2008 Election and the future of Youth Ministry

I don’t know about you, but I spent most of the night watching the election coverage and flipping between about nine different channels. It was interested to note the blue and red colors on the map. I remember the day when the vast majority of states were in red.  Now, the entire East and West coast (and most of the upper Midwest) are blue states and for the first time in history, New England does not have one Republican in the House.  Growing up in NH, we used to vote Republican, but apparently that trend is now a thing of the past.

We are truly living in unprecedented and changing times.  One of the CNN correspondents keenly observed that the face of American culture is transitioning to a much more moderate to liberal position.  Obama was able to sway the popular vote in many suburbs that have previously been Republican.

One political analyst remarked, “Barack Obama does not transcend race, rather we are living in a post-race America.”  In many ways America is becoming post-race, post-denominational, and post-Christian. The things that used to divide us are becoming fewer and fewer…and I am not so sure that is a bad thing.

Personally, I believe that over the next 5-15 years, the shift from red to blue will sweep across the nation. Some may argue against that and others may weep at America’s “moral degradation and ethical demise”.  However, it should be note the higher % of Catholics and evangelical Christians who voted for Obama and the growing shift toward the blue by the next generation of Christians.

What does this all mean for youth ministry?

Rather than trying to fighting against the coming tide (which some may attempt to do), I believe we must acknowledge where we are heading in America.  Our nation is following in the footsteps of our birth parents…the European nation and is thrusting forward into postmodernity.

Take the North East for instance. If the general culture is moving away from certain ideologies, “modern” worldviews and modes of thought, what shall become of the church if it holds ground?

Now, I am not advocating for compromise, but for a shift in the way the church sees itself and its place in society.

We can go one of two ways:  Keep pushing back against the coming tide, call it “protecting our identity and the sacredness of God” (or something along those lines) and continue to watch the church’s role  society dwindle towards nothingness.

Or, we can try to see what God is doing in our county and how He might be already at work to bring about some of these positive changes…and try to get on board.

Listen, if our faith is not strong enough to remain and grown within postmodernity, then how strong was it really?  The amazing thing about our faith is that it has always been able to morph, adopt, and adapt to changing times.

You can hold off and label yourself one of the “remnant” or face the facts, pray for wisdom, and seek to partner with God as he continue to bring restoration, redemption, justice, and reconciliation to our society and world.

It used to be that if you were into philosophy, questioned some of the doctrines of Christianity, were a “tree hugger”, and voted Democratic, then the church (and youth group) was not a place for you to belong.

We would preach against those things, and advocate a change of worldview, principles, ideologies, beliefs, and practices. That’s quite a great deal to radically change before a student can belong or fit in with a youth group!

If we stick to that philosophy, I am not sure there will be very many students left in the North East (and eventually America) who will actually fit in.

As the great songwriter Bob Dylan once sang, “The times…they are a-changing”

Will youth pastors embrace the changing times and partner with God or will we hold fast, fight against the evils of “liberalism” and postmodernity and wait until God does something about it?

Which option is more proactive?

Which is more hopeful?

Which will seek to bring the gospel of Jesus to more people?

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