Samuel L. Jackson Delivers Boy Meets World Slam Poem

Not only is this brilliant for eighty-eight million reasons, but Samuel L. Jackson’s description of Feeny is reminiscent of all those who spend their lives investing in young people.

3DM/Wayfarer Student Ministry Workshop!

Friends in Ministry!

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Next month St. Matthew Lutheran Church will be hosting the 3DM/Wayfarer crew for a  special Student Ministry Workshop!

We’re going to be focusing on Student Ministry as family, and talking about balancing the structured “stage” experience with the organic “everyday life” side of ministry. We’ll hear from friends from around the nation who are seeing a movement forming in their youth and college ministry through discipleship.  Not just theory.  The real deal.  Along with the 3DM team, we’ll have pastors from around the United States and Europe share what they are doing.

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This workshop will give you a chance not only to hear their stories and some foundational teaching, but lots of time for Q + A, as well as a chance to step inside and experience some of these new vehicles for mission and discipleship: Huddles and Missional Communities.  Come ready to be encouraged, learn, have fun, and make strategic plans for the future of your ministry!

 Details

February 10th-12th, 2014
Starting @ 2pm on Monday and ending @ 12.30pm on Wednesday.
Registration and light refreshments from 1:30pm on Monday.

Cost

Cost is $149 if you register before January 27!
The cost of the event will cover the expense of the dinners for the two nights, all course materials, speaker fees and content of the workshop. Attendees must pick up the cost of their lunches, accommodation and transport.

Click here to register:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/student-ministry-workshop-san-francisco-ca-area-registration-9750615353

Click here to see a video testimony:

http://weare3dm.com/wayfarer/we-are-3dm/student-ministry-workshop-video-testimony/

Click here for an overview of 3DM workshops:

http://weare3dm.com/events/

We’re Not Called to Have a Youth Ministry

Our churches are not called to have a youth ministry, but to be a youth ministry.

While I’m not one of those folks who’s ready to abolish youth ministry across the board, I do share some of their basic premises.  In many cases Youth Ministries have become disconnected from the Body of Christ in a way that has fostered, at least in my estimation, some unhealthy circumstances in western evangelical circles.  

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The reaction to this however, usually includes an amalgamation of youth into the larger church in a way that overlooks the fundamental cultural differences which exist between generations; said differences being why youth ministry exists in the first place.  I am in favor of rethinking our ministries to students and how we can connect them to other generations.  I’m totally in favor of rediscovering what it means for the church to be family, rather than just subsets.  What I am not in favor of though, is moving forward in any of these endeavors without addressing the original problem; the generational cultural gap.

To suggest that our churches should be a youth ministry rather than just have one, is merely to suggest that the discipleship and maturation of young people must be owned corporately by the larger church.  Youth ministry should still be a “thing” in our culture, though it will inevitably look different if we take this seriously.  For many churches this probably means different things as different people have varying levels of cross-cultural and/or cross-generational competencies.   

Here are three things that I’m willing to offer as guiding truths in this discussion:

  1. We must be guided by a genuine concern for their discipleship and spiritual well being, rather than just a concern for our institution(s). Ask yourself this question- do you want your students either failing spiritually or thriving spiritually apart from the Body?  How we answer that question could be very telling.  
  2. However, we are also naturally and correctly concerned for the institution.  So we need to remember and communicate that when students are maturing, this adds to the maturity of the Body.  If our young people are not growing as an integrated part of the church, there are natural consequences for the overall spiritual vitality of our communities.  
  3. No matter what level our competencies, the church (we) must learn to engage across these generational and cultural lines.  At some point we need to not only put in effort, but we must do so with the intention of creating something that will meet the needs of all generations.  

Dude, where’s my Ashton Kutcher?

After seeing it re-posted over and over again, I finally decided to watch the video of Ashton’s…er…Chris’?….er…..Mr. Kutcher’s Teen Choice Award speech.  Needless to say it was good and a breath of fresh air from Hollywood.  Although Mr. Kutcher is usually, at least in my mind, immediately associated with his characters in “That 70’s Show” and “Dude, Where’s My Car?”, I’ve discovered a new respect for him.  If he was here, I’d say, “That was sweet, dude.”

Mr. Kutcher did say some important things.  Things which this generation needs to hear and which represent important themes for living in any culture.  And while I understand how it becomes a big deal when a Hollywood celeb unexpectedly spouts off real wisdom to a captive audience of teenagers, my cynical side wants to shout that this is what every youth pastor I know does every week.  We’re not as flashy, or sexy (no matter how you define it), but if you like Kutcher you should check us out too.

Ok, I get that it’s not the same. But it is true.  Here’s what Kutcher did that is a regular part of the Youth Pastor tool box.

He demonstrated personal vulnerability that allowed us a glimpse into his personal life.  By confessing that he feels like a “fraud” and announcing his real first name to the world, we saw a piece of who he really is.  Not to mention his laundry list of jobs.  All of this goes to help kids identify him as a real person.  It’s like he took this straight from a Doug Fields training manual.

He presented them a real challenge and how it affected his life.  Personally, I loved his line about never having a job that he was better than.  How many youth talks have we all given on hard work, taking advantage of opportunities and perseverance?  I doubt that Mr. Kutcher lives under any fantasies about this being the first time teenagers have heard this.  Here we give credit to everyone: parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, etc… And while it is easy to get frustrated by Kutcher’s immediate credit for something we do all the time, let’s just be thankful for the support.

He debunked a wordly, cultural lie.  Welcome to every youth group in America, bro.  Though I won’t deny Mr. Kutcher’s due credit for doing this as an insider, I need to say, that this is pretty much our job.  Telling kids that popular culture has deceived them about  topics like sexiness, fulfillment, money, success has been brought to an art form by most of the youth pastors I know.

He offered them an inspirational alternative for how to live life.  You don’t have to love everything he said here and I don’t want to debate Jesus’ “giving up of life” vs. Kutcher’s (Jobs’?) “building your life”.  Just recognize that every Wednesday night in your local church there are adults inspiring students to live their lives differently.

Overall, I think what Mr. Kutcher did was a good thing (though, again cynically, it might prove better for his career than for any real societal change) and I hope that he keeps it up, living out the values that he espouses.  Longevity of virtue in nationally recognized figures is, if anything refreshing, and quite possibly very influential.

Romans 8, Part 2

erik-eriksonErik was born in Germany to a Jewish mother.  It is thought that he probably took on the last name of his biological father.  However, after he and his mother moved away, she was remarried and he then took on the name of his step-father.  It is also believed that Erik was never completely convinced as to the actual identity of his biological father which became a quest that would take up much of his life and provided tremendous influence for his eventual work in psychology.

The boy was Jewish, though he apparently didn’t look it.  Thus when he interacted with his family’s Jewish community he was often treated like an outsider and when he interacted with his non-jewish community he was treated poorly for being a Jew.  Erik didn’t know where he belonged.

These struggles are important for understanding both Erik’s story and his eventual contributions to psychology.  Not knowing who his father was or what his last name actually should have been in addition to not knowing where he belonged exacerbated a problem that is common to every person.  Specifically, Erik had an identity problem.  Who was he?  Who’s was he?  These are questions we all ask and questions which every person needs to have answers for.

Erik goes on to become one of the most influential people in the world of psychology by shedding light on his own problems: human identity formation.  He spent the rest of his life studying this process in human development, specifically in children and adolescents.  Most of what we now know and use in this field is either directly from his work or is in debt to his work for something.

Erik’s journey isn’t over though.  It is said that even until late in his life he was wrestling with the question of what his last name was supposed to be.  Eventually, Erik changed it to its final form, the name we know him by now: Erikson.  Tranlation: he was Erik, “Son of Erik” or Erik, “Son of myself”.  In the end his identity was not given to him and so he provided it for himself.

Those words should stir deeply in the heart of Christians.  From whom to we get our identity?  Who’s son (or daughter) are we?  To whom do we belong?  Are we meant to provide these things for ourselves or are we to receive them from someone or something else?

Romans 8:15-17

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

We have received a spirit of sonship.  This word can also mean adoption.  We are sons and daughters of the living God.  There is no question of our identity in God’s mind.  We are meant only to journey into that discovering that for ourselves.  Furthermore his Spirit is testifying with our spirit that we are in fact his.  Which means that when we hear or believe otherwise, that thought is not from the Spirit.  The thought which questions God’s absolute Fatherly love for each of us is from somewhere, or someone, else.

who-am-i-There is absolutely no question that young people in all stages of adolescence are dealing with identity formation.  Most psychologists assert that this is something we deal with for the rest of our lives, but that the bulk of identity formation is done when we’re young.

We need to intentionally help students understand how God in fact speaks to their journey in his Word.  God has answered their deepest questions and our role is to point them to it and/or remind them of it!  I don’t think this is a ministry model or another strategy.  It is a journey that they are already on and something that God’s is actively working in them (remember that if they’re in Christ, his Spirit is testifying to their spirit).  We can’t afford to miss this.

As both a warning and an encouragement, there are a couple of things that will hinder our ability to minister to these folks.  The first of which is when we don’t believe this ourselves.  You can’t lead someone down a journey you’ve not been on.  Second, when our churches don’t actually represent this.  Nurturing, grace-filled environments are crucial.

And we didn’t even get into the theological significance of being “heirs of God and co-heirs of Christ”!

This is the second post in a short series I’m doing on the relevance of Romans 8 to college ministry.  You can check out the first one here.