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Monday, October 23, 2006

Growing Christ Centred Youth - 3

Well we have settled on a general answer for Question 1. So now it's time to take a crack at question 2. I haven't had any suggestions yet so please feel free to dive in and get some discussion happening/suggestions flowing. These are important issues!

2) How do we get youth that are churched or do profess a commitment to Christ to look beyond their own (perception of their own)needs?
In the original post I mentioned something I was sensing within EC theology - particularly in publications such as The Exodus Papers. It is consumerism - and I am generalising here and happy to be corrected - In reading the Exodus Papers I saw an attitude that I see every day in many of the young people (and even into the 30-something age group) I work with.

Let me sum it up this way - "if it isn't doing it for me then I will just take my bat and ball and go somewhere else that will". I.e. they will ditch their current church/organisation/job/family etc. to look for a church/organisation/job/family etc. that will give them what they want rather than sticking around and at least trying to make a difference.

In thinking a little harder about this I guess this may not be an EC problem so much as it is a cultural problem - Western culture is a consumer driven culture, but maybe the EC is encouraging it or helping justify it in some ways?

Anyway - start posting answers so we can keep growing the "Growing Christ Centred Youth" list!


josh said...

hey man. i'd love to get into some dialogue with you about our background. and i certainly hear your concerns about some young people just cutting and running so to speak. but without a doubt, every one of the 8 people that shared with us in the exodus papers were people who i respected for their determination to be committed to and love of the church. all of us have spent 4+ years in ministry. i know for myself i spent 7+ years, 60 hours a week. 6 out of the 7 days a week. for 7 years straight. i wanted to walk away at 18. but i stayed 17 years. so while i agree that there are many young people who just run at the first sight of trouble or someone disagreeing with them. that was not the case in any of our situations. we all had at least 4 years of ministry and didn't take our decision to walk away lightly.

but you can only stay in a system that constantly minimizes you, critiques you, attacks your character, before you have to walk away to keep your emotional and spiritual health in place. and while i certainly don't mind the perspective that calls our motives into question. i would also say that an equal amount of skepticism needs to be placed on the churches and systems that force us to that point.

anyway, get in touch with me through email if you want to talk more.

The Creature said...

Hey Josh,

Thanks for your comments and insite into the Exodus Papers. As I said, I am happy to be corrected. Don't get me wrong - I know what it is like to slog it out and end up feeling you are on a treadmill. I also see the other side quite a bit - a ministry that is very close to my own heart was decimated because disatisfied people bailed. There were real problems and it was really difficult - I know because I felt the same way and wanted to bail as well.

So if I have misjudged the motives of the "Exodus" crew, then I apologise. :)

I wonder though what your perspective on consumerism within the EC is. Do you think there is a danger that the EC is justifiying a lack of stayability that seems to be prevelant in our society - a kind of escape hatch for those who don't know how to committ or who want to just jump ship when the going gets tough without trying to be part of the solution?



josh said...

we'd both probably need a forum much larger than a comment box to discuss this. but i think it's a good question to ask.

i would assume when you say consumerism you're meaning a type of individualism. where you get what you want. if that is the case, i would agree that there are elements of that in the emerging church. but i would also add that this is no less than what is the "regular church". i came from a pseudo contemporary church where the music, the sermon, the stage, the childcare for the kids, was all about providing a service and a product for the "consumer". marketing was the name of the game. from mass mail-outs advertising the latest and greatest sermon to providing trendy starbucks to everyone who walked through the door to the choice of music. it all revolved around the felt needs of the average church goer. and felt needs is exactly what corporations use in their marketing to consumers. so i would argue that there is rampant consumerism and individualism in churches everywhere. not just the emerging church.

i also think you have extremes on both ends of the spectrum within the emerging church. you have some communities that are all about individualism and you have some that are all about community. just like with other forms of church, you have good churches and bad churches. those are too broad of a stroke for me. too heavy on generalizations. i would encourage you to visit some of the websites (or better yet go) of emerging churches. i think you'll find on average that they are much less individualistic and much more communal than their "regular church" (i'm not using that term condescendingly, i just don't know of a better way to describe it without using traditional or contemporary) counterparts.

and i think you're not giving us enough credit. we do see ourselves as part of the solution. part of the problem is this radical disconnect with churches and the "lost" world and their local communities. so in our estimation, if churches (after 7+ years of ministry) are not wanting to be faithful with the simplest of the visions of jesus (great commandment), then i for one don't see myself as part of the problem and bailing on a solution. part of the solution for most of us is to revision and reimagine new types of faith communities that will faithfully walk the way of jesus.

life is to short to constantly be fighting for an inch and giving up a mile. or taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back. there are plenty of churches out there that have ships that are way to big to turn. they are not only top heavy on their traditions, power, and politics. they are sinking.

most of us are tired of bailing water. i bailed water for 7 years. there have been many who bailed water for 20 years. i've personally come to the conclusion that i'm done with bailing water. i'm not jumping ship. i'm simply shaking the dust off my feet as i move from one city to the next. and i'm reimaging new wineskins for a new context. if pastors and churches and deacon boards and elders and staff members don't want to change in the face of realities, then so be it. but i'm not pouring my life and my family and my passion into a sinking ship. or one that is blatantly still attempting to steam forward even those it's leaking like crazy.

not when the kingdom of god is at stake. not when life is so short.

this may sound like i'm being pessimistic. but i'm extremely optimistic about the bride of christ. just not so optimistic about traditional models.

hope that helps clarify some. get in touch with me through email if you want to talk more as i rarely check blogs these days.