Chapter 5: God’s Story as the Context for our Theology

As I read through this brief chapter, I found myself wondering at where a lot of our students sit on the scales of traditional discipleship models. How far have they progressed according to the measurements of other ministries? According to my standards? Chris started out the chapter talking about our role as conservationists in Student Ministry, balancing the programs and the environments of our students. The ultimate goal being of course, discipling students. Transformation in students’ lives.

Then he reminded me of a core truth about humans. There is no straight line in growth, It is cyclical. Chris sets up a beautiful cycle (using all “I” words, of course. To keep it simple to remember, I assume) of Spiritual Growth for our teens. He describes their journey from involvement in a weekly program or a scheduled event or trip (Interaction), all the way through putting their Spiritual growth into action in the world around them, allowing God’s narrative to drive the narrative of their life (Immersion). He even gives a great list of reminders for how to converse with teens who are involved in this very delicate, Spirit-driven process.

In short, Chris uses this chapter to remind the reader that Spiritual Formation is a process that cannot be measured according to our own measuring sticks. We need to focus on following the call of the Spirit, and help guide our teens through this process, rather than attempt to drag them through it at our pace and timing.

Some quotes that stuck with me after I was done reading:

  • Is youth ministry about the fulfillment of certain aspects of godliness or helping students realize the necessary aspects of life with God that make godliness attainable? (page 81)
  • We can’t make students grow; we can only help guide them as they grow. (page 85)
  • Many youth workers are afraid of their students’ imaginations – that the creative thinking from within the mind and heart of a student will result in not fully grasping the truths of God as they themselves believe. As a result, many youth workers (sometimes even unintentionally) manipulate the Interaction, leaving no room for the work of the Holy Spirit. (page 86)