An Attempt to Get You Thinking about the Importance and Relevancy of Ministering To Teens In a Whole New Way

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Picture To Illistrate My Point of Fantasitcal Theology

I was away for a weekend and drove past a mobile home with thie sign out infront of it. The people that we are preapreing to minister to are not Seminary students, they may not even have a college degree. As we preach, teach, and minister we must be certain to lovingly shepard Christs flock with the whole truth of Scripture.

Monday, May 12, 2008

More on Teen Discipleship

Have you ever wondered how a teen thinks or what makes them seem irrational? Why do they act before they think? What about the idea that, "bad things don’t happen to me; only to other people." They are forgetful, disorganized, emotionally charged and take lots of risks thinking they are bullet proof, what's with that?

Is there any good explanation for all this? YOU BET! There is actually a scientific reason. I recognize that there are huge environmental issues that may positively or negatively affect the way a teen thinks. But consider the development of the brain. The ability to express and interaction with emotions is developed between the ages of 11 and 14. What is the significance of this?

Well very little until you consider that the ability to use reason above emotion is not fully developed until the late teens or early twenties. This means the typical teen acts and reacts based on their emotions. This is why having a certain pair of shoes is more of a "life or death" matter than jumping off a 40 foot high bridge into a small river. Sometimes fear may sway the decision to watch and not jump but not usually, at least for me. Get the idea? There may be some reasoning but it is normal for the emotions of a teenager, not the intelligence to drive their actions and decisions.

In regards to teen discipleship this is very important to keep in mind. Scratch that, it is essential that you keep it in mind. Discipling a teen using Spurgeon' s lectures may not be a bad idea if they are an exceptional student who has a very strong reformed back ground but not for the vast majority of teens. Basically if the material is more than a hundred years old work up to it, slowly. Rather, be Practical, spend time doing life. Take them to a ball game and have conversations that are charged with biblical significance. Minister with them! Take them and work at a ministry for a day.

The idea is to be an example in all areas. So much of an example that you verbalize that you are a good example to follow. The teen may have thought this already but it is good to reinforce the idea. This is the hardest part of teen discipleship , living up to what you want them to be, Godly. How does the development of emotions come into play? When you are being watched by someone trying to figure out what the right response is to any given situation what so they see, your response. Your teen is not reading your mind so they can't follow your reasoning, if they could understand it.

As a parent or youth worker you can either take this emotional potential and ruin it by putting them in exciting youth programs that are centered on games, massive activities, and dynamic speakers or you can invest in their emotional potential. As we all know if an investment is to pay off in the end it must be given time. Take time to funnel the teen to make emotional connections to the things of God. Teach them to love the church, to love the scriptures, to love Christ. Do I need to say that again? Take time to instill in them BY EXAMPLE a love for the things of God not for the things of the latest cool pop culture.

So the implications for a parent or youth worker is that you will need to be expressive and excited about God, about Church, and about ministry. No don't go running and clapping into the Church every Sunday, but have a serious conviction about the importance of church and be consistent in that living it and they will live it. Take missions seriously and they will take it seriously. Take God seriously and they will take God seriously. Be emotionally attached to your faith and they will be emotionally attached to theirs. But to make this happen you have to invest not only your time but your emotions as well.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fantastical Theology

  • I was watching history channel the other day and there was a show about end times. It was pretty good for the most part. There was, of course, a historical focus on the eschatological views of the early Roman Catholic Church; moving into the reformation they discussed protestant views as well. The most interesting aspect of the show was the look at the effects on the people. The people being the Church authorities and the parishioners. It was interesting to look at the way that the leaders of the Catholic Church used the teaching of eschatology in art and architecture and theater. The purpose was not to promote a fear of God and His majesty, sovereignty, and holiness that would naturally draw parishioners to God. Instead the exact opposite purpose was the objective. The intention instead was to draw people closer to the church through a fear of what will happen if they leave the church or sin against the church.

  • Later in the show as history progressed to the present age and current views History Channel interviewed various philosophers and theologians from various churches and institutions. To represent the Baptist views of eschatology there was a man named John Hagee. He is a pastor who is known for his dispensational preaching. If you have not heard of him Google him and you may be able to see the timeline that wraps half was around the his quasi-mega church sanctuary. Seriously dispensational , ...seriously.

  • I began to wonder, why John Hagee. He is not the best representation of Baptist but rather a part of them. So why not some other guy like Al Mohler or John Macarthur? Well, sadly it is in the best interest of the History channel to have a fanatic dispensationalist rather than the cultural commentator or a very thoughtful and reputable theologian. Why is this? Honestly … it creates a better fantasy for the viewer to have john Hagee get really dogmatic about his veiws as if they are the only way.

  • Think about it, what is the main draw to strong religious views which are seemingly surreal? To help you understand my point, and keep you from thinking bad things about me here are some examples: Eschatology , the working Holy Spirit, Speaking in tongues as a sign of salvation, and following standards as a means of sanctification are a few examples of strong religious views. So what is the draw? Fantasy.

  • The idea of vast systematic stories which can be stretched to the limits of ones imagination is really fun and is a great hobby. Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings are a few fantasy systems that people put a lot of time, energy, and money into. There are numerous flat, round, static, and dynamic characters that can be loved and hated. The settings are never simple but intricate and complex with unimaginably vibrant colors and are full of machines and creatures that bend the limits of natural science. The story lines are amazingly twisted web of climax and pitfalls filling us with anxiety, hope, and excitement all at once. These are very entertaining and "romantic" emotions that can cause us to connect the story to many or all aspects of real life.

  • Similarly, we often create fantasy realms around different systems of biblical doctrine and theology. Strangely enough there seems to be certain hot topic issues that people commonly create a fantasy around. The doctrine of end times seems to be the favorite fantasy doctrine of many Baptists, thank you Tim LaHaye. Bringing things to a local level, while in seminary is it is easy to fantasize about our studies and the potential we have with them. It is also easy to fantasize about how amazing the topic of the class to the point that we forget to relate the class to real life ministry. I propose rather than fantasizing about eschatology or other aspects of biblical doctrine we should be "practicalizing" it. I may have just made up the word "practicalizing" but it says what I want said. Be aware of the temptation to fantasize your classes, reading, or research. We are still sinners dependant on God to do anything that we aspire to do with our seminary training. Also we will move on to minister to folk with various degrees of biblical knowledge needing to be fed God's truth in different ways.