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Campolo and Youth Workers

Dr. Tony Campolo argues that youth workers are clueless and not intellectual. In the interview he states:

“I find most youth workers haven’t a clue as to what macro economics is all about and how macro economic factors influence the poverty, and create the poverty in third world countries. They don’t understand why third world peoples are angry with America…They hate a powerful country that is able to control international trade in such a way as to increase poverty in third world while it aggrandizes itself. Those insights into how things operate on the macro level and how macro factors in politics and in economics in third world countries and in our own country foster poverty are totally beyond the comprehension of most youth workers and that’s a very sad thing indeed…”

Campolo goes on to give his honest critique of youth workers:

“Point blank, I am not impressed with youth workers. I find that they don’t know what’s going on in the world. That youth work becomes a matter of fun and games. When I go the National Youth Workers Convention I get more depressed every year. Because what I find is what the youth workers are really interested in is techniques. They don’t want to deal with issues. They don’t want to deal with the hard nosed facts of what is going on in the world.”

I completely agree with Tony that young people need to be invaded by the Holy Spirit and inwardly motivated. Tony advocates that the Holy Spirit can and will be the transforming force in people’s lives, and that when the Spirit of Christ is alive in people, they become very aware of injustices. They become very sensitive to the needs of the poor and oppressed.

Yes Tony does have a point—youth workers need to wake up and learn a bit about macro and micro economics, politics, western philosophy, leadership theory, physics, and theology. I think many youth workers are pretty uninformed on world events, and important issues like economics, science, and politics that are connected to “spiritual” or ministry issues. Although I think a small number of youth workers are genuinely wanting to seek master or even doctoral education to inform themselves. A youth worker seeking his or her master’s was un-heard of ten years ago.

However trying to read everything and anything can get overwhelming and daunting. My own reading philosophy is about 70% of the reading I do (magazines, books, online articles) are more directly “spiritual” or ministry related. It is all about finding the balance.

Also, it is my belief that being a follower of Christ is to stay engaged in “worldly issues” – both for my own good as well as the good of students as they witness me living out what it means to be a Christian who is in the world.

I want Tony to know that there are some youth workers who are trying to grapple with the ideology within marco and micro economics. I appreciate Tony because he is doing something in America Evangelicalism. He communicates in hyperbole and does not care if you get “offended.” Tony is challenging Christians by demonstrating how their faith can offer solutions in a world of complexity.

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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