Friday, April 27, 2007

Anglican Worship, a relic of the past?

One of my colleagues sent an email out today advertising the up coming Manu Rui training event in Christchurch.

One of his youth pastors replied as below. I include it as it raises some important issues, and I also include my response.

My kids would have no interest in this at all; their
focus is simply not on denominational breakdowns and focii. As a church we need
to focus on WHERE OUR KIDS ARE (ie not in Anglican churches) and visit there,
rather than trying to get kids to visit us (worship wise or
whatever). We've been around hundreds of years and kids have voted with
their feet.
Modern youth ministry is totally ecumenical
(ie easter camp, 82 youth groups), so this is not something I would spend time
on myself.
I agree there are treasures, and I personally value
aspects of Anglicanism, but not at a youth level. We struggle even
having "readings" (even in modern version); our kids want increasing
informality and less heritage. They collect the latter later in life, when
they have families.
The thinking coming out of the Lambeth Conf. (new wine
skins) is exciting (ala St Barnabbas UK, and is the direction we should be
exploring in worship for young people.

My response
Thanks for your comments.
As the person who is running this event I thought I might have the right of reply.
I could argue with some of what you have said, but your main thrust which is that Anglican worship as it is currently offered is not very youth friendly is a given. I would suggest (from my experience of attending camps and youth events around the country) that the style of worship we offer is fairly standard, and not ecumenical, but pentecostal/charismatic in structure at least.
My concern with that is that it appeals to one group of young people, and that there are many other groups who are not drawn by the worship currently offered. In fact over 80% of young people in this country don’t go anywhere near anything we offer, including worship. We need a whole range of approaches to working with young people, and a whole range of worship events/styles for young people. That is what this weekend is about! I want to see a range of different styles of worship organised by and for young people. And to do that young people and youth leaders need support, help, and some tools.

This weekend is not about making Anglicans, or to help young people appreciate what Anglican Church currently offers. It is about offering a place to do some thinking about what the Church of 2000 years has understood worship to be, what the Bible might say about that and how the church has reinterpreted that in changing situations, especially the Anglican church (it is the church I belong to, know the most about, and pays me. It also, I believe have an amazing amount to offer young people and worship among young people, I think.) We also need to think about the context we are worshipping in, in this case with young people and youth culture. I have experienced some amazing worship organised by young people in Oxford England that was clearly Anglican, but engaged with the culture of those young people in a way I have never experienced in New Zealand. It was creative, profound, moving, informal, and squarely centered in the rave culture of those young people. I want to see young people and youth leaders equipped and encouraged to create worship for our context here in NZ. I hope it looks nothing like Joy, and nothing like what is mostly offered as youth worship here in NZ.

Being ecumenical doesn’t mean ditching what all the churches have done and just doing the same thing, but knowing enough about what all those churches have done and why, and reusing that in new and life giving ways. I hope Presbyterians offer their spiritual heritage, and Methodists. We could learn so much from them, and our worship would be so much the richer, and our young people would grow because of it. That would be truly ecumenical. But I can only do the Anglican bit.

In the end, I was young people to grow deeply in Christ, as part of Gods ongoing community, the church. Worship id centrally important to that. This weekend is designed to help us develop what we offer so that young people can develop and grow.
I don’t know about the church you talk about, but would be really interested to know what they are doing. I suspect we are not too far apart on this.

Thanks for your comments. I did not mean to go on so long. But you can see I am passionate about young people (rather than Anglican liturgy, which I mostly enjoy) I hope you come, and bring you challenges and questions, and keep me honest, and help us all learn and grow.
John Hebenton