Let me say right here and right now that I praise God for Jesus-following history. In other words, praise God for the last 2000 plus years of Christian history. YES, it has been "checkered" to say the least…but it is a BIGGER story than human mistakes, fallability and futile efforts to be about the work of God. How could we expect otherwise, frankly! So, I'm not a critic of history as much as an appreciator of HIS-story…in other words, how God has worked in fragile, imperfect human lives to bring about and be about HIS mission on earth. So, thanks to God for learnings, liturgies, movements, revivals…all of which can be specifically credited to the Spirit of God.
Evenso, I'm also a person who believes in the "contemporary" incarnation of the Presence of God. In other words, God did not stop speaking or moving in the first century, fourth century, or the sixteenth century. God is doing something NOW that demands that we embrace new language, new imagery, new imagination and innovation to be about God's Mission today. So, when I read Walt Mueller's article on addressing pastors in how "communicating" to youth, I took keen interest. You see, how we communicate (not just as pastors but as faith communities) to students is directly reflective of our ministry/mission mindset. We can't complain about youth unless we are courageous enough to evaluate our current praxis in relation to youth. To state it without qualification – if we can't communicate and live in community with students/youth then we are exactly what many people believe the "church" to actually be – irrelevant. Again, not that relevance is our ministry's goal…relevance rather is a by-product of a faith community embracing a contemporary expression of the Spirit and communicating IN relationship through the stories, imagery and passions that specifically relate to a broader generational range. The "church" is not owned by one or two generations…the church is Christ's Body and as such needs to be nurtured across generational lines for the building up of disciples no matter what age. That nurturing needs to be relevant to those age groups. SO, when Walt wrote what he wrote, I decided to put on my "paradigm" glasses and attempt to see how addressing "pastors" (i.e. entire faith communities and the leaders of those communities) can make a difference in how I do what I do in Kingdom work. I tell you, if all faith communities had a paradigm from which to proceed in ministry that seriously takes communicating to and with students, the landscape of the Body would be different than what it is now. Anyway, that evaluation can be seen better in other formats (specifically, read either "UnChristian" or "Next Christian" by Gabe Lyons).
Here's the letter: