Hey if you’re in Northern California, you should check out the BASS Convention’s college and young adult ministry workshops March 7th and 8th. Chuck Bomar, author of World’s Apart will be sharing Friday, March 7th. On Friday, March 8th, we’re excited to be hosting a college and young adult ministry forum where you can ask questions of experienced college and young adult ministry veterans. Visit www.bassconvention.org for more info or to register!
Friends in Ministry!
Next month St. Matthew Lutheran Church will be hosting the 3DM/Wayfarer crew for a special Student Ministry Workshop!
We’re going to be focusing on Student Ministry as family, and talking about balancing the structured “stage” experience with the organic “everyday life” side of ministry. We’ll hear from friends from around the nation who are seeing a movement forming in their youth and college ministry through discipleship. Not just theory. The real deal. Along with the 3DM team, we’ll have pastors from around the United States and Europe share what they are doing.
This workshop will give you a chance not only to hear their stories and some foundational teaching, but lots of time for Q + A, as well as a chance to step inside and experience some of these new vehicles for mission and discipleship: Huddles and Missional Communities. Come ready to be encouraged, learn, have fun, and make strategic plans for the future of your ministry!
February 10th-12th, 2014
Starting @ 2pm on Monday and ending @ 12.30pm on Wednesday.
Registration and light refreshments from 1:30pm on Monday.
Cost is $149 if you register before January 27!
The cost of the event will cover the expense of the dinners for the two nights, all course materials, speaker fees and content of the workshop. Attendees must pick up the cost of their lunches, accommodation and transport.
Click here to register:
Click here to see a video testimony:
Click here for an overview of 3DM workshops:
Studying culture has been a big deal since I bit into the post-modernity conversation way back when. Ha, post-modernity. Anyway, I loved sociology in college and even considering getting a Master’s in it; though my current master’s degree is non-existent. Either way, when the study and observation of culture became important for church leadership, I was instantly intrigued.
The process of understanding culture and its relevance to ministry is still important; with or without post-modernity (sigh). This is especially true for youth and young adult ministry leaders. Every day we live in the trenches of cultural differences; whether its the cultural difference between us and our students, the church and our students, or all three. Youth ministries is where I learned to see myself as a missionary to a foreign culture and where I was given the foundational training I needed to do cross-cultural ministry.
As is often pointed out by both myself and others; we live in a time when the church remains culturally divided according to generational lines. We often struggle between these cultures and as youth or young adult pastors, we strive to somehow get them connected. I recently wrote a piece about this which you can access here. This is a struggle which every church in the western church must face and/or is facing in some way.
If our churches have even entered the dialogue on this topic, then usually some solutions have been suggested. Initially, the thought is to force young people into situations where they must simply outright accept the culture of older generations. This has its cons, but also has some surprising pros. Another solution is for the church to become more culturally relevant to the younger generations. This too has its pros and cons. A third option has also been expressed by taking the younger generation and planting a church that specifically addresses their needs and reflects their culture. Generally speaking, each of these suggestions have both merit and shortcomings of their own.
Still, the somewhat depressing thought remains that these are our best options. Either force boomer culture on millennials, force millennial culture on boomers or isolate generations altogether. And while I’d rather fumble my way through these options than do nothing at all, it seems that many people are only becoming frustrated with the unintended results of these strategies.
However there may yet be a fourth option. Rather than asking various generations to jump off their respective cultural cliffs, only to catch each other in the air; why can’t we build a bridge between the two? If we can build a third culture that is both shared and positive, the various generations in our congregations can begin to interact over a common middle ground which is understood and accepted by all (This actually serves the needs of multiple cultural groups, not just two seemingly opposite generations).
Mike Breen and the people at 3dm have done a tremendous amount of work around building discipleship cultures. As I have been exposed to their work and ideas I have come to the realization that a shared, discipleship culture is potentially the answer to our generational-culture divide. Mutually adopting a discipleship culture means sharing language, values, expectations and norms in a way that draws people together into a new vision of community. This may be one of the few strategies that has genuine potential to give Christ-followers of various generations a way to relate to each other. Furthermore, we may find ourselves connected around the lifestyle of following Jesus; which is probably the best part yet.
I stumbled into a small art studio recently, and though I appreciate art, I was admittedly interested in something else. But, as it seems, it was art that I found and one artist in particular that grabbed my attention.
Objects are invented in order to satisfy particular needs, specifically, human needs. With my sculpture I investigate the concept of need when the human is removed from this equation. I do this by replacing the human with the object itself. My sculptures are invented only to sustain themselves, functioning as self-resolving problems. The result is an object that has been invented only to compensate for the complications created by its own existence. The piece alone represents the need and the resolution.
Many of my pieces are small, spring loaded, mechanical objects. They are intricately designed and fabricated to accomplish one of the most simple, yet most essential tasks that an autonomous object can. This task, this need, is that of holding itself up. In most cases, my pieces accomplish this by actively attaching themselves to specific architectural features and individual objects.
-Dan Grayber from DanGrayber.com
Grayber’s work was, to say the least, an unexpected treat. The pictures may give you an idea, but ultimately they cannot do justice to what is truly a blend of philosophy, engineering and art. I found myself mesmerized as I closely evaluated each piece, then on display at Johansson Projects in Oakland. Some stirred in me a sense of intrigue, while others outright baffled me!
Grayber has gotten some attention. The following quote was taken from an article done about him in Wired Magazine.
Most inventions that come into the world, Grayber says, can be understood as extensions or supplements of our bodies in one way or another. By designing objects that deliberately have no user, Grayber succeeds at inventing things that are “solely supplements to themselves.” Each work is a perfectly self-contained specimen–an idea that’s reinforced by their glass-jar presentation. But as Grayber is well aware, the idea of perfect, hermetically sealed functionality can only keep us so rapt. What’s really compelling is fragility–the possibility that things can go wrong. So while Grayber might have started with the simple aim of inventing things that held themselves up, lately he’s been more interested in building things that hold themselves up but just barely. These days, he says, “I really want the work to exist in a delicate equilibrium–just beyond the point of failure.
-Kyle VanHemert, Wired Magazine/Wired.com
Art, as we know, often stands prophetically against the popular culture. Grayber’s art in particular potentially stands against the myriad of human institutions that exist, whether by design or by default, only to support themselves. Eccelesiologically (which I’m not sure is a real word), we want to hold that the Church exists for many things other than itself. However, one of my first thoughts in reflecting on Grayber’s work was not against the church, but against the structures that we’ve confused with the church. It seems that we at times, create structures and/or programs within the life our communities that again, either by design or by default, end up existing only to exist; only to support themselves.
If anything, let this be food for thought; what structures in the life of our communities are guilty of this?
As a pastor to young people, I live in two worlds. These worlds exist next to each other in the church much like two parallel universes. Amazingly, they at times occupy the same space while remaining completely independent. I stand, almost like a bridge, in between them, doing my best to pull them together. These two worlds are the younger generation and the older generation(s).
It is because of this tension that youth and young adult pastors have become competent in relating to all generations; a skill which has become unfortunately rare in the church. Typically, we are fluid in both languages, able to speak to the values and/or expectations of multiple generations. This dynamic creates a situation in the church where youth pastors are uniquely qualified to stand in the generational gap and attempt, even in unsuccessfully, to bring the two together.
When we use the phrase “generational gap”, we must keep in mind that we might as well say “cultural gap”. Cross-generational competency is essentially cross-cultural competency. The problem isn’t that we’ve created a system where youth pastors are doing this cross-generational/cross-cultural work. The problem is that we’ve created a system where only one (or a limited few) are able to it. We have corporately designed, funded and maintained a system of segregation in the western church which in the long term has isolated us from one another. Thus while the youth pastor is being forced into this skill set, most of the time without their knowledge, the rest of the congregation is being sheltered. Consequently, Busters, Boomers and even many Xers are lacking the ability to relate to young people on even the most basic level; let alone in discipling relationships.
Unfortunately, many churches probably find themselves suffering from fear, if not outright laziness in this regard. Generally speaking, we are unable to relate, though in many cases we are simply unwilling to put in the required effort. Other times, we seek to relate only on the unbending terms of one generation; usually the older, which controls all of the church’s power and money.
If the majority of people in our churches are ever to achieve cross generational competency, we will have to at some point learn how to understand each other. Though it is not unusual for youth pastors to see their ministry as a mission field, and themselves consequently as missionaries, it is unlikely that the majority of our communities are using this same lens. When it comes to gaining cross-cultural competencies, it hopefully comes as no surprise that we have more to learn from missionaries that we do from pastors. Of course this assumes that either the general congregant either understands what this entails, or that we as leaders will take the time to instruct them. Either way, the “missionary” language could possibly lead to fruitful discussions where both generations take at least as much time to listen as they do to speak.