I started out my theological training 6 years ago with the sole intention of being the worlds greatest youth pastor. OK, so theological training has a way of taking ideas like becoming the “greatest”anything out of you, which is a good thing. Theological training also opened up the world for me, and over the years my eyes was opened to know that there is more to ministry than youth, and more to following Jesus than ministry.

I still remained involved with youth camps all through my studies, but since June 2007 I’m back into youth ministry. The challenges has changed since I was at school, or maybe all the years of theology just opened my eyes to a world more complex than I thought, opened my eyes to all the kids who don’t care for what we youth ministers are doing. But OK, I’ve been back for a year, and I’m slowly starting to find my feet again, I think.

I found this quote a few days ago in a book I use frequently when planning camps, well, actually I use it much less nowadays, because I practically know it by heart by now. But I printed this quote in 2005 and pasted it into the front of the book:

I look back over my years in ministry and ask what has actually helped people change and deepen spiritually: (1) youth retreats, (2) short-term mission trips, (3) some small groups (I say some – others were a waste of time), (4) many one-to-one relationships, (5) getting people involved leading something or serving somewhere.

It’s from A New Kind of Christian, p122. Maybe I need to do some checks more ofter, to see how much of my time I spend on these activities, and how much on keeping kids busy.

Must add though, I just got back from an AMAZING conversation with one of the young leaders in our congregation. She is roundabout 15, and we talked theology, I explained the worldview of Biblical writers, the process in which the Bible came into being, how it was canonized, and most importantly how I see Jesus. Great conversation, she is currently reading The Secret Message of Jesus. Remember the post of a few days ago? Well, I think today might have been part of the reaction to it.

A question: What books would you recommend for high school kids? I’ve been realizing lately that most books I read I’m either not comfortable with, or I fear they are too complicated. Blue Like Jazz is a good idea, but what else?

blue like jazz

December 18, 2007

I was reading Blue Like Jazz the past few days, it’s by Donald Miller, and he basically tells his life-story. Well, at least up to this point, since he is only 36. But it’s really beautifully written.

The sub-title is non-religious thoughts on Christian spirituality. Whether Miller really achieve this is debatable, in the end, whether he want to admit it or not, Miller is still busy with some religion, although then in the wider sense of the word, definitely different from what you’d find in Christian religion generally. Like many others he came from an American fundamentalist backgrounds, and then turned into some kind of emerging thing.

What really strikes me is the amazing honesty with which he writes. I want to use this in our gap-year program, not so much to teach anyone anything, but more to help people in looking at their own stories with honesty. He struggles, but learn through this. He’s not always the nice guy, actually, sometimes he does some pretty stupid stuff, but then tell you about it (OK, maybe this just made him a good-seller, but I still liked it).

Theologically? Well, don’t expect this amazing insights, or this new systematic theological treatise on God, but I don’t think this is what Miller intended. Rather, read it for what it is, one man’s story of spirituality (that which happen between our understanding and experiencing of faith, or, how faith becomes practical in our day to day life). And it’s really inspiring, and very funny. Or else, just read it for being a fine piece of literature (for the Afrikaans reader, he reminded me of Seks, Drugs en RockĀ & Roll by Koos Kombuis).

Something else. It’s holiday, and although I am working, I also have a lot or spare time. So yesterday I watched Mozart and the Whale, the story of two autistic people falling in love, struggling in relationship, but fulfilling each other in this struggle. It’s a REALLY amazing story. Truly inspiring!!!