"If I myself were an American citizen and a Christian and a theologian, then I would try to elaborate a theology of freedom -- a theology of freedom from, let us say, from any inferiority complex over against good old Europe from whence you all came, or your fathers. You do not need to have such an inferiority complex. That is what I have learned these weeks. You may also have freedom from a superiority complex, let us say, over against Asia and Africa. That's a complex without reason. Then I may add -- [your theology should also be marked by] freedom from fear of communism, Russia, inevitable nuclear warfare and generally speaking, from all the afore-mentioned principalities and powers. Freedom for which you would stand would be the freedom for -- I like to say a single word -- humanity. Being an American theologian, I would then look at the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor. I have not seen that lady, except in pictures. Next week I shall see her in person. That lady needs certainly a little or, perhaps, a good bit of demythologization. Nevertheless, maybe she may also be seen and interpreted and understood as a symbol of a true theology, not of liberty, but of freedom. Well, it would be necessarily, a theology of freedom. Of that freedom to which the Son frees us [cf. Jn 8.36], and which as His gift, is the one real human freedom. My last question for this evening is this: Will such a specific American theology one day arise? I hope so." Karl Barth
Aus: K. Barth, Gespräche 1964-1968, hrsg. von E. Busch (Gesamtausgabe, Abt. IV), Zürich 1995, S.489, vgl. S.279.
We're thrilled to announce that camp registration for next summer is now open for Camp West and for LaCygne. As you enter our Camp Management System to register, please, take note of some of its key features:
You need just one account per family. Within that same account, you can choose different camp sessions for each of your children. Also, if you prefer, you can make one payment rather than multiple transactions.
You can spread your payments out over time by logging into your account and making a payment amount of your choosing toward the total balance due.
If you created an account last year, you can use it this year too. If your personal information has change, you will be able to make any necessary changes. If you forgot your username/password, use the "Forgot" feature on the Log-in page to reset your credentials.
As you set-up your online account, you can stop at anytime and your information will be saved. Log into your account anytime to manage your children's accounts and/or complete forms. You will get a confirmation email within 24 hours.
The majority of required forms will not be available until early Spring 2016.
All campers associated with a group must use a specific "Group Hold ID" provided by your group leader. You must have this Group Hold ID to receive a group discount. This year, there is just one Group Hold ID for all members of your group (not a different ID by grades or gender).
Our system uses HTML5 technology, older computers or browsers might not work. If you have any problems registering, contact us by email or phone at 913.262.3900. You can also check our FAQ.
Don't wait any longer! Register now and get $15 Early Bird Camp Bucks!
There is something about playing and games that bring people together. As I reflect upon my life, I clearly remember my childhood and adolescent years being a time when I was consistently creating activities for friends to participate in cooperative fun. I organized play and created games. When I was younger, I was creating scenarios in which my playmates could pretend that we were on great adventures while accomplishing important tasks. From late childhood into adolescence my organizing play mostly involved sports related activity. As I got older, I enjoyed playing board games and cards with my family and friends. I often wonder if I organized and led play because leadership DNA was a part of my personality or if these activities helped shape my desire to lead.
Play is important because play is something human beings were created to do. The Bible is mostly silent concerning the issue of play. However, the Scriptures mention play, dance, creativity, and celebration often. The issue of play in youth ministry has come up a lot in conversations about programs, events, and activities and their roles in youth ministry praxis. It is an important critique to insist that youth ministry should be more than fun, games, and activities in order to engage meaningfully in the Christian formation of our youth. At the same time, though, to hold a position that doesn’t include a theology of play is a big mistake. And by theology of play, I don’t mean making a cheesy spiritual application to a game of Capture the Flag or describing how our life is like a volleyball that sometimes gets hit out of bounds.
All this to say, I'm really excited about our Youthworker Training Day this week. When Youthfront offers training to youth workers we tend to lean toward substance and theology. We will be focusing on play and gaming. However, don’t make the mistake that we will be giving you the top ten games to try out on your youth group. In fact, this training day could be one of the most important we've hosted in a long time.
Dr. Mark Hayse is the Director of the Center for Games and Learning at MidAmerica Nazarene University. He holds an undergraduate degree in religion, a Masters in religious education, and a PhD in educational studies. His dissertation topic was “Religious Architecture in Videogames: Perspectives from Curriculum Theory and Religious Education.” He is director of the Honors Program at MNU and was awarded the Alpha Chi Donald Metz Award – Faculty Member of the Year for Distinctive Academic Contributions in 2007. Mark has written numerous scholarly publications on games and gaming and regularly presents on these topics. His 20 years spent in youth work, with an ongoing emphasis on games and recreation as well as his research into how games can be used in education will continue to further the mission of the Center for Games & Learning. In addition to conducting research on the use of tabletop games in educational settings, Mark has helped the Center build a collection of over 50 tabletop games that have been identified for their ability to foster students’ development of “21 Century” skills.
Matt Saunders, is the Program Director at Youthfront Camp West. Not only does he make sure that more than 3,000 middle school have an awesome time at camp but he recently became a published game designer. His first title, “Mow Money” will be released this fall. During his years in church youth ministry, Matt used meaningful play as part of spiritual formation.
Being on the field with Jeremy Affeldt at AT&T Park for his retirement ceremony two weeks ago was a dream. Well the dream continues...
Yesterday, I got word from the Kansas City Royals that they are honoring me at tonight's Game 5 ALDS against the Houston Astros. They are providing tickets for my immediate family and I will be sitting in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat.
The Buck O'Neil Legacy seat is behind home plate, just down from where I sat with my father for the last time at a Royals game a few days before he died. I know my father would be really proud of what's happening.
A little over a decade ago, I had the privilege of speaking on a panel to a group of youth workers. My fellow panelists that day were Royals great Mike Sweeney, youth worker Dana Nearmyer and Royals' pitcher Jeremy Affeldt. From that moment on, Jeremy invited me into his life as a pastor, theological conversation partner, spiritual guide and most of all, friend. We have been through a lot together with lots of valleys and mountain top experiences. I helped Jeremy with his first book, To Stir a Movement and welaunched an initiative called Something to Eat, which has provided nearly 4million meals to those struggling with hunger.
A year and a half ago, Jeremy started talking a lot about retiring. It wasn't because he was struggling with his performance. (I should have pressured him to retire at All Star break last year and then he wouldn't have pitched against my beloved Royals and getting the win as a pitcher in game seven.) He talked of retirement because he loves his family and grew increasingly sad about missing time with them. His three boys are growing up quick and he hates not being with them more. There were a couple of times earlier in the season that he thought about quitting abruptly.
A couple of weeks ago the Giants front office called and asked if Vicki and I would come to be a part of a special ceremony honoring Jeremy at today’s Giants’ game. I am honored to be here and grateful to the Giants for spending the money to bring family and some friends to San Francisco to pay tribute to Jeremy who helped them win three World Series Championships since 2010.
I look forward to what God has in store for Jeremy and Larisa in the years ahead. It has been a highlight of my life to watch Jeremy develop as a player (just look at his postseason stats, putting him in the company of legends like Mariano Rivera and Babe Ruth), even more, to see him grow as a follower of God in the way of Jesus. He is committed to come along the “least of these” (Matthew 25) and to stand up as a leader to call a thing what it is. Perhaps most of all, Jeremy has become more than a friend. The Celts had a phrase to describe what I’m talking about. Anam Cara, is Gaelic for “soul friend” and that’s what Jeremy is for me.
FIRST THINGS has reposted an article by Stanley Hauerwas entitled, AN OPEN LETTER TO YOUNG CHRISTIANS ON THEIR WAY TO COLLEGE. We had a great summer working with nearly 100 college students in our ministry initiatives at Youthfront. I'm posting excerpts of this article for their benefit and for all of those who are entering a new season in their life. Hauerwas discusses the destructive myths that too many Christian students fall into concerning what college is all about. I pray that the students we have worked with on Youthfront staff, along with the hundreds we have ministered to who are beginning their college experience will read this and take it to heart. God Bless you. You are beloved.
The Christian religion,” wrote Robert Louis Wilken, “is inescapably ritualistic (one is received into the Church by a solemn washing with water), uncompromisingly moral (‘be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,’ said Jesus), and unapologetically intellectual (be ready to give a ‘reason for the hope that is in you,’ in the words of 1 Peter). Like all the major religions of the world, Christianity is more than a set of devotional practices and a moral code: it is also a way of thinking about God, about human beings, about the world and history.”
Ritualistic, moral, and intellectual: May these words, ones that Wilken uses to begin his beautiful book, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, be written on your soul as you begin college and mark your life—characterize and distinguish your life—for the next four years. Be faithful in worship. In America, going to college is one of those heavily mythologized events that everybody tells you will “change your life,” which is probably at least half true. So don’t be foolish and imagine that you can take a vacation from church.
Be uncompromisingly moral. Undergraduate life on college campuses tends in the direction of neopagan excess. Good kids from good families too often end up using their four years at college to get drunk and throw up on one another. Too often they do so on their way to the condom dispensers. What a waste! Not only because such behavior is self-destructive but also because living this way will prevent you from doing the intellectual work the Christian faith demands. Be deeply intellectual. We—that is, the Church—need you to do well in school. That may sound strange, because many who represent Christian values seem concerned primarily with how you conduct yourself while you are in college; they relegate the Christian part of being in college to what is done outside the classroom.
It takes an educated mind to do the Church’s work of thinking about and interpreting the world in light of Christ. Physics, sociology, French literary theory: All these and more—in fact, everything you study in college—is bathed in the light of Christ. It takes the eyes of faith to see that light, and it takes an educated mind to understand and articulate it.
I certainly hope you will be attracted to the work of theology. These days—at least in the West, where the dominant intellectual trends have detached themselves from Christianity—the discipline of theology is in a world of hurt, often tempted by silly efforts to dress up the gospel in the latest academic fashions. So God knows we need all the help we can get. But there is a wider sense of being a theologian, one that simply means thinking about what you are learning in light of Christ. This does not happen by making everything fit into Church doctrine or biblical preaching—that’s theology in the strict, official sense. Instead, to become a Christian scholar is more a matter of intention and desire, of bearing witness to Christ in the contemporary world of science, literature, and so forth.
Let me return to Robert Wilken’s observation about the ritual, moral, and intellectual life of the Christian. Don’t fool yourself. Only a man or woman who has undergone a long period of spiritual discipline can reliably pray in the solitude of a hermitage. You’re young. You need the regular discipline of worship, Bible reading, and Christian fellowship. Don’t neglect them in college. Also, don’t underestimate the moral temptations of the contemporary college scene. We cannot help but be influenced by the behavior of our friends, so choose wisely.
To worship God and live faithfully are necessary conditions if you are to survive in college. But as a Christian you are called to do more than survive. You are called to use the opportunity you have been given to learn to construe the world as a creature of a God who would have us enjoy—and bask in—the love that has brought us into existence. God has given your mind good work to do. As members of the Church, we’re counting on you. It won’t be easy. It never has been. But I can testify that it can also be a source of joy.
What a wonderful adventure you have before you. I wish you well.
Stanley Hauerwas is Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School.
I think the article I'm linking to below is a thoughtful article about how ideology is destroying civil discourse and learning. As a follower of God in the way of Jesus Christ, I want to be allegiant to the Kingdom of God. I believe this requires me to be pastorally open to other people who think differently than me either from the right or the left. I know what I believe and it's rooted deeply in Christian orthodoxy but that doesn't mean I can't associate with people thinking differently than I do. What I have found is that ideology, both from the right and from the left, from conservatives and liberals, is exhausting and significantly dumbing down our culture. Just look at what is happening in Washington DC. Because we have lost the art of civil discourse, all ideologies have "political correct" litmus tests, which allow them to label, dismiss, demonize and dehumanize anyone outside of their way of thinking. Jesus Christ should have succumbed to this type of behavior in his day but he constantly looked into the face of the other and opened up new possibilities of what it means to be fully human in the world in which we live. The ideologues of his day crucified him. Whoever you are, whatever you so strongly believe in, if you really believe it, then you shouldn't be intimidated, nor afraid to dialogue with people who think differently than you.
We are in the final stages of a three year capital campaign at Youthfront Camp West. Through financial gifts, volunteer work, donations of materials, etc. $4.4 million in improvements have been made. We have added a Utility Building, a beautiful Activity Center (in the location of the original Lodge that burnt down 30 plus years ago) and now we are putting the finishing touches on the new Chapel, renovated and expanded from top to bottom, inside and out. We can take hundreds more kids but we already have long waiting lists for most weeks this summer. We are $100,000 away from completely paying for this three year project.
When I was in high school I came to this camp and experienced a spiritual transformation. Soon I will celebrate my 40th year in youth ministry, all served at Youthfront. It is so fulfilling to know that this sacred place (Youthfront Camp West) is almost entirely brand new and will be a place where young people will meet and be transformed by Jesus Christ for decades to come, long after I am dead and gone. To God be the Glory.