Friday, February 09, 2007

Kenda Creasy Dean: Lecture 1, "The Empire Strikes Out"

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Kenda Creasy Dean - Lecture 1: "The Empire Strikes Out"

Begins w/ a video parable "training fleas requires placing them in a closed glass jar. after 3 days, fleas will never jump higher than the height of the jar. their behavior is set. and their offspring will automatically do the same.
is this like our churches? yes, a lot of yesses (always done it this way, above our comfort zone, change is good - you first)

The Empire that Struck Out: Christendom. People think we're still functioning in this Empire that has struck out. Was always more about the emperor than it was about Christ. Reason to gather everyone around in the guise of a "Christian nation." Assumed everyone was; if you weren't, you were a social outcast.
We try to form XN young people into Christendom, into a jar that no longer exists.

Video clip 2: pied piper playing around 3 kids who are bored, apathetic, scratching their butts; get excited when the guy combusts (burns out for no good reason)

How do I keep them? How do I excite them for the best thing in life?
Faith as a product we dispense (youth pastor as Pez dispenser). Relic of Christendom. Theologically wrong.

If the church is going to be about anything other than training fleas to jump in the jar, then youth ministry must lead the way. Primary focus of church on Christ.
Church's original identity as a missionary movement. Reclaim our identity as a missional church.

National Study of Youth and Religion - 1st study in YM to reframe issues/problems in YM as the problems of the church (they're not just a problem w/ young people)
1) teenagers aren't hostile to religion (on the whole, benignly positive; not b/c they like XNY, but b/c they couldn't care less) - WHATEVERISM
2) teenagers' faith mirrors their parents' faith.
3) teens almost completely lack theological language (incredibly inarticulate about religion); least art. are mainline protestants; catholics slightly better; exceptions were mormons, conservative protestant, and black protestants
4) a sign. minority (40%) claim that religion is important to them and 8% say it makes a difference in their lives.
5) most teenagers find religion inconsequential. most teenagers adhere to moralistic therapeutic deism (MTD) as their unacknowledged religions creed. helps you do good, feel good, puts god in the background (the cosmic butler or guidance counselor). god created, says be nice to others, the goal is to be happy and feel good, god is there to solve my problems, and good people go to heaven when they die.

MTD v. Apostle's Creed: MTD is all about "me"; AC is about God and who God is (is very descriptive...)

MTD has colonized American XNY to the point where it is the dominant faith. Kids don't practice it b/c it's what ... it's what is taught in church

If the study is correct, then kids are going to jump only as high as we do, as the church does.
"Youth ministry just got moved out of the basement...full throttle." Scary, b/c now we're not just mucking around w/ YM. we're messing w/ the church. we've said the youth are the prophets, but we're finding they're prophets that are damning us. cuz we're all in the boat.

Solution? not get kids to go to a MTD more often; acknowledge that we are a post-Christendom community. not them coming to us, but us being sent. TURN THE ECCLESIOLOGY ON ITS HEAD.

Mission became either a coercive consumerism; or something a few people do to people not like us on behalf of the larger church (b/c in Christendom it is assumed all are "in").

Whenever (in any age...jerusalem, rome, middle ages) XNY loses its grip on the center, it leaks to the edges (gentiles, barbarians, celts, those on other continents).
Influences: John ?? Hall (Christendom), Andrew Wall (Scottish Methodist Missiologist: future of church is not going to look like what it looks like in NA or W. Europe, but what it looks like in the Southern Hemisphere: expressive, dynamic, outside the box, experiential, experimental. this happens in one place here: YM. mission isn't about contextualizing the gospel, but learning it in new ways through the eyes of a culture entirely different from our own, b/c they see things that we never knew it was there.)
Principles of Missional Theology
1) translation principle - gospel can't exist outside of culture. incarnation itself was an act of translation
2) indigenization principle - church must become home to a part. area
3) pilgrim principle - church can't get too comfortable in any part. time and place

translation principle (counters pastor as pez dispenser) (divine origin: incarnation)(re-framing life to see our lives through God's life and not our own) example: video clip from Crash (conversation btwn dad and little girl hiding under bed, about bullets and an invisible cloak) how is that scene like my job as a pastor? pass the faith on to our young people - tell stories, give a diff't set of images to frame her experiences in; make it real by acting it out, wear the story; mystery remains, space for doubt; got down on her level; job is hers to share it w/ her daughter as he was instructed to do w/ her; she had to trust the giver of the story. analogy of pastor as translator. giving them the tools of having another story.

which story are kids going to re-frame their experience with? 2nd clip from Crash (shopkeeper finds daniel, waits for him at home after work, needs to blame someone for why his door is still busted and can't be fixed) girl believes the story and jumps into dad's arms right as shopkeeper shoot; she isn't wounded. how do you look it as a XN, how does that change how you look at it? being saved by nothing else but grace in the moment; her belief propelled her into action.

can't do the reframing unless you know the XN story first. (2nd scene couldn't happen w/out the 1st)

indigenization principle - "the discipline of staying put" (counters "meChurch" mentality (find on YouTube) - where it's all about you) (look for "jesus videos" on YouTube) (divine origin: ) giving OTHERS hospitable space, not creating space for us. attractional models aren't going to cut it anymore. go INTO the neighborhood and embody who Christ is and what he's about. radically praxis basis.
1) radical focus on Jesus Christ (church gets low marks, but jesus is rated high amongst the "unchurched")
2) incarnational infiltration (church doesn't exist for itself, we don't live for ourselves) - not being gathered together to protect them from the culture, but send the out into the midst.
3) embrace culture full-stop
4) ID and define through practices: example of st. laurent's cathedral in reading, UK where they've transformed the space into something that looks like...something from outer-space, it's movable/flexible; cited "mission-shaped church" report; blessing people to go out and form new communities in a diff't model. if you're going to be a part of this church, you are a part of (insert mission/ministry here). the orb in red bank, nj.
5) tendency to try to capture christ into the form we like best (taladega nights - baby jesus, teenage jesus, bearded jesus - i like the baby jesus best)

pilgrim principle - not just something we have, but something we are. 2/3 of God is "Go." mission exists before church. "spider and the starfish" - look analagous (several legs, central nervous system...), but they're very diff't. cut off spider's head, it dies, but a starfish regenerates. inside they're structured very diff. decentralization allows adaptation and reproduction. why the church has potential to have enormous influence.
questions from the book to assess whether you're a spider or a starfish. not every situation lends itself to starfish principles, but it's good to ponder.


the future of the church depends on Jesus Christ, not on us, so you couldn't kill it anyway.

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