I’m afraid we’re quickly losing it. My prayer is that we don’t. This morning I grieve for youth ministry. And this morning I hope for youth ministry. Some incomplete and non-exhaustive thoughts. . .
Over the course of the last few days, I’ve read articles, tweets, posts, re-tweets, re-posts, and more that have left me shaking my head in what I sure hope is humble distress over what many of our high-profile, much-beloved, often-read, and eagerly-followed leaders have been saying about things like Scripture, discipleship, diversity, and the foundations of the faith. Much of it has played well to those among us who want to hear these things. But what I want to hear usually isn’t what I need to hear.
I realize that much of what I’m reading and hearing needs a bit more context for me before I respond in specific ways. But I don’t think it’s too early to respond in some general ways in order to push back on some tendencies that I believe we need to avoid as we listen to our leaders.
First, just because so-and-so said it, it doesn’t make it theologically correct or morally right. When it comes to theology and ministry strategies, I was taught to filter everything said by everyone through the filter of Scripture. It was one of the most valuable ministry and life lessons I ever learned. In turn, I’ve taught everyone to do the same with everything I’ve said. I know myself better than I know anyone else. I see my broken heart and my own broken motives. Consequently, I would issue that same warning to everyone who listens to anything I have to say. . . even this.
Second, social media can’t be our primary theological textbook. We start with the Scriptures. We move on to read those who are among us and who have gone before us who have worked hard in corrective community to think theologically and write theology. To fail to build on the foundations given to us by the best, the brightest, and the most faithful is to choose a destiny that falls apart quickly.
And third, maybe a changing culture context doesn’t require wholesale shifts in Biblical theology and interpretation. Maybe what needs to change and shift is the culture itself. Culture doesn’t throw correctives on Scripture. Scripture offers the corrective when culture strays and gets it wrong.
And so. . . I hope. . .