Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Notes - Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World

The first time I heard about post-Christianity was when a fellow youth worker told me something he'd overheard. He said a friend of his asked a young pregnant woman if she and her husband had thought of any names for their baby. She answered with this little bomb: "We really haven't thought of a name yet, but one thing we do know is that it won't be a biblical name." This took him aback, so he asked her why. She responded matter-of-factly, "Oh, because we live in a post-Christian world."

This is the world in which our students are growing up today, and they and their friends are no dummies. For Christian students with a faith that really matters to them, growing up in a post-Christian world will cause them to feel like the minority... because they are.

In our post-Christian world, no value is placed on the Sabbath, so our children have some scheduled anxiety seven days a week. This has created the most anxious and stressed-out generation in history.

...this is the world our kids are growing up in, and they need to feel safe as they study, research and try on different faiths. But this Starbucks spirituality is a growing trait, and it's something we need to really think through. In a post-Christian world, you're going to hear this kind of stuff. You're going to hear that students consider themselves "Buddhist Christians" and a plethora of other mashups. How will you respond?

In the past, sometimes I've felt less like a pastor or a shepherd and more like a used car salesman. (I sincerely apologize to any used car salesmen who are reading this right now.) Have we made youth ministry just another product for teens to consume?

In his book Working the Angels, Eugene Peterson says, "The pastors of America have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches. They are preoccupied with shopkeeper's concerns - how to keep the customers happy, how to lure customers away from competitors down the street, how to package the goods so that the customer will lay out more money."

A sage has a heart for the next generation - Psalm 71:18

Christian relativism
The Miraculous
[These sound sketch but trust me, they are not.]
This is a solid read and the first three chapters outline the state of things in western culture - evangelical student ministry in crisis. If you don't think that is true, then you'll need to get out of your cave and look around. Then go buy this book.

It is also a great read because it helps those who lead students navigate the culture that our kids are growing up in. The post-Christian world is nuanced and complex, confusing and different. But you know how it goes, once a sold out, passionate leader or two gets it, the students that they care about get it too. And that will make all the difference in the world.


  1. Should link to the book...through the Ember amazon donation link!!

  2. oh yeah i should =)