully) employ. Everything I do and say needs to point others to Jesus Christ. I am reservedly excited because I'm not sure how theological the book will end up being, and what the underlying Christology is that forms the framework for the argument. I've barely started the book, but it might be the case that to be Jesus-centered might simply mean somehow relating everything we do some teaching of Jesus, which in itself is not entirely bad. However, to be completely Jesus-centered, we need to locate those teachings in who Jesus was, and therefore relate all of what we say and do in youth ministry not only to the teachings of Jesus, but also to his person and work. Therefore, I am going to blog my way through this book, offering some critical feedback as I go. The purpose of this series is twofold: 1) I hope to develop a discipline of getting up early in the morning, doing some reading, and thinking theologically about what I'm reading. When the grind of ministry starts, its very easy to lose touch with things that most energize you about being a pastor, and this, frankly, is one that energizes me. This leads to the second purpose. 2) I hope this series will help clarify some of the vision that I have for what I will be doing this fall and beyond. My challenge will be to move from theological articulation to practical implementation, and I am hoping this series will be an integral part of that process. If anyone reads these anymore, feel free to offer feedback and advice.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Reminder

Having returned from Mexico a few short days ago, dragging my sleep-deprived body along this week has been an arduous task. I spent the week, along with 24 incredibly gifted students, leveling dirt, moving rock, and stacking cinder-block in order to help in whatever way we could a camp and church in Reynosa, Mexico. In the evenings we put together VBS for children in these churches, and I played more soccer than I have in my entire life. By the way, after playing with these 6-10 year olds, I have no idea how our US soccer team managed to beat Mexico. They far outclass us in skill, a lesson I learned when an 8 year old named Ramon put a move on me and I lost my balance and fell. I'm no soccer player, but I'm a decent enough athlete to have been completely embarrassed. The memories of these events and people will last long in all our minds, I'm sure. As we have eased back into life here, I'm reminded of what Christ means when he calls, "Follow me."

I had the opportunity to see students come alive in service, embracing other people in love, and bearing witness to Christ as their lives pointed away from themselves to the One who had called to them, "Follow me." I saw them called again through the same service some of the Mexican people extended to us. I witnessed one young man, perhaps for the first time, truly understand how much God loves him, and through such an awakening, his shell began to crack and the joyous and beautiful kid who was trapped inside began to emerge. And all of these were reminders.

As I return home, trying to figure out how to capture the love and unity we experienced as a group and build it into our entire youth group, I'm reminded that I cannot. Mexico didn't do this to these students. It was merely the setting, the stage if you will. On this stage, in the midst of serving, God was faithfully who God always is -- the One who calls in love to his people, claiming them for his service in the power of His Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ. How's that for a reminder?