As I wrote a couple weeks ago, I had an essay published in Immerse Journal on youth ministry and practical theology. One pretty cool feature at Immerse is an online follow-up to journal articles called “Going Deeper.” Dan Haugh, who blogs at Emerging Youth, has written in response to my essay. Here’s a selection:
After a few years of actually doing youth ministry, I discovered firsthand the truth of Tony’s statement, “Life and ministry are rarely, if ever, systematic, thorough, comprehensive. Life and ministry are not clinical. Instead, they’re messy and challenging, and they demand ad hoc, on-the-fly decision making.”
My answers were reflections of my limited understanding and experiences and often did not align with the concrete life journeys of my students. The answers I did offer amounted to outdated prehistoric verbiage that had little relevance with where students were living right then and there.
Over time, and through countless hours of reading, conversations, prayer and reflection, I began to transition toward a practical-theological approach with our students. As a result, we don’t tell them what to believe and why anymore. Instead, as Tony suggests, we “catalyze conversations” by creating atmospheres that foster open and honest conversation about the realities of life and the confusion of faith. We encourage our students to think critically so they might arrive at their own independent answers.