college travels

Monday, July 26, 2010

Identity Formation Creates Gospel Opportunities

We are all involved in processes of becoming. We are being formed as we grow and develop and as we respond to the changing environment around us.

The challenge we all face is to become increasingly aware of these processes and to take whatever steps we can to ensure that there are good outcomes for us and for those around us.

During early childhood our involvement in these processes is largely passive. Our understanding of what is happening around us is very limited. We are given a particular genetic make-up and born into an environment where decisions are made on our behalf. But over the years we take a more and more active role in determining how we will respond, which parts of our character we will choose to work on and which parts will be left unchallenged.

As far as our own culture is concerned this makes the teenage years a particularly significant period. This is when the world of the child collides with the adult world. It means that these are the pivotal years during which identity formation takes place. And it means that for the youth minister that there is an unprecedented opportunity to speak into the life of an individual to ensure that those good outcomes are the best outcomes.

In the paper I will present at our upcoming Theology of Youth Ministry Conference, I will look at how Paul sets out to build a Christian identity in his audience. Since his ministry was chiefly one of taking the Gospel into new territories we will look at how he engages and overturns identities which have been grounded in a pagan past and how he challenges and shapes his audience to become "rooted and built up in [Jesus], strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness".

We will go on from there to consider what the implications are for ministry in the post-Christian world.

If you're interested in attending the Theology of Youth Ministry Conference, click here for more details. Early bird discounts end August 6.

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