Today at dodgeball, I was unleashed upon the students who attended... and I'm not just talking about my awesome dodgeball skills.
To give you some context, our youth ministry gets together with students from two or three other church youth groups from our town once a week (starting in the Spring and going through the Summer) for two and a half hours of dodgeball mayhem. It's a blast and it's just one of the ways that the youth groups of Ramona network together (it's really a wonderful thing for churches to partner together in the things that they can do together). The other churches in town are pretty "conservative" and "evangelical" in their thinking and... we aren't. Amongst true "liberals," however, our church is quite conservative but we aren't as committed to things like Substitutionary Atonement, Biblical literalism, Chris Tomlin, and having Alter Calls in our services as most of our Evangelical neighbors in town are. And we're not dispensationalists, which separates us to another degree.
Needless to say, my approach to communicating the gospel is somewhat unique in comparison to, but not necessarily in disagreement with, the other Youth Pastor(s) I work with. I've only had the opportunity to share a few times at collaborative Youth Events--like dodgeball and the 30 Hour Famine. Now, generally, the other YP gives the short devotional that we have at dodgeball but he had to leave early this week so I got to share.
I talked about God's "dream" for the world (we read Isaiah 65) and the fact that it is a dream not filled with judgmentalism, negativity, cynicism and all the other things that seem to fill our world and, unfortunately, our churches. We talked about God's dream for blessing! This dream God has for the world, I said, is called the Kingdom of God. And we talked about Jesus' audacity to make the claim that, somehow, perhaps in his own work, the Kingdom of God was at hand. We talked about resurrection and how Christ's victory over death was a victory for God's kingdom. Because Christ defeated death, we are invited to live freely into God's dream for the world. We are invited to trust resurrection, that death doesn't have the last word, and to live and celebrate God's dream for the world in our lives... searching for and celebrating whatever is good. This gives us good reason to seek justice, to love our enemies, and to invite others into the worship of God. It is implementation of Christ's unique victory. It is what we were created for. And it is not, cynical, judgmental, or legalistic.
I don't think my perspective, at least the one I share at collaborative youth events is too large of a contrast to that of my counterparts in the community... I truly wouldn't want it to be. The last thing I want to do is undercut the ministry of my neighbors. In fact, I want to give the other youth ministries in town more momentum to continue the ministry they are doing, even if their approach is different than mine. But, with that said, I do think it's good for us to work together and to share with other students precisely because out opinions and approaches differ. It is a blessing for students to hear the gospel from different approaches (as long as they aren't so different that it becomes... confusing). My hope for today was that my perspective might be fresh to the the students who listened. Perhaps the contrast of my perspective might be a blessing. A fresh contrast to that which they are used to hearing. I always want to be a blessing!