Posts Tagged ‘Discipleship’

What is Youth Ministry?

Posted: September 28, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
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It has been a long discourse, bumpy roads, and yes, to grow a ministry that actually disciples an individual into a deeper communion with the Holy, and an firmer understanding is what they believe and why they believe it, and by extension create belonging. Some may be shocked that I say individual and not “youth”. This is because part of the discipleship, is the growing faith for those who provided pastoral care and spiritual direction to the group. These individuals may be paid or unpaid, but should not come with canned responses, should interact the community the youth exist in and how the faith responds and grows within.

Why this topic? Almost becoming a rant? Simple, as my family begins to dream one googles for what is out there for the calls on their heart and then you roll across posts ala this one out of St. George’s in Calgary (read post), a small parish wrestling with how to interact and shepherd youth. I get it. Creating ways to engage youth with the life of the congregation and through an understandable standard ala Scouts makes sense. It is a good path possibly if it works for those who are attached to the congregation. Yet it is in defending that paid youth ministry does not need to happen and stating things like “entertainment” or “babysitting” is saddening and angering. This is why youth have walked out on the church. They want depth, they want to be able to ask questions, investment in who they are.

It is a dodge used by churches who do not feel a youth pastor with worthy of pay. I have heard it many times, or they produce such a low pittance that the investment of time by the pastor breaks down to less than 2 bucks an hour, so when you re-frame it as an honourarium then the congregations balk saying “no we pay you!”… when what is needed is investment in the person and their family who are called, whether it is financial, honouring gifts, and belonging themselves. I am not zeroing in on this congregation specifically, as I had a good time with them as their youth pastor and we had impact on our community, and growth in the faith of youth, but it is a good time to reflect on this concept and what discipleship means?

This is not just an Anglican issue with youth ministry. Across the Christianities I have seen this concept. Only put out dogma, no questions allowed. What can we do this week to compete with (fill in the latest craze or social media blank)…totally missing the point that it is about allowing the youth to question. It is not simply a mind/brain issue, but an emotional/spiritual question, a connecting of the two so a person begins to belong in who they are and how they are created (the Imageo Dei), and then how they fit into the Body of Christ, and the Missio Dei (Mission of God) regardless of age—what are they called to do? What gifts do they have? How are they meant to use them to make the parish better– and the parish is not just the four walls where the group meets or church happens, rather the parish is the broader community they exist in, and the circles of influence they are a part of.

It is investment in time, dsipling on the role of faith, exploring the doctrinal documents of the faith, spiritual practices, and the things they want to know how their faith interacts with. It is truly creating a courageous safe space to be where no question is out of bounds for exploration. Where you crack open the liturgy and the Holy Scriptures for discussion, and debate.

Why does this matter for me?

I am aware of 3 congregations within blocks of each other, at the heart of the Properties Communities’ of North East Calgary. Within the circle of the Village Square Leisure Centre either exploring, on life support or growing youth ministries. Yet, in a community that is seeing a rise in rough campers, pan handlers, economic mental health effects, highly multi-cultural, religiously diverse, socio-economically diverse, sexual identity diverse, the drug and sex traffickers (predators) using the parking lots of these sacred spaces…

And brands (denominationalism) in my heart is stopping them from actually answering the call to respond to the needs of their parish. The Missio Dei literally at the heart of the parish, within their congregations, and at the door step (parking lot stall).  One has to wonder, if ego can be placed aside, and the almost 12 congregations meeting within these 5 buildings can get together and realize that an in-reach and out-reach to the youth of the community, creating that courageous safe space, can actually transform things for the better. Be the light house into the darkness, confusing it, challenging it, and dispersing it– not through fear, but through HOPE.

This is the prayer for my neighbourhood, but all too often when raised to the clerics and boards the answer is fear of the other church, that closes the door.

 


Interlude:

What are we teaching our Children?

It is something I have pondered throughout my journey. Those younger, the next and now leaders; what are we constantly teaching them? Do we teach them their inherent worth? This is more than simply words spouted towards them; it is the actions of those around us, and what they see. It is not simply do as I say; rather it is they will do as we do. So how do we act? What is the current Meta narrative of our world?

In Calgary, AB 2019 a Nine-year old girl was bullied so badly in her Calgary Board of Education public school she took her own life. 2-0-1-9. The Board’s response, we investigated nothing to see here. Bullocks. There is multiple stories that may not have ended with a taken child’s life, but of the board, principals and teachers turning a blind eye. Nothing to see, don’t rock the boat. It is the anti-thesis of the WE Day movement, World Youth Day and Challenge Days. We LET BULLIES WIN!! And when it is called out, our “managers” (we have a leadership/statesperson deficit) do everything to deflect, and cover up.

But why do our children act this way?

This is a time to quote former Premier Jim Prentice:

“Albertans (and all world citizens-my add) need to take a hard look in the mirror.”

Why? We have created a world where anger and hate (white supremacist, Alt-Right, Fascists, and Extremists of all stripes) are courted by political parties to gain and hold power. When in the world of social media you are censored for hate speech, it is an infringement on your rights of freedom of speech. Nope, sorry, non-starter: hate is hate. I don’t care if the bully has cloaked it in Conservative or Liberal rhetoric, in Sikh, Islam and Christian Theology, it is hate. It needs to be called out and shut down.

In 2019 Alberta on April 16, 2019 we showed our children bullies win and that truly, the ends justify the means. No, this isn’t just heaping on the investigation of voter fraud (Both ongoing with Elections Alberta and the RCMP) with the UCP (United Conservative Party). The caught in picture and/or video of folks who would steal/vandalize opponents signs, the bullying of local citizens at candidate debates, and the attack/smear ads against those who were running against. It is also pointing out that the Government seeking re-election of the New Democratic Party which should have been campaigning on their record and their ideas, launched pre-writ drop on the low road with their own attack ads (yes it was using candidates’ own words and actions, but still negative); on the attack of Jason Kenney, which was a whistle to their own base as those that had issue with these character items of Kenney had already decided not to support him and the UCP based on that.

Both our Governing Party and the Loyal Opposition went low. The conglomerated media and social media allowed and cheered it on. Within the world of algorithms it is infinitely easy to never have to look critically at your own or another’s point of view for your feeds will only ever bring you what you believe. When the other parties attempted to raise policies of vision, and debate they were shut out and belittled (much like the other two were doing with one another). Parties like the Greens, Alberta Liberals and Alberta Party that should have elected MLA’s– the fear and anger machine of entrenched ideology within this historic voter turnout (64% officially, highest turnout since 1982) delivered us the anger machine Legislature.

That is two parties, their roles reversed. Is this peace, order and good governance as our Constitution Act, 1982 promises? Or is it a province within the stages of grieving trapped in the denial and anger phases unwilling to let go of what was, and discover what is to come and live into it, support one another in rebuilding and renewing. A statesperson or leader with a vision would cast it– unfortunately we got angry yelling middle managers quibbling over a budget line and seeing citizens only as a number, not as the person before them. Two parties, unwilling to admit that a province needs to heal; instead they stoke the anger and denial to hold to or win power. They become the bully.

Our children see that bullies win.

It is exacerbated more in the USA under President Trump, and yes I have been around the USA a bit and have seen the divided community. It is one of the things that I am intrigued by Marianne Williamson running for President. Anyone can win in 2020, but someone entering the race to change the tone of discourse is always a good thing. I did pick up her book from our local library, Politics of Love (2019) and once read will post a reflection.

But back to Canada… we also show that there is no need to respect one another, we can belittle. Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the Conservative Party of Canada, has shown this in Parliament’s Question Period recently where they refuse to refer to our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as Prime Minister; instead it is Liberal Party Leader. Sorry gents and ladies, whether you like the outcome of 2015 or not, he is the office holder and as such deserves respect for that. If anyone had done this to PM Harper when he was in Question Period the media would be all over it. Instead the base swells with pride and cheers, wears shirts and waves signs calling for our Prime Minister to be hung for treason (which shows an understanding of Canadian Law at least, for treason and cattle rustling are the only two offences that can still carry the death penalty). But hyperbolic anger theatre is the norm. Denigrating the other from personhood to hate that leads to a guillotine being brought to an anti-populist Premier Ford rally in Ontario.

If this is free speech, I am glad in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms Canada has Freedom of Expression, and it is time the RCMP and local police started enforcing that differential. It is all used to create this atmosphere that you vote against something, not for something. You choose lesser evils, and if you refuse the dichotomous narrative then you are an “idiot”, and will not be able to stop the other.

Any wonder why voter turn outs are so low. Yes, 64% though historic is bloody low. Any wonder why we have an increase in bullying.

Extremism exists across spectrum and theologies. It is disgusting, and needs to be called out. Not covered up, not excused, or at worse accepted. It needs to be called out, and exorcised like a demon in the Exorcist movie-pea soup and all.

But we have glimmers of hope. Thankfully; in a recent Abacus poll on the upcoming Federal election, 4000 Canadians were interviewed. Yes, I realize I dislike polls and 4000 is a small sample size, but hey you work with what you got for hope. Of those questioned 40% were in support of the fifth place party in our House of Commons, the Green Party of Canada. Why is this sign of Hope? It shows that people are thinking beyond the usual dichotomy in the Canadian mind for Federal governance of Liberal-Conservative. It also shows that the usual protest vote of Bloc Quebecois or conscience vote of New Democrat is not resonating. Could the old parties be being rejected? Could new ones get a kick of the tires and a spin for 4 years in October? Only if conviction is held to vote for what one believes in, not out of fear against stopping something. Nothing has ever been stopped or ended by undermining or selling out one’s own inherent values.

On this too, I have to touch on the Prince Edward Island provincial election. True the projected Green government did not happen. But let’s look at it. In the waning days of the election sadly, a candidate for the Greens and their son lost their lives in a canoeing accident. All the parties ceased campaigning for the remainder of the election. Class. Hope.

On election night, all the leaders were together from what I could see from the media feeds, and hugged after the results (yes older men). It is a minority government, with the Progressive Conservative Party being the government, but the Greens are the official opposition. Hope. Something has changed. Also the PC government not joining the anger train of the mainland populist movements speaking of listening to citizens. Hope.

Listening. Hearing. Acting on behalf of another.

Things that breed hope:

Seeing others, as neighbour, as a person.

And then reflecting, even in opposition life, what matters most in the discourse? What is the end that is truly supposed to be and do the ends really justify any means possible?

The now and future leaders learn behaviours by how their adults (parents, extended family, neighbours, elders) behave, not by what we say.

What do your actions teach?

Are you creating ripples of hate or HOPE?

 

 


Introduction

Throughout my travels since April 2019 I have come into contact with young and seasoned youth pastors seeking to break the cycle of “trying to compete” and “bigger-better events” to realize it was not creating depth of Christian life. It led to conversations around spiritual formation and discipleship, investing in the person before you, with coffee with my minister it was talk of the emerging discussion of Liturgical Living. That is the rhythm of life. When we think of Liturgy, it is Latin for “work of the People”. It is the way the church year, and worship service is structured. It gives the ebb and flow of birth, life, death and resurrection and the Holy Spirit. Yet, it is an emergence of ancient practices for our modern world and led me to bring together some thoughts from my years of community building, and monastic formation with the Franciscans.

Corporate Personhood

On the 6th Day in the ancient Hebrew Poem[1] that is Genesis 1 lets us know that humanity is made in God’s Image (Imageo Dei). What a beautiful image that each of us is a reflection of the Holy? This idea is then carried further by the writings of Paul (Romans 12:5,1 Corinthians 12:12–27, Ephesians 3:6 and 5:23, Colossians 1:18 and 1:24) that points to Christ as the head, but we are all parts of the body. Each one of us significant, and different, but together functioning, it is a coming together of the personal and corporate personhood. Within the work of community building this sometimes takes the look at discovery what our own names mean (first, middle, last) and has it had any effect we were not aware or are aware of in shaping who we are. What does the name of our community have on shaping that? For youth, it was the work then of discussion and choosing a name through consensus that reflected our new Body of Christ, and from that flows out who we are.

Corporate Identity

As individuals we encounter tough situations in life. We have our own guide posts. Our own mentors, family and friends that feed into our being whether positively or negatively for our own growth, and shape our core being that is given the guideposts of core values, beliefs, and learning. The corporate religious person is the same. The challenge is that each part of the body exists within a spectrum of spiritual development. Yet, in a corporate gathering we can work together with the guideposts. For Paul wrote to the church of Corinth “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for eyou were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,” (1 Corinthians 3:2, English Standard Version). It is the beginning of a journey, but we are laying ground work and preparing, working as one to cast a vision for who we are now, and who we are being called to be. It is like the Liturgy, for what the Liturgy in a service builds to reflect what is valued most by the gathered community, same as with the spiritual formation process.

It leads to opening up to setting of core values that become the guide posts for behaviour, and conversation creators. I remember in the late 1990’s when I began working with youth and children, doing events and retreats, the standard across mainline and evangelical circles was rules based on “thou shalt nots” and SAD rules (No Sex, Alcohol or Drugs). Discussing with colleagues and finding that incidents were up quite high at events, we entered a time of discernment for something different. That was the shift to the Values, and the who we are, and out of that our actions will be shaped. Much like Jesus when he would sit with the woman at the Well, the religious leaders, or even his disciples…remember when he called Peter Satan? It was a teaching moment to remind Peter who he truly was based on the Shema (the Great Commandments, a prayer of the Temple) and to get out of his head and back to his Godly heart. So too this conversation of Corporate Personhood, shapes the community and creates the courageous safe space for any to enter, and know what they are joining, and that it is a journey of transformational change ahead.

Just like the rhythm of prayers in the Liturgy of gratitude-thanksgiving, grace, confession, reconciliation, assurance of pardon, prayers of the people…so too the community values set the rhythm of life for each gathering. It also allows for the courageous conversations of what topics the gathered are struggling with or curious about to set the Holy Conversations (curriculum) and what aspects of the Bible and faith they want to deep dive into.

One Example

There are many examples that can be drawn of those within church families and those that came from community and the change this type of rhythm created in their life. Positive shifts, minute or major, yet each story is personalized and contextualized. What happens though with the corporate personhood becomes the lighthouse in the community, “Your word is a lamp for my feet,  a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105, New International Version). This is what shaped my coming to corporate personhood. It is the benchmarks in the Rule of Life Ministry of the lay Franciscan Orders. I have modified some of the questions that can arise, as I have used this in many contexts of spiritual formation classes for the Christian to the Non-Christian in church, spiritual direction centres, simple communities, and post-secondary classes (non-Christian schools), please note my thoughts are italicized (and on my YouTube channel short thoughts about each):

The Holy Eucharist.

Since we see the Eucharist as the heart of our prayer, our personal rule would call us to frequent participation in this Sacrament. We partake of the Eucharist on all Sundays and all these Principal Feast Days — Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and All Saints Day (if available in your area.)

Eucharist, or communion, a sacred gathering of being family, at the Institution of the Sacrament we have two versions, in the synoptic gospels it is highly focused on the meal and the symbolism. In John, we get the sacrament of service, with the foot washing that became part of early practice within Ana-Baptist communities, and a part of the Maundy Thursday Service, highly powerful if uncomfortable. The symbol of care for feet, the often ignored, but most important part of the body, for one who uses a wheel chair it could be the hands. It is showing care for the least thought of symbolically.

It is also more, for in these stories, it is Christ shifting from Master to friends. The equality of all. There is a structure given, but also the acknowledgement that something holy happens each time we gather in community to eat together. The being present in the now, and listening not simply to respond, but the shift to listening from the heart. That is to understand one another, and discover who each other are. It shows the power, as Peter’s anxiety is revealed, Judas’ treachery, all in the conversation, and letting the silence rest to be filled. It creates space for the corporate Personhood to become healthier, and a place of belonging.

What questions does it raise for the value placed around ensuring enough for all?

Ensuring that all are heard?

That all are valued?

What is the practice of the Eucharist for yourself and community?

Penitence. (Daily Self Examin)

Regular examination of our obedience to Christ is necessary. To be reconcilers we must first be deeply reconciled to God. We practice daily self-examination and annual use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

I have used in my own praxis the concept of self-Examin, instead of penitence. The reason of heart is simple, not everything is about self-flagellation. In the course of the day there is oops, could’ve done that better, should apologize, but there is also beautiful moments of knowing the Holy Spirit, seeing God show up unexpectedly, feeling gratitude, joy, hope and love. It becomes a look at our own day, and knowing that God is in it all, and it is okay to have the full spectrum of emotions. The journey takes us through, as Psalm 23 phrases “The valley of the Shadow of Death” but also in Psalm 23 it lets us know that all we need is God, for all the rest creates white noise, that is if we truly come into our understanding how does it shift our experience of life?

What is reconciliation? Obviously not a Presbyterian Sacrament, it is Roman Catholic and-or Anglican. It is not just the sin list, but the work that comes to reconcile with those harmed by actions. Yet, there are a time when that is not safe, or times when the reconciliation is about yourself to God. Sometimes reconciliation is about coming to love yourself, and letting what the world or church has put on you to be blown away with the Ruah (breath of God) to be who we are truly called to be.

For beginning learning about this, the space for positivity can be created by asking for 3 things thankful for, 1 thing to do for health or helping, and one thing that has been learned between each gathering from members.

Personal Prayer.

We set aside a definite time for prayer each day to spend time with God, to pray for others, to meditate and to express our thankfulness. Prayer is the root from which our lives and ministries grow and are nourished.

Set times, and all times. It is the discovery of healthy relationship with God and others. Understanding the wide variety of prayers and way of prayers that are out there- labyrinths, art, music, drama, writing, journaling, liturgical prayers, personal, prayers of petition, prayers of celebration, and the list goes on. Prayer is about learning how to build a relationship, to get to know God, you and neighbour, much like the Psalms show us (Billy Graham encouraged a reading of 5 Psalms a day so each month you would read through the whole book, the idea being that it shows how to be with God).

Self-Denial.

This is the discipline of saying “No” to oneself by putting God first. We are often aware of the places in our lives where additional self- discipline is needed, but our Spiritual Directors should be asked to help in this area. We also focus on eliminating the ways we may manipulate others to our own ends.

In Lent we practice giving something up. This is a step into this. The idea of fasting. It can be giving something up to replace that time to know God more. What does it mean? Within spiritual communities I would create the shock by making the time “phone free” that is the youth turning their phones in at beginning of the night to be completely present with one another. It is about understanding that there are moments in time when we step outside of ourselves to be present with neighbour, self and God for learning, discovery and growth. Too often we use things to create walls between ourselves.

Retreat.

Silent retreats and quiet days provide an opportunity to rest and grow physically, mentally and spiritually. At least once a year, we participate in organized or private retreats of at least 24 hours of silence.

Silence is hard for a retreat, trust me. I look to teaching in short spurts to enjoy silence, with prayer working on meditation, and sitting in the silence. But the idea of retreat is important. This is the understanding of Sabbath in life. Turning off the work of the day, the burdens (and yes many times this can be technology). It is also about creating structured times of being with God individually and corporately. There can be themes, specific Bible stories and spiritual practices used, but no fixed outcome. It is not like a business retreat where we are creating a vision, this is about being in the Holy Conversation with God and seeing what emerges for the next of life.

Study.

We all need to learn more about God’s will for us. Study of the Scriptures and of Franciscan spirituality is important to our Christian growth.

How does life and faith interact? What do we need to discover about culture? About our faith? Billy Graham also noted reading a chapter of proverbs a day to learn how to be with neighbour, perhaps this is like that. We spend time with our Bible, and with our newspaper and other scholarly materials to discover the intersection of life. Scholarly does not mean heady tombs, these can be books found in the non-fiction sections of bookstores and libraries on a variety of topics of interest or need.

Simplicity of Living.

Simplicity calls us to examine our giving of self as well as the material things over which we have control. Our cluttered lives, our preoccupations with “belonging”, can interfere in our relationships with God and our brothers and sisters. We are called to a life of simplicity, eliminating those aspects of ourselves and our lives which prevent our full expression of God’s love.

Work.

Service has always been an important part of the Franciscan vocation. Daily work is one way in which Tertiaries serve God and others; we are often also called to serve God and our brothers and sisters in individual ministries, ranging from prayer to social activism.

We have a cultural narrative that sets out what is valued. We miss in the cultural narrative that each person has a vocational call upon their soul from God. It is about knowing what work we have to do for survival or paying the bills. There are moments work is a must (you own a house you need to mow the lawn whether you like it or not), chores, etc. Yet, there is also choices of what we pursue in our own time as volunteers or actual callings. We live in a society that takes all types of work for our world to function, and all that needs to be honoured as we help one another discern who we are meant to be, and how to serve, learn and grow.

Obedience.

All Tertiaries are obedient to the decisions of Third Order Chapter. We say the Daily Offices, we support each other by prayer, attendance at Fellowship meetings and a pledge of financial support to the Third Order. We report regularly to the Order on the keeping of our Rule. We have Spiritual Directors whom we see regularly.

What is obedience in this day and age? Being a part of an organization usually has reporting structures. What this speaks to is an understanding of who we are (our core values), and are we living out of those values? What challenges are arising? What times of redirection? Times of change? New opportunities? Doors closing for us? New doors opening? It is about developing one’s character so that we are living our profession, and when we aren’t we are aware and go to the safe (sanctuary) space to renew and replenish.

Conclusion

St. Francis of Assisi was an odd-duck as most of the Mystics and Monastics of the Church were and are. In Franciscism there is no set “Reformation” moment in church history, it is about constant rebirths, resurrections and reformations as we continue to discover how to live the Gospel life and be the Body of Christ in our own pockets of this world. The lighthouse that casts a light. The teaching was simple, you took a Biblical teaching to heart, once it was part of you then you moved on to the next one, not before, so it was not simply knowledge amassing, but wisdom.

In the world of creating youth religious communities, it is the investment, the commitment and knowing that the goal is not confirmation but rather, does the youth know what they believe? Why the believe it? And when they are on their own, will they live it? That is discipleship, which in my humble opinion is the crux of the liturgical life.

 

 

 

[1] Poetry as in Hebrew it rhymes ideas not words as in English.


No photo description available.Trinity Sunday. Pride Sunday. Father’s Day. Season of Pentecost. All when embraced and lived out are about belonging. Sadly, this is not the state of the Christianities today. Or even our world. As many will argue while Christendom dies (the Christianity of power, control and indoctrination since Constantine Converted 325 CE) and is dead, and the false God it created on both extremes of Religous Right (yes there is one on the left just no catchy name for it). It is interesting while contemplating this week’s lectionary Gospel reading, I would come to read two books stumbled upon with the Calgary Public Library that would flesh out thoughts, those being John Fea’s Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump and Grant Skelton & Ryan Casey Waller’s The Passion Generation: The Seemingly Reckless, Definitely Disruptive, But far from hopeless Millenials as my heart would read this passage from the Gospel of John:

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He [a]will take of Mine and declare it to you.

-Gospel of John 16:12-15 (New King James Version)

Declarations. Truth. For the unfamiliar, the Gospel of John was written by an older chap that walked with Jesus of Nazareth, was discipled by him. Tradition also stipulates from his pen and/or his community also came the writings in the Christian Testament 1,2,3 John and the book of Revelations. The Johannine Community as it was known was focused on discipleship and sacrament. It was a place of radical belonging, that lasted the longest in the early church without formalized authority structures. The sacrament it was most focused on was service, for it is the Gospel, that when the Last Supper is re-told focuses on Jesus’ serving his disciples through foot washing.

It always confused me why in 20th century evangelism this was the gospel given out. It is highly philosophical, and to a Greek audience. It can be hard to understand in a Vacuum, even though it touches on some of the most esoteric of Jesus’ teachings through his discourse with Nicodemus in the third chapter. It is a gospel that needs to happen in conversation, much like rabbinical learning where scriptures should only be discussed when three are present so that it can be seen from many different perspectives. This is the discussion we have lost. It is what Fea’s history text of the Evangelical push to Trump’s presidency even though he does not pass the “moral leadership test”. Why? Simple, it is decades of fear mongering, feel of loss of power, losing the political space, and reasserting it. Cherry picking certain inflammatory issues of the day to build on one’s fear of loss, just has been happening in America since civil rights, and before that with World War II, anti-antisemitism, the list can go on and on.

It is a vein that has been tapped in Canada as we see the entrenchment of ideology. In Alberta’s last election it was full on site. Anger. Hatred. Pettiness. From both leading parties, but such fear that the other will win, folks not wanting to actually look at the alternatives, or look at that as their ideology has cast as enemy without the lens on to see if what is being put forward is better. Yes, sadly, the radical mind entrenchment has taken the ability of discourse and discernment out of the extremes, and where once Social Conservatism aided in bringing forward social programs to aid the public good, it is not a venture of private enterprise to punish the working and poverty classes.

Let that settle in when you feel the church has lost its space in society.

It has.

It was on our watch.

We let it happen due to selling out our soul to the capitalist model–the Empire Model.

Not the Gospel model.

Which leads these words of revelation to steering back, it is something I have learned over the years investing in people. Whether in life recovery, students, youth, young adults, young families, families, seniors, those in dementia wards…giving time of your life to others creates space for relationship, learning, and growth from both of you. It is what Jesus is speaking of in these words of John. We will be discipled through the generations. There is a space for healthy elders, there is a space to learn from the youngest. It is reciprocal and multiplying relationships. Yes, small groups are important, yes programs like Messy Church, Sunday School and Sunday Worship (insert any church program here) are important…if they connect the generations and allow for discipleship.

IMG_5360.PNGThat is what Skelton and Waller’s book was talking about in reaching Millenials. It is about being present with, and doing life with.

Bridging the gap of the generations. Now through the work he lays out a gospel shown method of discipleship of bringing the discipled in to the disciples life. This works well. I think it also intersects and interconnects with what community should naturally be doing.

It is about including, and teaching, shepherding. It is about aiding one in discerning where their gifts guide them, and how they are meant to be a minister (that whole priesthood of all believers catch phrase).

It creates something different though than the norm of power and indoctrination that that the church has enjoyed since the end of World War II where social and economic pressures forced membership/attendance at some Christian church. It shifts it to actual authentic life.

Authentic life.

Living into the life/love of the Holy Spirit.

Listening. Discerning. Questioning. Growing. Investing in one another.

It is looking at the young and the old, as not nuisances or burdens, but as family.

What changes if we authentically see each other as family, not enemy?

What changes if we spend time doing life together?

Growing together?

For honestly, it is the answers to the last two questions as to why I miss having the Rainbow Chapel in my living room.