Save the date for our last training session of the school year! Dr. Jason Lief will be with us to talk about "Poetic Youth Ministry," and will explore the issue of young people and faith, specifically focusing on the various responses of the Christian community to the research suggesting young people are leaving the church.
Don't miss this opportunity and register now for this session!
For the last two years I have been a part of an amazing project called the Museum of the Bible. I have served as a Senior Advisor for the museum. I am working closely with former Youthfront staff member and current Youthfront Board member, as well as my dear friend and colleague for the last forty years, Tim Smith. Tim is a Vice President and Director of Development. The video below is is an extended virtual tour of the 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible being constructed in Washington, D.C. The Museum is slated to open in November, 2017 and is located a couple blocks off of the Washington Mall, near the US Capital Building. Watch the video and you will see why I am so excited to be a part of this legacy project. Below the video is the Official Executive Summary for one of the projects that I'm heading up for the Museum. In the fall I secured a substantial planning grant from the John Templeton Foundation for Museum of the Bible and I'm excited about the potential to change the conversation concerning the Bible and Science.
Official Executive Summary for the Museum of the Bible and John Templeton Foundation Planning Grant:
A narrative has developed in the Western world that scripture and science are incompatible. Many believe science has shown the Bible to no longer be relevant and even responsible for holding back human progress. There are also those who believe that scripture necessitates an adversarial position against science. While elements of this narrative are certainly understandable in our current cultural milieu, we believe they are mistaken and damaging. The MOTB has an opportunity to help overcome these misleading views. We will use this planning grant from the John Templeton Foundation to determine the best, most effective ways to develop initiatives, programs, research, scholarship and exhibits focusing on the Bible and its impact on science in an accurate, comprehensible, compelling and memorable manner. This grant will support planning for the Bible and science portions of a signature traveling exhibit and for the Museum itself, and add rich science and scripture content to other projects and initiatives of MOTB. The planning grant will enable us to plan and facilitate up to seven strategic gatherings involving scholars, theologians, scientists, practitioners, literary and cultural experts who will together explore how MOTB and its initiatives can enhance the public dialogue concerning the convergence between the Bible, science and scholarship. In addition, we will engage in a small but high leverage research project to assess secular openness to initiatives we hope will change the conversation in the broader culture concerning the relationship between science and the Bible. This project will produce a detailed plan for compelling exhibits focusing on science and the Bible and create a fully- developed proposal for the John Templeton Foundation requesting support to implement plans. We believe the stakes are high if the presentation of the Bible and Science relationship is not informative and intelligent.
The losses in our lives are both big and small, and cover a range of experiences. We leave home. We experience physical illness and disabilities. We struggle with vocation and finances. We may long for a spouse or child. We lose people we love to addiction or illness and death. Following is a video featuring my dear friend and colleague Beth Slevcove talking about her new book Broken Hallelujahs. Below is the endorsement I wrote for the publisher, IVP.
"The beautifully fashioned sentences throughout Broken Hallelujahs summon deep contemplation and provoke a wrestling with the realities of our mysterious lives. What is truly refreshing about Broken Hallelujahs is the absence of sentimentalism. However, with a timely cadence, this book moved me to tears – tears of grief, tears of loss and lament, but also tears of joyfulness and gratitude. Beth’s willingness to be vulnerable and to call a thing what it is gave me permission to sink into the profound truth that Jesus Christ shows us it is truly human to sometimes cry out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Broken Hallelujahs ministered to my soul like a Balm of Gilead. I often say, “Wouldn’t it be great if Christians were known in our culture as the people who set aside syrupy platitudes and told the truth about pain, loss and death.” Death is the enemy, but that is not the end of the story… I love this book and hope you take care of your soul by reading this astonishing story."
Mike King, President/CEO, Youthfront; author of Presence Centered Youth Ministry; Twitter @MDKing
Argentine has a lot going for it with new efforts at revitalization, but like many under-resourced, urban neighborhoods, it has familiar problems. Connect with young people who are joining God's mission to restore beauty in Argentine. Hands-on work during a Youthfront Missional Journey in Argentine will include painting, clean up and minor home repair.
Our after-school program in Croc has more than 14 years, and is currently run by a local team. It provides kids with activities and classroom time where they can learn their place within God's mission. On a Youthfront Missional Journey in Croc, your will host a summer camp for local kids, prepare games, workshops, and classes. You'll work alongside a local team to give kids a quality education in subjects like math and Spanish, and also to better understand themselves, one another, and the world around them.
I WAS HUNGRY & YOU GAVE ME SOMETHING TO EAT
Something to Eat is a learning experience where we equip youth to discover the systems that produce hunger. A pulsating spirit sweeps over our events where youth package meals to help families both locally and globally. As they draw closer to the struggle that is faced by nearly 1 out of 6 kids in the US, they also draw closer to God and to one another.
I went to LaCygne by myself and didn't really know anyone. It was a chance to meet new people - a lot to do every day and I loved that the activities were optional.
One night after an evening gathering, they surprised us with the "Fugitives" game. It required us to run around in the pitch black dark, looking for clues and avoiding the other team. The combination of the surprise factor (out of the ordinary) and the high stakes made it feel like the Hunger Games. It was really awesome, we were scared and laughing at the same time!
Fugitives actually helped me bond with some other girls and I made life long friends.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of the most beloved Christian pastors and theologians of the 20th century, often being listed on the top of everyone’s most influential Christians. Yet, there has been a major oversight when it has come to exploring his life and thought, this omission has been the centrality of Bonhoeffer youth work and children’s ministry. Between 1925 and 1939 all of Bonhoeffer’s direct ministry practice was with children and youth, leading the experience of children and youth into his well known theological works, as well inspiring him to write much less known pieces and sermons about and for young people. This presentation will look to right this biographical wrong, by exploring Bonhoeffer’s work with young people, seeing how he might inspire our own ministry, giving us new perspectives on our own work with young people.
Andrew Root, PhD (Princeton Theological Seminary) is the Olson Baalson Associate Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary. He is most recently the author of Christopraxis: A Practical Theology of the Cross (Fortress, 2014) and Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker (Baker, 2014). He has also written The Relational Pastor (IVP, 2013) as well as a four book series with Zondervan called A Theological Journey Through Youth Ministry (titles include Taking Theology to Youth Ministry, Taking the Cross to Youth Ministry, Unpacking Scripture in Youth Ministry, and Unlocking Mission and Eschatology in Youth Ministry). In 2012 his book The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry (with Kenda Creasy Dean, IVP, 2011) was Christianity Today Book of Merit. He has written a number of other books on ministry and theology such as The Children of Divorce: The Loss of Family as the Loss of Being (Baker Academic, 2010), The Promise of Despair (Abingdon, 2010), Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry: From a Strategy of Influence to a Theology of Incarnation (IVP, 2007) and Relationships Unfiltered (Zondervan/YS, 2009). Andy has worked in congregations, parachurch ministries, and social service programs. He lives in St. Paul with his wife Kara, two children, Owen and Maisy, and their two dogs. When not reading, writing, or teaching, Andy spends far too much time watching TV and movies.
I'm really excited to be a part of this exciting project which, for me, is a combination of many personal passions - Scripture as Sacred Text, ancient manuscripts, story telling, experiential learning, archeology, history, artifacts, good friends and partnerships, plus more...
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
Who Said This? A Republican or a Democrat or a Religious Leader?
If Obama said this, Republicans would continue to declare that he is exactly what they've labeled him to be - a liberal, idealogue, crazy, anti-American, etc. (And Democrats did the similar kinds of demonization to George W. Bush).
If a Religious leader said this, she/he would be ridiculed by the religious right who find it easy to pledge allegiance to the flag of the USA. (I will compare my citizenship to any religious zealot, I've never cheated on my taxes, I vote, I serve, I love being an American, I love my country).
Who Said This?
Republican president Dwight David Eisenhower made this statement in a Presidential address on April 16, 1953. Isn't the vision he shared in this quote in sync with God's mission to bring about restoration and a return to Shalom for humanity, the world and the entire cosmos?
I know that we live in a sinful, fallen and broken world where evil people desire to harm and subjugate but I also believe that followers of Jesus Christ must be willing to pick up their cross, walk in the way of the cross and stand up for peace, for the greater true, for the oppressed, for the marginalized, for immigrants, for the poor, for the mentally ill, for the persecuted, for minorities, for the left outs and stand up to the oppressors, the persecutors, war-mongers and the self-righteous religious idealogues.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3-11
In Matthew 25, Jesus shares a parable in which he says, "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." The righteous ask, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?..." And the King replied, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
This teaching of Jesus fires my imagination and provokes a response. What are we doing in this to literally minister to Jesus himself by serving others? Desiring to shape young people formationally as disciples of Jesus in the context of this teaching we started Something to Eat™ several years ago. By the end of this year young people will have raised money and packaged well over two million meals for those lacking proper nutrition in Haiti, Africa, Central America, the Philippines, and also throughout the USA where millions of people are dealing with food insecurity everyday.
We have developed amazing collaborative partners such as FH and Generation Alive. We've had incredible support from foundations, donors and others who believe that it's not only part of God's mission to "give them something to eat" but who are also passionate about discipling a generation of young people to follow obediently in the way of Jesus.
This weekend, I'm working with my dear friend Jeremy Affeldt, who has provided deep vision and passion for Something to Eat™ , to package 250,000 meals. The cool thing is that the teenagers packaging the meals are from East Palo Alto. Most people know Palo Alto as the home of Google, Facebook, the Silicon Valley, the wealthy land of the innovator and Venture Capitalist. On the other side of the highway is East Palo Alto, a place that many people have written off. But that is not the story that these young people are embracing. Through the opportunities provided by organizations like Able Works, these young people are leaning into a different story, a story that mirrors the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25. Pray for us this weekend.
Pray for young people who want to not only give something to eat to those who are hungry but also want to stand up for the stranger and push for immigration reform; shine a light on the naked and end the scourge of sex trafficking; and cooperate with God's mission in the world in hundreds of other ways that bare witness to the reality that a day is coming when restoration will be completed and God will get God's way on Earth as in Heaven. This is a generation of young people that according to some of the latest research by Barna are more faithful than any other age group to speak up for Jesus and the Gospel.
In Matthew 25, Jesus was not giving an exhaustive list of the things we should be about in order to come alongside the "least of these." What are ways that you can minister to Jesus directly by serving the least of these? Listen deeply and allow God's Spirit and your imagination to open up the possibilities all around you.