The Dignifying Work of Theology

One of the Next Institute’s close friends is the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, founded by youth cultural educator Walt Mueller. Recently, Mueller further commented on a blog post written by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School theologian Kevin Vanhoozer entitled “Letter to an Aspiring Theologian”. Mueller writes about the very reason the Institute exists - a desire to include theology-as-a-verb in the work of youth ministry:

Let me be blunt here. There’s been a slow side in our youth ministry world away from consciously doing theology first, into somewhat thoughtlessly embracing methodologies, practices, and strategies. And in our running first to the pragmatic, our youth ministries in the end might wind up being counter-productive. Each of us must hope that this isn’t true in our own case, because if it is, we will have nurtured kids into living lives that are compro-cultural rather than lives that our counter-cultural and glorifying to God.

Thankfully, Mueller’s words are not only speculation. In the preface to Vanhoozer’s 2015 work “The Pastor as Public Theologian”, a text arguing for the continued voice of the pastorate in helping continue to make sense of the world in light of the truth of God, Vanhoozer includes by name youth pastors in this responsibility. Rather than being ‘junior pastors’ interested in being ‘relevant’, youth workers assume a great calling to help generations of students view their world through God’s eyes. This is especially important when one considers an oft-repeated maxim of Mueller, ‘practices are always downstream from theology’. Thank you, Kevin and Walt, for your encouragement and recognition of the important tasks involved in youth ministry.

ResourcesStephen Yates