Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bits and Pieces

* Traditional Youth Ministry is a failure -- check out this monumental post from the Head of Youth Specialties Inc where he apologizes for the state of the church and accepts his share of blame for creating a youth ministries monster. (Hat Tip to David Wayne):

not too long ago, a blog commenter emailed me and wrote that he noticed i regularly hint at or outright rant about the state of youth ministry: particularly, our wrong-minded obsession with field-of-dreams attractional ministry (“if you build it, they will come.”). he politely asked if youth specialties senses any culpability in this, and, if so, if that has ever been said. i responded that i think i’ve regularly said on this blog that ys shares part of the responsibility for this, and i’ve said it in seminars at the national youth workers convention also.

but i’ve been stewing on this for a couple months. and I think it deserves to be said more clearly.

while youth specialties certainly isn’t solely responsible, i think it’s very fair to say we should bear the brunt of the blame. yes, youth specialties is primarily responsible for promoting – for decades – a model of youth ministry, built on a set of assumptions (mostly unstated), that elevated programming as the best path to successful youth ministry. and for this – i will speak for us, organizationally – we are sorry.

we may have said that other things – like relationships and service and the Bible and Jesus – are more important than programming. but i think we modeled something different. we did this naively and unknowingly, and – this may be the biggest admission – we did this without realizing the implications of the values were promoting. or, maybe we didn’t want to think about the implications.

* Presidents Day is coming -- here's a celebration of George Washington based on the famous portrait. For an alternative view of the man and his faith, consider the book George Washington's Sacred Fire, recommended by the Janie Cheaney at World Magazine. The online review at Amazon says this of the book:

After spending over a decade of research going through all the original documents of George Washington, Lillback has exposed the myths about this true man of Christian faith, and proven without a doubt that Washington was a follower of Christ Jesus and not merely a Deist. This must have book is broken up into seven sections that cover the controversy over George Washington, the historical background of Washington, Washington's life, and Washington as a churchman, and even the debate over Washington and communion. My favorite part of the book was the ten appendices at the end that cover the rules of civility and decent behavior that Washington abided by, as well as representative biblical quotations and allusions that Washington used all of the time. The other appendices cover sermons, and other prayers by others that were impacting to Washington. This book also has beautiful photographs within its pages and a few hundred pages of endnotes so that you can go directly to the source and see for yourself the truth about Washington.

* An American Tragedy -- Jerry Springer Style Ann Althouse points to this thoughtful reflection on Anna Nicole Smith's death. I've pondered whether or not to comment on this incident, but Tunku Varadarajan says it so much better than I could:

For all her gaudy excesses, there is in some of us--or there ought to
be--the urge to treat Ms. Smith gently. Hers is a pathetic story, of ersatz
celebrity, dead children and the pursuit of money, sex, drugs, weight loss and
validation-through-litigation. That this pursuit was so thoroughly unembarrassed
is a comment not so much on Ms. Smith's personal aesthetics as it is on human
folly, U.S.-style, taken to its logical extreme.


Finally, a critical word. Anna Nicole Smith was also a lowbrow (or, really,
a narcissistic) version of the American dream--the American dream of only
bravado and guile, bereft of character or principles or talent. She was proof
that the dream applies even to people with nothing to offer but themselves. If
she is a tragic and cautionary tale to Americans, evidence that the American
Dream requires substance and character, she may be evidence of the opposite to
outsiders who see only the magic of wealth and fame won through the mere
presentation of self. She inflates the reputation of American possibility
abroad, making it seem like anything is possible in America--even reward without

Soli Deo Gloria