Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Power of Story

As I've previously written, one of our pre-term weeks this year looked at Youth Ministry. It seems so long ago now, but I think I'm still benefiting from the insights I gained. Anyways, one of the books we were recommended to read was called Hurt by Chap Clark. It is the reflections of a man who sought to gain a greater insight into the world of mid-adolescents, so took a year working as a substitute teacher in a school, and interviewing students.

While it is very American in places (especially when talking about sports etc), it is also a fascinating and intriguing study of teenagers, their life and their outlook. In one of the chapters, he looks at the partying scene, seeking to understand what it is all about. Rather than focusing on the drink and drug (ab)use, he reckons that it is an expression of, or a longing for, community. Parties provide communal experiences, and he then uses these words, which have struck me for their relevance and transference:

Stories create a collective narrative of past experience that points to both a shared memory (which creates unity and binds people together in a common history) and the promise of a bright future, based on the narrative of the past. (p. 162)

One of the words we regularly hear in college is anamnesis. How I think I grasp it, is that when the church meets together, we collectively remember the story of Jesus, and this binds us together in a similar way to how Clark describes the mid-adolescent's searching for community. In the Gospel we have a shared memory which binds us together, and also the promise of a bright future, in glory, with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

How do our church services and meetings compare? Are we building community through projects and schemes, or through the transforming power of the gospel?

1 comment :

  1. Another good book is God at the Mallby Pete Ward. Pete is a UK youth minister and shares his experience in youth ministry.