Thursday, April 07, 2011

Much to think about lately

How is it possible that I haven't published a blog post since November of 2010? I apologize to anybody who's still keeping an eye on this thing. I've had a number of opportunities lately to hear great speakers or read great stuff, so for the next few days my goal is to share some reflections.

This was an event sponsored by the College and Young Adult Ministries Unit of my presbytery. We invited author Carol Howard Merritt to come and speak about her books Tribal Church and Reframing Hope in which she addresses the issues surrounding young adults and their participation in churches in the early part of this century. While I haven't read Reframing Hope yet, I thoroughly enjoyed Tribal Church and every young adult I speak to who reads it says that it's "spot on" in describing their experience of the church. While I'm not going to summarize the book here, I do want to share a thought she offered during her time at YCHRCH that was particularly meaningful, in my opinion.

During a discussion of social media, Carol took issue with the prevailing idea that those who blog, twitter, or use facebook are simply narcissistic fame-seekers. Instead, she talked about how she used to join her Mother and Aunt on the back porch to help in the preparation of fresh vegetables for cooking. Actually, as I've thought about this, I may have translated her words into my own memories of sitting on the back porch of my grandparents' house with my own Mom and Grandma. Anyway, she recalled the stories that her Mom and Aunt would tell about their lives, and how great that was for a child to hear. Then, as time marched on and air conditioning became more prevalent, as well as cable television, the chores moved indoors in front of a television. At that point, her Mom and Aunt let the professionals of TV tell the stories. As Carol watches her nieces and nephews now, they sit around together with laptops and smartphones, and, as she posits, they seek to reclaim the role of story-teller. I think the idea of blogs, twitter feeds, and facebook status updates as taking back the story from the professional media is quite wonderful. Instead of lecturing the youth and young adults of our churches about the harmful effects of all that faceless social media, maybe we could be inviting them to share more and to help us reclaim the story of our communities. Maybe the cyber-voices of young people with their consistent insistence on narratives of hope, acceptance, love, and compassion are re-shaping the world around us. Maybe our church websites could be less full of calendars and staff directories and instead contain more story-telling by saints of all ages.

In the days to come, thoughts and reflections on what I heard from Rob Bell at Belmont University this past week.