Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Missional Theology for Youth Ministry: Series

This is my second attempt to devote myself to a project here on Leaf-blog. We'll see how it goes the second time around. This first post is an introductory post. Before I lay out where I'm going with this series, I want to give a little background on why I'm attempting what I am.

In my M.Div. program I was introduced to missional theology, and have been interested in exploring its terrain since (I'm using missional as an organizing category, but will be including theology that doesn't necessarily refer to itself as such). Through the process of discerning my call, I ended up in youth ministry, and wrote an admittedly entree-like thesis on youth ministry in the missional church. I want to revisit some ideas from my thesis, but taking a different approach, somewhat. Rather than simply theoretically imagine how youth ministry might be reconceived for the missional church, I'm going to try and develop a practical missional theology for youth ministry in conversation with my current practices of youth ministry. Hopefully this will be rewarding for me, as well as for others. I will take a look at the various elements to our youth ministry, and critically interact with each by bringing missional theological analysis to bear on them. My hope throughout this series is that it will spark some discussion about how we might faithfully be the church, especially in youth ministry, and, a bit more personally, it will hopefully provide me a needed outlet for theological discussion.

By way of introduction, I will point out that I will avoid using the category "Missional Youth Ministry." One of the problems now inherent in the word missional is that it has come to mean almost too many things to too many different people. However, I think that if you really take a strong look at the theologians influencing those who kind of started this whole "missional" discussion, it is a way of organizing a theology, a way of talking about the church. In other words, I'm not sure its appropriate to talk about missional youth ministry, missional small groups, etc. That is why I'm titling the series "A Missional Theology for Youth Ministry." This part of my argument I hope will become more clear as I go.

So, if there's anyone out there, I hope this can be a fruitful dialogue for all of us. Later this week, look for a provisional outline for the series.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Simplicity of Jesus

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am convinced that thoughtful, intentionally theological planning is part of the process of youth ministry. Learning how to most effectively do this as a youth pastor is a skill I'm still trying to hone. Then there are those nights where the simplicity of the gospel, the purity of Jesus of as God's great and gracious yes to all of us, is all that is needed. Last night was one of those nights.

We've been in the middle of a series on community, and last night I just wanted to help students understand that at the center of our community is a God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, and this God is passionate about them. We looked at Romans 8, and I simply told them about the God who says that nothing can separate them from his love. I then opened up the opportunity for students to pray with leaders. The response overwhelmed me.

Often we get so caught up in what we are doing, that we forget to clear our schedules and programming and just look for what God is doing. Last night, maybe even inadvertantly, we got a glimpse. I was able to hear about friendships being restored after a loss of trust. Students expressed doubt about God, but in the Psalms kind of way, where their doubt was genuine seeking. The light of the cross broke open their hearts and minds, and ours too. I am continually amazed that God invites us in on what he is doing, and last night was a tangible reminder of this.

Monday, October 01, 2007

My new toy

About a week ago my laptop was stolen. Very depressing. Considering Amy and I didn't really have the money to replace it, we were concerned. I enjoy the freedom of being able to work anywhere, be it a coffee shop or sometimes from home. Beyond that, we need a computer at home, and this was our only one.

Some parents of students in our youth group found out about our misfortune. They banded together and raised enough money for us to purchase a new laptop, so I am now the proud owner of a new Macbook. I just got it today, and it is brilliant. I'm so amazed at the way this thing is so easy to use and figure out. I'm still learning all the new features, but very excited about the potential things I'll be able to use this toy for, not the least of which is innovative ways to communicate with students through video and such. Mac just makes it so easy.

So, thanks to the amazing parents who pulled this off for us. We were both overwhelmed. Now, I need to go figure out how to use more of this thing.