2010 - Vol. 40
Christian Youth Culture Possible?
interview with Michael Shaughnessy,
for Kairos North America
KYCN: Mike, those who know you, know you have
lot's of ideas about youth and youth work. What's next?
Mike: Christians pray that God's
kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven – on earth, not just in
heaven. We shouldn't settle for something less than the kingdom. We too
easily accept the prevailing culture as inevitable. Unfortunately, that
means many young people are missing out on the hope, joy, beauty and goodness
that God intends for them on earth (not to mention heaven.) Many Christian
parents and youth workers are limited by a strategy that just tries to
keep evil out. They must say "NO!" over and over again, or just give up
and give in. In Kairos we see this challenge and are doing something about
it. Our goal is to build a positive youth culture that promotes whatever
is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever
is lovely, whatever is gracious (Phil. 4:8). This includes more than just
whatever is spiritual. It includes every area of human culture: food, sports,
games, music, art, dress…
KYCN: Why not just eliminate youth culture
Mike: Eliminating youth culture
is impossible to do. Isolating Christian youth from youth culture completely
is also unrealistic. Even the Amish admit that. More importantly, we have
a commission from Christ to bring the gospel to the world. We should not
just write off youth culture. We should want to transform it and those
who live in it. Besides, shaping today's youth means shaping tomorrow's
KYCN: Creating a new youth culture... That
seems like a lot of work!
Mike: Oh, it will be. It was a
lot of work to build Florence Cathedral, but it was done. I think we need
to do this and for two good reasons. First, we lose too many young people
to the powerful world of youth culture. Their lives get messed up. They
lose what faith they have. We need to provide an alternative culture, a
whole culture – not just a good youth group and some Christian music. We
need to provide a place where youth can flourish. The second reason we
should do it is exactly because this mission is big. Its vision is big.
It will provide a place in mission for all sorts of our young people, not
just youth workers. This mission will need businessmen and women, web designers,
musicians, writers, clothes designers, video editors, sound geeks... That's
a short list. I have a longer one and it's growing.
KYCN: Where do you begin?
Mike: Like with any good project
– get the right people and the funding. I think I have some of the people.
I am hoping our readers will help with the funding.
[Michael Shaughnessy is an
elder in The Servants of the
Word and the Director of Kairos
in North America. Kairos is an international federation of outreaches
to high school, university and post university aged people.].