Wednesday, October 5, 2005

more day three

Okay so here it is…
More stuff on Day three
I think we started this morning right where I needed to go
Deut. 8:2 I have spent a lot of time in my life trying to find legitimacy. Especially as a youth worker I often feel overlooked, misrepresented and misunderstood. After 12 years at this church and 15 years in youth ministry I guess I can look back with some confidence and a sense of legitimacy. But this passage reminds me to not let my apparent success (I hate that word) make me vulnerable to failure. So this is my prayer
“In my struggle for legitimacy, I have presumed on your blessing God as something I deserved. Remind me daily of the posture of sacrifice and servanthood that you call me to. Thank you for clear evidence that you are working in my and, embarrassingly enough, through me in spite of my many failings.”

We talked today about discerning the call to youth ministry. This is an area I would like to do more work on. Our prof. took some time out of the class to talk about some things he’s been thinking about putting spiritual formation at the core of the training experience instead of the content being the focus as is clearly the case in many training establishments. I really resonate with that – what with my practical bent and all Gilbert. Here’s a comment someone told him, “this is why we don’t send you anymore people to train. We send you passionate people who want to serve God in their giftedness and you send us back spiritual geeks who know Hebrew.” Ouch city wow I don’t know if I would put things like that but hey I can certainly sense the heart that that comment is coming from. I think if schools could see how sour a taste some (many) of their graduates leave in the mouth of people in the field and churches in general they would change their methods. Now mind you I think Bethany has got a lot going when it makes the fourth year a practicum. But I wonder if that practical experience and let’s not forget spiritual formation, needs to be more front and center. Let’s not leave content behind. I certainly don’t want to be seen as a pendulum swinger but…

The premise we worked from today is that incarnational ministry is foremost relational. You know that book we were gonna write Mark – yeah that’s it. Here’s something we did not touch on class that I would like to know more about. How does recruiting and maintaining volunteers change in relational ministry? I have some clues but I would like to see how people have worked with this successfully for comparative reasons. You know we have volunteers who will gladly run stuff but don’t really want to get involved in kids lives etc Mark you have mentioned this frustration from time to time and yeah I have it too…

I ended up in a discussion with some of the other students about YC. They thought it was great I did not. Their defense of the event was that the organizers put so much time and effort into the event so it must be good. I don’t think they really got what I was saying about the thing being pretentious but it led nicely into our topic in the afternoon on points of decision.
Currently we see spiritual decisions as coming after we have explained a series of ideas to kids (often mixed with a pile of emotional manipulation). Then we work at the follow through of those decisions.
What if we saw spiritual decisions more like we currently do marriages and engagement. What I mean is we help kids make decision on personal level and within the context of community but the point of celebration is not at the point of decision (as in an alter call) but in after the kid as given evidence of the decision made. I know this walks us into the land of proving your faith with works and I’m not sure I am totally ready for that but maybe some of you guys have some thoughts on this stuff

I also wonder if any of you have heard or read anything toward a theology of spiritual agenda or progress. I thought I saw some stuff on one of the websites on Hauerwas but I am not sure. Basically what I am asking is this: to what extent do we have responsibility in the lives of other believers to develop/grow their faith. What is the nature of the agenda we should have in a relationship with another person? I might write more on this again but hey I am hungry and I think I just left the rest of that gross Chinese food in the toilet a bit ago so I gotta fill up…

Miss you Char


Jerry said...

I struggle with the use of any future product oriented agenda other than self-awareness. Whatever the age or context, I hate discovering I've been trained to be something I'm not (one of the reasons I left the seminary I went to).

"Self-awareness" may sound hokey, but I think the pursuit has alot to offer. You become highly educated because you need to see what's out there in order to recognize what's you and what's not.

It also gives you a chance to tap into your passion, your heart's desire. There's so much more power and freedom when flying on the wings of curiousity than being under the hammer of obligation. (I'm not saying all obligations are bad. In the right context, I think they're fitting.)

When I look at someone I'm obligated to influence, my goal is to help them see what God sees in them now, and therefore the future. Like the saying goes, "a person's character is their destiny".

So I pray, I pray God will give me some sort of magical/spiritual mirror to face outward for those who want to grow.

Jerry said...

Sorry about being long-winded, but i was also going to add my motto:

"You can't make people good, but you can be good for people."


Gil said...

You mention some interesting points about the way people come into school and the way they leave. It certainly is a danger to suck the passion and life out of students by exposing them to an abstract/lifeless version of Christianity.
What that means for spiritual formation in ministry I'm not quite sure. Often we use 'spiritual formation' to talk about forming the part of us that does not include our brains. You can imagine that I'm not crazy about that idea. Biblically speaking heart and mind were a lot more connected than in our ways of thinking.
Schools should not sap the passion out of our young people. Neil Postman talks about education as 'stupidity prevention'. At times this is my default understanding of what education does. I'm hopeful that it can do something more productive. I agree that education should be fundamentally about producing a certain kind of PERSON rather than dispensing information. Thanks for an interesting challenge.

Incoming... said...

jerry thanks for your thoughts i like them
they certainly are not they conventional ways we have interpretted the great commission or all those instructional passages that Paul has written to Timothy but i like the general direction you are going to d you have any more ideas or resources that inform your position.
and Gil I know you worry that the intellectual pursuit will be marginalized in our preoccupation with experiences in our culture and you have a valid concern in this area.

Jerry said...

More ideas?

It think what I mentioned before was one of three parts. I think there are three parts to a dialogue, the first and third part being the two parties communicating to each other, the second part being the language they use.

The first part I talked about is all about us, what we want to DO, which i believe comes out of who we are. But as soon as we consider the second and third part, everything changes.

To communicate to someone about me, I have to discover what kind of language the other uses, but to do that I have to use whatever language I know that would make a connection with them. In other words, shared time and experiences in different contexts will help the two parties to find THEIR language.

I think, through this process, the other party (be it youth or whoever) will not just be told who you are, but will see it for themselves... and this, my friend, is where our message finds few barriers (though it may reveal whatever inconsistencies among the insights of our message).

P.S. - though I may have learned alot from the bible and scholars, and these ideas may be colored by them, what I've written you is my experience, something from my world. I think informing others about 'things' is never without informing others something about us.