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Urgency For Compassionate Church Ministry To Children Ages 3 to 13

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    Abstract

    Webster’s Dictionary defines compassion as, a deep awareness of and sympathy for another’s suffering, or the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it (Webster’s Dictionary).This dissertation attempts to stress the urgency for compassion in youth ministry.  The Christian church has become more a fall-back option, when one has lost balance in their life, than a prioritized foundation in which to raise a child.  The research provided in this essay centers on Christian Youth age 3-13. The research collected comes from a nuance of various sources, all credible in their own right.

    BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

    ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

    COMPASSION?

    But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

    He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him gain (Proverb 19:17)

    In his article, The Lost Art of Compassion, Brian McClincey gives his take on what he calls a growing shame in our society, and how it can be addressed through youth ministry.  He begins his introduction, on compassion, by referring to an email he once received.

    I started to read through this email. The message was loud and clear, our body of believers is not doing what it should be doing. My friend used an image that startled me. A man engulfed in flames was spinning in circles. He was screaming for help and no one was willing to reach out to him because of the fear of being burned (McClincy,2006).

    This image perfectly expresses the state of human conscience, or lack thereof, in today’s society. The ideals embodied within compassion are being lost to a money driven

     society, that views the less fortunate as stepping stones, if they view them at all.  McClincey uses his weekly publication to create a passion driven community and promote Christian ministry. In his article, he identifies the core need every premature Christian has who is

    unfamiliar with giving or receiving compassion from the Church.

    In tunneling beneath the observable adult landscape and creating the world beneath the primary preoccupation of mid-adolescents is to find a place of relational safety. Teenagers are seeking safety a place of relational safety.  They want to be able to feel compassion, love, acceptance, and concern (McClincey, 2006).

    McClincy feels the American youth are living in a world that overlooks them and they are seeking a compassionate environment, a place of rational safety. They want to be able to feel compassion, love, acceptance and concern (McClincy, 2006).  McClincy accuses the church of creating a similar environment, that embodies just as much hurt and blame as any run-of-the-mill dysfunctional home. This is a judgment that is a bit unfair or his part, but it goes to show that there is a growing awareness of the urgent need for compassion in the church.  And by compassion, I mean an indiscriminate understanding of what the youth are up against today, and the willingness to bare this burden along with them.  McClincy closes his article by calling his readers to get active and be aggressive with compassion.  He says that compassion requires vulnerability, which he credits as the source of its blatant detraction.

    DISTRACTIONS

     He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise (Luke 3:11)

    There are many factors leading to the lack of faith in the Christian Youth community.  The predominant product placement of sex by corporations, the glorification of drug use, and the newly popular money driven genre pushed by the music industry, are all in opposition to the church.  In a study done by Outreach Magazine, they found that 52% of college students attended religious services regularly before going to college, but by their junior year only 29% still attended regularly. 57% of college freshmen currently question their religious beliefs; 83% of freshmen agree that non-religious people can lead lives that are just as moral as those of religious believers (Outreach Magazine, 2006). This was a San Diego based census of more than 20,000 young people.  The main focus of this argument is not college aged ministry.  This was made clear in the thesis. Still many theorists believe there is a direct correlation between the moral foundation formed within the home and the behavior that develops without it. Outreach Magazine poses the question, what are we losing them to?

    The answer they found was everything.  Numerous cable networks, that once pawned themselves off as children’s education, or family based, have now grown up with their viewers.  To compete with the ever-growing vulgarity and sexual explicitness, brought on by satellite-television and digital cable, Networks like: ABC Family, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, are taking advantage of the new wave of adults finding less time to watch television, or monitor their child’s choice of entertainment.  The music industry is growing more explicit as well.

    In his article, Christian Rock: Blessing or Blasphemy, Terry Watkins analyzes contemporary Christian music and its value to the Christian Ministry.  He likens the new-wave- fad to a corporate ploy promoting idolatry through fleshy gimmicks, claiming there is no place for it in the church. He cites the scripture …that which is highly ESTEEMED among men is ABOMINATION in the sight of God (Luke 16:15).  Watkins doesn’t present his statements from a self righteous position.  He admits to playing the electric guitar when he was young and being a fan of rock and roll music, but he attributes this to being the common time most young people go through before they are saved.  In this connotation we must analyze this idea of a common time.  If Terry Watkins, a devout Christian, who runs his own ministry publication, and considers himself to be saved, thinks it’s common not to be saved, in one’s youth, what has become of youth ministry?  Where is it? The Center for Church Communication believes it has been lost to the advertising market.  In response to this, they started up a new site online called Church Marketing Sucks.com, on which they offer young writers the opportunity to win cash prizes for writing essays to explain the churches’ lack of reception with the youth. It has turned out to be a very successful project, undoubtedly because the writers are being bribed with money. This says a lot about the nature of the situation. Obviously, the church doesn’t want to go so far as to pay their congregation to attend, but at the same time, the church can’t turn a righteous back on them.  There must be a common ground.

    III

    The use of Altruism

         For his dissertation, Reverend Richard Bardusch Jr. published a record of his youth missions with children of low income housing.  His record serves as a realistic account of the different types of social interactions that can occur when practicing compassion on those who are

    unfamiliar with the concept. Bardusch carried out his mission in Madison, New Jersey, under the advising of Reverend Doctor William Presnell. The reverend noted that a large majority of the children were mostly Hispanic and very poor, age 6-12.  The core focus of his dissertation was the development of Christian identity.  The Reverend built and established program in June of 2000. Near the end of his first year, the youth ministry was in risk of being shut down, bills were accumulating, and the Reverend was finding it very hard to maintain the church.  He reached out to the community, while at the same time inciting passion in young adults to volunteer.  By the same time the second year, the ministry had quadrupled its congregation. Baurdusch’s explains what happened in his dissertation. My perception of this congregation is that as a whole it can now be said that it was born out of the crossing of a boundary. Near the point of extinction, this church made the conscious decision to be resurrected rather than die. It made the choice to enter new territory rather than go out of existence (Baurdusch 22-23).

         The reverend designs his dissertation in many sections, One of which he describes the process of Learning and teaching his young congregation.

             Finally, I would like to define the connection between my project and embodied learning. While for religious formation purposes, liturgy and specifically ritual are most suited for creating distinctive identities, there are also other expressions of embodied learning that can be used to form Christian identity.

    This ideal of identity is a core part of the Reverend’s teaching.  In fact, He feels it is the most important part. For the children know in their heart that they are of value, they first most be treated as such. This involves all old aspects of the church dealings with young people to be disregarded.  The past decades’ view of the adults learning the sermon and the children in Sunday school has been long forgotten.  The Reverend signifies the difference between his program and a Sunday school, by the simple fact that his efforts are daily routines.  Similar to a big-brother program.  He has older high school and college students come and volunteer for school credits.  They often are able to setup scholarship, or grants through their schools.  He credits the key to his programs success to being his ability to set up a sense of community for the kids.  He notes that many of them don’t have stable home situations, so he provides them with the same love and vulnerable understanding that McClyncy refers to in his

    essay.  The Reverend’s works stands as a mild stone of sincerely heartfelt youth ministry.

    IV

    THEORY ON COMPASSION

    Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another (Romans 12:8).

         The Theory behind compassion has been documented over the past few decades. A scholar by the name of Rokeach is known for publishing three essays on the subject, all in the late 1960’s.  He is most credited for the study of human beings and their correlation to personal religious beliefs, attitudes, and values.  Bernard Spilka, a professor from the University of Denver, analyzes Rokeach’s research and does a study of his own, in his essay A Problem in Theory and Measurement. The results he concluded compatible with Dr. Rokeach’s findings were that those who attend church tend to be more prejudice and judgmental of others than those who don’t. The fact that persons who stress ‘salvation’ generally show less compassion than those who do not speaks to the psychometric robustness of this referent relative to ‘forgiving’(Spilka, 1967).  He developed the belief that salvation had a sociological connection with American society, with a meaning held separate than that of the church.  He referred to the role

    of religion as paradoxical stating that, it makes for social compassion, and it also counters it (Spilka, 1967). Both men have been credited by numerous Universities for their expertise in the quantitative studies of religious commitment.

         Rokeach and Spilka pose many questions with their research. We all are aware of the superficialities common within the church. So much so, they have become cliché, one of the well known imperfect faults on the outskirts of the churches’ representation. This image correlates to the argument McClincy brings up, about the church being misunderstanding towards a youth bombarded with rejection.  There are no doubt members of the church community who deem themselves more righteous than others through their militant association with the ministry. This, like Spilka reports, is the paradoxical aspect of the church, and it might not be poking in the dark to assume this has something to do with the lack of youth interest in the ministry. It’s unfair of the church to expect the youth to congregate before feeling welcome.  If those hailed as the most prestigious members of the congregation are also the most shallow and least compassionate, than the entire system need to be reevaluate, before the youth can even be addressed.

    V

    SOLUTIONS

    I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

         I propose the implementation of aggressive youth missionaries. Similar to McClincy’s concept only With compassion as their primary motive.  Those contributing to the progression of these missions need to be well trained in the concept of compassion.  They need to display the exact type of genuine vulnerability capable of someone who truly has Faith. An example of the opposite was previously shown by Terry Watkins. The passion he exerts to accuse Christian Rockers of blasphemy is innately familiar to the righteously pretentious behavior the church needs to avoid.  Both McClincy and Watkins serve as the perfect example of the two points of view within the church that conflict deeply enough to turn the youth away. I’m sure Watkins doesn’t intend to be, nor see himself as, the problem; but, compassion in the church relies on the balance of these two perspectives.

    Works Cited

    Bardusch Jr., Rev. Richard. Embodied Learning and Christianity Formation. Diss. Drew Univ., 2006. 19 Dec. 2006 <http://wwwlib.umi.com/dissertations/order_pickup/prod/d5c0e6511be736a8756e9afd8fbe707a/7763228/7439390/3222096.PDF>.

    Beals, Art. When the Saints Go Marching Out! Louisville Kentucky: Geneva P, 2001.

    Crossan, John D. “The Seed Parables of Jesus.” Journal of Biblical Literature 92.2 (1973): 244-266. Jstor. 21 Dec. 2006.

    Davidson, James D., Alan K. Mock, and C. Lincoln Johnson. “Through the Eyes of a Needle: Social Ministry in Affluent Churches.” Review of Religious Research 38.3 (1997): 247-262. Jstor. Strozier. 19 Dec. 2006.

    Day, Edward. “The Jesus of the Fourth Gospel.” The Biblical World 34 (1909): 410-416. Jstor. 20 Dec. 2006.

    Hendricks, Kevin D. “Church Marketing Sucks.” Church Marketing Sucks Demographics/Research Archives. 2004. 20 Dec. 2006 <http://www.churchmarketingsucks.com/archives/demographicsresearch/>.

    The Holy Bible King James Version. Michigan: Zondervan, 2002.

    McClincy, Brian. “The Lost Art of Compassion.” Youth Ministry Exchange (2006). 20 Dec. 2006 <http://www.churchmarketingsucks.com/archives/demographicsresearch/>.

    Pargament, Kenneth I., Hannah Olsen, Barbara Reilly, Kathryn Falgout, David S. Ensing, and Kimberly V. Haitsma. “God Help Me (II): the Relationship of Religious Orientaions to

    Religious Coping with Negative Life Events.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 31.4 (1992): 504-513. 21 Dec. 2006.

    Spilka, Bernard. “Religious Values and Social Compassion:a Problem in Theory and Measurement (in Critiques of Milton Rokeach’s 1969 H. Paul Douglas Lectures).” Review of Religious Researh 11 (1970): 149-151. Jstor. Strozier. 20 Dec. 2006.

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    Urgency For Compassionate Church Ministry To Children Ages 3 to 13. (2016, Aug 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/urgency-for-compassionate-church-ministry-to-children-ages-3-to-13/

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