...are the ones that make the biggest difference

11.24.2004

The Advent Experiment

I know Thanksgiving weekend isn't even over, but I'm doing something different with the youth for the Advent season. First, we're actually going to do Advent. We're not going to spend the month of December doing nothing in particular until the week before Christmas, when all of a sudden we remember that the whole Jesus-birthday thing is just around the corner. Starting this weekend, we're going to spend every Sunday doing the readings, saying the prayers, lighting the candles and generally avoiding even the semblance of what we've been doing. Second, I'm treating this as kind of an experiment - an anti-fun experiment, if you will. I've been feeling more and more strongly lately that I need to cut the "fun stuff" out of the program and focus on spiritual disciplines, teaching and developing a true community with the youth. Our power was cut this morning in the office, so I went to Border's for to kill an hour until it came back on. I picked up this book "The Younger Evangelicals" by Webber, and read through the chapter on the changing dynamics of youth ministry. It basically talked about all the things I've been thinking about, all the changes I think need to be made - which I took as a confirmation that I'm taking this in the right direction.

So I need your prayers. I need to see some sign from the kids and from God that this is the right direction to take this program. I'm not sure what that sign will be and I know there are some kids who will absolutely hate it, but the status quo isn't good enough anymore. I also need your prayers about how the leadership at my church will react to it. I have a youth devotional blog for the kids and had a link to a guided prayer site run by a group of *gasp* Jesuits! The senior pastor was checking out the blog, clicked on the link and didn't like the fact that there is a link on the bottom of the page that says "pray with the Pope." There is a strong anti-Catholic vibe that kind of permeates our denomination, and even though the kind of stuff I would like to do harkens back to the true historic practice of early Christians (and is more Orthodox than anything), I'm sure the distinction will be lost on some. Needless to say, some feathers might get fairly ruffled, so please pray for peace and for strength & wisdom for me to deal with the situation.

And with that, have a happy Thanksgiving!

1 comment:

Karl Thienes said...

Nathan,

I think you'll find that many of the kids will profit....if not now, then later in their life.

There was nothing that made me not want to be a Christian than being part of a high-school youth group that was only about "fun"....I wish one of the youth pastors had tried to inculcate in us a reverence for God, an awareness of spiritual warfare, and the need for discipline....

Of course, this is hard to do in a non-liturgical, non-sacramental, non-ascetic ecclesial situation...but more power to you!

Let us now how it goes.