Monday, October 3, 2011

Modnik Recap-Cultural Models

Just got back from our Jr High Modgnik Retreat at Young Life retreat center called Rockbridge yesterday afternoon. I think it was the first youth retreat I've ever been on when I didn't hear one, even miniscule, bit of whining. Of course, if you whine at this retreat center, you've got serious issues. This place is the Greenbrier (for those in WV) or the cadillac (for everyone else) of retreat centers. Hardwood floors, all you can eat delectable food, engaging speaker, rocking electric praise band, ropes course, rock climbing walls, ziplines, wiffleball/kickball field, game room, frisbee course, soccer field, picturesque stream leading to lake, etc.....Yeah, there should be no whining.

Since what we learned was so helpful, something Jr Higher's should consider themselves "lucky" for being able to hear, I'd like to pass it on. 

The Modgnik Retreat (Kingdom backwards) is put on by the P.C.A.'s Blue Ridge Presbytery (but open to all churches-we had PCUSA, Non-denom, Nazarene, etc...) and intends to teach youth how to live out their faith in light of Jesus' Kingdom having come. The specific aim of this retreat centered around how to impact their culture.

Talk #1 Definition of Culture and Cultural Models

Culture: a reflection of group of people, what they consider important and value. This can include things as obvious as following particular college sports teams to preferences for regional specific styles of barbecue. However we know that Satan is also at work to influence the culture and need to think critically about that. The hope is that Jesus is also at work in the culture and can use youth to change the youth culture and culture in general. 

Different Models: 

1.) Monastery-retreat and hide away from culture so that we can't be influenced by any of the negative aspects. We discussed afterwards as a cabin that our enemies are the world (negative cultural influences), flesh (our OWN tendency to sin) and the devil. Hiding is not an option because even locking yourself in the closet will not deal with your own flesh and Satan's advances.

2.) Camouflage-you can try to blend in with the culture and adopt all cultural beliefs and activities as though Satan doesn't exist or that he's lazy. As a a result you accept without critical thinking or interaction such cultural values that may be quite contrary to Jesus. Many times this can be quite subtle, as we begin to adopt commonplace views of money, family, sex that are idolatrous and detrimental not only to our influencing culture but to our relationship with Christ. 

3.) The Boat-he told a story about going on a date and forgetting to put the drain plug in the boat. Boat in the water is good. Water in the boat is not good. This model encourages us not to retreat, nor adopt, but to live out our faith among those who don't believe. The scripture passage he used was from John 17:14-19 

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 

Some questions for parents to consider-these are just my reflections.

1.) Can my kid really live out his/her faith in the world without adopting unhealthy cultural values? Yes, it happens all the time. For the most part, the church expects very little from its youth. We're content if they simply come to church without griping, and don't cuss, drink, or chew or go with girls/gals who do. But such youth can play a part in the work of redemption. They really can. I have a friend who traces back his spiritual journey to a middle school friend inviting him to church and youth group. He's one of thousands.

2.) How do I know if my kid is really ready to make an impact? Obviously not all middle schoolers are mature enough to make any sort of "dent" in the culture. Here are some diagnostic questions that may be helpful for you to think through. Can he/she articulate the gospel to you or others? Would he/she come to church if you didn't? Does he/she recognize that many of their classmates are probably not Christians? Can they detect a difference in lifestyles betwixt Christians and non-Christians outside of "not cussing?" That's the default mode of middle-schooler's I've noticed.  Does he/she simply try to blend in with whoever is around them? If you feel uneasy about any of these answers, then God may open up some different doors, like be-friending and welcoming visitors to youth group and church, as opposed to gathering, investing, and inviting. If you interact and ask them questions, you'll be able to tell. 

3.) Do you believe that Jesus is greater than he who is at work negatively in the culture? Jesus as The Great High priest, prayed for your kids. He will hold them in his hand, and no one can take them out of His hands (John 10:28). Sometimes I wonder how much we really believe this is true, as though they will walk with Jesus only if we shelter them enough. Of course there are times when we will need to say, "No, you can't go there with so and so." But we also need to realize that if Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, He is also their author and their finisher.

Our speaker David Grant of Irving Bible Church in Texas, (a cross between Brad Pitt and the lead Russian bad guy from the movie AirForce One-just click the link) has 5 kids, so he's lived this truth out as a family. That certainly carried some weight with me. 

Anyhow, the next post will present some diagnostic questions to help them as they watch movies, TV shows, and listen to music. Hope it helps.


Anonymous said...

Hey Geoff,
Just read the blog. Again...good job on organizing this retreat. I was so excited to know that my own children were listening to these talks. I'm thankful for the Christian community and our church.

Geoffsnook said...

Glad to be part of it for sure. I can't say that I "organized" too much, but am thankful for the many who spent countless hours planning and praying. Definitely a great time, and beautiful picture of Christian community assisting parents in discipling their children.