junior high pastors summit notes, part 3

each year, for the past 8 or so, about 20 middle school ministry specialists from around north america have gathered for a few days of fun and discussion. this year’s participants were: myself, Corrie Boyle (Mars Hill Bible Church, Grand Rapids, MI), Kurt Brandemihl (Sunset Presbyterian Church, Portland OR), Jeff Buell (McKinney Memorial Bible Church, Fort Worth, TX), April Diaz (NewSong Church, Irvine, CA), Ken Elben (Christ United Methodist Church, Memphis TN), Heather Flies (Wooddale Church, Eden Prairie, MN), Andy Jack (Christ Church of Oak Brook, Oak Brook, IL), Mark Janzen (Willingdon Church, Burnaby, BC), Kurt Johnston (Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA), Brooklyn Lindsey (Highland Park Church, Lakeland, FL), Sean Meade (Stuck in the Middle, Andover, KS), Alan Mercer (Christ Community Church, Leawood, KS), Jason Raitz (Willow Creek, S. Barrington, IL), Alan Ramsey (Fellowship Evangelical Free Church, Knoxville, TN), Ken Rawson (First United Methodist Church, Wichita, KS), Nate Rice (Forest Home Ministries, Forest Falls, CA), Christina Robertson (Journey Community Church, La Mesa, CA), Johnny Scott (Jr High Believe, Oronogo, MO), Nate Severson (Hillcrest Covenant Church, Prairie Village, KS), Phil Shinners (Mariners Church, Irvine, CA), and Scott Rubin (Willow Creek, S. Barrington, IL).

for the past few years, we’ve invited a guest to join us for a half day, to present some stuff that would become discussion fodder for the rest of our time. we’ve had chap clark, scot mcknight, an adolescent brain specialist, and christian smith.

this year, our guest was dave gibbons, pastor of newsong church in irvine, CA, and author of the monkey and the fish. we talked about third culture, adaptability, leadership, fringes and vortexes, and a variety of other stuff.

i’ll be posting edited notes from our discussions here in a series of posts. our hope is that these discussions will be helpful to others also…

part 3 is our post-dave brainstorm of topics we might want to explore further, and our responses to the validity of the third-culture ideas dave presented:


Brainstorm possible discussion topics for the rest of our time:

1. Rather than trying to “get” kids to be third-culture, there may already be a pre-disposition to be third-culture, how do we cultivate this in our students rather than trying.
2. Is there validity in talking about third-culture in MS ministry at all?
3. Role of parents and kids and the third-culture.
4. Education and exposure – what does this look like and how do we convince parents/boards etc… to do a vision trip and see the value in this?
5. Personal leadership – how do/can we live out third-culture?
6. Middle leadership – how do we lead within an organization that is not third-culture? How do we affirm others who may not get third-culture or may not do what we think is important?
7. Re-writing the metrics. What are the metrics of measurement in a third culture MS student?
8. Transitioning to third-culture. How do we kill old churches and old ministries or can they be transitioned?
9. What are some of our swirling vortex’ and/or what are some of the things on the fringe that we need to be fueling?
10. Who are the marginalized in MS ministry?
11. What does it mean to “see” our kids in the way he meant it?
12. Pain: How do we figure out how to include our own pain as well as help our leaders know how this plays into ministry? Also, what are the places where spiritual transformation takes place (community, life altering experiences, victory & success, and pain & failure). We have not done much in seeing pain as a spiritual formation opportunity.
13. R&D (research and development) – what would it look like to have an R&D department built into our ministry?
14. 70%/30% – How do we really do what we say we are about?

Responses on the validity of this topic:

Phil: When Dave talks about loving others that are not like us, I was thinking that we have a long way to go in the world because it seems that non-believers do this so much better than we do. We actually are in the hole and need to catch up in valuing other cultures before we can show others what this might look like.

Nate S: We do a bunch of stuff in New Orleans and we see the opposite and are affirmed that the church is doing so much.

Phil: a practical example is my daughter’s kindergarten class who seem to genuinely love on each other even though they are of different races.

Alan M: But is your daughter’s class really third-culture or is this just people loving people who are like us in every way except skin color?

Phil: Yes, but even having a person of a different skin color in my home is a big step. This is all so new to me.

Brook: Context has a lot to do with how well you receive this and how valid it is. To me it seems so right on and something others have been saying for so long and being bashed for it. He seems to put it in a palatable way.

Mark J: In our context, we have ministries for different languages and such, but our main service does not reflect these ministries and the people they work with.

Kurt J: I certainly came here with a bit of resistance. When you come from a place where you feel like things are going well and you’re doing well, you are a bit resistant to the new ideas. Is the question and conversation valid – YES! But I feel like maybe the conversation might not be as big as I thought it was. This is really a lot more about the both/and and honoring the old as well as the new than I originally thought.

Ken R: Is this really just ministry to the marginalized?

Kurt J: I don’t think so

MarkO: It seems like this is more about fluidity and adaptivity and change not ministry to the marginalized

Scott: Isn’t this really just the next wave of what we have always been doing? i.e. the next wave of how the church will adapt to the culture and the needs it finds much like the seeker model did years ago.

Alan R:
I feel like this is a simple call to live the Gospel out in a new way to a new world. A simple understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

MarkO: One thing I think Dave was trying to get at was that for the past 50 years we have been so focused on the individual component of our faith. We may all agree on the fact that we went somewhat too far on this. Recently, people are starting see their identity connected more to the world, and to their local community (glocal). People in China are as much my brothers as the church down the road as much as the people in my own local church. There seems to be a lot of implications for us in MS if this is true.

Johnny: I felt like this was a Christian worldview appendix to “The World is Flat.” The church has the opportunity to be the vehicle to help jhigh students to be more glocal and we are missing it. Other places like schools, facebook, media are getting this and are helping and we are not doing what we can.

MarkO: I think the average 23 year old sees themselves more as a citizen of the world than a nation or national org (like a denomination). But I like the both/and because it really is both

Ken E: Because of the pain I have gone through this year, after reading this book, I am wondering if maybe I went through all this so I can minister to others in our economic reality and the pain others will feel in the years to come. I think this is a very valid form of where the church should go in the future. We need to help people think more outside the box. I am not sure how the church in America will survive unless we do something. If our junior high students can understand this, I think it will impact the world.

next up: considering our own leadership…

3 thoughts on “junior high pastors summit notes, part 3”

  1. I’ve been processing the enormous amount of notes you’ve posted, Marko, and I’m struggling to figure out the practical implications of Dave’s ideas for middle school ministry. Having not read Dave’s book and just reading the notes from your discussion, is this basically exploring the implications of globalization for the church?

    Maybe I should just read Dave’s book… :)

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