Thoughts on community and more…

Had a great meeting with one of my mentors today. Ivan is a great bloke who although now working for the URC and not really a member of the Salvation Army but attends is Army by birth and upbringing. By that very long and convoluted sentence I mean he gets where we’re coming from! I love meeting up with Ivan because he’s got a life’s worth of youth work experience and gets what it’s all about…in many ways more progressive than many much younger than him.

Anyway, one of the things we were talking about was how we get this whole practitioner project thing up and running without upsetting people at the local Salvation Army centres. What I’d hate to do is walk in and say ‘what you’re doing is rubbish, listen to me…I am the all great, all powerful all wonderful Divisional Youth Officer’ when in fact I’m just figuring it out myself. One of the things we talked about is how we prepare the church for the hoped for influx of unchurched (and probably quite difficult) kids that could be reached through some kind of alternative education project. How would they integrate with the kids who already attend what’s going on at the church who are probably from a completely different background and may well struggle to relate to kids who are failing in all that they are doing?

One model would be to force them together – but wouldn’t that lead to factionalism? The ‘church’ kids vs the ‘new’ kids? How’s about trying something different, thinking outside of the box? Youth work outside of the centre, say in the school premises, or sports based or something, where there’s no ‘you’re coming into our territory’, but an opportunity to break down groups by placing them in different teams. Just thoughts really…

I guess this is a big question for the whole church – how do we do the whole inclusive thing and yet not make those who already belong feel like they’re not that important, or assume that they will automatically get on with whoever walks through the door? Community isn’t something that just happens…it’s something that often has to be worked on. Like trust…

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8 thoughts on “Thoughts on community and more…

  1. There’s only one answer – get the ‘church kids’ to sharethe vision and the mission.

    Are the ‘Church Kids’ saved? Are they consecrated? Are they evanelical?

    If the answer to any of these question is no then why are you trying to reach the ‘non church kids’… the pattern should be that we become ‘witnesses in Jerusalem” first ‘then Samaria’ and then ‘the uttermost parts of the world’.

    Personally I hate any kind of mission which (in the name of cultural relevance) forces members of the one body (or potential members) into ghettoes. Christianity is about blending/uniting/bringin together.

    I know I’m probably preaching to the converted but it’s just a thought.

    Yours, set apart by Christ, for the lost, in the Army.

    A

  2. Andrew,

    While I appreciate and totally understand what you mean, sometimes it’s just not possible to get the churched kids saved, for many and various reasons.

    So what do you do then? Leave them be? Leave the unchurched unsaved and thereby ignore them, condemning them to whatever kind of life they’ve chosen/had thrust upon them?

  3. How can you say “it’s just not possible to get the churched kids saved, for many and various reasons.” If this is true then it is equally true of the ‘unchurched kids’. If the ‘churched’ kids aren’t saved then in God’s eyes they are as good as ‘unchurched’.

    I am not suggesting that you abandon either group to hell but use equal effort to reach both – not forgetting that God will hold us partially responsible for anyone we come into contact with who ends up in hell – unless we have done all we can to win them.

    Love and prayers Andrew

  4. OK, recognising that it’s not us doing the saving anyway but the Spirit, let me rephrase that:

    Some ‘children of the regiment’ with whom I have come into contact have shown absolutely no willingness to be saved. Call me judgmental, presumptuous, whatever, but their attitudes indicate no interest at all in being saved. They’ve been there, seen it, done it, been brought up in the Army and bought the t-shirt, but don’t know or aren’t interested in what it’s really all about.

    I’m not saying we’ve given up on them but they do represent a significant brick wall against which heads continue to be banged.

    So do we leave it all to soak in and turn our focus elsewhere?

  5. Wow! Cool to see a discussion going on!

    I can see where you’re both coming from, in that ‘church’ kids essentially should be the missionaries to their contemporaries. However, on the other hand as a DYO the majority of kids I come into contact with are not at all anywhere in their experience where they can honestly be viewed as being witnesses.

    The sadness of the army culture (we chatted about this at urbanarmy Andrew) is that at some point being Army became more important than being Christlike. And Army meant uniform and brass ability/singing ability. That’s the reality of I would say 60-70% of the young people in this division. We’re working through this through really challening them, but I can only do so much regionally that needs local people to work hard on it locally too.

    It’s the eternal dilemma for the army – are we a mission or a church – if we are a mission our focus is the lost, if we are a church our focus is the flock…but I’m not sure it’s as simple as that. If we get our churched people on fire they do the mission – but we will come into contact with many who view church as nothing more than a safe port in the storm of life…

    do you get what I’m trying to say?

  6. I do get what you’re saying and I agree!

    I would be one of the first to say that we should leave the 99 in order to reach the 1. I also agree with the policy of shaking the ‘dust off your feet and moving on’ where the gospel has been rejected.

    My concern is not that we only go after ‘un-churched’ kids or that we concentrate too much on ‘churched’ kids. My concern is whether we have actually preached the gospel in an effective way to either group (and with God’s help we ought to be able to do both!)

    Andy said…

    “Some ‘children of the regiment’ with whom I have come into contact have shown absolutely no willingness to be saved. Call me judgmental, presumptuous, whatever, but their attitudes indicate no interest at all in being saved. They’ve been there, seen it, done it, been brought up in the Army and bought the t-shirt, but don’t know or aren’t interested in what it’s really all about.”

    It is hard for me to swallow this as I (and many of my friends) were unsaved ‘children of the regiment’ before we were touched by the gospel.

    I wonder whether we give up on Army kids not because they reject the gospel but because they reject the context into which we place that gospel. They don’t reject Jesus they reject a style of mission that is completely alien to their culture.

    I often here people saying let’s dispense with SA language etc, because it is culturally irrelevant – it isn’t culturally irrelevant to those whose culture it is. Let’s make sure that we do not neglect our own vineyard in our eagerness to tend someone else’s (Song of Solomon 1:6)

  7. Andrew,

    Very interesting comments. My case is very similar to Martin’s in that we’re dealing with a dyed-in-the-wool culture which loves the band but isn’t so keen on the Gospel. What then – apart from exasperation!

  8. We need to follow the example of Paul and become all things to all men in order to win a few.

    I’ll pray for you 🙂

    Love and prayers

    A

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