"The apocalypse of Jesus Christ is not a religious event, but a world-making event. It is an event in which the lordship of the crucified Christ is both revealed and announced, bringing about the new creation, the cosmos delivered from enslaving powers, in which a new social body called the ekklesia has been called out, laid hold of, seized by the God of Israel to bear testimony to this good news. In other words, the apocalypse of Jesus Christ is itself imperial in its demands, omnivorous in its appetite. The gospel creates and names a world, a "kingdom," a people, a social and political body and practice in which the reign of Christ dissolves the loyalty claims of all other kings, lords, powers, empires, social orders, economies, and nations." Douglas Harink, Paul Among the Postliberals: Pauline Theology Beyond Christendom and Modernity, page 89
Jeremy Iverson the author of High School Confidential was interviewed today on Good Morning America. Iverson is a young looking 24-year-old who went back to High School (undercover) posing as a teenager. He had a lot to say about the behavior of his "fellow classmates." Iverson claims that he was accepted into the most popular group within 30 days. He made a lot of comments that should scare the life out of parents who have teenagers. He even referred to the sexual activity of so called evangelical Christian kids. As he was talking I had tons of questions about how far he had to go to fit in (what about the Child Protection Act?) I agree with one of the parents or maybe it was an uninformed school official who stated that Iverson's project is "creepy." As is my custom, I try to read, watch and listen to bellweathers of the adolescent culture in my attempt to stay attuned. I am debating if I should read this book... I'm not one drawn to car wrecks and death scenes. Reading this book feels a little voyeuristic. What do you think?
I heard with Stephen Baldwin on the NBC Today show being interviewed by Matt Lauer concerning his new book, The Unusual Suspects: My Calling to the New Hardcore Movement of Faith. It was very interesting. Lauer read a portion of Baldwin's book in which he exhorts Bono to get radical about his faith (like Baldwin is). Lauer wonders where Baldwin is coming from. Baldwin replied with something like this - Can you imagine what it would be like if Bono took 15 minutes in the middle of his concert to preach the Gospel? I believe if he would be faithful to the gospel like that AIDS and Third World Poverty would take care of itself.
Baldwin seems to have no clue that it may be quite impossible to separate these important issues from a scriptural understanding of what Jesus means concerning the good news of the gospel, the in-breaking Kingdom and Jesus' call for us to pick up the cross and follow him. I had lunch with Stephen Baldwin a little over a year ago. I believe he loves Jesus. I pray for him to have wisdom. I don't believe he showed a lot of wisdom today.
Tim Keel, our pastor at Jacob's Well has started a series on the book of Colossians. Of course, I love hearing Tim speak on any subject but I am particularly excited about this series. I have been a bit obsessed lately with Pauline Theology. It should be a great time for our community to incorporate Paul's message to the church at Colossae into the fabric of how we engage as followers of Jesus in the culture we find ourselves in. Several of us are also reading and dialoguing over the book Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire by Slyvia Keesmaat and Brian Walsh.
Chiefs 0 - 2. So sad. I wish I would have skipped the game and watched the Blue Angels do their thing over downtown for the second day in a row. Few things will get your adrenaline flowing like the Blue Angels. Chiefs 0 - 2. Depressing. At least we live in the most livable US city.
YouthFront got a little national mention yesterday in USA Today. USA Today did an article on the reality that major sports star rarely spend their whole career with one team. The article focused on Barry Bonds, Luis Gonzalez, Craig Biggio, Kerry Wood and Mike Sweeney, among others.
Sweeney, a first baseman and designated hitter, has remained a Royal since breaking into the majors in 1995. He has become an icon in the Kansas City area as much for his play on the field as a five-time All-Star and for his charitable contributions off the field. He has shown dedication to children via his involvement with Children's Mercy Hospital and local chapters of youth organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and YouthFront. He also hosts area charity and non-profit groups at Royals games.
"For me, I really focus on the legacy that I will leave behind, not only for my family but with the game of baseball," says Sweeney, a .302 career hitter with 188 homers and 794 RBI in 1,197 games. "If I was bouncing around from team to team, I wouldn't have the connection with the community and the younger kids that I have now. It's a joy for me to go to a church or a school or a baseball youth clinic and see kids who are excited. That has an impact on you.
"It would be real special to retire a Royal."
Mike is a wonderful ambassador for Jesus in our community. Mike has been a great friend to YouthFront. I spoke to Mike recently and he is really excited about the future of YouthFront, especially what we are doing at camp and our passion for the Spiritual Formation of adolescents. Thanks Mike.
Barna's latest report couldn't have been released at a better time. Barna's Weekly report just came out two hours ago with the feature article entitled, "Most Twenty Somethings Put Christianity on the Shelf Following Spiritually Active Teen Years." This has been a big issue for me for nearly three years and is a major theme in my about to be released book, Presence Centered Youth Ministry.
The only thing I would change in Barna's title is to replace the word "Christianity" with "Church." In fact, Barna in his research states that 78% of these twentysomethings maintain a stated allegiance to Christianity and describe themselves as "deeply spiritual." My argument is that these young people are disconnecting because of disatisfaction with how they experienced church. His research discusses twentysomethings lack of loyalty to denominations.
"Twentysomethings were nearly 70% more likely than older adults to strongly assert that if they 'cannot find a local church that will help them become more like Christ, then they will find people and groups that will, and connect with them instead of a local church.' They are also significantly less likely to believe that 'a person’s faith in God is meant to be developed by involvement in a local church.' These attitudes explain other anomalies of twentysomething spirituality. Much of the activity of young adults, such as it is, takes place outside congregations. Young adults were just as likely as older Americans to attend special worship events not sponsored by a local church, to participate in a spiritually oriented small group at work, to have a conversation with someone else who holds them accountable for living faith principles, and to attend a house church not associated with a conventional church."
I think this data is accurate. It saddens me that this age group doesn't tie their faith to involvement in a local church and yet I understand why most feel this way.
David Kinnaman, the director of the research states, “Much of the ministry to teenagers in America needs an overhaul – not because churches fail to attract significant numbers of young people, but because so much of those efforts are not creating a sustainable faith beyond high school. There are certainly effective youth ministries across the country, but the levels of disengagement among twentysomethings suggest that youth ministry fails too often at discipleship and faith formation. A new standard for viable youth ministry should be – not the number of attenders, the sophistication of the events, or the ‘cool’ factor of the youth group – but whether teens have the commitment, passion and resources to pursue Christ intentionally and whole-heartedly after they leave the youth ministry nest.”
This thinking forms the overarching theme of Presence Centered Youth Ministry. Barna carries credibility with a very broad spectrum of Christianity so this data should help not only the thesis of my book but the mission of YouthFront and other ministries, along with youth workers who are trying to raise these issues.
Read Barna's article here and let me know what you think about these issues.
Vicki and Jessica attended our Mother/Daughter Retreat this weekend at YouthFront Camp West. This enabled me to have a weekend to do whatever I wanted. Friday night didn't start out so foot loose and fancy free. I worked in the office until almost 9:00 PM (I told myself that my weekend would be a lot better if I finished a couple of projects that were facing deadlines). On the way home I got a call from my son Micah, who was without Anne for the weekend, so we did a late night movie together. On Saturday I made some progress toward preparing our house for sale. Saturday night I saw Hollywoodland, interesting but slow. Sunday - opening day - big game... uggghhh! Micah went with me. It started raining in the second half which wasn't so bad because of our handy plastic emergency ponchos. Then Trent Green got killed and the rain picked up and the lightening started flashing nearby and we left. My kilt did not bring luck to the Chiefs opening day. Hey, but church was awesome Sunday night. Micah Thomas, who led worship singing at YouthFront South Camp this summer, led worship. Alan Fogleman, a long time camp staffer, played drums. We all went to Cheesecake Factory after church. I love those guys.