over the next week or so, i’ll post slightly edited versions of the notes from our junior high pastors summit. they’re pretty fragmented for someone who wasn’t there, i’ll admit (they weren’t ‘taken’ for this purpose). but for those who would like to read, i’m excited to share them with you.
parts 1, 2 and 3 are the summaries of the morning scot mcknight spent with us. then, parts 4 – 8 are the pieces of our discussion. one bonus post will have the book recommendations from the group to one another (this is one of our traditions each year, to share two or three books we’d recommend to each other).
so, here’s part 1…
How to evangelize: (“gospeling”)
Connotation of “evangelism” is negative – abusive and manipulative, but we should not give that word up. We need to reclaim it.
-Evangelism is completely shaped by the word Gospel
-Covenant students are not attending Church for 10 years after graduating – they meet with friends on Friday nights
Voice of today: “I love Jesus, but I hate the church.” Indicative of hatred of the term “evangelism” and organized church. More and more young people who “go it alone” once they graduate from college.
-kids go through age specific youth programs, then go to college and attend college programs – after graduating they don’t attend Church because they never have – they’ve been attending age specific ministries…the church they grew up in is not the church they were trained to be a part of
-small groups are their Church – it’s authentic, relational, personal
-Students are interested in “doing”, don’t feel participatory sitting in sanctuary for 45 minutes, they would rather be “missional”
– Age-specific ministries are strong but then they hurt the bigger church. “Big church” has no interaction and participation, whereas affinity groups do. Participatory and experiential is key – “watching” for an hour at a service is where we lose people when they get older.
Church has got to become somewhere where we learn to live out our faith, not just somewhere where we learn about the Bible, eat a nice lunch and then go home.
-Sunday morning is going to become a station where people become more active in their Christian life – not a place to come sing and study – this is what people want
– Barna says there are 20 million Christians who don’t see the church as relevant. Barna says by 2025 that number will be 70 million. An individualistic gospel is responsible for this. Community and participation will be key going forward.
3 stereotyped answers to how people understand the gospel
1) Joining the Church – it’s what the gospel is all about, church is not a part of the gospel for us because people are running the church how they feel it will best fit their community – if there is no church on the other side (of the chasm) they why go to church
2) Being missional (helping the community, social justice, etc.) is what the gospel is all about. Social Justice – Jesus uses this language constantly to describe the gospel.
3) Evangelical model of personal decision – “accepting Jesus in your heart” students are embarrassed to use that phrase because they know a lot of people that use that language but don’t live it. They don’t want to be connected to it.
All are inherent to the gospel and all three categories need to be used at the same time
The problem is that someone has convinced us that the gospel is “simple.” Jesus never says, “You’ve received me. You’re fine.” Or “when did you make your decision?” When was Peter converted? There are multiple places where Peter has breakthroughs. If you don’t know when he was converted, you are right. The Peter paradigm of conversion is an ongoing response. This is what we should be preaching. Calvinists struggle with this. We like the simple gospel because it helps us count numbers and determine who is in and who is out. We develop categories to make sure we can judge whether people are in or out.
Eric V – if Jesus didn’t love the numbers why are their numbers all through the Bible
-it’s OK to have numbers but we have a problem with the obsession of numbers
April – Do we save those quantifiable numbers for our own sake?
-humans have bad motives
sean meade has a nice personal (and readable) reflection on this section, plus the next one, on his blog today.
13 thoughts on “jh summit notes, part 1”
What a great set of notes. I especially enjoyed this quote “kids go through age specific youth programs, then go to college and attend college programs – after graduating they don’t attend Church because they never have – they’ve been attending age specific ministries…the church they grew up in is not the church they were trained to be a part of”.
This is something that our church’s leadership spent a large amount of time discussing. We broke it down into two fields “Church Replacement” and “Church Directed”. We looked into many other ministries and it seemed that almost all were running a Church Replacement model for Middle School (and often High School, College, and Young Adult). In the end we choose to say that our Middle School Ministry classes were meant to be church directed where the greater value was on a student attending church with family or friends. We want to encourage and help kids connect to the entire church body and feel like they are a part of this church.
We will see this fall how many of our ideas, thoughts and plans pan out, but I do love to see that others are wrestling with the same idea. The question is still there for us (How do we connect students into the corprate church body of our congregation) but the more people that are thinking and working on it the more likely we are to come up with some solid foundations to work upon.
The following notes jumped out at me:
Students are interested in “doing”, don’t feel participatory sitting in sanctuary for 45 minutes, they would rather be “missional”
– Age-specific ministries are strong but then they hurt the bigger church. “Big church” has no interaction and participation, whereas affinity groups do. Participatory and experiential is key – “watching” for an hour at a service is where we lose people when they get older
Now my background is in a liturgical church but we get the same reaction. I’m beginning to believe that the problem is that we don’t explain, we don’t teach what is supposed to be going on, why we do it and what it’s supposed to mean. While getting our youth to be missional is great we need them to understand the place and purpose of communal worship as well. And if WE can’t explain it (and I bet a lot of folks in our pews can’t) then why ARE we doing it?
Is there a difference between doing and being?
sure there’s a difference, gman. but they really shouldn’t be seperated. problem is, we (the church) often HAVE seperated them. but doing without being is just activism. and being without doing is just selfish seperatism.
I think that is what the struggle I see is. And an easy answer to combat it either though. Sometimes I want to tell be do something. Be the church. And people just look @ me, and say “Huh?” and do nothing, and are nothing.
great notes – the parts that leapt out at me were pointing to our age specific programmes that don’t match the kind of church we are ‘training’ them for. I’ve just got home from our Annual General Meeting for church – and there were 25 young people from our youth and young adult community there. A community of 350 young people. One of the young adult leaders had been asked to recruit some YA volunteers to spend about 20mins cleaning up at the end, with volunteers from all over the church. The answer, via email, was no. Instead, the 10 young adults sitting at that table all went out for coffee to a cafe. No harm, no foul. But it’s the same community that says they long for interaction and participation with the ‘wider church’, that have grown up in age-specific programmes, and just don’t seem to have matured into well-rounded community participants. Hmm. Probably sounds harsh – but even drawn out – your notes are helpful in providing some context as to the possibilities of root cause.