By Rev. James Ellis III, Chaplain of Discipleship at Hope College
In Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian, CEO and founder of International Justice Mission, Gary Haugen raises a timely moral inquiry for our society: “Are we raising our children to be safe or to be brave? Are we raising our children to be smart or to be loving? Are we raising our children to be successful or to be significant?”
Given years of work with young people in churches, my interest in Haugen’s concerns the responsibilities of Christian parents and adults. I have encountered many in Christian communities who, perhaps through a wacky combination of innocence, avoidance, and theological misguidance, live as though playing dodge-ball with hardship is the way of Christ.
In this mindset it’s anathema to not pursue or enjoy an existence that avoids risk at all cost. Continue reading The Struggle is Real
By Rev. Dominique A. Robinson, Children’s, Youth & Young Adult Pastor, Providence Missionary Baptist Church
It’s summer time and this means that most churches are either on break or working overtime to keep their children, youth and young adults engaged. My church is of the latter type. We work hard to offer more than the usual programming beyond the Graduate Recognition service in May and the Back-to-School service in August. We seek to have weekly discipleship encounters for the purposes of consistency and faith development.
However, as a Children’s, Youth & Young Adult Pastor of an urban context, I have learned that weekly bible study, two Sundays a month separate worship and monthly fellowship events are not enough to sustain the attention and develop the faith of my young people.
What they are looking for is beyond a lock-in. They want answers! They want safe and sacred spaces to express how they feel about what’s going on in the world around them. Continue reading Beyond the Lock-in: Real Ministries Require Real Conversations
Columbia Theological Seminary’s Rodger Nishioka, Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education, has been appointed to the Joy and Adolescent Faith and Flourishing (JAFF) Advisory Board of the Theology of Joy and the Good Life project based at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture. The three-year research project is made possible by a $4.2 million grant from The John Templeton Foundation.
The JAFF Advisory Board will assemble some of the nation’s foremost scholars of youth ministry. As a member of the board, Dr. Nishioka will conduct research and direct the project in collaboration with the project’s principal investigator, Miroslav Volf, Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, and an extraordinary group of scholars and religious leaders from institutions around the globe, including Jürgen Moltmann, Jonathan Sacks, N. T. Wright, and Nicholas Wolterstorff. Continue reading Rodger Nishioka Appointed to Leadership for Theology of Joy and the Good Life Project
By Michelle Thomas-Bush, MDiv ’94
Imagine growing up in a world knowing two presidents: one black and one white. AIDS is treatable, and Arnold Palmer is a blend of lemonade and iced tea. This is the only world today’s sixth-graders have ever known.
Members of the class of 2022 were born into a world that has always had the presence of homeland security. Children have always been soldiers and their stories have been documented by Invisible Children, formed in 2004, the year most of these students were born. Social media has also always been a presence with TheFacebook being born the same time they were. They have never known a time when same sex couples could not be married somewhere in the United States. The year they were born, we began really thinking about brain development when Stauch published The Primal Teen. Daily life’s givens include electric cars and tax forms in English and Spanish. Learning how to cook takes place via the Food Channel and they often cook better than their parents. Continue reading What You Don’t Know About What They Don’t Know: A Little Reorienting
By Michelle Thomas-Bush, MDiv ’94
It is at the dinner table where significant moments in my life are celebrated, revealed and sustained. Not through the food, but through the relationships and the conversations with those gathered to be family in this moment. Sitting down together at the dinner table builds a strong family. Dinnertime with family also builds a strong vocabulary.
Continue reading Parents and Youth Leaders, That Problem You Worry Most About? Try This.