reflections: “Practicing Passion…”

August 30, 2006

From Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church, Kenda Creasy Dean:

This is not to say that youth ministry as practical theology never needs car washes or lock-ins, only that these youth activities–like all church activities–are harnessed for a larger purpose: to enlist young people in the mission of God.

Just been thinking a lot about ‘youth ministry.’ Thinking about the way youth ministry is being done, and whether or not we’re doing that. This book seems promising (just started). It says youth ministry starts with theology. Creasy suggests that youth ministry is to be predicated on the concept of passionloving something enough to suffer for it. And that ‘something’ is of course someone, God.

I like how Creasy relates ‘practical theology’ to jazz; she calls it “improvisational rationality,”

…a way of thinking that places Christian tradition in conversation with the messy particularities of ministry: particular people with particular needs in particular situations, all of which are informed by a particular gospel.

The messy particulars. That’s where the gospel reaches. But, are we thinking on these terms? Are we living the gospel, but not being where the gospel reaches–the poor, the oppressed, the lives, thoughts and passion of youth? Can we “live” the gospel, without being in the places and with the people it is intending to reach?

I also thought about how ministry to youths is not so much a “I’ll show you what it looks like to live like Christ” kind of thing (although this is important-modeling Christ). Rather, I’ve begun to think more that it’s seeking together with each particular teen, journeying on his or her particular walk, and discovering with them the one True Love:

Since adolescents seek a caliber of love no human can possibly sustain without disappointment, the discovery of the one Love who really is worthy of sacrifice, who really does love us selflessly and extravagantly–the Love who never disappoints, who will not let them down, and who will not go away–is a discovery that reorders the self. For adolescents whose identities are works in progress, this discovery is the pearl of great price. (21)

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