I had a delightful time with the youth pastors up above Estes Park Tuesday morning. My assignment was to talk about the gospel and how we evangelize in this era when we are trying to get a bigger grip around the full gospel. You can read Marko’s comment and I’ll record some thoughts on my time with the pastors:
First, what a lively group. Waaaay more lively than most I get to talk to.
Second, there was a genuine searching and evaluating and wondering and suggesting. They were reading Embracing Grace, which is nice since most people want me to talk about Jesus Creed. They had questions, they were making connections, and they were wondering how to implement it all. It was stimulating to me.
Third, because of the wealth of experience in ministry in this group, I felt at times that I was overmatched by experience: I had some suggestions and they had some “no way buddy” type responses. “Been there, done that, not gonna go there again” response once. What I said was that conversions of teenagers isn’t complete until that person individuates in adulthood — red flags went up everywhere. After the dust settled I think it was a statement on my part that was not complete enough; teenage faith is for teenagers and there is a need for ongoing development of faith as a person matures. As Marko said at his site (linked above), we were agreed when this discussion was over.
Fourth, overall we had a profitable time thinking about what the gospel is. I can’t tell you how often I’m finding this with the younger generation. They believe that the old “say the prayer and go to heaven gospel” has seen its day, and they are probing for a genuinely biblical and pastorally useful model of the gospel.
Fifth, when we had breaks there were a few who dashed out of the room to fly fish on the lake, and Jim (from Boulder) pulled out a 24 inch Rainbow, though the size seemed to grow over the morning.
Sixth, lunch meant time to burn off steam: they reminded me of, well, junior highers.
Seventh, I was driven by two of the pastor’s interns and I found both of them (Kathy and Will) mature and interesting young folk, and that they are involved in middle school ministries just makes them saints.
Now the biggest event of the day for me: I saw my first-ever Mountain Blue Bird and it shone like an Icon. It was breathtakingly gorgeous, and of course I looped some of the youth pastors into thinking they were seeing something important.
After I got home, it was a let-down to spend the day in a basement study when I knew those folks were hanging out at 9,000 feet and overlooking a great valley and lake. I’ll get over it.