Youth In Contemporary Culture CHMN 608 Spring 2007. Six Models of Youth Ministry. Six Models of Youth Ministry. 1970’s . 1. Experiential Model Focused on the questions and felt needs of youth 2. Content Model Focused on the need to clarify and teach doctrines and standards.
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1. Experiential Model
Focused on the questions and felt needs of youth
2. Content Model
Focused on the need to clarify and teach doctrines and standards
3. Community Model
Focused on the need for sharing and belonging to a group of believers
4. Developmental Model
Focused on the developmental needs of youth and the stages of faith maturity
5. Spiritual Model
Focused on the unmet spiritual hungers of youth (spiritual disciplines, new worship styles)
6. Cross-cultural/Generational Model
Focused on the need to “understand” and “reach” youth as a distinct social and cultural group
7. Leadership Model
Focuses on developing youth through leadership, service, and involvement.
Spatial to Temporal Cultures
Colin Morris (building on the work of James Carey) notes that in traditional cultures time bound people together in localized communities where life evolved from generation to generation. Space separated these local cultures and maintained their distinct identities. As we have moved into modern times the situation has been reversed.
The boundaries of space have been overcome (through print, radio, satellites,
internet, etc.) and a global culture has been born. As the pace of cultural change quickens, time (rather than space) increasingly separates people and creates diversity, commonly referred to as the "generation gap." God in a Box: Christian Strategy in a Television Age, p. 181.
“More and more [young people] seek points of reference among their generational peers rather than their geographical elders. More and more they are shaped by the same global forces, many of them commercial, despite the great distances that separate them. For some the need to belong, the longing for roots and tribe, has been transferred entirely to generational peers . . . . They no longer want to belong to anyone but each other.”
Gerard Kelly/Lowell Sheppard, Their Future Our Passion
“Across the Generation Divide”
“This radical shift represents a huge challenge to the faith community . . . . No indigenous church can assume any longer that the passing of the faith to the new generation will be an easy, natural process. Nor can any one culture assume that its chosen ‘flavor of faith’ will be attractive to its young. Communicating faith across the generation divide is fast becoming as significant a cross-cultural challenge as communicating across oceans and language barriers once were.”
Gerard Kelly/Lowell Sheppard, Their Future Our Passion
The New Missionary
The new missionary will carry out a cross-cultural task increasingly defined by time (generational cultures) rather than by space (geographical cultures). The new missionary’s journey will more likely involve time travel across a generational mindscape than air travel over a geographical landscape.
Postfigurative to Prefigurative Cultures
Immigrants & Natives
“If you are under 30, you are a native. I am over 30, and I am having Ellis Island experiences all the time. I have to learn new languages, and I have to learn new customs. My brain is needing to be re-wired all the time . . . I am an immigrant to a whole new world.
Immigrants & Natives
I need to understand – as any immigrant does – that the people you learn the most from are the natives – for whom this new world is their first language.”
Leonard Sweet, “Have You Heard the One About the Missionaries” at www.theooze.com
The Church as
The Church as
Anthropologist Margaret Mead studied primitive cultures in New Guinea for five decades and documented the rapid cultural changes these groups went through as they came into contact with modern "civilized" cultures. As a result, she classified three types of cultures, based on their figurative ability -- that is, how they imagined and taught the future from one generation to the next.
So Where Are We Today?
Postfigurative Methods Imposed
“Many older members of churches, although not living in postfigurative cultures, impose postfigurative methods of spiritual training. They expect their children to blindly, and unquestioningly, put on the mantle of spiritual expression that they themselves put on. This phenomenon, also observed by Mead in Polynesian and New Guinea cultures may help us to understand the rejection of the church by young people.”
Graeme Codrington, “Living in an Age of Transition” at www.youth.co.za/theedge
Charting the Future
“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”
A Cofigurative Remnant
Neil Howe and William Strauss
According to Howe and Strauss, these generations have waxed and waned in a similar way (Millenials Rising, pp. 67-68):
EventFrom 1st Birth Year
Public Discovery 15-20 yrs.
Full Possession of Youth Culture 20-25 yrs.
Complete Breakout 25-30 yrs.
Ebbing of Public Interest 30-35 yrs.
of Youth Ministry
“I really have problems with that whole term ‘youth ministry’ . . . We should be using the language of generational cultures. What ‘youth ministry’ suggests is that youth is a fixed category that doesn’t change over time. But we’ve got at least five, six, sometimes even seven generational cultures we’re dealing with. Boomer youth were different than GenX youth, who are different than NetGen youth. The question is, ‘What are the peculiar characteristics of this generational culture
with which I’m entrusted?’ And that culture is going to change every five or six years. To do this kind of generational ministry, we must keep ahead of the curves to keep updated, to keep going to conferences, to keep learning, to keep listening . . . You have to tailor your learning to the context.”
Leonard Sweet, interview in Group Magazine
“Without alertness to the cultural context, pastoral work with the younger generations is in danger of having only a marginal impact. The reason is not hard to find: the key curriculum in the lives of young people is not school or church, or even home after a certain age, but culture and the zone of relationships.”
Michael Gallagher, Clashing Symbols
“We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. . . .. They would not be like their forefathers – a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.”
Psalm 78:4, 8
Gerard Kelly notes two points about this passage in his book Retrofuture:
1. The concept of distinct generations is not a modern one. It has existed since biblical times. Hebrews understood the concept of generational transition. It’s a theme that occurs often in the OT.
2. God is in the business of renewing his work in each generation. “Where there is disobedience, where hearts have become cold toward Yahweh, where we have not walked in his ways, one of his strategies is to make a fresh approach to a new generation. The renewal of the work of God continues, generation by generation.” (p. 42)
I would add a third point:
3. God charges us with the task of communicating the story of God to the next generation. We are not called to merely pass on our doctrines. Rather, we are to
proclaim the acts of God – His faithfulness and power at work in our experience – to the next generation.
The Psalmist feels a deep burden for this task:
“Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray do not forsake me,
O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”
Where this task has not been carried out, the consequences have been grave:
“After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD
nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals.”
A Missiological Approach to youth ministry focuses on gaining the cross-cultural skills and resources necessary to relate to today’s rapidly changing generational cultures. These include:
Finding effective ways to infiltrate particular groups of young people
Developing cultural awareness, understanding, sensitivity and response to youth culture
Learning to “read” youth culture in order to discern meaning, truth, error, and opportunities
Facilitating expressions of faith that are faithful both to the gospel and to the culture of the
Support and Accountability
Establishing the means of support for new methods and ventures; creating a system of accountability to the wider church
Culture is the “pursuit of perfection” and entails the best of what has been thought, said, or created. It distinguishes between what is “cultured” and what is not. A view detailed in Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy (1869)
Two Views of Culture
Culture is a “complex whole” that encompasses a way of life, or “common sense” of a particular group. This includes patterns of behavior, as well as the underlying systems of value, meaning, and perception. A view detailed in Edward Tylor’s Primitive Culture (1871).
Culture is comprised of many things we can observe. Yet clearly the most powerful cultural forces exist in the arena of the unseen and the sub-conscious. Some have equated culture with an iceberg, with the greater part of the whole existing beneath the surface.
Practices, Products, People
Beliefs, Values, Attitudes
What Lies Beneath
At the subconscious level, culture acts like an invisible filter between the world and us, guiding our assumptions, determining what we will pay attention to and what we will ignore. Deep culture is as natural as the air we breathe. It becomes the “hidden persuader,” with the ability to powerfully shape who we are and what we become.
An ideology is a selective body of ideas, espoused and lived out by a group of people, which consistently portray a particular view of the world.
Blind Spots and Spin
Ideologies claim to present a comprehensive interpretation of the world, yet inevitably create blind spots and distortions of reality.
Those within an ideological system often attempt to win others over to their view, and will manipulate the meanings of words, images, or events in a manner consistent with their definition of the way things are (called “spin” in the political arena).
While the concepts of culture and ideology are closely related, ideology adds a political dimension to the cultural landscape. It means that culture is much more than a benign discussion of preferences and practices; it is also about power, politics, competing ideas, and who controls perceptions of reality. This struggle is what some refer to as “culture wars.”
“Awakening to culture’s non-neutrality is the first step towards a Christian response to culture in practice.”
Michael Gallagher, Clashing Symbols, p. 9
Model of Cultural Organization
Mary Douglas is a distinguished British anthropologist who began her work in Africa. She has provided a four-part model of how cultures organize themselves. It shows how religious forms are dependent upon various types of cultural organization.
She maps these these types according to two factors:
Grid – refers to the social expectations of the individual within a culture, as guided by an informal network of assumptions, rules, and interactions
Group – refers to social obedience and belonging to the group as created by allegiance, authority, control, and pressure to conform