What kind of story is your church telling?
Ministry experts describe our culture as having "lost its story." Through neglect or rejection, the next generation seems unplugged from the church's core beliefs. For the most part, young people simply do not feel part of the ongoing, communal story. Paradoxically, this has occurred at a time when youth have fully embraced social networks that connect the world in self-obsessed "I" narratives.
This world is starving for a story bigger than what you find on Facebook and YouTube.
Sarah Arthur emphasizes the importance of story, an intrinsic aspect of the Christian faith but an aspect that is often overlooked in ministry, especially youth ministry.
Arthur shows how youth ministry can be planned as a transforming series of story moments instead of programming. She weaves together her personal experiences and insights along with the sociological work on the faith of teenagers from the book Soul Searching by Christian Smith and Melinda Denton.
Repeatedly and unapologetically, Arthur stresses the importance of a distinct Christian language for teenagers. If teens can't speak the Christian language, they don't know the Christian story. If they don't know the Christian story, they don't know how Christians are supposed to live.
So what's her solution to this narrative deficiency? The idea of youth ministers as bards, or storytellers. Arthur reminds youth ministers that their primary task is to tell the Christian story, to reclaim the imagination as part of spiritual formation, and to reclaim the church as God's ongoing story.
This book would be insightful for all ministers, not only those who work with youth. It can help us make a significant shift in the way we think about and approach ministry in the postmodern world.