This post is written by Michael Kimpan, our Associate Director at The Marin Foundation. You can read more from Michael at his blog here – and his book, Love Never Fails :: Building Bridges Between the Church and the Gay Community will be available for pre-order soon (Fall 2014, IVP).
In what feels like a former life, I used to be a high school Youth Pastor – and while I can’t say it was a great fit, I must admit I sure did learn a lot while studying at my undergraduate alma mater to become one.
Since those days at Moody Bible Institute, I’ve also learned that a lot of what they taught me in Bible College about theology and students and ministry principles based on research and a culture born out of the ’60s and ’70s didn’t work all that well when I was engaging with students born in the 21st century.
Initially, I was motivated to become a Youth Pastor through relationships with a few of my own youth leaders, and further inspired by watching a guy named Tony Jones (who also blogs with provocative posts here on patheos) engage in an unconventional style of youth ministry while I interned at a para-church organization in the Rocky Mountains each summer. Many moons ago, even before he had written Postmodern Youth Ministry, I could tell Tony had a pulse on the philosophical shifts taking place in our culture and the ways in which they affected teens.
Perhaps even more than the folks who taught me at Moody.
Since then, Tony has become a tremendous theological influence on myself and many others, and has also become a dear friend – which is why I’m so excited about this :: in March, Tony and a few other friends are headed toward Chicago to put on a conference for youth pastors interested in engaging culture differently than how they learned to in their own evangelical bible college classrooms all those years ago.
In the words of their website,
It can be difficult for a youth worker who identifies as “progressive” or “liberal” to find a tribe. Most events, conferences, camps, and curricula cater to evangelicals. But as progressive theology gains more of a foothold in the church, we need a place to gather as well — a tribe to meet with, and new ideas to stoke our imaginations.
For that reason, The Jopa Group and Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago are inaugurating the Progressive Youth Ministry Conference. We are committed to presenting a diverse line-up of speakers, fresh ideas for the theory and practice of youth ministry, and space for you to share your voice as well. In this, our first year, we are focusing on three themes, each of which will be represented in each plenary session:
This gathering of folks honored me by asking if I could lead a conversation during one of their sessions on how churches can better engage the LGBT community – using principles familiar to The Marin Foundation.
So if you’re a youth pastor/leader/worker/parent/student – or know anyone who is any one of those things, sign up. We’d love to see you here in Chicago.