scot mcknight at the junior high pastors summit

wow, what an amazing morning. we had asked scot mcknight to join us this year to talk about the gospel. it’s one of the things that’s come up more than once in recent years, that many of us, as our theology is evolving and growing, are having a difficult time figuring out how to explain the gospel (and, specifically, the cross) to junior highers in ways other than penal substitutionary atonement and bridge illustrations.

scot had asked us to all read his book embracing grace before hand, so we had that common grounding. he reviewed some of that, like his definition of the gospel as:

the work of the interpenetrating triune god
to create a community
to restore cracked eikons
for union with god
communion with others
for the betterment of others and the world.

we talked about recapitulation and perichoresis and other words most of us barely understood until scot unpacked them in his surprisingly casual, witty and relational way (really, he’s a theologian! how’d he get into the club when he’s casual, witty and relational!??). we asked him questions, and he brilliantly responded. he kept thinking he was getting on thin ice with us with things he’d say, and we’d respond, “no, not at all — go on!” but right near the end of his time, he got on some thin ice with all of us by implying (or, actually, mis-speaking, i think) that in the process of salvation, which scot contends normally takes place over a period of years, no one is actually really a follower of jesus until they are individuated and an adult. well, we almost kicked him out the door, in brotherly love, of course. but after a few minutes of clarifying questions and push-backs, we all understood that he was saying something very different than what we’d heard, and we were all ok again! funny moment, in hindsight.

after lunch, as scot headed back to the airport, our little ragtag group brainstormed a list of questions we wanted to discuss, coming out of the morning stuff. then we gave everyone two votes, and prioritized the list for discussion.

first, we jumped into a discussion around the theme “defining the gospel in a junior high context”. i’ll post edited notes on this (and the rest of the discussion) at some point, when i get them. then, after a break, we spent a good amount of time talking about “how to think and talk about conversion and following jesus for young teens, with a view that most of them will need to redefine this when they are young adults?” we had some energy around the idea that the gospel is about more than our relationship with god, but is about restoring our (scot’s term:) hyper-relational distortion of our relationship with god, others, self, and the world. we talked about how cool it would be for our kids to be able to explain what it means for them to be able to articulate their faith by telling four stories (or, as i suggested, four chapters of one story): to talk about one instance where god was or has made a difference in their relationship with god, self, others, and the world. we also talked about shifting our teaching to spend more time talking about the stories of the bible, believing that they include (though we would consciously try to bring this out) this restoration work of the gospel in these four arenas.

we also talked a while about evangelism and alter calls and such. but i’m going to wrap this post up for now!

this evening, we’re all just hanging out, goofing, sharing websites and other silliness. there are 14 laptops open in the room right now, and lots of laughter. check out johnny scott’s VERY slow-loading blog for more pics.

21 thoughts on “scot mcknight at the junior high pastors summit”

  1. From the way you described Scotts view on the process of salvation, it reminded me of Yac’s article about how students are too young to be disciples. (which was a fun time with those responses). Was it similar or did I miss it?

  2. fyi: scott mcknight’s link leads to johnny’s slow loading photobucket laden blog. btw, never thought i’d read penal substitution theory on your blog mark, atleast not without giggling.. oh wait, that’s just the jr. higher in me

  3. So funny. I was just hanging with my middle school guys’ small group on Sunday night and for the 100th time was teaching on salvation by discussing penal substitution using the ol’ “sin has has me tied to the train tracks and the freighter of God’s wrath is inevitably heading right for me until Jesus steps in, and so on….”. I was once again reminded how perceptive a 14 year old can be when Austin asked me if Jesus untied the ropes that were holding us down, or if we did once we realized that the train wasn’t going to hit us. This is the first I’ve heard of Scot McKnight, but it seems that I need insight on the gospel and middle schoolers.

  4. I’m enviously sitting here at my desk working away on my ms on atonement, wondering if you and the folks are out fly-fishing in that beautiful spot.

    Great to be with you and everyone out there. Make sure Jim knows I left those signed books on the kitchen table in the Beck’s (?) home.

  5. Sounds like a great time.

    I am going to have to head over to SMs blog to see if he posts more about the issue you all were talking about

  6. All very interesting. What will come of it? I have to admitt that I am repulsed and attracted by the meeting. It makes me nervous when “power brokers” sit in a room to talk about the future of things. But it is a jr high power team so I am really curious about how your conversations will effect the face of young teen ministry.

  7. marko – this whole thing would be a Jr High Seminar I would want to attend at a NYWC. Rather than the basics kind of stuff. Junior High – gospel, altar calls, etc.

  8. mike – how odd that you would be “repulsed”! it was just a group of peers trying to think about how to improve our own ministries to young teens. we weren’t meeting to define the future!

  9. Some interesting thoughts. I’ll have to check out McKnight’s page. I think it is important for each generation of Christians to rewrite/rethink the creedal statements – not change the essence but restate them in their own words. I’ve taken a mild stab at it over at:

  10. the repulsed idea bothers me bigtime. whether ‘power brokers’ or common youth ministry peers in a single community…how can that idea be repulsive? The concept of making ANYTHING stronger, better, as it ought to be should be anything but repulsive.

  11. The repulsed idea…I’m only responding because it came up on Kurt’s blog too! Having only been in youth ministry for 1 year and counting; I’ve noticed a trend…YS says something and everyone runs to it like it’s manna and then it gets endorsed by Saddleback and Group and Zondervans etc…and before long everyone in the country is doing it. So to all the guys at the youth pastor summitt (invitation only) you DO set the pulse of youth ministry in our country whether you realize it or not. I love all of you guys and the things that you do, you have truly been invaluable to me in my fledgling ministry. But by appearances it’s a holy huddle you’ve created and I believe in six months Scot McKnight will be the hottest selling author since PDYM because you guys have endorsed what he is saying. Again as your voices say so goes youth ministry.

  12. chris — a couple responses.

    first, it’s nice and complimentary that you think YS’s influence is so far-reaching. but i don’t quite agree with you. we certainly don’t influence saddleback, for example!

    second, your parenthetical (invitation only) seems to be a frustrated sarcastic addition there. let me clarify: from the beginning of this morphing group (there are new people every year), we agreed that we have many other places where we meet with lots of people (many of whom want our time), but that this would be a group of peers. as such, we set the bar as “full-time, junior high only, veteran, with an intent to stay in young teen ministry for a long time”. that’s the “invitation”. we’ve searched for people to invite every year who fit this description — we’ve particularly searched for females, and non-conservatives, because we’d love to have more diversity in the discussion.

    third, i’m sorry, but you’re clearly mistaken on scot becoming a hot-selling author because of us. his blog, read by pastors and thinking christians all over the world, is one of the top blogs in the christian world — he gets 3000 visitors a day, and has over 2500 incoming links from over 650 website and blogs. his two books — jesus creed and embracing grace — have both sold very well.

    all that said: i DO hope our discussion this week has a ripple effect. i DO hope my posting thoughts about it (and others doing the same) will stir thinking and shift practice for hundreds, if not thousands, of people who work with young teens — how cool would that be?

    so what’s repulsive about that?

  13. I think it is great you all get together and talk. We all have to get around peers from time to time. We need people who understand our frustrations and desries. Also it is not like you guys isolate yourselves the rest of the year.

  14. marko thanks for the response. Some clarification…

    I don’t find it “repulsive” I was only using that statement(from another post) as a touch-point on my comment. On the contrary I think it’s good that all of you met.

    In regards to the “invitation only” comment it was not intended as sarcasm and I’m sorry that it was taken as such.

    I also agree that it is important for all of you to get together away from everything else and refresh, challenge, and support one another.

    My comments were merely intended to point out that you and others are in an extremely visible position of influence. As you correctly point out your blogs are read by thousands of people.

    My percieved condemnation of your retreat is rather a statement against the “band-wagon” mentality that I have witnessed in youth ministry.

    Let me reiterate; I love you guys…and everything you do. (sans the invitation only stuff LOL) I just sometimes wonder if you realize the tremendous influence your words have over youth ministry?

  15. thanks, chris — i’m with ya on the bandwagon thing. i hope we influence people — but i hope they are prayerful and discerning in what they allow to influence them.

  16. First of all, I’m glad you guys got all that worked out. It’s true that “Super Ministers” like Marko and Kurt J. set the bar for Jr. High ministry, but that’s exactly what God intended for them to do!
    I believe God has a purpose for all of us. For example, my father is also a youth minister. He’s never been in a church that had more than thirty youth. He’s also always had youth groups filled with the “untouchables” of today’s society. That’s God’s purpose for him. He ministers to those few untouchables like no one else I’ve ever known. God does not intend for him to be a “Super Minister.” (I hope you guys take that term as a compliment, not an insult!)
    God has given certain ministers years of numerous experiences with the purpose that they should share what they have learned with the rest of us. And I thank God that He has provided that kind of education for me.
    As for what Marko said about using discernment: well of course! That’s why God gave us the Holy Spirit. I pray that every minister looks for the things that he or she is supposed to learn, instead of desperately trying to fit a mold. Marko was created by God. The Marko Mold was created by man.
    I have to say one more thing to Marko, however. Although I’m Jr. High only, full-time, and in it for the long haul, I’m certainly not a veteran, so I know I won’t be invited to that summit anytime soon! That said, if I ever did get invited, I would have trouble not thinking that it was because I’m the token female. I hope that doesn’t sound like some backwards women’s lib thing, but I would much rather be seen, heard, and spoken to as simply a youth minister, not a female one.
    Not that we females never have a different take on things, but I’ve found it very rare that my differing opinion is because I’m female. Why not look for ministers with varying spiritual gifts? My husband is also a youth minister, and I’ve found that our different views of things come mostly because we have different spiritual gifts. Yes, we veiw ministry through different lenses, but I don’t believe those lenses are labled male and female.

  17. So I said repulsed and attracted. The comments following seemed to concentrate on the repulsed, that is interesting for what its worth. Several people have mentioned that the group that was meeting set a standard of ministry. I like that standard, I hope to meet it. Long service, not a stepping stone, desire to see young teen ministry taken seriously and not as keep them at arms length until the become real peopel (that is one of my favorite slights). I have been hanging around the “middle school joint” coming on 15yrs now and it is more than you know, a blessing to see people who have the same heart.

    It is good that people meet together, and really I don’t think that people were sitting in a room ploting the over-throw of ministry, turning us all into Saddleback/Zondervan/YS zombies. However, when the pres of YS, the MS pastor of Saddleback and other sit in a room, that kind of influence can’t be helped. So, I guess I would say, continue to use your powers for good!

  18. Hey Marko –

    Just came over via Scot’s JC blog … thanks so much for what you and others do to honor the rest of us who are youth workers as well and pushing us (by voice and by eample) to continue to grow in the gospel and MS ministry. I just finished up another yera’s worth of MS ministry Wednesday night, and these posts came at the perfect time to help renew my committment to keep learning, keep growing, and keep serving these guys and girls. How cool that you have a tight fellowship that can learn and love – gives me motivation to start seeking my own!

    grace and peace – Andy

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