Thursday, February 18, 2010

A New Kind of Youth Ministry

Youth ministry must change.  Christianity must change too!


Brian D. McLaren argues  in his book, A New Kind of Christianity, that the Bible has been co-opted and dominated by one narrow interpretation: the Greco-Roman narrative which forces all of scripture to conform to one philosophical outlook and forsakes the beautiful diversity of voices found speaking in the Bible.

Brian challenges Christians to learn about Jesus in light of the great biblical heroes who precede him like: Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, {Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah}, and John the Baptizer.  Who were these people and what do they teach us?  Who is Jesus in light of them?

What about the voices of the young?
Cain & Abel, Isaac & Ishmael, Dinah, David the anointed boy, Amos the farm boy, Esther the Queen, John leaping in the womb, Jesus the adolescent alone in the temple?

Up to this point in my tenure as a youth minister most of the resources I have encountered have all been attempts to better teach the Greco-Roman Narrative that McLaren criticizes.  I claim that youth ministry should take on the task of empowering young people to read the Bible through their unique perspectives.

I propose that a thorough reading of the Bible be done looking specifically for the experience and voice of young people.

I am calling for a systematic youth theology to be constructed that is essentially concerned about God’s love for young people.

Nothing less but the future of Christianity depends on you(th).  Brian McLaren claims that a New Kind of Christianity is emerging.  I hope that a new kind of youth ministry is emerging too!


Tripp said...

ditto buddy. i am sure brian would agree. maybe when we talk with him you should ask what this would look like. that would be a fun discussion since youth ministry is one of those places you can experiment.

Angelina Duell said...

Wes this is a great point! The advice is definitely something that I intend to utilize in my upcoming youth nights.

What do you think a model like this would look like? Where would we start?

Rev. Jan Chase said...

Youth are wondrously spiritual and creative. Wisdom can flow through them when they are challenged to be wise. Interpreting the scpritures for themselves, role-playing the stories, will allow their own insights and meaning to come through.

As to the overarching Story Line of the Bible in chapter 4 of Brian McLaren's new book "A New Kind of Christianity", I see the pitfaall that the Greco-Roman influence has led western Christianity into with the judgment that is placed on everything. As a mystic, however, I understand the role of Being, perfect being. As a human I understand the challenges of becoming what I am. I believe that it is not either/or. It is not Plato or Aristotle. It is not the fall or salvation. But it is the ablitiy to hold and live in the paradox of the two. The perfection of the Christ lives in us, yet often we are not aligned with it. It is not such a big deal, but requires refocusing out attention on the Divine, over and over.

Jon Visitacion said...

AMEN! The youth will inherit the world...what do we want to give them? I think that you pose something that is very important, for the success of the next generation of Christians

Ruth said...

This is such an intriguing and hopeful idea!

Have you made any changes in the way you do your Youth Group meetings to reflect this empowering them for claiming the narrative of Jesus and worked to displace the Greco/Roman narrative?

(Yes, I am echoing Angelina here asking if you have a model for how you want this to work.)

Charles Dorsey said...

I am certainly a little uncomfortable equating Jesus to many of the other Biblical "heroes." I am certainly not the one to take the conservative argument but isn't a figure of salvation supposed to be distinguish and impossible.

What is happening to the definition of divinity? What is happening to the image of salvation? The image of Jesus?

Oh I think Brian would say, ITS CHANGING!!!!

My question is this...why are we quick to change something that we have never really figured out in the first place?

I don't know...this is a touchy issue

Charles Dorsey said...

oh and I am with you on a new kind of Youth Ministry....

I can feel it...can we please start that conversation