Culture Making is now archived. Enjoy five years of reflections on culture worth celebrating.
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Posts tagged ministry

"David Taylor - In His Own Words," by The Austin Stone, 6 March 2009
from "Following Christ 2008 Theme: Human Flourishing," InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, 8 March 2008

Are there universal elements of human flourishing, things that every person needs to flourish? If so, which of these are immediate gifts of God and which can be created, shaped, or nourished by the practice of the academic and professional disciplines?

Why do men and women fail to flourish? To what extent does sin, both personal and systemic, account for this failure?

In the face of such failure, how is the gospel good news and how does it help us flourish ourselves within our vocations and beyond?

Is it really true that to fully flourish one must be a follower of Jesus? How can such an outrageous claim be presented compellingly in our culture?

Must our bodies be doing well for us to flourish? In what ways does our embodiment affect our flourishing?

What does pursuing excellence have to do with human flourishing? Is elitism inherent in excellence, and does it impede human flourishing in a diverse society?

Will the career and personal path I’m on lead to my flourishing and that of others? Are my vocation and occupation in sync? Should I perhaps change paths, and how can I know?

What kinds of suffering stifle human flourishing, and what kinds can contribute to it?

How can we prepare to flourish and help others flourish in the face of an uncertain future and rapid social, cultural, economic, and technological change?

from "The End of Service Trips?," by Tim Ogden, Philanthropy Action, 15 October 2008

[Some doubt] whether it’s even possible to achieve the goals of a real encounter with poverty in a week to 10 days. According to Crouch it is—if the trips are radically different. He suggests three ingredients for trips to have an impact:

1. Make trips a part of a lasting, organization-level partnership: Many youth groups feel they have to go someplace new each year to interest participants. Visiting the same place year after year allows the Americans to begin building more of an understanding of local context and needs, and increases the likelihood that the “help” they offer is actually helpful.

2. Properly set expectations: The more a trip is described as a learning experience rather than an opportunity for an unskilled teenager to “help”, the more likely the trip is to have an impact.

3. Small is beautiful: if personal contact is the sine qua non of such trips, they have to be small enough to allow actual personal contact between Americans and their counterparts.

Still, Crouch doubts that one trip can make a difference:

“The trips only make sense if they are part of a comprehensive program of changing people’s attitudes and behaviors. Evidence is shockingly clear that a single trip has no impact. No matter how well you do a trip, especially when you’re talking about teenagers, they are at such a high-velocity developmental stage that I don’t think any single experience is going to have an ‘impact.’ . . . The organizations that have thought about this the most and are doing the best job are making these trips part of a much longer engagement with the issues. For instance, there’s one organization that requires a year-long commitment and the trip occurs in the middle—they meet just as often after the trip as they do preparing for it. . . . The grooves in our culture are too deep for us to escape without that level of commitment.”

by Andy Crouch for Culture Making

In 2008–2009 I will have the privilege of teaching two D.Min. courses on Christianity and cultural creativity, the first at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and the second at Biblical Seminary here in the Philadelphia area.

Putting together the syllabus for my course at Western was a fun challenge. What 2,000 pages worth of reading would you select to give experienced pastors a thorough introduction to the best thinking on faith and culture, and to prompt their own creativity in the places where they live and serve?

Well, here’s the syllabus I came up with. I also created an online store with all the required reading (plus one very good book I couldn’t quite fit in to the 2,000-page limit, Dick Staub’s The Culturally Savvy Christian). Until I complete the “annotated bibliography” that will appear on this site later this summer under the more reading header, it’s a good guide to the books I consider essential reading—beyond (though including) Culture Making of course. :)