Faith Seeking Understanding

I’ll be honest, I’m not so sure that I had a good grasp on what “theology” was when I got into seminary. I’m pretty sure I thought it was just the language that really smart people used to confuse the rest of us when they were talking about God. Why say “eschatology” when you could just as easily say “the study of the end times?” I was much more interested in biblical scholarship and historical studies in the beginning, so that’s where my efforts went in the early years of my seminary training.

But slowly over time, I started to find my way into a couple of systematic theology courses that woke me up to the rich tradition we call home. Hard as this might be to believe, I read John Calvin for fun. I really fell in love with Karl Barth, and the way he shaped the faith. If theology was as Anselm thought, “Faith Seeking Understanding,” and not big fancy words meant to confuse, then theology was pretty cool.

All that said, when I examine the landscape of youth ministry today, theology is probably the low man on the totem pole of our goals. Youth ministers want kids who are good. They want kids to stay away from drugs, sex, and rock and roll. They want large groups of kids to show up to their events, hopefully keeping them out of trouble. It would appear avoiding trouble is our number one goal, and if God plays a role in that then all the better. While I’m all in favor of kids staying out of trouble, that just seems to me a shallow view of youth ministry. I want to have a group of kids who are desperate to understand their world, understand their faith, and try with all their hearts to understand their God.

For the next couple of weeks, Ed and I are going to take you through our philosophies of youth ministry. Why are we doing this you ask? We think it’s pretty important that the whole church be a part of what happens in the youth ministry. So for the next few weeks, we’re going to pull back the curtain on a lot of our thinking, why we do what we do, and how we go about doing it. This isn’t a sales pitch or anything. So frequently when people talk about youth ministry it is because they are desperate for volunteers. We’ll probably have posts about that in the future. Right now, for the next five weeks, we just want to tell you what we’re up to in the hopes that you will celebrate with us what God is doing in our youth ministry here at Westminster.

On Tuesdays you’ll hear from me. We’re going to take a look at what I think are some of the biggest theological questions and issues in youth ministry, including God’s Action in our lives, The Problem of Sin, How Teenagers Find Identity in Christ, and finally how we Participate in what God is doing. And who knows, maybe some of this will transfer into the church at large. But of course my focus is as it always has been, on teenagers and what God is doing in their lives.

Theology is faith seeking understanding. Together, let’s think theologically for a little while on what youth ministry is all about!

Grace and peace,


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