My Thesis: I argue there are 5 ways to relate Christ to your local youth community in order to transform culture. This process is called—youth ministry contextualization.
This thesis is really the heartbeat and mission of REYouthPastor.com
My assumption: Some youth pastors think culture poisons our youth ministry culture. Also, some youth pastors reject every aspect of culture and create their own“holy” subculture.
Youth pastors have 3 options:
Youth Ministry contextualization happens in five parts:
- Move into the city
- Understand the Gospel
- Integrating faith and works
- Live countercultural
- Youth ministry serve the good of the city and school campuses
1. Live Locally
To understand your current community’s cultural influences and tradition, it is essential to live where you minister. In order to receive God’s heart for the city, you have to be able to see (1st hand) the cultural trends and the sin and strongholds within the community.
2. Know the Gospel
The Gospel is God’s single redemptive plan for humanity. The Gospel is restorative, transformative, and redemptive. Students need to know that the Gospel takes the weight off and encourages them to help God restore the world and set it back right. When students accept the Gospel, they give up the car keys to their life. Essentially the gospel means students have to give up their life ownership. Students need to know when it gets tough; Jesus paid it all and defeated the evil ways of this world.
3. Faith, Life, School, Culture, & Church
Youth pastors need to show how Jesus intersects with life, church, and culture. The Gospel is a worldview and not something that makes individuals feel good. Youth pastor needs to get better at raising up cultural leaders within their youth ministry. Youth pastors must deconstruct the student homogeneous population and design a youth ministry philosophy around the students’ real needs. For example, if the dominant student culture and population is legalistic, then youth ministry really focuses on grace. If dominant student culture is lazy, rebellious, and sex addicts, then focus on repentance and God’s restorative plan. Then, flip flop. Identify the unseen needs. Students need to see a Jesus worldview that appropriately responds to sexuality, politics, money, school, and relationships.
Lohfink in Jesus and Community calls this: Contrast Society. Stanely Hauerwas call this: being a resident alien. Youth ministries need to create mini clusters and sub groups that show diversity and value the teaching of Jesus– love, service, forgiveness, patience, and compassion. Non-Christians students need to see Christian students inhabit the city and live very differently. Youth groups need to look like the High School campus while being fully devoted to following Jesus. It is a problem when youth groups don’t look like the community and is full of people who talk and look the same. Student Christians are not trying to take power. Basically they are trying to live very differently in terms of how they see sex, money, school life, and power.
5. Serving the Good of the City and School Campuses
Youth ministers need to look at their neighbors and ask: How can our youth ministry make our neighbor’s lives better? Youth ministries may want to consider to be outward and not church focused. Asking how we can make our church/youth ministry better is a completely different question than asking how we can make our local community a better place. It is all about serving! Serve the local school campuses in a way where you are not in the way.