Monday, July 31, 2006

Image Based

On my way to CHIC I was finishing Shane Hipps' book, and came across the following:

As image-based communication becomes the dominant symbol system in our culture, it not only changes the way we think but also determines what we think about. Images are not well-suited to articulate arguments, categories, or abstractions. They are far better suited for presenting impressions and concrete realities. Thanks to TV, political discourse in America is now based on intuition rather than reason. A presidential candidate is more likely to be elected if he appears likable, attractive, and trustworthy, all of which are subjective, intuitive evaluations based not on careful, left brained analysis of a candidate’s policy positions but on the right-brained impression of the mosaic television images.

It was interesting to hear some of the following comments when I asked the kids what they thought about the speakers we heard. Some of the comments were like this: "She talked too fast." "He kept doing that preacher know, the loud stuff than the whisper." "She repeated things too often." Of course, I would find myself asking, "Okay, but what about the content of what they said?"

It was encouraging to see that the kids could talk about the content of what was said and interact with it, but it did seem that they reacted first to their impression of the speaker and their style. Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. In the end, at least from what I could tell, the Spirit was at work and it showed. Are their implications for me in recognizing how the kids reacted first? I think maybe there are. I think.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

CHIC 2006

I returned home from CHIC yesterday. CHIC is a youth event for the kids of our denomination. It is held every three years and is a big event for our students. This was my fourth CHIC as a youth pastor.

It was an exhausting week. CHIC was held at, as Johnny Agurkis accurately describes, "the less than lovely University of Tennessee." The campus is a good sized one, with a fair amount of hills and lots of walking. It was also quite hot. Mix in some racquetball, 5 or fewer hours of sleep each night (except for the last night where I got 2.5 hours) and you've got a draining week. Yet, that wasn't the hardest part.

The hardest part was being aware of some of the pain that several students were carrying. Some of the kids in my group have had to and continue to face some very difficult life situations. So you mix the wear of bearing those burdens, as well as the incredible high of of the worship time and seeing God break through to your students in a powerful way, and sensing the great kingdom potential for each student (not to mention some of the obstacles) and you've got an emotionally drained youth pastor. (Oh yeah, and there was that slight possibility that my wife, due in three weeks, 2 now, could go into labor hunders of miles away.) Add to that the opportunity to catch up with some old friends and connect with friends you don't see that often...lots of ups and downs in a week.

It was a hard week. Exhausting, really. Physically and emotionally.

And I loved it.

God is good.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Supersize Yourself.

So I finally saw Supersize Me. I'll say this, it was compelling to watch, but the overall premise of the movie seemed a little silly. It's not really a secret that fast food isn't good for you, is it? Some in the film argued that not enough people know this and that people need to be better educated, especially poor people. Really? Do poor or under-privileged people really not know that this food isn't good for them? I'm seriously wondering. I don't know, it seems to me that most folks know eating McDonald's isn't good for you...and eating there every meal every day is a bad idea too.

What was more eye opening than the "McDonald's is bad for you" angle, was the look at school cafeterias. The cafeteria he visited was pretty much a fast food restaurant. . It was contrasted with a school for at risk youth which focuses on healthier, non-processed, fresh cooked food. The teachers claim to notice a difference in behavior...less sugar and less caffeine.

One of the DVD features was an interview with Eric Schlosser, author of the book, Fast Food Nation. He got into the way fast food comes to be, the way the animals are raised and so on. I can't help but think that the movie would have been more effective if this angle had been included in the actual movie.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Some Things Shouldn't Change

I got a card in the mail the other day from a former youth group student, "Francis". I've known Francis since he was in 6th grade and now he is, well, older than that, but it's been awhile. The card said, essentially, "you've had an impact on me and my faith, thank you." It's very humbling and rewarding to receive a card like that and yet it is a reminder that whatever youth ministry needs to look like, relationships have to be first and foremost.

Being present with a student isn't always easy. Mark Yaconelli, in the book I mentioned in the last post, is making the argument that the more we are present with God, the more able we are to be present with students.