Friday, January 20, 2017

30 Reflections #01 Context

  What a time to begin to exercise gifts for ministry with young people!! Generations of young people disappeared from the mainstream church denominations as I was finishing High School. Massive social change and a new kind of questioning fitted to the times meant 'all bets were off'. People discovered the sky didn't fall if they opted out and doubt, skepticism about hypocrisy and the changing values across society exposed a fragility or social convention of church participation.
   Curricula struggled, people began to write books about ministry with small numbers and divides opened up around focus, purpose and core message or what the 'good news' actually is.
   Suddenly models of ministry with youth which were built on a steady stream of participants began to struggle. Mark Senter was writing about "The Coming Revolution in Youth Ministry" and "Four Views of Youth Ministry." David Bosch was writing "Transforming Mission." The wider church was just being confronted by the idea that our 'mission field' came home and it was no longer OK for the "preparatory" model to predominate. As I lived in two worlds [both anglo middle class ones mind you] I tried to bring empathy, non judgement, questions, creativity and what I knew to be of value in any context, with me!! Movies, music and other conventional stories could come from any sources and most that were not 1980s culture of 'copying' e.g. terrible Christian music and films could be part of 'culture-making' in a new way of 'announcing the existence of the rule and reign of God' if only we could be communities as visible signs of this reality [sorry my post is getting nerdy and jargon filled which I used to pride myself at being neither of]...

I'm jumping ahead a bit BUT some inherent and some learnt values:
- Young people are people and 'adolescence' can look like but is not a mental illness
- Goals need to be shared and have ownership amongst the young people, not just my agendas
- Young people have an ability to make meaning, find significance and have great 'bullcrap' detectors
- In every group of young people some will warm to a more black and white story of the Christian faith and then some will embrace the grey questions. This often includes being more immersed in 'the world where they live' and the rich challenge of helping them do so. That's diversity.
- Place sharing, un-shockability, suspending judgement, being yourself and listening are vital
- Just as I and my life story deconstructed and helped reconstruct 'the way I speak of God' and what it means to me to seek to 'follow' Jesus life, example and relationship with God... I can share stories, space and life in ways that help others
- I hate making mistakes but I do try to learn from them...
- I avoid conflict if I can, but am much better than ever at it when I can't
- As a 'big picture person' I have learnt to overcommit less so as to not appear like I can't organise
- I care much less whether everybody likes me or values my contribution or me

There's many more things to write and one thing I'm learning and being affirmed in these days is that so much of this translates to people of all ages. People have occasionally commented to the effect "I guess that may be relevant in a youth context OR I know your experience is with young people BUT..." OK, better post this or I'll never put the full stop and write Post #02

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