As we prepared for the 2017 Princeton Forum on Youth Ministry, we asked various practitioners to write about what the word “declare” means for them, for their ministry, and for the church. Throughout history, prophetic voices have made declarations—often ones that are uncomfortable to the religious elite. We hope to bring some of that same discomfort and disruption into our lives and yours as we consider this calling together.
I hate marketing.
I think it is communal poison. The result of a culture built on a spirituality of addiction.
I love communication.
I think it is central to transformation. The result of connecting to something beyond the self.
I believe we get the two confused, especially when talking to youth about the Gospel.
A Holy Moment
The most significant moment of understanding the Gospel for me occurred when I was in high school, at a youth group retreat. The group sat in a circle and a leader read the story about Jesus washing the disciple’s feet. Nothing else was said. The leaders just began going around, one by one, washing each of our feet and praying for us. When they came to me, I cried. It was a hard, ugly, unexpected, stuff welling up from deep down sort of cry. To me, it felt uncomfortable and strange in the silence of the room. Until I looked up and saw other’s crying too. Then it felt uncomfortable, strange and Holy. Even though I had no concept of what “Holy” meant.
“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me” –Ps 42:7
Afterwards we all stood up and put our arms around each other and shared anything we wanted. As we walked out of the room I felt more connected to that group and more free in myself than I had in a long time. There was never any teaching or explanation given by anyone, but it still taught me more about who Jesus is than 3 years of seminary.
I love lent.
The special time of year when we limit ourselves in order to experience God more.
I hate teaching it.
Trying to explain what, how, when, or who so they will be more able to understand and “succeed” at it.
I believe we begin with talking far too often, using it as a defense against the vulnerability of being present.
May you trust silence with yourself, your kids, or your ministry this Lenten season. Acting against the frantic movement of a culture addicted to noise. May there be space for God’s still small voice to be heard, as it is constantly whispering to us with grace and peace
Be still, and know that I am God
Be still, and know that I am
Be still, and know that
Be still, and know
Michael Ozaki is the Associate Pastor of Youth and Mission at State College Presbyterian Church. In his free time, while trying to keep his children from dying or becoming terrible adults, Mike likes to watch then overanalyze cinema for cultural meaning. Revenant Anyone?