Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm a Stoner and they Know it.

How do we get youth ministry to get real? In my neck of the woods, particularly in the town where I work, youth ministry seems mostly to be about conformity.

In this light, I think the church has been working on cloning for a lot longer than the scientists who last week received government permission to create human embryo's for experimentation.

In my lunch room at work I have a copy of a contemporary version of the NT which stays on the table. It's aimed at young blokes and the cover looks like a magazine. A couple of weeks ago one of them made the comment - "It looks really cool on the outside but when you read the inside it's really weird."

I thought he was talking about the Bible itself - but it turns out he was talking about all the "helpful" advice scattered around every page for the Chrisitian kids who are reading it. Stuff like "10 ways to impress your parents", and "how to let a girl know you like her". The later included the advice: "read your favourite Bible passage to her" - which even I think is lame!

Now the last thing most of these young rebels want to do is impress their parents or gushingly quote scripture at their love interest. But it's these bits of the "Bible" the guys are fixated with - not the actual Scriptures themselves. They are great for a laugh, to take the piss out of Christians, and reinforce what they are already thinking about following Jesus Christ, i.e. to follow Jesus means to become a lamo wimp who gets off on the kind of stuff they are reading in this version of the Bible. In otherwords, conformity to a foreign culture that has no baring or relevence to their daily lives.

"I'm a stoner, I look like a stoner and they know it. I don't fit in and they don't know what to do with me", this is how one of the guys I was working with last year described his past attendence at a church youth group. He went a couple of times but ended up giving up on it. He was definitely interested in Jesus Christ (and thankfully still is) but couldn't find acceptance among His followers.

I am going to keep the "cool on the outside - wierd on the inside" Bible on the lunch room table. Even though the "helpful" bits make me want to cringe, it at least provides an opening to talking about the real stuff - the important stuff, including the fact these guys really do matter to God and that they don't need to be come mamby, pamby wimps in order to follow Jesus. I only wish I had more time with them or at least had somewhere to send them where they would feel accepted and not feel the pressure to conform.

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