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Friday, July 31, 2009 

What Kind Of Culture Are You Trying To Build?

I’m a little cranky after reading the latest article from the Reporter, official newspaper of the LC-MS, concerning young adult ministry. Hate to be a negative Nancy but ya’ll know how so persnickety I can get. Here’s the article:

Web site features Synod young adult ministry
A new Web site for young adult ministry in the Synod is up and running at http://www.lcmsyoungadultministry.org.

Sponsored by the Synod's seven-member Young Adult Ministry Advisory Committee, the site offers:
• monthly blog articles by young adults about their ministry, culture, and faith.
• information about servant opportunities, including the committee's first "LEAD" servant event, held May 31-June 5 in New Orleans.
• book reviews about young adult ministry and culture.
• twitter feeds on the activities of the advisory committee.
Jessica Bordeleau, a member of the committee, told Reporter that the group's two-pronged goal is "to enable congregations to build a culture where young adults are able to fully participate in the life of the church, and to enable young adults to become an integral part of the church community, living out their faith in a global context."
Bordeleau is coordinator for Lutheran Youth Fellowship and Young Adult Ministry with LCMS District and Congregational Services -- Youth Ministry.

A virtual note paper-clipped to the site's home page describes the advisory committee and its work, as follows:

"We are a movement of LCMS young adults reaching out to our peers with the love and light of Christ. We know that no top-down institutional program is going to impact the heart of a young adult like a community of believers living out the love of Christ in their daily interactions, ... ready, willing, and able to be servant leaders who point our friends, communities, and world to the love of Christ in relatable, relevant, real ways."

Posted July 29, 2009

First things first… reread Ms.Bordeleau’s comments; “to enable congregations to build a culture where young adults are able to fully participate in the life of the church, and to enable young adults to become an integral part of the church community, living out their faith in a global context."

How the heck do these folks suppose that young people are to become active participants in the life are the church? Is this something that even requires “building cultures” within congregations? How do any of us become active participants in a congregation whether young or aged? The Means of Grace!

Through the Means of Grace, through God’s properly preached Word and through His rightly administered Sacraments we become part of the community of believers past, present, and future. It is the community that always gathers around the voice of her Shepherd, Jesus Christ that should be held up as something to be imitated. Sadly as of late people that gather for Word and Sacrament are mocked as museum keepers only performing a maintenance ministry!

Think I’m just an angry blogger who just doesn't like change? Then read the book of Acts and see how the first Christians grew the Christ’s Church. Read how Peter and Paul created a culture of community by preaching the Gospel and the repentance of sins as commanded by Jesus himself. Read how Stephan did the same and was martyred for living out his faith, albeit deadly, context! Can anybody point me to a single passage of Scripture that states we need to build cultures so that youngsters (or oldsters for that matter!) can feel like they are a part of a community apart from the Means of Grace? Is the phrase “build cultures” even in the Bible? I know my knowledge of Greek is extremely limited and my knowledge of Hebrew is nonexistent so maybe I’m just missing some hidden meaning lost on slack jawed yoke like myself but I can’t find a single English translation that speaks of “building cultures” either! Apart from the Voice, an emergent translation that makes the NIV look like a modern day pedagogic masterpiece, there isn’t a single translation I can find that points to works outside the church; i.e. “faith in a global context."” as something to measured from inside the Church. Yes, the outside world will know Christians by their works but the faithful don’t count these works as their own but rather as fruits of faith. Big difference between the two views!

Which brings me to the second point; this has the emergent church’s theological fingerprints all over it. The emergents nearly always focus on acting within a global community to help the world become the paradise our Lord intended it to be. Of course this misses the problem of the fall into sin entirely as the root cause of the real problem plaguing humanity and if you fail to understand the problem, how the heck can anyone understand Christ’s gifts won at the cross. This is why emergents always point to works and community outside the church catholic!

Now, read the article again; what does the monthly blog feature; articles for young adults about their ministry, their culture, and their faith, information about servant opportunities that they can participate in, and book reviews about their ministry and their culture. Not a lot about Jesus in there is there? Sorta begs the question; exactly what kind culture do you suppose they are trying to build?

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A culture built around the ascendency of the uninterrupted self (maybe???).

I also liked how this girl said this is a "movement." Perhaps if the LCMS has enough movements we'll finally expel the bug that caused this sickness.

Terry Dittmer, LCMS National Director over Youth Ministry, is enamored with the Emergent Church. There is an interview of him at the Wittenberg Trail where he defends having an Emergent Church leader, Dan Kimball, speak to youth leadership in the synod.

Yeah, I keep up with Dittmer and have seen a couple of things he has said in defense of Kimball's theological and dangerous goofiness.
With all the official stuff I read coming from synod it's clear that it's not just Dittmer who is enamored with the emergents.

The result of this approach to our youth is evident in the Concordia University system (at least the one I am familiar with). I met many young adults enamored with Mars Hill and the trendy messages of culturally relevant pastors. The saddest part is that I have yet to see a conscious effort to correct the youthful inkling to follow these emerging ways. Instead the chapel tends to lean toward this cool youth friendly style of worship and the Professors claim ignorance in regards to the theological stance of high profile people such as Rob Bell.

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