I was in a basement room with 25 teens talking about theology of the body. We were using the latest video/book combo resource, I had an ongoing relationship with the teens, the evening had a mix of fun, food, and content, and yet, the young people were disconnected. I didn't understand it; some nights the young people were engaged and others would have them all glossed over. What made the difference? Over time I continued to watch and saw that whenever I opened the book, referenced it, held it, or pointed to it, the mere acknowledgement of a text book changed the room and the buy in of the young people.
I want to be fair; the classroom model is a great model for education. It has taught the world much for several centuries and there is a reason it is so pervasive now. I am not one who will advocate leaving it behind, but the problem for us as ministers is that young people have expectations of what it means, where it belongs and how it works. When we approach the beauty and truths of our faith in a classroom model we have created ourselves and unnecessary uphill battle.
If the tried and true methods of the classroom have lost their power in our scenario, then what do we do? Our task is to invite young people into a living relationship with the person of Jesus Christ which is not first or primarily an act of the intellect. This relationship with Christ becomes the central component of the lives of those who love Him; everything else flows towards Him and from Him. A life lived in such a relationship is a great adventure where the Holy Spirit has the freedom to work in and through our lives.
That sounds great and idyllic, but the question remains of how do we do this?
I propose that there are multiple components to such a ministry. It must be based in relationship. Relational ministry walks with a person and cares about their heart and they know that they are loved by the minister. Such a relationship leads to discipleship where mentorship becomes a component of the dynamic. Much ink has been spilled by others who are far more articulate than I on these topics and I encourage you to look into it.
In the situation above that I discribed, both relational ministry and discipleship were taking place, but when I began to teach them specifics in a group setting (which is an important component as well) I kept losing them. I needed a different pedagogy. This is where Adventure Catechesis comes in.
Adventure Catechesis is the use of adventure and experiential education for faith formation purposes. If we seek to invite young people into an adventure of faith, then shouldn't our method reflect that adventure?
Over the upcoming issues of the Thrive Journal I will be expanding on what Adventure Catechesis is, what it isn't, how it works, and giving concrete activities and resources for you to use. The hope in doing this is to balance the giving of fish and teaching to fish. As these pieces are developed I would love to give you something that is helpful to you. In that vein, let me know what topics you wish you had a more engaging way to cover and we will try to sculpt resources that meet your specific needs.
Written by Shawn Madden from components of a forthcoming book. Shawn@BishopHodges.org