This coming weekend I am presenting my paper “Approaching Youth Ministry through a Post-Structural Lens” at Subverting the Norm II in Springfield, MO. Here is my abstract:
A postmodern mood fills the halls of youth ministries everywhere. We re-work tradition with liturgies, candles, and video clips. Youth play games one moment and the next learn the importance of sacraments. Youth ministry performs well, but in practice only. It lacks in respect to theology and philosophically. Most Christian youth leaders still land in conservative camps: leading suburban youth down the path of righteousness through conversion experiences, subcultured Christian music, and emotional highs with the divine.
If youth ministry wants to help youth and children, post-structuralism must be an intimate partner. It fights against binaries, lifts up difference, and listens to the margins of society. To bring post-structuralism to youth ministry, it will first be pastoral in its approach: teaching hope in times of tragedy and the hard questions of discipleship during day-to-day life. Second, experiences and Christian doctrines will be held loosely in the hands of the youth, allowing for critical thinking. Third, we will teach differences in discipleship and allow youth to follow a path that fits them. Last, by building webs of belief from experience to understand the divine and our relationship to each other. This approach encourages youth to dissect and understand their faith rather than scoop handfuls of beliefs, packaged and ready by the church.
I am very excited to present, listen, and interact with other religious postmodernists.