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I watch my students spend huge amounts of time scrolling through Instagram, Snapchat, FB, Twitter, and texts. Where does all of that information go? How do we help our students navigate the changing world of social media?   

May 15, 2017 2 0 comments
Resource, Curriculum

Changed for Life is a free downloadable resource that equips short-term mission teams, the hosts who receive them, and the congregations who send them, to craft a well-organized mission experience with the potential to catalyze lifelong change.

May 3, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Activity or Game

Ahhhh…it’s Lent! What am I going to do with my middle school kids? That was me last week, and once again, God provided a lesson that reached my kids and I wanted to share it with you. 

March 2, 2017 1 2 comments
Blog

The hope is that the environment of a microbrewery and a community of equally inquisitive young adults will attract some of those people who wouldn’t normally attend a meeting affiliated with the church.

January 25, 2017 1 1 comments
Blog

Before the second half of your ministry season starts feeling too weighty, resolve to create some healthy ministry supports for yourself and for the folks you are ministering alongside. 

January 11, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

During our week of learning, one of the most powerful experiences we shared every year was an Anointing Service. Yes, our Christian Reformed church hosted an Anointing Service! 

January 4, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

Removing the weight of a weekly, curriculum-based youth night allows our leaders to be more intentional in their relationships and more willing to include these youth in their day-to-day lives.

December 15, 2016 3 2 comments
Blog

After 22 years of full-time youth ministry, I’ve come to realize that I'm no longer passionate about youth ministry. What I am passionate about is the intergenerational faith formation of our youth and young adults.

December 5, 2016 0 3 comments
Blog

I get it; you are swamped in your youth ministry work. For this reason, I'd like to suggest four ways to find, maintain, and keep perspective as you plan and implement your programs.

November 29, 2016 2 0 comments
Blog

It’s no secret that ministry leadership can be lonely. So how do you enter into a mentoring relationship with someone you can trust? Here are 5 things I've learned along the way. 

November 21, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

For a variety of good reasons, youth workers are sometimes hesitant to engage in political issues or stories with their youth. But the gospel of Jesus is thoroughly political, whether we admit it or not. 

November 14, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Rather than advising flashier technology or younger staff, Growing Young helps churches address some cross-cultural barriers that will produce deeper, more lasting change in their engagement with today’s youth. 

November 8, 2016 0 0 comments
Q&A

We have a few high school exchange students attending our church regularly who have no Christian background. Any suggestions for good resources to introduce them to the Bible and Jesus?

October 24, 2016 0 1 comments
Resource, Lesson or Study

My pastor recently shared an analogy that I thought would make a great conversation starter for youth leaders. As a disclaimer, this conversation works best if served with pie. 

October 3, 2016 1 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I am working as our interim Youth Minister and just need to hear what I already know to be true. Bad nights happen to everyone...right? Any idea how to teach students who encourage disrespect?

August 29, 2016 0 2 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

Looking to attend a conference or educational event on youth and/or intergenerational ministry? Here's a list of what's coming up this fall and into 2017. Please add your favorites to the list! 

August 8, 2016 0 1 comments
Q&A

I am looking for a sample job description for a Youth Ministry intern. Do you, or does your church, have any ideas you'd be willing to share? 

July 11, 2016 0 1 comments
Blog

For most churches, the thought of not having a "coffee" gathering time after worship would be unthinkable. And yet, how often do we ask how effective this time is in forming the faith of all who attend? 

June 29, 2016 3 0 comments
Blog

I think I want black and white answers to the questions that can plague me. But as I get older, as I do ministry and hear stories from God’s children around this world, I have a different perspective. 

June 21, 2016 0 2 comments
Blog

This past week I was asked to coordinate a dialog among the Bible class students at a Christian High School on the subject of how to think Christianly about sexuality in our local context. The opinions of the students were frankly expressed and they lamented the fact that their school often...

May 21, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

With the stage set for a great weekend, I felt my heart drop when I got my last phone call of the night from Josh – they had arrived, but Jarett was having an anxiety attack. 

May 11, 2016 3 3 comments
Blog

For Jarett, the thought of going to a church camp that was hours away from his family and those who fully understood his anxiety, was terrifying. Nonetheless, this year would be different. 

May 4, 2016 1 4 comments
Blog

In youth ministry, students don't always give you the instant gratification that you are making an impact. But fear not, God has shown me a prayer that has given me new eyes.

April 14, 2016 0 1 comments
Blog

I have often woke up in the morning dreading the day. However, a few new habits have completely changed my whole outlook, leaving me full of joy and peace. 

April 6, 2016 3 0 comments
Blog

After the webinar about mental health and ministry, we came up with a group of resources that ministry leaders have found helpful in dealing with mental health issues in our churches.

March 28, 2016 1 10 comments

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This was a good question -- asked several years ago.  I'm wondering if any of the participants in this original discussion could tell us what happened.  How did things work out?  Advice for others considering join youth groups with other churches?

 

Thanks for sharing Kevin. This sounds like a cool idea. I'm wondering how this would look like in a youth ministry that has more students than leaders... ?

 

Oh man, if I ever get to meet those leaders that switched to this programming I need to give them the coveted youth pastor awkward side hug, because they rock. Thanks for sharing Kevin!!!

 

Love this idea! It's a tangible and helpful way to stick with a Lent plan. 

Thanks for sharing this idea, Wendy. It's wonderful!

Providing a safe space to talk, and to be able to share authentically without fear of judgment and shame, goes a long way toward building community. And deep community is the context designed by our Lord for faith development. It doesn't happen sitting in pews on a Sunday morning. It needs to be built in to other church venues, for example small groups and adult classes. It seems very important to me that the Church lead the way in being able to discuss differences honestly and respectfully, as different parts of one body, especially in the divisive culture in which we live.

If I'm correct in assuming that these exchange students have a first language other than English, I wonder if the Manga Messiah version of Jesus' life would be appropriate.  The reading level is much easier than traditional versions of the biblical story, and the accompanying pictures can fill in any gaps left by not understanding individual words.  I hope this might help.

Thanks Karen. 

I plan on being at that Conference.  Sounds very interesting. 

Thanks for sharing the story of what an intergenerational culture looks like at your church, Ron. What a wonderful example of how we can learn from others in different places on their faith journey.

To those readers who are interested in learning more about the kind of intergenerational faith formation Ron is describing--consider attending the Intergenerate Conference next June in Nashville. The Faith Formation Ministries team will be there and we'd love to connect with you!

 

At our church, Calvary CRC we actually have 9 volunteer youth leaders of various ages ( 22-55)who

involve the seniors of our church 4 to 5 times a year. What a blessing to have the opportunity

to mix and learn about faith from each other.We need youth leaders who are not necessarily

trained professionals but need leaders who have a passion for building Faith across generations.

Gin: I know that it's been awhile since you posted this "cry for help", but I felt compelled to respond to it. After almost 30 years of youth ministry experience, changing cultures and changing churches, the one thing that is constant is that nothing stays constant :>).....I hope that you are not still dealing with the discouragement that you were experiencing in August but if you are here are a few suggestions. First, don't take it personally. It's more than likely not you or your techniques, but youth a that age are changing. Their bodies are changing, their emotions are changing, and their status in life is changing. With all this change comes testing traditional foundational truths in their lives. What does that mean practically?

Sometimes, all it takes is 1 or 2 in the group to ruin the evening, sometimes more.

(1) Try not to take things as a personal assault. Rather than seeing it as a defeat, see it as a challenge to overcome it. That means mixing things up until you find just the right mix that works. For some it's not a person speaking but carefully selected videos. For my group it's breaking into small groups in the middle of the devotion to discuss issues in smaller groups and they don't get antsy by moving them around and not sitting listening to a "blah, blah, blah" speech for an hour. We don't do devotions every week, that way they area looking forward to it when the week for devotions rolls around. Also, one week a month we have someone from the church or a Christian School/University come in and give a Testimony. This is actually the highlight of the youths month in yth grp.

(2) A huge part is having good leaders alongside and helping you out. I know you said that yth leaders were scarce in your church.ASk Council and parents for ideas in this area; maybe you'll find a person you wasn't even thinking about. Give assigned duties. If you're forte is devotions, then you do that every time. If you have a leader that is good and inspirational at choosing games; have them do that. Another person may like to choose and set-up snacks.....let them do it. If you delegate good - having people do what they are good at and enjoy - your yth grp will be good.

(3) Communication is also a Biggy.....Communicating with both the parents and the students. That may mean emailing parents but face booking youth; have a bi-yearly calendar by planning an entire half year at a time; see what activities work and what doesn't and you'll know what to eliminate for the next year. BUt remember the Yth Ldr Mantra, the only thing that is constant is that nothing is constant. Try some of those things that didn't work a few years later and they may work with a different set of bodies.

(4) Finally, we end EVERY yth grp evening with 10-15 minutes of circle prayer. Give the a topic to pra about: things to be thankful, the person to their left, family, school and watch how the spirit will move them. It may be awkward at first but by the end of the year, I promise you will have a majority of yth praying confidently in public.

So, that just a few ideas; sorry I didn't see this sooner; if you have any other questions or would like to contact me directly my email is alberthuizing@yahoo.ca....Always Serving Him, Albert!

On January 25-28, 2017 there's a wonderful event happening in Denver for children's ministry leaders, pastors, youth ministry leaders, and all other faith formation folks. Hosted by the Association for Presbyterian Church Educators this years conference features speakers Nadia Bolz Weber and Larron Jackson and includes a wide range of excellent workshops. Find out more here.

Gin,

 

Keep up the good work.  If there has been turnover in youth group leadership lately they may be testing you as to your response.  In that case it may not be as much about a new style of teaching to get to the kids who seem to know it all as it is about hanging in there with them, and in a sense, suffering with them in that way.  

But yes, there are bad nights sometimes.  I knew plenty when I did youth ministry.  Ask me about the World's Largest Bowl of Cheese Popcorn sometime. (Or don't, please don't.)

If there is a real disruption going on in the group, that can frustrate not only you but the kids who are there to learn or contribute.  I found a helpful book in dealing with these situations with respect is Les Christie's When Church Kids Go Bad: How to Love and Work with Rude, Obnoxious and Apathetic Students.  

Persevere!

Well for starts one thing would HAVE to be that they believe in Christ and can bring fun into learning more about how to follow him every single day!

Amen. Thanks for your comments

The old saying that we should worry about things we can do something about and leave the rest to God? Most theological questions, like higher math, are beyond understanding to most of us and are best left to God and/or math majors. 

This has been an illuminating read in understanding some of the dynamics of anxiety and suggestions for how anxiety can be addressed and accommodated. Thank you Jarett, Josh, and Annika for sharing this and for your commitment to one another.

Thank you Josh and Jarett for bravely sharing your story. It really highlights the need for all of us to become more educated and more sympathetic to those with mental health issues. I think as a church we have a long way to go to removing the stigma we place on others. I pray your story is another step forward. 

Hats off to Jarrett, Josh, Annika, and the whole group for making this work for Jarrett! I wonder how this experience will linger with everyone in the days, weeks, and years to come. I have a guess about one thing: Jarrett's openness about the challenges he was facing may have helped everyone to become a bit more open and vulnerable about their own struggles. 

For those eagerly waiting, part 2 is now live

Looking forward to part 2!

 

Eagerly awaiting part two!

Annika, thanks for posting this. Looking forward to part 2!

Thanks again Mark, and you too Ron,

currently our Jr. high group is reading the Bible together out loud, one verse and paragraph at a time. And we are using about ten different translations, so the kids have to listen well. The goal is to improve their reading of the Bible skills, attenuating their ears to the variances. The experience has proven to be quite effective thus far.

the next skill we want to teach them is to engage in reading the Bible as a conversation with God (active listening). So I wondered how a text might end up speaking to a youth about 'discrimination' and/or 'bullying' should we read the story of Hagar? Or how a youth might ponder suicide when reading the story of Elijah after the Mt. Carmel story?

based on your comments, I am hearing you say that we need to allow the youth to actively listen and if the story speaks to them about such thoughts/actions - great! But do not attempt to deliberately the youth there.

if all this sounds great, thanks!

if I missed something, please comment.

Dale

Thanks Dale, very much appreciated.  I've used a variety of texts.    I've found poetry (Psalms) to be very good. And I've used the stories where Jesus is interacting one-to-one with another person.  I would be cautious of attempting to use a text with the attempt to speak into an issue.  The goal of Lectio is the practice of active listening, not the "lesson" of the text.

Something I've also found helpful is to use an alternate translation, especially for well-known passages. The new terms help bring a freshness to the passage.  

I hope this is helpful, and that your experience with your teens is beneficial.

A few I have used were Psalm 23, sections of Psalm 139, and sections of Psalm 145. 

Hello Mark,

thanks for posting this article.

Ron De Vries, you indicate that you have done this with some youth in the past.

Can either of you, or others, suggest particular texts that you have used? 

And, did you have a theme or goal that you wanted to achieve with the youth?

I am wondering if there are particular texts that might help broach subjects that the youth are struggling with...

Many thanks!

Dale

Thank you for this encouraging post and great reminder of I prayer we should all be praying in our ministry work!

That sounds like a wonderful idea!

Perhaps we need to record, via DVD, "elders" testimonies about their walk with the Lord?

 

 It appeared in May of last year, either the 19th or the 26th as a guest post. 

Here's the article on the network that Michele is talking about: On Chronically Normal People

Thanks for the information. Michele, where on the Network can we find that one article?

 Oh, and by the way there will be two articles in the Spring issue of SZMAGAZINE due to appear on April 4th that I wrote. They only publish online now, but you can get a subscription for $50.00 that will allow you to print as many copies as you want.  These subscriptions are mostly for organizations since they usually have the funds to afford that. One of them was already published on the CRC Network. 

I am very encouraged to hear about this cross training teaching at Neerlandia. When I am there in June, I would love to hear more about how it went.

Hello again Ron: I am commenting from home tonight as I am thrilled to see the "conversation going". If I were in my church office I could add to the list of resources.  At Neerlandia CRC, during the month of March, Pastor Ron Klok and I put together a CrossTraining series on Mental Illness Toward Understanding and Responding. That prompts me to say that for now I would add that our church family can be a valuable resource once we open up the topic for discussion. Blessings to all as we continue the conversation. Liz Nanninga, RN and parish nurse NCRC

Thanks for sharing, Austin! Having a personal relationship (and following through on commitments!) is huge. Really appreciate your thoughts. 

Great idea, Arthur! That personal connection is huge and what a great question. It gets at the deeper question of "How is your heart?" 

I really LOVE what Arthur Abbott said! In my experience, I have taken students out to our local coffee shop and we just sit together. I also got to their school every week. Being present in their lives has opened the (he cares) door and that has been helpful for starting the meaningful conversations. 

 

There is a man in my church by the name of Alvin Vandegriend. He and I have been meeting for weeks talking about payer and spiritual gifts, and one of the greatest things he told me was, "Keep track of who they are and what they do and be in prayer consistently for them. Whether they know it or not that builds a bridge between you both." 

So I guess to summarize it I would say continuously be present as much as you can(school, talking at church, events they participate in) and continuously be in prayer. That has worked for me.

Thanks for the recommendation Mark. I plan to add this to my reading list

Ron, thanks for this. Another book I highly recommend is Ministry with Persons with Mental Illness and Their Families. Mark

Thank you for this Michele. 

 Among periodicals for people who are not specialists in the field of mental health are Anchor Magazine for people who suffer from depression and anxiety disorders. SZMAGAZINE targets those who suffer from schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder. I believe there is also one for those afflicted with bipolar disorders, but you can check out the site mentalwellnesstoday.com for more information.  These magazines are published by an evangelical Christian, named Bill McPhee.

 I did watch this webinar, and it reminded me that even though anxiety is not a major problem of mine, I do tend to get anxious when responsibilities pile up and I have to be careful that I don't take more than I can handle.  Having schizophrenia even if I'm functioning at a high level still leaves me more fragile than people who are healthy.

I have found it useful to approach one-on-one or a group in the narthex before and after services, and say, "Can I ask you guys/gals a question?" I wait for an affirmative response and then ask, "What's been the most difficult thing you are facing in your spiritual lives this week?" I wait for a response and then take off from there with a deeper level spiritual conversation. I always get a response, and the challenge is having enough time to continue the conversation because the service is starting or someone gets called to the car.

 

Great post, Marc! I hope that the questions you're asking stir up some prayerful reflection in those who have an opportunity to shift their church culture in the right direction.

Greetings Tim:

  "In the 1969 book Recollections of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West, Benedictine monk Br. David Steindl-Rast wrote that Thomas said that he wanted "to become as good a Buddhist as I can."  [from Clark below] To me that is as close to practising as it gets.

But just for accuracy, a well balanced piece by Anthony Clark entitled "Can You Trust Thomas Merton" clearly demonstrates his move towards Eastern mysticism and Zen especially. It is here:

http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/can-you-trust-thomas-merton

 

Another recent post by Justin Taylor, who does not seem to engage with former Eastern mystics, but mostly scholars is a well-balanced treatment that even looks at some of postive givens of Roman Catholic mysticism. However he waves a huge caution flag and states the following dangers about such. Sadly the above article fails to address any of them. Taylor in his "An FAQ on Mysticism and the Christian Life" states:

What are some differences between Christian mysticism and biblical spirituality?

First, Christian Mystics tend to have an optimistic understanding of human nature. As noted above, they do not believe that mystical experiences can be self-generated, and hence it would be incorrect to label them Pelagian. But it would not be inappropriate to suggest that many of them were semi-Pelagian, or at least practiced spirituality in such a way that would lead one to this conclusion. For some, this is more explicit than for others (note George Fox’s notion that all of us are born with a divine “spark”). If all of us have a principle of grace or a ray of divine light residing within us, no matter our eternal spiritual condition, it follows that the ultimate difference between those who progress toward illumination and on to union are those with whom the human will has made a self-determination. The biblical view, to the contrary, is that all of us were “dead in the trespasses and sin in which you once walked . . . we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and of the mind and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Paul proceeds immediately to reveal the difference between those who remain in this state and those who change: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:1-7).

Second, there is another deficient element to the Christian Mystic’s anthropology: he does not fully recognize the healthy and holistic way in which God has created us. The Christian mystic tends to rend asunder what God has joined: doctrine and devotion, head and heart. Because the mystical experience is not open to falsification, external examination, or even rational analysis, the role of the “heart” must be elevated above the “mind.” In fact, part of the purgation process is to rid oneself of one’s thoughts that could supplying distracting data that would prevent a divine encounter. Whereas the biblical model is to fill our hearts and mind with the great and precious promises of God (2 Pet. 1:4)—meditating on his Word day and night (Josh. 1:8), such that it is compared to our daily, sustaining bread (Matt. 4:4)—the Christian Mystic seeks to not only purge himself of all that is sinful and encumbering (stage 2) but ultimately wants to purge himself of even his delights in the character and presence of God (stage 4). This is deeply and manifestly unbiblical.

Third, despite what they might profess, the Christian Mystic’s actions tend to undermine the necessity of grace. Biblically, there is grace to forgive and there is grace to empower. We are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8-9), and yet Paul also regularly imparts a benediction of “grace and peace” to his readers. Paul is livid with the false teaching in Galatia that suggests that we start with grace and then move on to works as the means of spiritual sustenance, incredulously asking, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3). The Christian Mystic often gives the impression that God might begin the process but it is up to us to find the right formula or set of rules to experience a deep and mystical encounter with him. Whereas the Christian Mystic is content to speak about the ascent and descent of the human soul in its question for a divine encounter, God tells us in his word that we are not to say in our hearts, “‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down) or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). Rather, it says: “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:6-10).

Fourth, the previous point flow is bound up with  the Christian Mystics’ downplaying of the legal and forensic aspects of divine salvation. The work of Christ on the cross not only wipes our slates clean, but it also provides us with full, legal righteousness in the sight of God. We are not merely put back into the pre-probationary garden, where Adam was sinless but with the potential to fall; rather, we are united to Christ and adopted as his young brothers and as sons of the Most High. Everything he has, we have. Our salvation is secure not because of our works but because of his work. The Christian Mystic seems to view Christ mainly as our example, with the danger of Christ as our savior at times downplayed—and usually with Christ as substitute almost completely obscured. Only in so far as we realize that we are possessed by Christ and fully accepted by our Father can we be freed to walk with him in love, without servile fear. In so doing, our relationship to God is more like living with a loving Father whom we aim to please than it is like working for a boss whom it is difficult to visit with and where one’s job is always on the line.

Fifth, the Christian Mystic confuses the biblical order of union with Christ and communion with God. All who are spiritual—that is, all who are born again and made alive with God—are united with him. There are not some Christians who are united and some who are not. It is part of a package deal. With the legal and relational reality of union with Christ, we have communion—fellowship, participation—with the triune God. Whereas our union with Christ is immovable and secure, our communion with God can have ups and downs. There can be moments of greater and lesser closeness and relationship as we repent and return to the Lord again and again. The Christian Mystic conflates these two aspects of the divine-human relationship because he has such a small category for the forensic reality, and thus he is—in a sense—seeking that which he could already obtain from a childlike trust in his substitute and savior, and runs the serious risk of perpetuating self-righteousness in seeking to work for that which could be his as a gift. Another way of describing this is that the Christian Mystic has an under-realized soteriology.

Sixth, combined with the Christian Mystic’s under-realized soteriology, there is an over-realized eschatology. As mentioned above, we are united to Christ and seated in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:7). Those in Christ have already died and our life is “hidden with Christ in God.” What the Christian Mystic seems to fail to recognize is that when Christ returns, the—and only then—will we “appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:3-4). The Christian Mystic is seeking for something good—to be in the full and final presence of God without sin or stain and to be ultimately absorbed into the life of the Trinity—but he is seeking it at the wrong time. Our focus should be on communing with God through the means of grace, through individual discipline and corporate worship, seeking to know him more and more as we love God with all that we are and seek to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Seventh, the Christian Mystic makes a fundamental misstep in seeking to have a direct and immediate experience of God that is unmediated. At first glance, this desire can be seen as commendable. Should we not want to experience the presence of the Lord apart from any barriers or intermediaries or encumbrances? The biblical answer is that we should want to experience God in the way that he has ordained. First, we return once again to the issue of the work of Christ, who was sent by the Father to have a mediatorial role. He did not come as only a teacher or as a great example, but as our substitute savior, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:5-6). The only way to the Father is through him (John 14:6), and the Spirit and the Son combine to intercede for us before the Father and interpret our inarticulate prayers (cf. Rom. 8:27). Secondly, returning to the idea of an over-realized eschatology, we must recognized that on this side of the new heavens and the new earth, God “has spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:2), and we have access to his Son through his written Word. So the Word of God must be an irreducibly central role in both our communication to, and our communication from, the living God. To seek to separate God from his word, and Christ from his work, are unthinkable unrealities. And to bypass both of these mediatorial aspects of divine communication is a grave mistake that opens the door to that which contradicts the word of God.

Eighth, though not all Christian Mystics have the exact same presuppositions regarding the corporate nature of fellowship, there is a troubling tendency in the tradition to practice spiritual isolationism. We noted earlier in this essay that the Christian Mystic rightly obeys Jesus’s command that there are times when we must get alone in our prayer closets to pray in secret to our Father who is in secret. But the Christian Mystic sees the height of spiritual achievement as involved the mystical process of purging all distractions and individually seeking a communion with God. Even many Mystics who have sought to live in community have done so in a way that is isolated from society at large. What seems to be a noble quest for God, involving a renunciation of earthly pleasures (from marital love to clothing that does not scratch) is not held forth in the Bible as the ideal of godliness. We are to be eager to gather with the saints in order to stir one another up to love and good works, to encourage and meet with one another instead of neglecting each other. The idea of full-time Christians withdrawing from society and banding together may seem more spiritual, but it is not biblical. Spiritual growth takes place not only in the prayer closet, but in corporate worship as the people of God gather together to hear the Word of God read, and the Word of God proclaimed, and the Word of God sung.

Ninth, the Christian Mystic may be critiqued for having an incipient Gnosticism in his theology and practice. While biblical spirituality would certainly encourage every professing believer to purge himself of sinful thoughts and behavior, the Christian Mystic tends to go beyond this. The body, and the things of this world, are frequently regarded as competitors with God rather than gifts from God to be utilized and enjoyed. When Paul tells us to “set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2), he does not have in mind a fundamental spiritual-material duality. This is seen by his explanation of those earthly things we must shun just a few verses later: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. . . .anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (vv. 5, 8). These are contrasted with “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (v. 12). The Christian Mystic must seriously reckon with Paul’s association of deceitful spirits and demonic teaching with the forbidding of things like marriage and foods under the guise of godliness (1 Tim. 4:1). Instead, Paul says, “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4). If the Christian Mystic insists that some of God’s created goods must be purged, and that even his enjoyment of God’s very presence must be put away in the dark night of the soul in order to achieve union with God, then he is walking in contradiction to the very way and will of God.

Finally, although this has been touched on before in various ways, we may note again the crucial place that Scripture should play in our understanding of and practice of biblical spirituality. A bedrock principle of spirituality that is biblical is that Scripture itself plays an essential, norming role. God has spoken, and he is not silent (to use Francis Schaeffer’s memorable terminology). His word is clear, not obscure. His word is authoritative, not just advisory. His word is necessary, not optional. And his word is sufficient, not just helpful. The Apostle Paul proclaimed that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). At the end of the day, this is one of the clearest contrasts between Christian Mysticism and biblical spirituality. In the former, spiritual quests are made that are not informed and constrained by God’s self-revelation in holy Scripture. If we want our spirituality to be biblical, Scripture must be our norming norm.

Source:  http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2015/10/30/an-faq-on-my...

Great Treasure chest full of valuable information......Thanks Again, Leslie!!!!

I have had good experiences leading lectio with grade 9 students. I have led sessions with students as young as 12. 

I'm curious about peoples' experience with a younger group, such as grade 9.  

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