Emerging Adults, Spirituality, and the Church Featuring Dr. Steven Argue | 9a - 1p | Colonial Presbyterian Church (Wornall)
Emerging Adults are those who self-identify as no longer being adolescents but have yet to see themselves as adults. They are living in one of the most significant developmental periods that often determine the trajectory of the rest of their lives. Currently, they may be one of the most misunderstood populations in the church. In conversations with ministry leaders, there seems to be three recurring questions regarding emerging adults. The first is “Why are they leaving us?” This only adds insult to young adults’ already-vulnerable dispositions. The second, is “How do we get emerging adults back?” The third is often asked in whispered tones, “If they do come back, what do we do with them?” This reveals an honest apprehension about what it really means for churches to connect with emerging adults. Sadly, there are some narratives where churches bemoan emerging adults leaving them and emerging adults condemn churches for abandoning them. There are more thoughtful and hopeful ways to move forward if we are willing to listen to the voices of emerging adults, consider their quest for meaning, and envision what “good news” might look like for them. We will explore the research and reimagine the Church’s posture toward emerging adults.
Dr. Steven Argue joined the Fuller Theological Seminary faculty in June 2015 in a hybrid role as assistant professor of youth, family, and culture and as applied research strategist with the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI). A thought leader and researcher with decades of on-the-ground ministry experience, he comes from Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he served since 2009 as pastor and theologian-in-residence. Prior to that he was executive director of the Contextual Learning Center (CLC) at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, where he designed the seminary’s residency program that provided experience and assessment for seminary students. He has worked and led parachurch organizations that focused on youth ministry strategies and leadership development. Also, he was associate pastor of high school ministries at Elmbrook Church. Prior to his ministry experience, he worked for Hewitt Associates, a firm that provides human capital and management consulting services.
Dr. Argue has worked with FYI for the past five years: as a Sticky Faith coach and speaker, a contributor on projects such as the Churches Engaging Youth People Project (CEYP), and as an Advisory Council Member. He has also taught as an adjunct at Fuller Seminary, as well as at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, Cornerstone University, Bethel College (Indiana), Biblical Theological Seminary, Northern Seminary, and Jos Evangelical Theological School (Nigeria). His speaking engagements include Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Convention (NYWC) since 2008, and his publications range from numerous blogs and articles on the Fuller Youth Institute website, in Group magazine, Inside Track magazine, andYouth Worker Journal to coauthoring a five-volume set of training materials for youth workers. Argue is also a chapter contributor to Adopted, edited by Dr. Chap Clark (forthcoming in 2015).
Argue’s doctoral research focused on how undergraduate students who attend public universities perceive and work through spiritual struggle. He hopes this work can contribute to better understanding emerging adults—one of the most misunderstood groups of people in our churches today—and provide more meaningful ways for faith communities to support emerging adults in one of the most important periods in their lives.
His professional affiliations include the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood, Association of Youth Ministry Educators, International Association for the Study of Youth Ministry, National Network of Youth Ministries, and the Association of Theological Field Educators. Argue was ordained in 1994 by Elmbrook Church, Brookfield, Wisconsin, as an Ordained Minister of the Gospel.
"The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come." Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from his Christmas Sermons
Earlier this summer, I invited Yoram Hazony, President of The Herzl Institute in Jerusalem, to participate in a dialogue in Oxford on Science and the Bible. Yoram is an Israeli philosopher, Bible scholar and political theorist. I love this segment he did with actor Morgan Freeman for the National Geographic miniseries The Story of God.
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!
Jason Lief teaches Theology and Youth Ministry at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. He is also the founder and director of The Prairie Project—a week long ministry event that introduces high school students to the diverse culture of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Jason is the author of the book Poetic Youth Ministry: Learning to Love Young People by Letting them Go and is currently writing a book focusing on the intersection of Theology and Heavy Metal music. Jason is married to Tamara and they have three kids: Naomi (13), Christian (11), and Savannah (8).
Session 1: “I Didn’t Know we had a Pool”: Taking WALL-E to Youth Ministry
This session 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. Using the film WALL-E this session with explore the social and cultural issues that impact religious belief. This discussion will provide the framework for a “poetic” form of youth ministry that is informed by a particular way of thinking about what it means to be the “church”.
Session 2: The Politics of Poetic Youth Ministry
This session will focus on the practical side of a “poetic” approach to youth ministry. What are the issues young people struggle with in the West? How do young people form and shape an identity? How can the Christian community engage in a form of ministry that invites young people to embrace their humanity in the new humanity of Jesus Christ? Using insights from theology, cultural theory, and philosophy this session will explore the practical wisdom at the center of a poetic approach to youth ministry that provides the basis for formative practices and a political approach to pastoral care.
Date: Thursday, April 7, 9:00a – 1:00p, lunch included
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
There are many who are enkindled with dreamy devotion, and when they hear of the poverty of Christ, they are almost angry with the citizens of Bethlehem. They denounce their blindness and ingratitude, and think, if they had been there, they would have shown the Lord and his mother a more kindly service and would not have permitted them to be treated so miserably. But they do not look by their side to see how many of their fellow humans need their help, and which they ignore in their misery. Who is there upon earth that has no poor, miserable, sick, erring ones around him? Why does he not exercise his love to those? Why does he not do to them as Christ has done to him? Martin Luther, Watch for the Light, Daily Dig, December 16, 2015