I’ve been able to spend more time on twitter lately. Definitely more than I can honestly say I’m proud of. There is something instantly gratifying about this particular form of social media. You have to be concise, you have a tremendous audience, and you can find more resources then you want or need. I find myself scrolling through and clicking on links all day long. Some I try and read right away, others I leave in a browser hoping I’ll have time later. Some of it doesn’t even interest me that much but I just want to stay informed. Karl Barth is credited with saying something to the effect of: “take your bible and take your newspaper and read both. But interpret your newspapers from your bible” (http://www.ptsem.edu/Library/index.aspx?menu1_id=6907&menu2_id=6904&id=8450)
I want to take this to heart especially in youth ministry. Things change a mile a minute. For teenagers what might be considered the cool thing to do right now isn’t cool in about 10 minutes. While it might be hard to keep up with one of the best things I know I can do is continue to be informed about the world around me. I believe that Jesus has called me to be in the world, not to hide from it, while my motivation, my directives come from a source that is not of this world. This might just be me trying to justify being on twitter all the time but I also think it has a point. When we are informed about what is going on in the life of someone we are charged with discipling we know better how to pray for them, we know better how to love them. There is, however, a danger. Information is everywhere. Pastors are preaching to people that are fact checking their statements during the sermon. And they should be, when I am preaching to students I shouldn’t be lying to them in order to make a point, the word of God doesn’t need my help in coming across to students I just need be open to what the Holy Spirit needs to say.
This information can often lead to some of the coolest rabbit trails. Ask any coffee professional about the coffee industry and most likely they’ll describe a deep rabbit hole that never ends. This happens with youtube videos, you get going on one and then 4 hours later you wonder what happened with the day. When I was in seminary and doing research for papers the world was at my fingertips when all I had to do was access the internet. I’m in awe of how well connected we are in this world. When I was younger I can remember doing a lot of traveling and meeting a bunch of people. there was a sentiment that we always wanted to stay connected. I did my best with phone calls or super old school letter writing but these days with as much struggle as social media and the internet can be for certain things, surface level connection is out there ripe for the plucking. The truth is, I love it. I love being able to send out a photo on instagram and Facebook and receive immediate feedback in the form of a like or a comment. And then there are the articles, so many articles. My news feed is a constant shuffle of blog posts, newspaper articles, inspirational videos, and more new information. It’s gotten to the point that I’ll click on an article, read maybe a paragraph or two, and if it’s too long there’s almost no chance I finish it. Even if it’s something I’m interested I won’t finish it right away. I’ll save it for later when my brain comes back to it. If you’re anything like me you might not even read this far in the post and just skip to the bottom or abandon it all together.
What I think this really comes down to is, with all this information out there, the ability to fact check and read about anything literally in our hands through our phones, are there more answers, or just more questions? I wonder this because I’ve discovered that the more I know, the more I don’t know. So when I’m out there trying to be informed about what’s going on, am I really able to help students understand their role in The Church and God’s Kingdom? In the book You Lost Me by David Kinnaman he explores why so many students are less engaged with the church once they leave high school. There are many reasons for this but I think one of the main reasons is because students are wrestling with deep questions and they feel The Church doesn’t have the answers they’re looking for. So they go elsewhere.
Part of my job is to wrestle with students and equip parents and other influential adults to answers those questions. One of the goals with this blog is to engage with parents and adult leaders in my church and anywhere really to help students better explore and perhaps answer the hard questions they’re wrestling with. With so much information out there I think it’s incredibly important to be informed. I think it’s also important that we continue to wrestle with the big questions in life. I’m still less than 2 weeks into this new job. I’m not exactly sure what life is going to look like and the thing I keep going back to is that God has called me here. Even when I might be uncomfortable, even when I might not have answers to the questions students have, even when I might feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, God is in control. My hope is that parents, students, other influential adults will allow The Church and the Holy Sprit to try and answer the big questions students are looking for. One of the hardest things I say is: “I don’t know.” I hate not knowing things or being able to look them up in a heart beat through google on my phone or asking Siri. Yet with all the facts and opinions that are out there on the internet there seems to be more questions and fewer answers.
So let’s keep wrestling. Keep bringing up tough questions and expecting tough answers. In the end it might be that we just won’t know the answer until we get to heaven and by then we probably won’t care. But just as Jacob wrestled with God in the book of Genesis we should continue to strive for discerning the hard questions. If that’s through google, through the newspaper, through scripture, through dialogue, or any other means I hope to continue the conversation and wrestle with God with you. Maybe we’ll find a few answers along the way, I’m just excited to be on this journey with you and with the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.