Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Denominationalism

Sam has posted a really interesting post on his blog.

It would appear he takes a very different standpoint from me. But we are in fact very close.
I am not advocating for making young people Anglican, but offering the richness of the Anglican tradition for the ongoing life of faith for young people. Michael Warren, an American Catholic Youth Ministry writer and teacher once said that the purpose of ministry among young people is to offer the tools and foundations they need to continue to grow all their lives. By going for what seems good for now, we risk leaving young people at greater risk of getting into their late 20's and 30's and discovering that the Christianity they have been offered simply fails to deal the issues and questions they are facing. Alan Jamieson has written a lot more about that is him books researching why so many people leave Charismatic, Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches.

But, I don't think many people really know what their tradition is about or how it shapes how they see the world and God's activity in it, so we don't offer it to young people. Sam is right, lets resource young people to live out the faith with integrity in this time, but also with the foundation and tools to continue growing all their lives. And that is what I was trying to say in my more controversial post about. WE are failing young people when we do not resource them well. When I have more time I will write a little more coherently.

Thanks Sam for leaving the comment. Thought provoking!

Peace
John

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

another response

Thanks to the young person who has just put up a post.

Youth Yeah was for all the church, Each parish was invited to celebrate it as it chose to. most chose to do nothing. Each Dicoese was invited to celebrate as they chose to. i can make no comment other than that. Information and invitations for sent out for each of the five national and three tikanga events, including Forum, by me. I can make no comment as to what ahppened beyond that. I as constrained by what diocese do with that.

I applaud the baptist church you go to. But the politics is still there, maybe just not so easy to see. Sadly, we are all human.

And I am much more frustrated thta the role models are not offered you in you parish than I am about anything that we do at a Diocesan level. That is where we really have to lift our game. Why? because we are letting poeple like you down!

But if you think I am being too harsh, fair enough.

thanks

Biblical imagination

I am currently at a Block Course on New Testament Theology being taken by Professor Joel Green from the USA.

Today we looked at Narrative Approach to doing Biblical Theology. What struck me was the statement that the task of the preacher and teacher is (Joel said this way better) to invite the hearers to have their imagination shaped by the biblical story.

“The antidote to ignorance is not the amassing of facts, but the enlightenment that comes with a realignment with God’s ancient purpose."

Instead of getting people to learn more about the bible, or using the bible to prove the point we are making, or to show people how to live a successful or Christian life (using 'appropriate' proof texts), what people really need is to have their imagination opened by the biblical story in such a way that they see the world and themselves differently, in line with the great Biblical Story of creation, redemption and new creation, and so live their lives differently. Part of that is that we need to learn to see this as "our story which we are part of" rather than someone else’s story which we read to learn some key point.

RE my earlier two postings, I long to go to camps and to visit youth ministries where young people are offered this, rather than talks which they simply learn the important point, in which the bible is one step removed. I get so frustrated with that. Lets allow young people to hear scripture for themselves, and to engage with the story and stories, and to let those shape who they are. Interestingly, it is often evangelicals who insist on teaching about the bible to ensure the hearers learn the right thing, and who simply will not allow people to engage with the scripture themselves in case they get it wrong. But what if the teachers are wrong???

AS I write this I realise this is what happened for me at theological college. Over three years my imagination was shaped by the biblical texts I was forced (I chose to do the courses, but i then had to do the course work) to read. They changed my imagination. But I was willing for that to happen. I had friends; both evangelical and liberal who were too wedded to what they thought it was all about to allow the texts to challenge that and to shape them. For them I feel sad. And I feel sorry for the people they ministered among.

Enough, I need to read some more for the first assignment.

youth camps - a response

good comments, especially the last one, and well made.

actaully, I thinkwhat Ben and his team did was great.

But these are comments that I have made before on this blog, and I have made in lots of other settings. So my comment are less at the TWAYN event and are more generally based on my ongoing expereince of going to "Anglican Events" and my worry about what they are offered in their parishes, to be honest. I reiterate: " But it pains me to see young people offered such a small idea of what Christianity is all about."

Why do I worry that so many speakers were non Anglicans. Well, because I beleive that we as Anglicans have alot to offer, but we don't. We invite others in instead. Each denomination offers a particular way of reading the bible, of seeing the world, of understanidng what it means to be chuch. None are better than others. We need them all. Which means, please Anglicans, stand up and offer what we have to offer.

In the end, what is often offered young people is such a small slice of what the gospel is about, and is so hard to live out (it is down to you and God) that I worry they are not given the tools to survive. Christianity is a community religion. It is not about me and God, is it about us and God. Why, cos often it is just too damn hard on our own. Which may be why so many zealous young people have dropped right out of any formal church life. It became too hard. (and maybe not, that is another discussion) And yes, lots of young poeple drop ourt of the exciting youth ministries as well.

I don't want young people to be like me, or to think like me. But I want them to be given the tools to grow and develop as God wills them to, and that is important to me. And my question generally about youth ministry is, "are we offering all that we could be?" and my emphatic answer is no!!!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Youth Camp

I went on a youth camp over new years. ( This bit is new) It was overall a good camp. The young people who organised it did a really good job, and I had a good time all in all. While I will go on to question one of the speakers in particular, mostly the others were good. One used Nooma dvd's and another retold bible stories to great affect.

But I want to make some comments about it that arise not only out of this event but also other events I have been on. They are observations of what we offer young people which arise out of the question, is what we offer young people at such events the best we can do?

Original posting continues...

I have to say the music wears me down. It is all about Jesus and me, hardly ever us. And when how to stay on the Christian journey is talked about it is in terms of my devotional life, and never about our life as a church, and even being part of a community. It is very individualistic, and is so deeply deeply flawed. And it is so not Anglican!!! Anglican spirituality and devotion starts with the gathered people every Sunday worshipping together, not just as a congregation but as a people all over the world together using the same liturgy, more or less, gathered together in prayer, around the communion table. Yet that is entirely missing from these songs.

And the songs are all about how I am so fulfilled in God. My yearning is over. Actually, to more I walk with God the more I yearn, yearn to be more the person God created me to be, more to know gods deep and profound love for me and all creation, yearn to live out that love. My yearning has changed, but it grows. I am not fulfilled. And my hunch is neither is the song writers. But our church culture says this is what we should sing. I really struggle to sing this stuff now. It seems so plastic and fake.

And I grieve that we offer young people such a diminished vision.

One of the speakers (a salvation army girl) talked about what marks us out from other people. it all seemed so superficial. No drinking (get out of here, we are Anglicans!) no swearing. That kind of stuff. Actually, I do drink. This may shock people. But I try not to drink too much. And I note that in my hockey group my drinking less has now encouraged others to drink less as well. If I had drunk nothing that would not have happened. Despite the fact I drink, they all know in my hockey team I am a Christian, a priest, because I see the world differently I am much more concerned about social justice, about the poor, about all being treated justly and well.

But at our camp those kinds of things went unmentioned. Never once how we treat people. Never once our passion for social justice. Never once our desire to work for others. Just this superficial crap, looking and sounding good.

Maybe I am too old, and need to get another job! But it pains me to see young people offered such a small idea of what Christianity is all about. And it pains me that at an Anglican event three of the five sessions were lead by non Anglicans.

My hope for 2007 is that in our Youth network we can deepen out understanding of what we as Anglicans offer young people and offer it!!

Happy New year

I am off for three weeks holiday, so won’t be posting much, not that will be any different from the last few months

2006 Highlights

2006 is over!
What a year, and soooooo fast!
Highlights for me include:
  • Brazil in February. I so enjoyed the whole Brazilian thing. And we were so well looked after by Dessordi and Christina. Lastly, it was so good meeting up with the third Order members in Porto Alegre. That was almost my highlight of the whole trip.
  • General Synod in May. having young people lead worship and the bible studies, and seeing the effect that had on some members who suddenly realised what was at stake with youth ministry.
  • Doing my two papers, on on people like Athanasius and Augustine of Hippo, and teh other on Celtic Christianity. I loved them both.
  • U2 in November! It was my spiriutal highlight of the decade really. Singing with 46,000 people, at times almost drowning out U2 itself. Being part of that. Seeing the show, which is awsome in itself, and just really really enjoying hearing and seeing U2 live.
  • Getting the U2 book for Christmas. I love it.

A Good year. May 2007 bring peace and all goodness to all people.