Dan Kimball has a post on the trendiness of social justice in american/western churches. I have noticed this ever since I heard it remarked that “missions trips/service projects” are the new “worship” for youth ministry.
Brown is the new black.
This worries me on a couple of levels:
- I worry that as a trend that it will lose its emphasis. I worry about this because of my own personal passion for the poor. Oppression against the poor is a worldwide issue and fighting it has become a major part of my philosophy of youth ministry. Perhaps because of my early involvment with world vision, or just because of God-given desire, I try to leave a wake of students who are passionate about serving the poor because they see Jesus in the eyes of those they serve.
- I worry that this movement in youth ministry is cheapening the mission/service trip. Much like, I think, the youth ministry worship movement cheapened worship. We ended up with songs like, “coming back to the heart of worship” that revealed the way we betrayed with our worship. Perhaps some day we will need to get back to the heart of social justice.
These kinds of concerns beg several questions that I think are relevant:
- How do youth ministers engage social justice issues? How much do we remain counter-cultural when the culture is about AIDS in Africa and the invisible children? Do we fight AIDS in Africa, like Bono? Or do we educate ourselves and do things about AIDS in China and India? Or do we find other less popular areas to serve in? Areas that the world is not noticing because the light of celebrity hasn’t yet shone on it?
- How do we treat trends in youth ministry that affect the very theology of salvation working in the students we are entrusted with? Do we pragmatically use trends? How much do we interact with them?
And then practically,
- How do we bring this home? What does it look like in my town/school/church/home?
- How long are these trends (games and fun>>>worship>>>missions trips>>> ???), and how do we adapt earlier?