Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Priorities, Depreciation, and Value

One of the challenges we face in student ministry is the many competing activities in which our students are involved. In some cases, they maintain involvement in church activities, but just can't do everything. In other cases, church involvement is minimal while everything else matters. Of course, there are those who fall somewhere in between.

At one level, it seems as if we are not doing a good job of helping our students and parents prioritize activities so that growth in the Christian life and commitment to God in Christ Jesus come at the top. A question that could be asked is, "What have we been teaching in the church?" After all, we see faith coming at the bottom in the choices adults make between worship and games, etc. On the other hand, we need to check to ensure that we are not expecting too much. There is a line. People should not be in the church building every spare moment. After all, there are people to reach who do not come in. God sends us out into the world.

Recently, I've been looking at this matter of priorities in the midst of busyness a little differently. Over the years, the church has tended to equate itself with middle class values and has often been seen as, both internally and externally, a means to respectability and acceptance in the middle class. It's also been useful as students transition from high school to college. This I've known, but Joerg Rieger in No Rising Tide: Theology, Economics, and the Future and his lecture yesterday at Saint Paul School of Theology helped me to make a more complete shift in the implications of this tendency.

We are in a situation when being involved in a church youth group activities will not necessarily add value to one's status in life. Additionally, there are other activities that will be greater assets in college entry. Where is the money for going to come from? What is going to look good on the college application. Well, sports and band may provide scholarships and will look good on the application. Youth Group? Iffy.

So, what's real? What's really real? What's valuable?
Loving God, Loving Neighbor


  1. I don't know if I can agree.... if we look at how youth groups will move us ahead in the "world" view then I can see how youth group will take a back seat to the sports and other school related activities. What good will a scholarship be if the student fails to succeed in school due to "life". I hear from many students that can't cope with the college life stresses. They buckle because they don't know how to move through difficult times. The youth group and the church may not give a step up for scholarships, but we provide a foundation for building character, leadership, and a spiritual foundation that a student can fall back on during the tough times. Foundation in practice of biblical principle can move mountains.

  2. Hi. Thanks for commenting. There is truth in what you say. We do have a challenge before us to help our youth and adults see the importance of commitment to Christ and development in the faith.