hello, i’m a thumb generation minister
Friday November 09th 2007, 10:59 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth work, news

fun factoid of the week:

In Japan techno-savy teens are called “oyayubi sedai,” the thumb generation. They use their thumbs so frequently for typing into their cellphones that they now use them, rather than their index fingers, to point and to press buzzers.

(ht to ypulse)

oh, mickey rourke, where did you go wrong?
Friday November 09th 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: humor, news

if i should ever find myself in the position of being a burned out, ex-successful actor, with a reputation for living not just on the edge, but a bit past it; and should i then find myself being arrested for a DUI; i do hope that i am not driving a freakin’ vespa at that moment.

blogging from the atlanta national youth workers convention?
Thursday November 08th 2007, 7:27 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties, blogs, youth work

let me know if you’ll be blogging from the atlanta convention this coming week, and i’ll add you to a linked list i’ll post on thursday.

teenagers, the american dream, and where youth ministry needs to go
Thursday November 08th 2007, 12:53 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, faith, youth work, news

i’ve been noodling a bit on this since i read anastasia goodstein’s post on teenagers and the american dream, on her ypulse blog. so, here’s that to begin with:

I always thought of that the American Dream went something like this. Anyone in this country, regardless of who they are (race, class, gender, etc.), could achieve success (usually financial) in the United States if they worked hard enough. The collective knowledge of Wikipedia defines the American Dream as:

Generally refer[ing] to the idea that one’s prosperity depends upon one’s own abilities and hard work, not on a rigid class structure. For some, it is the opportunity to achieve more prosperity than they could in their countries of origin; for others, it is the opportunity for their children to grow up with an education and career opportunities; for still others, it is the opportunity to be an individual without the constraints imposed by class, caste, race, gender or ethnicity. It sometimes includes the idea of owning a home.

According to a recent Harris Poll, here’s how teenagers described the American Dream:

“Simply being happy, no matter what I do” — 47 percent

“Having a house, cars and a good job” — 38 percent

“Being able to provide for my family” — 30 percent

“Having the career of my dreams” — 27 percent

“Being rich and/or famous” — 20 percent

“Owning my own business” — 7 percent

“Being ‘the Boss’ ” — 5 percent

Fifty-eight percent say a college education is a necessity in order to achieve the dream, with 20 percent of those saying a four-year university degree is mandatory. While only 3 percent believed they could achieve the American dream on a salary of $25,000 or less, one-quarter thought a $100,000 annual income was sufficient. In addition, a whopping 71 percent believed they personally can achieve the American dream. Notice how “me”-centric the teenage version of the American Dream is…

a handful of my very random thoughts:

first, i was surprised a bit to see “being happy, no matter what i do” rank so high as a definition of the american dream. while anastasia rightly says teens’ responses are me-centric, i was encouraged that the number one response was NOT about materialism, not about “stuff”. my impression/understanding of the american dream (similar to the wikipedia definition) has to do with typical american measurements of success: owning stuff, having access to a job, owning a home.

of course, we all know that the american dream is, for many, a falicy. or, at the very least, not equally accessible. but that’s not the point of my rumination here. “being happy no matter what i do” is COUNTER to consumerism. “being happy no matter what i do” has in its wording a counter-cultural defiance, implying that i can be happy even if i do not have stuff.

that said, most of my other responses were not as positive.

part of my frustration is that i think youth ministry willingly swallowed the baited hook of the american dream promise. in other words: so much of what’s been done in the name of “youth ministry” in the past 35 years has really been about trying to get teenagers to buy into a combo-platter of the american dream and a moralism wrongly called christianity. we’ve tried to shape kids into “good church goers” and “good citizens”. and, in this context, “good” means “active and compliant”. let’s embrace the values of non-activity and non-compliance!

i also thought: if we polled teenagers in most youth groups, we probably wouldn’t get findings that are quantifiably different.

and: can we just set the concept of “the american dream” in a nice glass-covered display case and consider it an interesting relic of our history? it’s built on such a deeply flawed set of values and assumptions. everyone does not have equal access to “success”. and, then, even for those who do have access, the “success” doesn’t bring happiness or contentment. and this is where i am most concerned: that we continue to perpetuate (even if we never use the term) the notion, in our youth groups, that…
- god will bless you with a comfy, stuff-filled life if you’re a good boy or girl
- the goal of discipleship is to have good answers
- other than a few supermen and superwomen who are “called” to pastoral or missionary work, the life the rest of us normal disciples are called to is one of a daily quiet time, church attendance a couple times a week, some role in serving the church, and giving to the church. all other time and resources (and values and relationships and decisions and, well, everything) fall out of the domain of anything god gives a flying rip about.

how ’bout we swear off ever using “the american dream” (either in word or concept), and, instead, start talking about “the dream of god”. that vision of god’s from before time and creation. that dream of god’s during creation — of what this world could be, of what we could be. let’s build our ministries around walking with our kids into living in the dream of god.

wedgie-proof underwear
Thursday November 08th 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: youth ministry, humor, youth work, news

these kids get inventors of the year from the collective of bullied middle school and high school boys everywhere:

(ht to d scott miller)

pushing my buttons
Wednesday November 07th 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: youth specialties, personal

i received this email today, from which i’ll remove the sender’s name:

I recently attended the conference in St Louis. I can’t help but think Yac must be rolling in his grave. Having attended the event in the past I was troubled about the path this event has taken to the extreme of being the fundemental evangelism at its worse. I was troubled with the
tenor of presentations that claimed as a standard guilting our youth into being members of the body. Disavowing their own worth because they are sinners destined to hell if they don’t mend their ways. And it was all topped off with a slamming of Lesbians in a general session. I suspect I will not be an attender in the future and will be hard pressed to recommend this to any of our denominational youth ministers.

i post it here because i’ve heard quite a few complaints about greg stier’s talk. this email, however, was the strongest, and really offended me. this was my response:

Thanks for writing with your concern.

That said, I need to start by saying what a cheap-shot it is to suggest that the founder of our organization, whom we all knew and loved so dearly, and who died four years ago last week, would be rolling in his grave. Ironic, that you were frustrated with what you saw as manipulation and guilt, yet you try the same thing with us, throwing on the addition of emotional abuse.

Clearly, you are referring to greg stier’s talk. A couple things:

1. we intentionally invite a wide variety of speakers to our convention. We hope our diversity both honors god, challenged homogeneity, and provides everyone present with the opportunity to have their feathers ruffled. There are plenty of other youth ministry events (conservative and liberal, protestant and catholic) that provide a uniform slate of speakers who would all agree with each other. That’s never going to be us.

2. I really like greg. He’s the real deal; honest and pure. His character is impeccable. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says. I did not like much of his talk.

3. I think you either misunderstood what he said in his illustration of the lesbians, or you are over-reacting. His example was of how he engaged a group of people with whom he had a theological difference in a conversation of respect. He mentioned how he sent away the other christian who was there to condemn them. He mentioned how he was a sinner also. The only “joke” was that he said he had something in common with them, as he lusts after women also. If THAT little comment is what caused such great offense for you, then you need to lighten up.

I believe yaconelli was jumping for joy over this convention, relishing in the diversity of the attendees and the speakers, as he always did (yac was the one who brought jerry falwell and ralph reed!).

I can confidently say you are completely wrong about your impressions of any “turn” the convention has taken. Nothing could be further from the truth.

then, this exchange softened things up a bit:

> Mark,
> Thanks so much for the prompt response. You are correct with your
> impression that it was a cheap shot and I beg your forgiveness. That
> certainly was not the intent.
forgiven, of course. thanks.

> I would like to address the points you
> proposed.
> 1) While the perception on your part is that you provide a variety of
> positions, theologies, ideologies, and agendas I found the presentations
> somewhat of the more evangelical bend. Maybe it is just me. I just found
> myself more uncomfortable at this conference than in the past. Perhaps
> this is just a spiritual crisis for me. I known worship is to comfort
> the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. That being said I was
> comforted by Lynn’s talk (but a little long).
This is interesting to me, since lynn is so decidedly evangelical! Did you hear ralph winter (clearly not an evangelical), or me (an ex-evangelical)? Of the three cities this year, the other two are MORE diverse than STL was — but sometimes we get what we get (we ask two or three times as many people as we get!).
> 2) Regarding the ‘talk” by Greg it was much more than the little joke. I
> couldn’t help but sense in a convention of more than 3000 individuals
> that perhaps more than 150 might be going through issues related to
> homosexuality. Did his talk welcome them into the community or push them
> further away? By his own actions of claiming that they would not agree
> on the issue of sin and sexuality wasn’t he condemning them?
Well, that’s greg’s belief, that homosexual practice is a sin. But that wasn’t his point at all! His point was that — EVEN THOUGH he believes the practice is a sin, that’s what binds him to this group of lesbians (that other christians would dismiss), because he is a sinner just like them! Surely, you would not suggest that no speaker should ever express their beliefs, or that YS should filter them. For someone who would believe homosexual practice is a sin (which is a total given, of course, for an obvious conservative like greg), I thought his point was actually the exact OPPOSITE of what you are suggesting it was!
> I really don’t anticipate a response but would welcome one. Thanks again
> for your post, and I will attempt to lighten up, but perhaps that is
> something YS needs to do as well.
Truly — YS does need to lighten up! That message came to me this weekend loud and clear. We’ve been too tame of late.

and, finally, this:

> One more thing. From your response. If I was to decide to return would I
> be welcomed?
First of all — anyone is welcome at our convention. That’s exactly my point!
Second — you even moreso, would be welcome, because you got bothered about something, expressed it poorly, apologized, and had a good discussion with me. Shoot — now we’re friends!

vote for zach hunter
Wednesday November 07th 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: church, youth specialties, books, news

51XJ4qCc9TL-_AA240_.jpgwe at youth specialties just found out that zach hunter has been nominated as a cnn hero in the youth category. the winner is determined merely by vote (which, since zach doesn’t have a big organization behind him like some of the other nominees, is unfortunate). but we’d love to get the votes going!

winning would allow zach to appear on a prime time special with anderson cooper, to talk about modern day slavery, and how he (zach) feels god is calling his generation to bring freedom. there’s a cash price also; and zach has already said he would donate it for aftercare and education of rescued child slaves.

help us get the word out — to your churches and youth group and friends.

vote here (btw, the info is wrong: it says zach has raised $20,000 to end slavery. that’s how much zach has personally given, from speaking fees and book royalties. he has raised well over 10x that amount.)

you can vote as many times as you like until monday at noon.

virtual prayer groups
Tuesday November 06th 2007, 8:27 am
Filed under: faith, news

interesting article on the proliferation of virtual prayer groups (on facebook and other online locations).

a snippet:

A Google search for “online prayer groups” returned more than 2.3 million hits. On MySpace, the most popular prayer group allows members to read daily Bible verses and has nearly 150,000 members.

The emergence of the Internet as a place for prayer is not surprising. A Pew Research Center study published last week said 89 percent of teens and 71 percent of their parents believe the Internet and technology like cell phones make their lives easier.

Religious Web sites in particular are gaining popularity. According to comScore Media Metrix, a company that measures Internet audiences, religious sites attracted an estimated 22 million visitors in September. Sites like GodTube.com, a Christian YouTube.com, saw a 973 percent increase in traffic between July and August, according to comScore.

(ht to ypulse)

when the mocker becomes the mocked
Monday November 05th 2007, 11:08 pm
Filed under: youth specialties, personal, humor

so, there was this cheerleading competition going on all weekend at the st. louis convention center. and all of us at the national youth workers convention had to walk through their midst over and over again: swarms of tiny girls in little matching outfits, with horribly too much make-up and embodying pretty much the worst of america. i kept thinking my youth worker’s heart should be going out to them. instead, i was merely repulsed, and wanted to smack their mothers.

so we mocked.

tic and i — thanks to some convention volunteers who made the effort to “outfit” us and “do our hair” and such — felt compelled to mock, which resulted in this:

sorry. i hope i haven’t scarred you forever.

i should tell you, i almost knocked tic off the stage with that belly-bump.

titanic church
Monday November 05th 2007, 12:23 pm
Filed under: church

another “ouch” truth from asbo jesus:


previous »