Saturday, May 19, 2007

He's on a musical mission for God - smh

This is in today's Herald. It's an article about Hillsong's youth ministry. The following is part of it:
The program is carefully crafted, says youth pastor Phil Dooley, to fuel spiritual growth while meeting youth's social needs, and the emphasis is on fun.

"It's all about creating a positive and welcoming vibe, that says, 'man, these guys don't need drugs and are not heavy into dating, but they are enjoying life'."

Dooley rejects claims that the church's youth program offers a stripped-down theology.

"Our message doesn't change, it's the power of the cross and what it represents, the life, death the resurrection of Jesus Christ - but how we deliver that in the world of YouTube and iPods and video downloads and Xboxes has to be relatable."
What do you think of the article? What do you think of their youth ministry?

I wonder what "the power of the cross and what it represents" looks like in practise. What is their primary view of the cross? Penal substitution or Christus Victor? I wonder if the power and victory of the cross (which are true) is emphasised more than the work of Jesus in his death for our sins and resurrection for our new life.

Thoughts?

21 comments:

SamR said...

and the emphasis is on fun.

I have no problem with fun, but in my experience having 'Christ' rather than 'fun' as the emphasis is the better way to go.

When the fun dries up, often the numbers do too. Or when the youth are no longer youth, and church meetings are no longer focussed on fun (the prime motivator for attendance) then church becomes far less appealing.

Much better to be upfront: to be about Christ first and foremost, and build disciples, rather than fun-seekers.

That being said, I'm glad that our youth group is heaps of fun too.

CraigS said...

Me too Sam - my boys enjoy it so much. And the Bible teaching clearly makes an impression as well, and we've had a few chats about what they've learnt.

Speaking personally, this is the ministry that is most important to me in our church. Praise God for you, Soph, and your team!

David Castor said...

What is their primary view of the cross? Penal substitution or Christus Victor?

Why do you seek to play these models off against each other?

CraigS said...

Why do you seek to play these models off against each other?

DavidC, be honest - you have done so in the past as well. If you are coming to the conclusion that Penal Sub has some value - well, that's good!

David Castor said...

If you are coming to the conclusion that Penal Sub has some value - well, that's good!

Of course Penal Substitution has some value - it's a helpful insight into understanding the development of Christendom during the medieval period.

David said...

What is their primary view of the cross? Penal substitution or Christus Victor?

Why do you seek to play these models off against each other?


I believe that both are true. I believe in Christ's victory at the cross over sin, satan and death. But I believe that primarily Jesus died as a sacrifice for sins at the cross.

Our view of the cross actually shapes how we do ministry. I'm just wondering what their primary view of the cross is and how it may shape their ministry.

David said...

re: fun.

no problems with seeking to have fun.

i hope that when teenagers come to our youth group they will see that primarily we are on about Jesus. Youth group may not always be fun. You may be going through tought stuff in life... you may be the only kid from your school at the group.

We want to have fun. We don't want to bore people with the glorious news of the gospel!!

But first and foremost it's all about Jesus.

David Castor said...

I believe that both are true. I believe in Christ's victory at the cross over sin, satan and death. But I believe that primarily Jesus died as a sacrifice for sins at the cross.

On what basis do you suggest that Penal Substitution is the primary reason that Jesus died?

David said...

Romans 3

David Castor said...

Umm, how does that show that this is the *primary* reason that Jesus died?

Anita said...

I had a youth group that primarily had Christ as the emphasis, and am now in one that still tries to follow after Christ, but makes more of a point of emphasizing fun than did the other... sometimes, it seems, to the detriment of its seriousness about getting down to business. Now that the culture shock is over, I'm not sure which one I want more--a youth group that pulls out the Bible and looks deeply and systematically into the character of God with the occasional game to boot, or a youth group that thrives on fun and games and also has some scheduled Bible study... but I know which one I left feeling like I might have learned something significant.

David said...

Umm, how does that show that this is the *primary* reason that Jesus died?

1) This passage shows us our greatest problem
2) This passage shows us God's great solution
3) This passage shows how sinners can be justified
4) This passage shows how God can be justified (ie shown to be just)

In 1 Cor 15 Paul passes on that which is of 'first importance'.
what is it?
that Jesus died for our sins
he was buried (definitely dead)
he was raised
he appeared (definitely alive)

JESUS died for our sins.

David said...

hey anita.
thanks for the comment.

i think it is possible to have a youth group that is serious about knowing Jesus through his word AND has fun.

but the primary purpose is Jesus.
fun must be secondary.

David Castor said...

1) This passage shows us our greatest problem
2) This passage shows us God's great solution
3) This passage shows how sinners can be justified
4) This passage shows how God can be justified (ie shown to be just)


I'm still not entirely sure how this passage shows our greatest problem or the greatest solution. Surely there are other passages which one might be able to say the same thing about?

In 1 Cor 15 Paul passes on that which is of 'first importance'.
what is it?
that Jesus died for our sins
he was buried (definitely dead)
he was raised
he appeared (definitely alive)

JESUS died for our sins.


Referring to 1 Corinthians 15 is a somewhat better argument, considering how early this creedal confession was. Still, it is possible to affirm that Jesus died for our sins without accept Penal Substitution as a legitimate expression of how he did so.

Tim Roediger said...

I found this comment in the original article a little amusing: Bar the Baptists and Sydney Anglicans, few churches do youth better than the Pentecostalists, says Keith Castle, the director of the National Church Life Survey.

Appart from the Baptists, Sydney Anglicans and a few others, I don't think there is anyone else doing Christian youth ministry in Sydney. Does this comment imply that the Pentecostalists are actually doing youth ministry the worst (whatever best/worst actually means)?

David said...

Referring to 1 Corinthians 15 is a somewhat better argument, considering how early this creedal confession was.

thanks.

Still, it is possible to affirm that Jesus died for our sins without accept Penal Substitution as a legitimate expression of how he did so.

if that were the case what would it mean for Jesus to die for our sins??

David said...

tim - funny observation!!

David Castor said...

if that were the case what would it mean for Jesus to die for our sins??

Quite simply, it would mean that Jesus carries upon himself our infirmities. It would mean that Jesus becomes human and is systematically stripped of his humanity so that our humanity can be restored.

David said...

Quite simply, it would mean that Jesus carries upon himself our infirmities. It would mean that Jesus becomes human and is systematically stripped of his humanity so that our humanity can be restored.

so your primary view of the cross is that Christ is our example? (correct me if I'm wrong...)

how, then, is this your primary view?

and why would God the Father send his Son to die if it's just as an example?

i'd be interested to hear your view.
thanks

David Castor said...

What you are proposing is Abelardian exemplary theory. While I think Jesus is an example, I do think that he is much more than that.

We've already talked a little bit about Christus Victor, which is the understanding of the atonement I believe is the fullest understanding of the atonement and the view held by the vast majority of the Early Church.

Perhaps the process I'm talking about is best explained as (Eastern Orthodox) "theosis", which is explained in more detail at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosis#Eastern_Orthodox_theology

Anonymous said...

I believe that when Phil Dooley said that the emphasis was on fun that he left much to be said. I myself have many times made similar statements, wanting the youth in my church and everyone else see that being a Christian is about the FULL life (John 10:10) and fun will be included in that. Fun in the church means a community of believers that share their joy and passion for God in a social manner. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, I'm sure Phil knows that EVERYTHING is based on Christ and that He is the center!