I've finally had another chance to read a bit more of Kenda Creasy Dean's Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for A Passionate Church. I had the TIME last week but I was on leave and I knew it would get me wanting to do/plan/think about work. I was right.
It is a thrilling book written with passion and energy (and I've only just finished the introduction!). I'm trying to overcome my slight prejudice that she gets some Latin wrong (saying Passio means "to suffer" the VERB is patior, pati, passus - passio is a later derivation. Ok gown-like anorak off now!) but it's not difficult to get past that because the message of the text is SO good.
One of my favourite bits was the dispelling of the myth:
"Youth ministry is primarily about youth." Untrue. Theologically, youth ministryiis primarily about Jesus Christ and about the church's witness to the self-giving love of God." (p.14)
In fact she points out that young people are people and in many ways their youth is what we focus on not the fact that they are people.
Dean draws a lot from Jurgen Moltmann which might be seen as a little contraversial by some but I find his theological explorations useful (even if they're not always entirely doctrinal!). She seems to be suggesting a real back to basics approach to Youth Ministry; looking at the theological approach. This sounds like something we're looking at here in High Wycombe so I'm looking forward to reading the rest.
There was a bit of an ouch moment today though.
How about this:
"Is it possible that the 'problem' facing youth ministry reflects all too acurately a malaise infecting mainline denominations generally; a flabby theological identity due to an absence of passion? That would be ironice. Most young peoplecome to us brimming with passion. Could it be that, instead of fanning this youthful zeal into holy fire, we have more often doused i, dismissed it, or drowned it in committee meetings?" (p.25)
Yet even if it is a fair cop, let's not become even MORE flabby about it. Instead let's react with passion, with energy, with fire to energise young people and to channel their energies into our churches.
A small start for me today. Crew are planning a Labyrinth for the whole church. Have a look.