Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A New Vintage Kind of Deep Organic Purpose-Driven Post-Emergent Sticky Orange Middle School Ministry 3.0

When people ask me what my youth ministry model and philosophy this is what I am going to start saying,

"I am A New Vintage Kind of Deep Organic Purpose-Driven Post-Emergent Sticky Orange Middle School Ministry 3.0 Youth Guy!" 

I know it is a mouth full, but I think it would be well worth it! I am looking forward to the reactions and the faces of people as that rolls out of my mouth.  I may confuse some people, but I think it will also help many more.  I will include everyone and not offend anyone.  It is kind of my own "youth ministry correct" answer.

Honestly, this is pretty much were I am at after almost 18 years of youth ministry.  I am not really set on one philosophy or idea.  After working in rural, suburban, and urban settings...serving in independent fundamental churches to mainline liberal denominations to old southern baptist ....and allowing God to take me Pennsylvania, Louisiana,Wisconsin, and Ohio...I have come to a point that I am forming my own vision based on where I am at and where God is leading.  Not that I have it all figured it, I am just in the process ALWAYS. That pretty much the point-- never stop forming and shaping who you are and what you are doing.  Middle Schoolers/Jr. Highers never do and they deserve ministries and people that are continually re-working, re-reading, and re-shaping ministry!!

I have said for years.  Popular music changes ever couple weeks. Fashion and clothes change ever 6 months.  What is popular and hot will change in the next week.  The church and how is chooses to minister changes ever 10 years.  Who is going to have the most current relevant influence on the JH/MS students that I minister to?  I want it to be me but it is an everyday up hill battle.

Great respect and big props to those who are currently influencing me, represented in my newest answer to the question what is my ministry style and philosphy?

- New Kind of Youth Ministry- Folmsbee
- Vintage Church- Driscoll
- Deep Church- Keller
- Organic Church-Cole
- Finding Organic Church- Viola
- Purpose Driven Youth Ministry- Fields
- The Great Emergence- Tickle/ Emergent Church- Kimball
- Sticky Faith-Powell & Griffin
- Think Orange- Joiner
- Middle School Ministry- Oesteicher & Rubin
- Youth Ministry 3.0- Oestriecher

Just some thoughts after a conversation I had today? What are your thoughts? Who is influencing your JH/MS ministry philosophy?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Repost: Twilight at Emotional Porn.

After this last weekend's record breaking response the latest installment of the "Twilight" series I decided to take a slight detour in my teaching on "who is God?" to talk a little about good and evil. I just read this article and was reflecting a bit on it. Especially in the world of JH/Middle School where girls are forming their sexual identities, and discovering feelings about the opposite sex, I think we need to be very aware of what is happening and what the subtle message that is being taught and caught by are girls. Take a read and let me know what you think?

*From: Relevant Magazine
You Can't Marry a Hot Vampire
-Kent Woodyard

How fantasies like Twilight damage expectations for romance and reality.
A while back, Russell Moore wrote an article that made the assertion that romance novels are to women as pornography is to men. While Dr. Moore was quick to admit that “pornography and romance novels aren’t (or at least aren’t always) morally equivalent,” he claimed that they “work the same” because they are both rooted in illusion.
“Pornography is based on the illusion of a perfectly willing, always aroused partner without the 'work' of relational intimacy. Romance novels or their film equivalents do the same thing for the emotional needs of women that pornography offers for the erotic urges of men.”
It’s a great article and one that is especially relevant this week given the emotionally pornographic onslaught we are about to endure. That’s right—hide your kids, hide your wives, Twilight: Breaking Dawn is coming and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
Whether or not you’ve seen the movies or read the books, you are surely aware of their central conflict. A vampire named Edward and a werewolf named Jacob are engaged in a heated rivalry/eternal blood-feud for the affections of a high school student named Bella. Sounds normal enough, right? Well, what you might not have known without seeing the movies is that when it comes to emotional porn in contemporary cinema, the Twilight series is both Exhibit A and Public Enemy #1. 
I realize it isn’t often that “porn” and “Twilight” are used in the same sentence without referencing Taylor Lautner’s torso, but it just so happens that Mr. Lautner’s refusal to put on a shirt isn’t the most concerning (or most pornographic) element of the series. Far more destructive are the ideas and ideals put forth by his character and the other two romantic leads.
You have, on the one hand, Edward who is not so much a vampire as he is the embodiment of a chick flick archetype. We’ll call him “The Cultured Prince.” Edward is charming, polite, sensitive and “impossibly beautiful”—well-bred yet with an air of danger. He is, in short, everything any girl would ever want. (See also: Lon in The Notebook, Patrick Dempsey’s character in Sweet Home Alabama and every Tom Hanks chick flick role ever.) 
On the other hand, you’ve got Jacob who is not really a werewolf but rather the embodiment of another chick flick archetype: “The Barbarian Prince.” Jacob is wild, passionate, fun-loving and adventurous—uncivilized yet alluring. He is, in short, everything any girl would ever want. (See also: Noah in The Notebook, Josh Lucas’ character in Sweet Home Alabama and every Matthew McConaughey chick flick role ever.)
And in the middle we have Bella, our everywoman. Actually, that’s not true. If Stephenie Meyer intended Bella to be the embodiment of femininity, she has done a poor job of presenting her as such, because just about every woman I know has more going for her than Bella does. Miss Swan is homely, insecure, stubborn, clumsy, shy, prone to obsessive behavior and completely lacking in self-awareness. In short, she is not an especially desirable heroine, and yet she is being furiously pursued by not one but two Prince Charmings. 
What follows is an unrealistic and mostly unhealthy love triangle in which two emotionally unstable and supernaturally powerful alpha males duke it out for the affection of an awkward young woman whose only apparent ambition in life is to be married before she turns 19. 
The relationships that develop are as insubstantial as the characters themselves. They’re all weepy looks and winsome smiles; all seduction and no substance. Obsession and infatuation are the rule of the day, and the counsel of family and friends is thrown to the wind as three teenagers wax poetic on the importance of eternal love, which, as we know, usually begins in high school.
And therein lies the true mythology of Twilight. It has nothing to do with vampires, werewolves or Dakota Fanning, and everything to do with Hollywood’s distorted view of love. Its “fantasy” is a world where intimacy develops overnight, where men are rugged yet vulnerable and where romance and adventure color every day. It’s porno for pre-teens and, pornography, whether erotic or emotional, has consequences that continue long after the movie ends.
In the same way that pornography creates false expectations for physical intimacy, Twilight creates false expectations for relational intimacy. It tells girls it is not unreasonable for them to expect to be hotly pursued by the two most desirable guys they know. It tells them their relationships should be defined by all-consuming passion from Day One. And it tells them their future boyfriends/husbands need not necessarily be “human,” but rather anthropomorphized checklists of masculine ideals.
As I write this, I’m reminded of a poster I saw hanging in a girl’s dorm room when I was in college. The poster had, “The man who wants to marry me will be …” written across the top, and the rest of it was filled with a list of prerequisites that may as well have been pulled straight from Edward Cullen’s Wikipedia page. I remember seeing that poster and thinking, “Sister, you’ve got a lot of disappointment ahead of you.” The guy she was looking for didn’t exist, and any guy who might actually want to marry her had already had the chips stacked against him by a fictional, bejeweled vampire.
These films aren’t just silly, teenybopper love stories. Twilight has become a cultural phenomenon, and cultural phenomena don’t simply reflect the values of their audience, they define them. Stephenie Meyer has now defined love for a generation of fans. For millions of “Twi-hards” around the world, the shallow, cliché-ridden romances of Edward, Jacob and Bella are not just the norm—they’re the ideal. They have traded marriage for a myth, and the question now becomes: How many more movies will it take until they can no longer distinguish between the two?

Kent Woodyard is a freelance writer living in Southern California. He is a founding editor of TheTalkingMirror.com

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: “Born is the King”- Hillsong Live

Review: “Born is the King”- Hillsong
“Born is the King” is a quiet mix of powerful Christmas favorites with new refreshing twists. The vocals are precise with musical skill to match. With quite a few different Christian holiday albums available this year, this one stands apart from the rest. Hillsong’s renditions of “Joy to the World” and “Come Let Us Adore Him” separate them from the others. This short 6-7 song EP, leaves you wanting more.  This is a great resource for those quiet worshipful holiday nights in your ministry.   It will truly set the mood instantly with your students for reflection and appreciation for the birth of our King.
- Written for "Youthworker" Magazine

Review: “God is Able”- Hillsong Live

Review: “God is Able”- Hillsong Live

            Once again Hillsong does not disappoint with this newest album.  The continuing tradition of musical excellence is more than up held with their newest offering. The album starts off strong with “Rise” immediately pulling the listener in and then raising them up to the throne of God.  Up beat, lively praise “With Us” and “The Difference” mixed in the slower, softer worship of “You are More”, “My Heart is Overwhelmed” and the closing song “Cry of the Broken” make a diverse music resource for any youth worker’s music library.  I look forward already to translating a few of these songs to our own stage and musical setting.

- Written for "Youthworker" Magazine 


Monday, November 7, 2011

"Took Tags": A Jr. High Shema

Something I came up with a few years ago, and am now using again this current year with my group.  It is once again a huge hit with my students.  I am teaching about the Jewish practices surrounding the "shema".   We are challenging students to attach these to bags, lockers, or whatever they want to be a reminder of of our key passage that is part of the "shema" -Luke 10:27.

"4 Reasons Why Youth Ministry is Not a Stepping Stone" by Russell St. Bernard

Do you know youth ministry leaders that use youth ministry as a personal stepping stone?
I have been in youth ministry for several years now and one of the issues I have with some youth ministry leaders, is their thought that youth ministry is the place where they grow their gifts and talents in order to do “real” ministry and work with the adults.  Now I have no problem when someone feels the call from God to move out of youth ministry and minister to the adults of the Church, but when he/she plans to be with the students only to get enough experience and exposure so they can work with the adults, I have a problem.  To me it’s like going to get your car fixed and the person fixing your car says that they are pretty good but only working on your type of cars until they get good enough to work on more expensive cars.  None of us would be comfortable leaving our cars with a person like this because our cars are valuable to us; how much more valuable are the lives of the students we serve in youth ministry?
Here are 4 reasons why youth ministry is not a stepping stone:
  • It’s a stage of preparation – In youth ministry as leaders we are a part of the training and preparation stage for the students.  God has specifically put us where we are in order to help train and develop the students to grow and progress as Christians.  If we look at this role as a stepping stone, we won’t be doing our part to help prepare the students for what they are supposed to do now and for where God wants to take them.
  • It’s a part of our purpose – Everything has a purpose or a main function, you can use a chair to rest yourself or to stand on to reach an object out of reach.  However, if you need the chair but it’s in some other room or not around, it is not being used for the purpose for which it was designed.  As youth ministry leaders, serving students is part of our purpose and the reason God created us, but if we move from that purpose, we are like the chair that someone is looking for because they need us, but can’t find us.
  • It’s a partnership with the parents – A while back I wrote a post called “The Missing Piece” talking about how parents are very essential in the growth and development of youth ministry; without the parents we are less effective, because we are supposed to do ministry with the parents.  In the same way if we as youth ministry leaders leave our role then we leave the parents by themselves and like an other partnership it makes the task or job much harder when the partner leaves.
  • It’s a process – I remember when my grandfather used to make us food and he would prepare it outside of the oven and then when it was ready he would put it in the oven.  I used to always want to look at the food in the oven because it smelled so good, but every time I opened the oven I let some heat out and as a result I slowed the process.   As youth leaders God has us in a process as well, the longer we stay in the oven (youth ministry) the better we get and the more we grow because the oven and the preparation are all a part of our process.  I know that I am a better youth ministry leader today than I was when I started because the process has grown me.
God has called each of us to a certain place and some for seasons,  for many of us this calling is what God wants us to do, but we get enticed by what others say about our gifts, what adult ministry looks like from the outside, and by just being frustrated with youth ministry at the present time.  These are all valid issues in their own right but youth ministry is a calling and not a stepping stone.
Questions: Do you know youth ministry leaders that use youth ministry as a stepping stone? What other reasons would you list to suggest that youth ministry is not a stepping stone