Live from Shift
Brian McLaren on why everything must change in youth ministry.

I'm sitting in Willow Creek's auditorium as hundreds of youth leaders and students slowly make their way in. In a few minutes Shift 2008, Willow's student ministries 3-day conference, will begin. As previously mentioned, for the next few days Out of Ur will be hosting the online component of this conference. We'll do our best to summarize the ideas and questions raised by each speaker. Our hope is that those of you attending the conference will chime in with your comments about what you are experiencing during these three days. And for those of you watching from a distance, hopefully these posts will give you a taste of what is happening here in Barrington, Illinois.

UPDATE. Here are some video highlights from this session.

This morning's first speaker, Brian McLaren, just walked in and Charlie Hall is beginning to lead worship so I'll sign off for now. Check back in a couple of hours for a summary of the first session. Later today we'll be adding video highlights so keep checking in.

UPDATE. Read on for a summary of the first session...

The main session began with a video called Did You Know? that can be seen on YouTube. The video creatively demonstrates the major and rapid changes going on all around the world. Though he didn't reference the video, it was a great set-up for Brian McLaren's presentation, Everything Must Change.

Not long into his presentation, Brian told a story of his time as a volunteer youth leader in the 1970's. He asked his youth group to brainstorm a list of things that were major issues in their churches. This list included things like speaking in tongues and contemporary worship music. The group then came up with a list of those things that were important to the group and their friends. This second list reflected the global concerns of the 70's: nuclear war, communism, famine, and overpopulation. In Brian's words, "there was nothing in common with those two lists."

Brian obviously believes that youth leaders have a role in shaping their students to be involved with that second list.

Every kid that I lead to Christ and commitment to the church is going to increase his or her commitment to the first list and will have less time to devote to the second list. Which list is God more interested in?

What do you think? What types of major issues are your students most concerned with? Does your church regularly address those issues? Should our youth ministries spend time equipping students for global issues or, as Brian put it, is our role mainly to "get people into heaven"?

April 09, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 22 comments

Tim Wright

January 02, 2009  7:31pm

The main responsibility of a follower of Jesus is to minister to The Father, not to man. Until we live in the one we will have no spiritual revelation to minister to people. We can do all the stuff the world does, feed the poor, etc in the flesh. But if we minister to the Father after our time with him, we will minister to people. Tim

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eric wright

April 10, 2008  3:49pm

Aaron, I disagree with your separation. Jesus' call to spread the Gospel was one that called humanity to live out the live in expectation of a recreated world...not escape from it. Part of recreating the world includes social activism, and the church has failed miserably because is has fought to separate the two. (Both sides have failed...some emphasizing a "spiritual" salvation over physical needs, and the other side emphasizing an activism apart from Jesus call to institute and spread the Kingdom.)

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aaron peternel

April 09, 2008  11:12pm

What Mr. McClaren fails to speak of is that in far too many of the cases, it is oppressive government, led by dictators and warlords, who keep the people in bondage. Brian's politics seemed evident in his talk, yet when our government does practice tactics to alleviate suffering, it's not good enough...we are deemed a nation apart from God's plan. We are warmongers - and practice a policy foreign to God's design? (Psalm 144:1) I agree that the church can do more and should do more to ease suffering in the world, but let's not confuse our mandates. Jesus sent the apostles into the world with the message of the gospel - not the message of social activism. He supplies the Holy Spirit for empowerment in part for impact in the ultimate battlefield, the battlefield for the mind. Everything else flows from victory there. Social justice, financial equity, women's rights etc. are all a direct result of encountering the truth that sets you free. None of this gets accomplished through mandate or legislation.

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April 09, 2008  10:37pm

Me and two of my cohorts were debriefing this afternoon...are there only 4 paradigms or framing stories that we can fit into? Is the fifth the "kingdom of God"? Does it exist now, or is it only a future reality?

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April 09, 2008  5:14pm

Jill, You missed nothing of the sort as it was not mentioned.

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April 09, 2008  3:31pm

is it me, or is the main "crisis" facing the world our alienation from God... guess I missed that in Brian's session this morning...

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April 09, 2008  2:11pm

Brian's message was great - certainly nothing like all the controversy he seems to generate. I don't know what was "heretical" about his talk - seems right on... For anyone who isn't at the conference but wants to hear his talk, you get it through the resources section at the conference website:

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Brian Beckstrom

April 09, 2008  1:09pm

I wish I was at the conference to hear Mclaren speak, but I did just finish "Everything Must Change". I must admit that I found the clip that they played before his presentation a bit curious considering the focus of the book. (I blogged about it this morning Did anyone else think it seemed strange?

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April 09, 2008  1:02pm

Wonderful post! Keep it up. I hope you have a blessed week! :-)

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April 09, 2008  12:12pm

I loved Mark's Eckhart quote: "God is not found in the soul by adding anything, but by subtracting," - Meister Eckhart.

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