Friday, October 27, 2006
If you have never been to this blog before that is ok. We have been looking at the concepts of youth culture and ministry that are found in Walt Muellers book, "Engaging the Sould of Youth Culture" for a class from summit pacific college. If you want to get an overview of these different concepts the best way is to start from the bottom and work your way up to the top. This will help you understand the book and the concepts a little more clearly (because it follows the book that way... ) I hope you enjoy this little dicussion and comment on areas where you feel you want to provide further insight. Have fun and enjoy these thoughts in regards to youth culture and ministry.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
As this book comes to a close, we can see that it has definitely taken me and maybe you if you have been fallowing along into the world of the emerging generation. It begins to show us how this generation feels and thinks and how they are searching for something. I think it is our turn to begin to step it up a little bit and challenge ourselves to “do our homework”, and to really listen to the different issues that are brought up within this emerging generation. Walt asks, “Why do we fail to hear the cries of the hopeless and hurting outcasts coming from so many corners of today’s youth culture? Why have we ignored the cries of an emerging generation that longs for redemption? Are we too busy? Don’t we care? Would getting involved require more of ourselves than we’re willing to give? Or are we scared that going to them would take us to places we don’t want to visit?” These are some thoughts to think about as we go away from this book and some of the thoughts from it. “They are growing up in a confusing and difficult culture. They are being shaped by a post-modern worldview that has little or no regard for Christ. Yet they hunger and thirst for a restored relationship with their creator.”
What are we going to do?
In Walt’s book he describes how as youth workers we can become frustrated in how we communicate and minister to youth. He gives the story of a youth worker at a conference that asked a youth from his community who daily hung out outside his church to smoke before school how he could connect with him and is friends. With a chuckle he replied, “That’s easy! Get out of your office and come out onto the sidewalk with us!” This got me thinking about how we can hit the pavement. Where do we need to go in order to connect with these youth? And how can we hit the pavement?
For most people, understanding our place in culture isn’t much of an issue, but for the church it seems that it is really a hard thing to grasp. There are many different views that are expressed on this issue, but many of them are presented in a way that makes the Church and Christians go into a form of alienation in regards to culture and their place in it. So how should we view our place in culture? How can we understand our place in culture and still have a solid faith in Christ? I think that the bible has the simple answer that we may forget about or neglect to think about. It says that we are called be in the world but not of the world. That means that we don’t have to alienate ourselves from “non Christians”, or form a sort of bunker that will protect us and separate us from the culture that is all around us.
We can see that this concept is one that we see in the life and ministry of Jesus. There was never a time (that I know of) when Jesus alienated himself or stayed away from people because they weren’t Christians or didn’t go to church or liked to have a drink at a neighbourhood BBQ. He always took time for these people, but I like what Walt writes to also go along with this thought, he says, “Even though Jesus spent time with sinners, he didn’t adopt their unbiblical beliefs and behaviour” (pg.138). We can’t become of the world in our attempts to live in the world.
I like this paragraph that Walt writes, it states:
Jesus’ prayer of John 17 makes it clear that we have been given to him by the father out of the world. While we no longer belong to the world, we are to continue living in the world. As we live in the world, our charge is to be the hands and feet of Jesus – his presence –carrying on his mission.
Jesus said that we are to be salt to the earth. “As salt of the earth in today’s world, we function as god’s people of the new covenant, united with him and representing him by being a transforming presence that brings life where there is death, and seasoning where there is no flavour. To do so, we must be in the world. But if we become of the world, our saltiness is gone and we are no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (pg.151)
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
“Culture is what we believe, what we do and how we live our lives from day to day. It binds us to those who think and live in a similar manner” (pg.112). John Stott describes culture as “a tapestry, intricate and often beautiful, which is woven by a given society to express its corporate identity.” Culture can be very different wherever we are, but the same requirements are needed to effectively enter into the culture of the youth around us. Walt describes Culture as a type of soup. He gives the analogy of people in line at a salad bar wanting to have a bowl of soup. As he watched these people he sees a common process that each person goes through in getting their soup. They first read the soup labels carefully, trying to get a feel for what the soup might be like. Once they have found the soup they would like to try they open the lid take the ladle and give it a gentle stir. Before any of the soup is placed into their bowl the lift some of the soup out and take a look at it to see what the ingredients are like. Once the soup passes the final test they can now take the soup and begin to eat. Walt describes the soup as the culture of today. There is a great mix that is thrown into the pot that will eventually make a soup that we either will like or not like, avoid or dive into. This “soup” is worldwide, we can’t escape it, and it has been in the world since the dawn of creation. Where there are people there is culture. We need to realize that every person is unique and has their own contribution to the culture around them, in other words they add their own special ingredient to the soup. And “if we hope to effectively communicate the good news, we can’t avoid the ingredients of that culture.”
I think that is all comes down to Walt’s earlier chapters about how we need to listen to youth and how they are feeling and thinking. As well as doing our homework, trying to understand this culture and how everything mixes together… So I think we need to think about what the ingredients are that make up our soup…
Generations growing up in the past 100 years have seen many differences in how each one views life and their role in it. There has been a searching from these former generations of truths and realities that has allowed them to know who they are and how to live their life, but the new generations particularly the millennial generation are finding themselves at a crossroads. This Generation is at a crossroads wondering which way to go, they are looking around at other people, particularly their peers and following them because there is a larger group that is headed in that direction. For this millennial generation they think that because the majority of people are going a certain way that it must be the right way. They fallow without thinking for themselves (most of the time) thinking that wherever they are going it must be good.
This millennial generation is living everyday life being desensitized to different areas that are important and hard for generations of the past. Things like war, sexuality, violence and many more, these are all areas which have been pushed aside as things that they don’t need to be concerned about. This generation I think is looking for a way to go that will fit into their code of ethics, which are far different then previous generations. There are so many options that face this generation but eventually they will get board of the options and want something new, and will again need to find a new path. Unfortunately they miss the path that leads to life, the one option that brings them true satisfaction and purpose.
“The emerging generations stand confused at a crossroads. Which way should they go? We must stand with them and point them in the right direction” (pg.108).
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Throughout our history there has been three eras’ of modernity that have been recognized by historians and the society living throughout them. These era’s would be soon known as the Pre-modern, modern and Post-modern era’s. These three era’s have played important parts of our society in how we view truths, problems and life, but what how do we deal with it today?
The pre-modern world was a deity-centered world. Everyone had a faith of belief system in a supernatural being that was far greater then themselves. They knew that there was a god (who or whatever it was) and that they needed to conform to it. This lasted until approx. AD. 1700
As society became more technologically advanced, it brought the rise of the modern era. “In modernity man had become the measure of all things, and human reason rather than revelation was now the final arbiter of truth” (pg60). This is when we would begin to see science and its influence begin to take shape and begin to have impact on the culture of the time.
Not long ago, only approximately 40 years ago did we begin to see and experience the post-modern period. This new era wasn’t really seen so much until it began to take took in the new generations of the time, but today we have become fully submersed into the culture and the life that if brings. “In just a few years, society has moved – and continues to move – from a spirit of optimism about the future to a dark scepticism and nihilism that has little room for hope” (pg61). It seems that just as the culture of the modern era rejected the pre-modern way of thinking, we to are now rejecting culture and thinking of the modern era. This is the new worldview that is now beginning to shape our generation and the generations to come.
“The post-modern generation hears with their eyes and thinks with their feelings” (Ravi Zacharias). This allows everyone the freedom of speech and thought. This is very evident in our culture today, there is no rights or wrongs, it all depends on your own worldview and what the individual perceives to be true. In a post-modern world, emotions are the final judge of what makes something good, true and right.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
This is a post from last week that i posted on my main blog... check it out if you havn't already... here it goes.....
I have been reading a book lately called Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture, by Walt Muller. So far it is a really good book that which applies to youth ministry, and I think the church in general as well. I the book Walt begins to write about the importance of getting to know the culture you are trying to reach, or in his words doing your homework. He begins to tell the story about a church whose pastor one Sunday gave a sermon on Missions and the importance of it. As the sermon was coming to a close a man came up to the front and said that he felt the Lord calling him to be a missionary to china. Feeling alive the pastor called the elders up to pray for the man, but as one of the elders came up to pray the pastor sent him to the church office to order him a plan ticket to China which would leave only a few days later. To make a long story short, when the “new missionary” arrived in Beijing and began to preach the word of god a problem arose. He hadn’t taken the time to know the Chinese people, their language and their complex culture. As a result no know even knows what the new missionary is saying, he is being totally irrelevant and basically is supplying goods for which there is no demand.
I like what Walt writes after this little story, he says:
Sadly, this illustration serves as an accurate description of how the church has tried to engage the emerging generations. Yes, we know the word and have a genuine desire to share the gospel with them, but we haven’t taken the time to know them and their changing culture. When it becomes obvious they aren’t responding to our efforts, we lament the fact they have turned a deaf ear to the church. But is that really the case? I don’t think so. More often than not, their ambivalence to the church is rooted in the fact they can’t hear anything we’re saying. Because we haven’t taken the time to know them and their world, they don’t hear or understand any of it. They’re not deaf – we’re dumb. In the end, we’ve done an “injustice to people whom Christ loves and for whom he died.
I think that this is true. What can we do about it? What kind of homework can we do?
Generation gap is a phrase that we hear thrown around quit often in our world. There are constantly tensions between these groups, but often these groups are never do anything to change how they act or view their differences. Maybe it is just a fact of life, or maybe it is our stubborn behaviour that possesses us to constantly neglect the other group or groups. So is it really a generation gap or is it a just a thought pattern that we need to change and adapt to the different generations that are around us?
Often times as youth leaders it we can face the challenge of this so called generational gap because we have grown up in a different world, this can make it very difficult sometimes when it comes to relating to today’s young people. Walt kind of describes youth ministry as being a cross-cultural missions venture. What can this cross-cultural missions venture look like? Well to personalize it just think about what the youth culture around you are doing, and where they hang out? Are they at the skatepark, the mall, the beach, do they hang out at the punk shows, or maybe they sit here in front of a computer screen reading and writing different blogs, who knows. This is what Walt is referring to when he says it is a mission’s field. Learning their culture, their language, and their passions, this is the world that we must enter.
In Walt’s book he describes three necessary steps that are key when it comes to ministering the gospel with clarity in today’s culture.
STEP 1: Know the unchanging word. This first step is key, we need to fully know the word of god. We need to know it as Walt say, “inside out and upside down”. This is going to be the foundation to everything, because knowing the word keeps us grounded. Without this foundation we can be prone to the influences that can come along with this culture.
STEP 2: Know young people and their rapidly changing culture. We can see this point come alive from the message bible, it says, “the word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood” (John 1:14). “Jesus lived among those he ministered to. He embraced their lives by sharing in their day-to-day activities. He became intimately familiar with their language, values, beliefs, customs and thoughts” (pg.48). Jesus knew what to do, I think that he is the best example of how to know and communicate to this youth culture.
STEP 3: Take the unchanged word to young people growing up in rapidly changing culture. Basically this last step is a mixture of step one and two. Once we know the word of god and the culture that we are going to be presenting it to, then it is time to actually go for it and present it. We will find that our communication and connection to this culture, or any culture will be successfully accomplished.
So is there a generation gap or is it really just a misunderstanding. Is the reason why we sometimes don’t understand a certain culture or generation because we don’t take the time to learn about the people group we are trying to reach? Who knows… What do you think?
Thursday, October 19, 2006
What can we do?
We need to be willing to take time and listen, but this often isn’t the case. “Instead, those of us who have been given the task of leading the young to the soul-satisfying bread of life and streams of living water may have unknowingly locked the bread box and shut off the water valve through the inability or unwillingness to hear the nuances of their unique world” (pg.18). If we try to talk to our students and youth without first listening to them, then as Francis Schaeffer says, “we will only be beating the air”, or there will be no impact and nothing will happen.
Having the ability to listen to this culture will not only impact the way that you view youth, but it will also give them ease for the times if difficulty that they will go through. It is at this stage of life that when youth do begin to feel and experience things that are markedly different. It is our obligation I think to listen to them and guide them through these years of confusion with a solid a biblical firm foundation, and letting them figure out what their purpose is through Christ’s eyes.
Everyone needs to be heard and understood. Walt rights that if the emerging generation can’t put their pain and feelings into words, they put them into actions – sometimes acts of violence inflicted on themselves and others. Thinking on this thought; it really paints a picture of the emerging generation today. Throughout the world we are seeing new problems of violence and aggression within this culture. “When young people cry out in pain, we cannot respond with a shaking of our heads, detachment, and silence” (pg.24). I think that it is our time to step it up a notch and begin to listen.
“The church faces a moment of unprecedented opportunity. The youth culture is calling. If we fail to listen and faithfully respond, were effectively telling them we don’t care and we have nothing to say. We hold back the good news from those who so desperately need to hear” (pg.37).