I had the pleasure of listening to Fuzz Kitto at Youthwork The Conference last weekend. From his unique global perspective, he was able to unpack a great deal about youth culture – and how it directly relates to the church and the role of youth workers – into a very short space of time. It gave me much to think about!
Chris has already posted his reflections on the talk here.
Below are Fuzz’s own notes from the session, published with permission, and augmented with my own comments. I’ve also added links to the various quotes and media where I can. Hopefully, the key points will make sense to anyone who did not attend the session.
Youth Meet World
What is youth ministry all about?
- Itâ€™s all about God
- Itâ€™s all about growing disciples
The foundation for all this is relationships. It’s also more likely that parents and grandparents will follow young people into church!
Context makes a difference
What we do in that context is dynamic not static. We must ask what God’s call is in this place and at this time. In our ministries we have a mixture of kids from different contexts. The best way to work with this diversity is through small groups and one-to-one pastoral care. The larger the numbers you have, the larger the structure you need.
Weâ€™re in missionary situation so must think like missionaries.
We must help young people find out how they become church and community WITH OTHERS. Adolescence is not about finding individual identity but about finding who we are in community.
Do not take them back to where they used to be and do not call them to where you are, beautiful though that may be. You must have the courage to go with them to a place that you and they have not been before.
Vincent Donovan â€“ Christianity Rediscovered
We must work with realities
It’s important to build a real faith in your young people – for a real world.
As historians look back on this present time from the long term perspective, I believe what they will focus on, is not the rise in technology, the internet or science but the profound change in the human condition. For the first time – and I mean that literally – substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, people have had to manage themselves. And we are totally unprepared for it!
Few people know where they belong, what kind of temperament they have or what kind of person they are.
“Do I work well with people or am I a loner?”
“What are my values?”
“What am I committed to?”
“Where do I belong?”
“What is my contribution?”
We need to build ‘intelligences’ in our youth ministries to help our young people grow and develop a real faith in a real world, for the realities of the [Kingdom] of God. There are many sorts of intelligence which we must grow:
Build Theological Intelligence
- Theology = thinking about God and the world
- Deep love of God through the scriptures
- Skills in exergeting (unpacking) the scriptures
- It is not about information but about transformation
Clip: Pete Rollins â€“ The Singular Answer
There is not ever about a singular answer! Itâ€™s about wrestling with multiple answers. This is the Judaeo-Christian mindset. If a young person hears an answer they will stop listening!
There may never be just one interpretation of scripture! Layers upon layers upon layers. You always find something new!
Build Cultural Intelligence:
- Cultural Intelligence (CQ) assumes that you are constantly engaging in a process of observing and responding to cultural cues and encounters.
- Similar to IQ or EQ (emotional intelligence), CQ can be understood as a gage of your ability to effectively reach across cultural gaps in appropriate and respectful (and in ministry, we also hope transformative) ways.
- Itâ€™s a multi-disciplinary framework that draws from anthropology, sociology and psychology as well as literature from the fields of business, missions, and education.
There are four primary interrelated dimensions:
Knowledge – How are we different?
interpretation – Whatâ€™s going on under the surface?
perseverance – Are we committed over the long haul?
behaviour – Are we living it out?
Dave Livermore, Executive Director of the Global Learning Centre
Build Missional Intelligence
- The church exists for the benefit of its non-members
- The purpose of youth ministry/church is to continue the mission of Jesus
- We need others to fulfil the Mission
- I want to build new fires (fuzz told the story of a young person who didn’t want to be a coal in the ‘fire’ of a church, but wanted to go out and start new fires).
Build Spiritual Intelligence
“Human beings are not bodies with a spirit â€“ they are spirits with a body” â€“ St Augustine
God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came aliveâ€”a living soul!
[youversion]Genesis 2:7[/youversion] (MSG)
God’s Spirit has shown you everything. His Spirit finds out everything, even what is deep in the mind of God.You are the only one who knows what is in your own mind, and God’s Spirit is the only one who knows what is in God’s mind. But God has given us his Spirit. That’s why we don’t think the same way that the people of this world think. That’s also why we can recognize the blessings that God has given us.
Every word we speak was taught to us by God’s Spirit, not by human wisdom. And this same Spirit helps us teach spiritual things to spiritual people. That’s why only someone who has God’s Spirit can understand spiritual blessings. Anyone who doesn’t have God’s Spirit thinks these blessings are foolish. People who are guided by the Spirit can make all kinds of judgments, but they cannot be judged by others. The Scriptures ask,
“Has anyone ever known the thoughts of the Lord or given him advice?”
But we understand what Christ is thinking.
[youversion]1 Corinthians 2:10-16[/youversion] (CEV)
Build Emotional Intelligence
“You’re blessed when you get your inside worldâ€”your mind and heartâ€”put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.”
[youversion]Matthew 5:8[/youversion] (MSG)
Emotional Intelligence includes:
- Self-management – involves controlling one’s emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
- Social awareness – the ability to sense, understand, and react to others’ emotions while comprehending social networks
- Relationship Management – the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others while managing conflict
All this is so that we grow healthy and whole disciples of Jesus who can act as agents of the Kingdom of God and live lives together with other disciples in communities of Hope (Churches). By this and the ways that they love one another they will know who they are, whose they are, their meaning and purpose and create rumours of hope that become reality.