When You Don’t Find What You’re Looking For In The Usual Places..

I’m going on a journey with a good friend at the moment. I’ll say that it’s a journey we’re on together, because I’ve taken the liberty and he’s created the opportunity for a commitment to walking the path with him.

Sometimes life takes unexpected turns, and the boundaries you grew up building your life inside need to change, because life is bigger and messier than what those boundaries allow for.

It reminds me of the Fences & Wells picture. You don’t need boundaries if you dig deep enough wells. The cattle learn for themselves to stay close to the source. Boundary lines and fences create false realities. You might be perfectly safe within the lines, but you still need to know where to find the Living Water.

Epidemics of the young adult community could be described and defined by the exploration of a couple of ideas that keep floating around my brain; ideas that are all part of the latest journey I’ve committed to being part of.

1. Being a “young adult” is a transition and not a lifestage.
Basically – being a young adult is being on the way to something else – adulthood. Adulthood carries all the implications of development, responsibility, understanding, cognitive thinking ability, recognition of risk and assessment etc. When you start to treat this transition period as a “stage of life” ministry, you actually inhibit the need for ‘graduating’ from adolescent development to fully-fledged adulthood, hence trapping mid-late 20-somethings into post-juvenile behaviour patterns and sociological norms.

2. Theological understanding still does not correlate to “relationship with God”.
There are still too many people in my own generation that can discuss theological moots at length and feel self-satisfied at the end of it. However, the ability to discourse with theological, even ‘spiritual’ prowess is moderately hampered when it comes to relating to a God that operates and calls His followers out of the boundary lines of ‘normal society’. This creates an uncomfortable tension for thinking believers when confronted with a faith that requires them to re-create the canvas of their lives. Our approach to spiritual education and development has left people theologically equipped but life-application deprived. When challenged to seek God’s direction, they stumble to find how to pray, how to listen, how to interpret and especially how to wait. The ancient practices of holiness and devotion are almost completely foreign.

So, one could say that there is little impetus to ‘grow up’ and even less practical, common societal education about how to ‘grow up’ without replicating the boundaries found common in the lives of parents, church leaders, society leaders.

The issue here, and that is common to the journey that brings me to this point – is that the mere replication of the behaviours, beliefs and practices of our parent’s generation isn’t the goal. The world has changed so dramatically since the 1960s that it would be imprudent to imagine God’s outworking in the world hasn’t expanded in all the same ways that our basic human expression & communication habits have.

When you’ve looked in all the usual places for the pathway of your life, for the vision, the purpose, the call, to find the ‘river’ so to speak .. and you’ve come up trumps…. how do you go about digging a well (I suspect that the well looks a lot like some basic disciplines) while you take down the fences… all the while trying to impart bravery and courage to the one for whom parameters and expectations are slowly shifting.

You start by looking in the unusual places. Ok, we’ve done that. Now the next exciting part of the journey begins.

In Other “Thinking News”

Aw, shucks. Etnobofin has tagged me with one of these…

A couple of days ago Marko was tagged as well, so I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the calibre here! However, let’s face it .. these are more of a gimmick than anything else, but I’ll happily play along. Here’s how it works; the participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

So.. here are the “thinking five”… (in the interests of being honest, I HAVE to revisit…)

1. PostSecret – this is consistently challenging, invigorating and inspiring pop culture.
2. Mark Oestreicher – now a friend, as well as one of a small number of ‘thinking’ youthworkers. We need more people who will engage with the science & the faces of youth ministry.
3. Stu McGregor – I don’t always agree with Stu, but I certainly appreciate his unique and strong perspectives on theology, community and youth ministry. His journey into the next phase is going to be worth walking alongside.
4. Paul Windsor – Principal of Carey Baptist College and one of the practical theologians and hymn-lovers I respect so much.
5. …. I’m going to have to decide tomorrow.