My friend Steve Argue is one of many voices responding to an article by Ron Luce in Youthworker Journal. The whole thing can be found here, including the passionate Luce sharing his take on how youth need to be willing to boldy proclaim a battlecry by opposing things in culture that are violent, sexy, and vulgar (paraphrasing his words).
Some of Steve's thoughts:
"I wonder if the true battle that Christians face today is the struggle with our own lost identity and us trying to recapture a gospel by force, by power, and by protest. The way of Jesus is meek, loving, quiet, and subversive. His revolution (if we must use this term) is one of love, healing, reconciliation, and forgiveness.
The greatest casualties may be within our own communities where divorce is higher than the national average, sexual addiction is prevalent, abuse is reported, church splits happen regularly, and a younger generation is leaving the institutional church in search of something real. Maybe we need to look at our own faith communities before we start critiquing others."
Now stay with me... this may initiially sound inappropriately critical.
I am a bit put off by Ron Luce's stuff and approach, too. I've often been worn down by interns from Acquire the Fire calling me up and telling me why I absolutely *have to* bring my kids to their next conference. I'm sorry... I just don't buy into it. I think ministry is less about using a loud show to convince people to just "live it louder" and more about having a living relationship with Jesus Christ that causes people of all spiritual backgrounds (or lack thereof) to ask questions about the authenticity of your journey.
Granted, that hypocritically comes from a guy like me has done both... loud show and all.
Still with me?
All that said, I think there is a place for Ron Luce's approach in the kingdom. Perhaps Steve Argue feels that way, too, so hear me out on this... I don't like Luce's approach, nor do I see a whole lot of longevity in it if that's all that happens in a kid's life. I mean, a teenager can only stay fired up in his/her faith for so long before he/she needs the next fix, conference, youth group night, big event... whatever.
In short, we need to move away from trying to convince people to circle the wagoms by using loud arguments that play on our fears.
did I just try to convince you of that?
Ah... there's the rub.
See the problem?
So let me ask a question instead - what would it look like to allow our lives, ministries, and churches to be an overflow of love that journeys with people and speaks into them in both soft and penetrating ways as the Holy Spirit leads?
Someone needs to stoke the flame... shouldn't it be Him?
Maybe that in itself is a role Luce's ministry is serving... the fire he's acquired may honestly be God-breathed, so I'm going to go ahead and believe the best about the motives of his heart. Maybe God is using it overtly and subvesively - after all, he's saying such hot stuff that the rest of us are going, "Ouch! I don't know if that's the way to go so maybe we should go this other way instead." In an ironic way he might be helping bring about a new revolution in student ministry by inadvertantly pushing away from the old approach.
Biblically speaking, we find in the Gospels both the tender John the Disciple as well as the abrasive John the Baptist. Apparently both had a ministry in the kingdom, even if we tend to like one over the other. Jesus commended both... didn't he?
All I know is thanks to Mr. Luce and Mr. Argue, the flame is a little hotter today for me.
But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice. (Philippians 1:18)