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Miller Time at SHIFT Conference February 28, 2007

Posted by peterong in Rants, Reflections, SHIFT Conference, Youth Ministry.
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The Don (I affectionately call him that) brings his much touted brilliance in this touch of humour and authentic approach to evangelism. He speaks of narratives and each of our yearning to be part of a story…and what is our story? I think that our youth ministries are not part of this big story of God’s call for redemption and justice…to free the chains of oppression…a spiritual activity that is beyond the maintenance of our youth models…He gave glimpses of being part of a larger story such as when Pastor Rick at Imageo Dei challenged his congregations to not go into debt but make gifts…to challenge our notions of what story we are part of…

I have seen so many of our youth ministry resources feed into this unhealthy and shallow narrative of comfortable surburban Christianity (A great discourse on this is Dave Goetz’s Death by Suburbs). Yet Miller hints as something more…something that goes beyond the mere pretense of worship, but a life that is infused into a narrative that involves conflict, sacrifice and ultimately points to a redeemer…

The Don is brilliant in taking pause for us…especially for those of us who have either been too consumed by the “methods” and the “formulas” or even worse the “sales pitch” of evangelism…that when it comes time for us to speak of God…we stutter through…and seem mute because perhaps our story is one of deep comfort and huddling in fellowships where we congratulate each other on being a Christian but not engage in a larger narrative of redemption.

What if we were able to create ministries can show the redemptive power of the gospel…to those who are poor around the world…what if we did 30 Hour Famines every month…what if we instead of buying Christian T-Shirts used it to give thirsty people drink…

That is why we are sometimes wondering why our kids are bored…their highlight in fellowship is…the free pizza, they will tolerate the friday night pep talks, or just catching up with their childhood friends…they are bored because we have presented an incomplete gospel…one that is insular and focused on being safe versus relevant…

I did wonder what the Don considers to be “good” community…He touched on it…but didn’t expand on it…any thoughts?

Blogging on Willow Creek’s SHIFT Conference February 26, 2007

Posted by peterong in Events, Rants, SHIFT Conference, Youth Ministry.
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Thanks to Jeremy Del Rio, I have been asked to blog on the speaker sessions for Willow Creek’s SHIFT Conference. Other bloggers from around the country will post their thoughts and reflections on their typepad blog.
As I look at the lineup it appears to be loaded with some mix of the old and new…but as I suspected, no Asian American representation to speak of…Not a single Asian as main speakers, breakout sessions, and/or public leadership.

 Makes me wonder who is the audience for the conference and what why the lack of representation in such a mainstream venue? Is it that we don’t have any major leaders in this field or rather no-one provocative enough to grant a slot for speaking some truth. But perhaps they just didn’t value this representation of a distinctive Asian American voice could bring to a mainstream conference such as this. 

 Regardless, it is exciting to see old faces like Jeremy Del Rio, Phil Jackson, Adam Durso and Efrem Smith up on the stage. I will be watching most of the sessions via a live feed and will share my thoughts on the main speaker sessions.

I am particularly excited to see what Donald Miller has to say…as you know, his works have made an enormous impact in my own life and I have heard some of him here via the Veritas Forum resource site…I wonder what he will bring to a youth audience. My main buddy Jeremy Del Rio will do a talk on “Activism: From Fellowship Hall to Full-Contact Faith.”

I look forward to this opportunity and to jumpstart some discussion on the blog…

Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers October 6, 2006

Posted by peterong in Food for thought, Rants, Reflections, Youth Ministry.

Hey guys, I have been on a hiatus due to a bad cold and recovering from a pretty brutal trip to NYC where I preached and worked and had one too many chicken wings (I will share about that later..hehehe..) but this NY Times article definitely got me out of bed and back into the thick of things.

I am not sure how I feel about these statistics since I don’t know how you trace the narrative of faith…how do they know that later in life that God doesn’t bring them back? I find that these rallies are part of the problem and not part of the solution…and that is it gives them this injection of a “faith moment” instead of a “faith movement” calling them to a long obedience.

I believe that there should be directing the issues regarding the state of the church and the way many of our young congregants are not finding refuge, purpose, vision or the profound sacredness of God in our sanctuaries. Many of our ministries we “dumb” down to the youth and not provide a “God-sized” vision for these young saints. One of the questions often asked of me about what we need in Churches…is it leadership (yeah, Hitler was a leader), is it better resources (yeah, I am sure Mao was pretty well financed) but I find that what the youth of today need are “deep” people who have spirit healed scars…like a spiritual Rambo…who have been through seasons of torrential hardships and yet found the hope in the resurrection and the wonder beauty of the gospel…these brothers and sisters who have found that the story of the gospel is one that is filled with flesh and blood…that is truly alive because it has truly saved them from the despair and yet know that patience in the midst of hardship is filled with silence and tears…these “survivors” are the ones we should give to our youth and to empower to speak out against the world’s counterfeit appeals of what our soul desires…that is salvation…the words that we long to hear…”I no longer call you servants…” and “it is finished.” There is hope…these young pilgrims are finding hope…in their passion….unfortunately it is often muted in ridiculous parodies of discipleship that is filled with tribalism and failures to keep true to vision that they are truly a “royal priesthood…”

New York Times

By Laurie Goldstein

Despite their packed megachurches, their political clout and their increasing visibility on the national stage, evangelical Christian leaders are warning one another that their teenagers are abandoning the faith in droves.

At an unusual series of leadership meetings in 44 cities this fall, more than 6,000 pastors are hearing dire forecasts from some of the biggest names in the conservative evangelical movement. (more…)