Let the Flames Begin

I have had a question for quite a long time about youth work in our synod that aspires to avoid the baser things.  It will not be well received, but I think it needs to be asked.

We say that it isn’t about excitement.  We say, “Look at that terrible NYG.  It teaches them that it’s all about well orchestrated mountain top experiences.  It needs to be about the regular day to day care of souls that is found in faithful Lutheran congregations.  Hey, let’s send them to a big mass gathering to explain that to them!”  And then we send them to a “confessional” version of the same thing, telling them how great it will be, how much they will learn, and how much the absolutely 100% confessional worship will impress them.

And while they learn all of those things I mentioned before, they do so at a well orchestrated mountain top experience, with the best-most-exciting-speakers the best-most-exciting-worship and topics-that-are-all-about-them.

It seems like we are making much the same mistake in style with better substance behind it.  What happens when the children return and discover how truly mundane the worship in their congregation is? After all, our congregation doesn’t sing the great Lutheran ballads, (they don’t know them, even though the pastor does)  and our choir is not singing fabulous songs, and our organist isn’t all that good, and quite frankly, the pastor isn’t that great a preacher, and he doesn’t have a sparkling personality.  So, it turns out the church is just this mundane thing that isn’t all that cool after all.

I say this as the guy who was, until recently, on a committee to plan and promote a yearly confessional Evangelism conference.   I still have, and occasionally post recordings of these conferences, which were excellent.   True mountain-top experiences.  And yet, I grew increasingly uneasy about it.

We have camps, and seminars, gatherings, and all this stuff, to try and be like the evangelicals.  The difference is that we do it with confessional theology and worship, while they do with a distinctly evangelical style.  But I wonder if we have, without even noticing, accepted some of the basic tenets of evangelical style (which, as we claim is the substance) and then covered it over with a veneer of Lutheran ‘substance’, without even noticing we are doing it.  We package it and sell it to our people, and then wonder why they aren’t all that interested in the mundane things of congregational life.

(Wait, did he just attack who I think he did????  Oh, I’m going to flame him so baaad!!!!)

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One Response to “Let the Flames Begin”

  1. I think you may be on to something here. I’ve had similar concerns, but you articulate them well.

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