Tag Archives: youth

What Kind of Worship Do THEY Want?

Boring.  Too long.  Pointless.

These are all words I’ve heard youth use to describe worship.  I’m sure many of you have as well.  And I think in our media-loaded world many of us have looked for ways to incorporate the text, the tweet, the YouTube into our worship.  iWorship if you will.  I know I’ve sought popular songs, images, and readings to help translate the message.  Today I heard a different message.  One I think is important to share.

What Kind of Worship Do THEY Want?  Worship that offers some silence.


That’s right.  During a worship planning meeting with high school and college young people, the element of worship they wanted to introduce youth to at our discover day is silence.  Not silence with music in the background.  Or silence with a choir singing.  Plain old silence silence.  The kind that can sometimes make us all a little uncomfortable.  And they also want to be real about sharing how the silence is tough.  They feel so strongly  that they are requesting young people leave cell phones, iPods, iPhones, etc…in their vehicles.  Perhaps this concept isn’t revolutionary.  But what I thought important to share is that this desire, this hunger, this yearning came from our young people. A desire to share the gift of silence with younger youth.  A desire to share the gift of silence a as Lenten discipline.  A desire to be honest both about our discomfort with and our hunger for silence.

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Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


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So how was the Poverty Simulation?

That’s a question I’ve been asked a lot over the last three weeks.  And it’s a question I’ve been trying to answer in this blog for just about as long.  So how was it?

Crowded.  Challenging.  Complex.

One word answers.  My teacher-self is not pleased with these answers…and crowded, come on?  In all seriousness, it was crowded.  Uncomfortably crowded.  I think that’s part of what made it effective.  The cramped quarters of time and space really did generate feelings of frustration and anxiety from all participants, whether they were managing the “local power company” or one of many “families” struggling to make ends meet.  But for some reason, that’s not the story that needs to be told.  (Not that the story of the simulation isn’t excellent.  It is.  The story has just already been written (and published).

But I also don’t know if that story.  The story of the poverty simulation is my story from the day.  Honestly, what struck me the most throughout the event is our own nature (myself included) to tell young people what to do or think.  During our discussion time after the simulation, the room filled with engaged voices. Voices ready to tell the youth participants how to take this information to their homes, schools, and churches.  How often I find myself doing this same thing.  Wanting to tell people, especially youth, what to do.  (I have this trait in Spades.)  And yet the pastor in me knows that listening–really listening–is not only a spiritual discipline but the beginning of leading.  Why is that kind of leading so hard?  What are we afraid we might hear?

What I Learned About Leading from the Poverty Simulation

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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Choosing Church

In an effort to be more mindful of my resources, I have committed to buying fresh and buying local as much as possible this fall.  In addition to being a member at a CSA, this fall I have grocery shopped at a new local market that boasts locally grown and made products.  In shopping I have discovered that I now appreciate what I eat more, that I think more intentionally about my shopping needs, and that I really enjoy NOT having as many choices.  That’s right.  I like that the shelf with the coffee has about three choices.  That there are two kinds of peanut butter.  One bakery provides a variety of breads.

How does this lack of choice in the market relate to church?  I guess what I’m saying is that sometime fewer choices are better.  Limiting choices is better.  Less is sometimes more.

Think about it.  Today teens have a million and one choices for a million for just about every aspect of life.  There’s a plethora of extra curricular activities to select from, a smorgasbord of service groups to participate in, and a panoply of denominations, churches, and houses of worship.  Each of these offering its own brand of belonging.  In a world so filled with brands and branding, how  do teens choose church?

Join us on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 to hear Dr. Carol Lytch speak about what she uncovered and discovered in her research and conversations with young people.

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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Cross Cultural Encounters

This year’s Summer Global Experience (SGE) will be to Northern Ireland.  You might not think this will provide much a of a cross cultural encounter, but I beg to differ.  “Wait Cross Cultural, what?  Don’t you mean mission trip?”

Nope.  I don’t.  I mean a cross cultural experience.  Encounter.  Undertaking.  You see our SGE isn’t about doing…it’s about being.  Challenging ourselves to be human beings (not humans doing) with other human beings.  We move beyond our comfort zones of culture and customs.  It’s through these encounters that our eyes and hearts open…we wake up, sometimes we get shaken up.  How we think the world works, how we think Christianity works, who we think we are, and what we think we believe–suddenly our certainties aren’t so sure. The SGE teaches what we cannot teach or learn by ourselves and with ourselves.

And now you’re thinking, we can do all of that in Northern Ireland?  That’s a European country, right?  That uses the British pound, right?  That’s not going to be cross cultural or challenge my understanding of Christianity.

Well, Northern Ireland is part of Eurpoe, part of Great Britain, and does indeed use the British pound. It is also a country that has been torn about by political and religious conflict for centuries.  Belfast and Baghdad were both on the do-not-visit list in the 1990s.  Its city streets still share a story of generations of hatred and strife. Murals of The Troubles remind us of what our rage, resentment, and self-righteousness yield.  In an era where our own nation demands you choose: blue states or red states, Evangelicals or Mainliners, Coke or Pepsi, we could certainly learn from those who have sought a third way.  A way of reconciliation.  A way of letting go of yesterday’s pain not by denying it, burying it, or gentrifying it but by naming the hurt, sharing stories, and saying, “It stops here.  It stops with me.”

If you have participated in a Leadership Academy with us, we invite you to take this pilgrimage to Northern Ireland.  A sojourn to learn about the Christian practice of reconciliation and the very real challenge of practicing the process of forgiveness and reconciliation.

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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Uncategorized


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So When Do They Learn Leadership?

“So when do we learn leadership here?  I don’t see a class for that.” A student approached me with this comment after an opening workshop on theology of worship.  This astute young woman had carefully perused all the materials we provided.  Did a detailed analysis of the schedule for the week.  Read and re-read the information about covenant groups, meals, and community guidelines for life together….no where did she find information about leadership.

How could this possibly be a leadership academy if none of our coursework, curriculum, workshops, or focus areas are on leadership?

For anyone who has ever graced the front of a classroom, led a Bible study, or simply tried to teach a child to ride a bike, you may have observed that what is taught and what is learned are often two different things.  And with something like riding a bike, there are two kinds of learning.  The learning of “names and process.”  This is a bike.  These are the handles.  These are the peddles.  You push them with your feet to go forward.  Then there’s the learning of  “riding.”  And there’s really only one way to learn that.  To get on the bike and ride.  To wibble and wobble.  Sometimes to fall.  Sometimes to soar down a hill forgetting how to brake.  Always picking yourself up and giving it another go.  And one day, you’re riding.  It becomes like breathing.

Leadership Academy takes the second, bike riding approach to learning leadership.  Sure we could give young people an elaborate definitions of leadership.  We could take notes in graphic organizers, create detailed analysis of leadership styles, debate the best characteristics of leaders.  But we don’t.  We don’t do any of these things.

Instead we support young people in learning to lead by allowing them to do just that—lead.  Leadership Academy is a place for young people to be in community with other young people to have conversation about faith and life.  It’s a place to create worship, to explore questions about who we are, whose we are, and how , the Bible fits with any of this.  It’s a time to practice using individual gifts and to risk trying something new.  It’s a time to nurture spiritual gifts for leadership through practice and reflection and safe community.  If you know a young person in your church, school, or community who’d benefit from Leadership Academy, give them an application.

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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Leadership Academy


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Cultivating a Faith that Celebrates Questions

We live in a world of concretes—facts, statistics, dates.  Convinced we can prove or explain the human condition. Except all that seems to grow from our answers are more questions—or as young people would ask, “Whose answers?”  This savvy to perspective, angles, worldviews is new—or at least new to modern western thought.  The belief in science and self-help combined with the perspective that it’s all perspective seems to leave little room for faith.

Or does it?

I mean isn’t faith and belief about surety?

Or is it?

What if doubt and questions are the fertilizer to the soil in which faith is cultivated?

If faith and belief grow like perennial flowers then belief is more of a process than a product.  Scripture, tradition, and my own experience suggest that doubt, though painful, doesn’t reflect an absence of belief.  More a time of fallowness.  Where the crop of what was once plentiful has all been harvested.  As the field of faith seems empty to the naked eye, beneath the surface, questions and doubt enrich the soil.  Perhaps we don’t so much wrestle with belief or unbelief, but a safe place to contain our fallow soil.  And a community who gently tends our barren land.

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Posted by on August 16, 2011 in Uncategorized


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