On Friday night I had the wonderful privilege of leading a Seder Meal for the ninth graders at Hillcrest Covenant Church and their families. The Seder Meal, during this season of Lent, is a part of their catechism. It was a blast working with Nate Severson, Aaron Mitchum, Alicia Vela, Ben Smalley and the rest of the Hillcrest team to pull this off. Youthfront Board Member Cheryl Reinhardt,
who is a Hillcrest Covenant Church member and has a ninth grader – Jordan, going through the confirmation process – went all out to lead a team of more than thirty volunteers to create an amazing environment to pull off a very authentic Seder Meal experience for 150 people. It really felt like an intimate family celebration with a sense of the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit. What was really interesting to me is how many adults commented about the holistic aspect of this worship experience involving sight, sound, smells, taste, touch, etc. Creating holistic learning environments is not something that should only be for the Christian Formation of young people but also for the faith
formation of God’s Church, God’s People. Because of my extensive travels in the Middle East and pilgrimages with young people and youth workers to Israel, I have been doing Seder Meal/Last Supper experiences for years. They fulfill one of my biggest passions – to create environments where people can be astonished by God. This Seder Meal at Hillcrest was extraordinary because these ninth graders were surrounded by their families experiencing something together that I don’t think any of them will ever forget.
Vicki and I got on a Southwest flight back to KC today with David Holmes the rapping flight attendant. I saw him on a national news show a couple of days ago and recognized him when I got on. This version on YouTube doesn't include a lot of the new lyrics he has come up since he has become a celebrity.
Tonight, approximately 128 parents gathered at Youthfront for Engage, the Inaugural event of the Kansas City Parents' Network. Right before I went up to start the evening I chatted with a mom who talked about coming to Saturday Night Rallies at Youthfront in the early '90's. I had been on staff for fifteen years in 1990. Now her kids are coming to Youthfront Camp. The generational continuity of doing youth ministry in one place is awesome but it also reminds me of my age, ugghh.
Leslie Snyder has done a great job of establishing the Parents' Network. We are excited about the potential growth, development and contribution this Network will make for the parents of adolescents. Dr Jim Burns spoke. I believe that churches need to think about how we can train the parents of adolescents as youth workers. Does anyone think this would be possible or important?
Unfortunately, one of the most successful strategies for funding youth ministry involves demonizing young people. This process involves painting a picture using statistics, stories and alarmist scare tactics in order to convince adults to give money to help reach the youth culture because “it’s never been worse.”
This strategy works for fund-raising but I don’t think this posture of viewing teenagers as the most evil demographic group, creates an environment that results in genuine salvation and the biblical Christian formation of young people as disciples of Jesus Christ. These fear-based tactics create a fear-based environment.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” I John 4:18
I am not saying that today’s young people don’t have problems. Teenagers are facing significant developmental and cultural issues today that weren’t as complex as those faced by previous generations. “Lost and sinful” is a correct description of today’s generation of teenagers. Let me give you a current example. "Sex-ting" is the act of sharing nude or partially nude photos via cell phone text message.
According to MSNBC, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reported in December 2008 that a survey of 1,280 teens and young adults found that 20 percent of the teens said they had sent or posted nude or semi nude photos or videos of themselves. That number was slightly higher for teenage girls — 22 percent — vs. boys — 18 percent.
High profile cases in Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, Alabama, New York, Washington, and Michigan have resulted in teenagers being charged with felony for child pornography in these “sex-ting” incidents. This is a very serious problem. I have counseled parents of teenagers in the last several weeks that are scared to death about this issue and are desperately seeking help. “Sex-ting,” along with a host of other issues, is the kinds of things our staff at Youthfront deal with all of the time in youth ministry. We have seen about everything. It would not be difficult to engage in telling some very scary stories and use “teen bashing” to convince you to write a big check to help us save these kids.
Here is my problem with this. Today’s teenagers are no more sinful than today’s adults. We are all broken. We all need a Saviour. Jesus Christ is the only answer for the restoration of all sinful and broken people, regardless of their age.
American sociologist, Mike A. Males is senior researcher for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. Several years ago, Males wrote a book entitled Framing Youth: The Media War Against Kids. Males debunked the myths that today’s teenagers are more violent, commit more crime and abuse more drugs and alcohol than their parents’ generation. Nor are teenagers test scores lower than their parents’ scores were. The author presents convincing data to show how the media manipulates statistics to portray a distorted view of adolescent culture.
Unfortunately, the stories of today’s youth who are doing amazing things don't get a lot of press. They are proportionately much more engaged in community development, volunteerism, and global issues than their parents’ generation. I am thrilled to see increasing numbers of young people embracing a compelling vision to co-operate with our Triune God’s mission in the world.
It is actually the Baby Boom generation which is experiencing death rates related to drug abuse that is nearly triple that of today’s youth. I am a Baby Boomer. In so many ways, the adult population has failed to pass on a healthy environment to our young people to grow up in. This is true also for the church. If our Christian young people are apathetic about their faith and do not embrace the importance of living Holy and Godly lives, shouldn’t adults accept a lot of the blame? I think we must accept responsibility for living the kind of Christian lives that fuel the kinds of problems we see in our kids.
So, how should we respond? I suggest that we cease any form of “teen bashing” and do a better job of celebrating Christian young people who are attempting to live out their faith. I suggest that we take seriously our role in the salvation of young people AND their Christian formation.
We are all broken, youth and adults alike. We can only be made whole by the work of God in our lives. We all desperately need each other in order to truly be the faithful people of God.
The most famous Celtic prayer is attributed to St. Patrick.
Tradition dates the context of St. Patrick’s prayer to the year 433. The occasion was when Patrick defied high king of Ireland Laeghaire. (La Gare uh) Once a year the King commanded that all fires be extinguished. The King would go to one of the highest spots in Ireland and light one big bonfire to his own glory.
St. Patrick, a passionate follower of Jesus Christ took his life into his own hands and challenged the king by lighting a huge fire on the Hill of Tara to represent the brighter light of His Lord Jesus Christ, and according to tradition uttered a powerful prayer, which has been handed down to us as Patrick's Breastplate.
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through the confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgment Day.
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of demons,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.
summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.