Paul Martin has been working through an excellent series of posts on the individuals he sees as the voices in the coming (currently happening?) revolution in youth ministry. This week he mentions theological voices.
I find the inclusion of an entire post devoted to those who are thinking about youth ministry from a theological perspective to be extremely refreshing. Perhaps more refreshing still is that most of these individuals have theological background. They could write a paper for an academic journal. Ten years ago, when I was in college, I remember being disappointed that there were not more voices from theological and biblical studies that were speaking into youth ministry. In hindsight there were voices, I just wasn’t aware of them yet (Kenda Creasy Dean, for instance). But there has certainly been an increase in recent years.
I still find it disappointing that we don’t have biblical studies people speaking into youth ministry. I realize that some will say that biblical studies is an extremely specialized field, whereas practical theology necessarily recommends itself to these kinds of interactions. However, without biblical studies speaking into youth ministry our curriculum will continue to be less than it might otherwise be. We will continue to be comfortable with whatever gets us by in terms of our knowledge of the Bible, instead of challenging ourselves to go the distance. In the 90s no one would have believed that youth ministry would experience a theological renewal, and itself be pushing other ministries of the church to think theologically and have greater depth, but that is exactly what is happening. Maybe youth ministry can be the place where we start engaging Scripture in much more depth than we typically do. In another fifteen years, maybe youth ministry will be leading the charge and encouraging pastoral staff to use the tools they learned in seminary. Maybe youth ministry can be a place where Christians are challenged to acknowledge Scripture for what it is, really wrestle with the difficulties this presents, own it as our story, and allow it to form our lives.