I was called out twice today on my thoughts about the cheerleaders. First by Chap Clark's comment that systematic change does not put people down, and second by a fellow blogger asking me what I would do with the cheerleaders. I assume she meant in a youth group setting. They are both right in calling me out because it doesn't appear that I have a very Christ-like attitude about the cheerleaders. I guess I didn't really present myself very well on that one.
I don't think there is anything wrong with the girls doing the cheerleading, or the parents who allow their girls to cheerlead. I think the glorification of sexually provactive dancing is wrong. I think it is wrong for girls to grow up thinking that their worth is found in their looks, how much make-up they wear, how seductively they move, how much they weigh. I think it is wrong to reduce beautiful young girls to eye candy. I don't think this is a problem with parenting. This is a problem with sin, as overplayed as that sentence may be. I still don't want my hypothetical daughter to be a cheerleader.
I do think that the Church (and parents are included in this) has dropped the ball on honoring purity and teaching children how to remain pure.
So what would I do with the cheerleaders? Love them. As for the Jesus cups, I still don't love them.
Now today we attended the General Session and listened to Ralph Winter talk about becoming better story tellers. I think this is fantastic, for God's story, our story, has got to be the most amazing story ever written. And I think Ralph is right, we have got to embrace our job as tellers of the story. Zach Hunter, the 15 yr old author, talked for a moment too. He was asked what his generation needs from their youth pastors. It took me about an hour or so to process what he said, but it is profound. He said, Give us God, believe in me, and don't make service the next gimmick. Obviously, I am paraphrasing, but that's the crux of it.
Ironically, the Skit Guys came out right after Zach Hunter. It is ironic because literally right after a kid that could very well be in any number of youth ministries begged youth pastors to give him God, we fall back into entertaining once again. The Skit Guys were funny, I just hope the pastors in the audience didn't miss that irony.
I believe young people are aching for God. I believe they are searching for an authentic and dirty and messy faith. I believe they are thirsting for Living Water. And I believe kids are smart enough to know when they are being fed a watery Gospel. I think maybe we waste so much time learning how to effectively plan, how to dynamically preach, how deliver amazing light shows, how to play the most incredible games that we completely miss that our kids are begging us to give them God. This breaks my heart. And yes, I am being critical, I am deconstructing, but that's ok.
I would make a terrible youth pastor. I really would. I have little patience for the "entertaining them into Heaven" schemes. I don't like to play games. I hate the common practices of "outreach". I certainly don't have enough of a heart for evangelism. I suppose this is why I work at a children's shelter and not in a congregation.
Now onto what I have liked.
I loved the community of sharing a meal with our friends last night.
I loved Chap Clark's seminar on Deep Justice, and his statement: Service is an event. Justice is a lifestyle. Oh if we could teach that to our children. If we could learn that ourselves.
I being able to share this with my husband.
I love that God uses us, even when our efforts are crass and crude, even when we are arrogant.
And, I love that even though I may be critical and cranky about things, I know and others know, that we are all in the same boat. We are all here under the precious grace of God who loves his children.