I am too Uncool or too Old to be a Young Adult’s pastor?

Two questions I often get asked are “Can I work with young adults If am middle aged or older?” and “Can I have a ministry with Young Adults if I am not cool?”

Well let me answer those questions by introducing you to one David Rodigan. Rodigan is English, bald, white and middle aged. He looks like cross between George Costanza and your high school geography teacher. He is bascially one of the dorkiest looking men you could encounter. Of course there is nothing wrong with that…but there could be when you take into account what Rodigan loves to do.

Soundclashes are competitions that began in the ghettos of Jamaica between rival DJ’s, and their respective sound-systems. The DJ’s play their best tunes, and the crowd declares a winner. It is not a competition for the faint hearted. In the brutally competive world of Jamaican Dancehall reggae soundclashes David Rodigan is a legend, due to the fact that he is almost unbeatable. Rodigan regularily defeats DJ’s and selecta’s half his age.

Here Mr Rodigan anihilates rival DJ Poison Dart on his own turf. Skip to the 5:30min mark for the real madness to begin.

Here is Rodigan in action in Jamaica

To the uninitiated Rodigan’s antics look like the dancing drunk uncle that you wish had never shown up to your wedding. Yet in the whole Jamaican soundclash scene despite being an outsider he garners massive respect. So how on earth does someone who is so obviously not cool gain such respect in a world where coolness is essential?

  1. LONGEVITY: Rodigan has been travelling to Jamaica for years to hone his craft. His respect has been built on years of being on the ground and testing his skills and building up support. I remember someone telling me that ministry is spelt T.I.M.E . Rapport cannot be built with young adults overnight. Instead respect it built over time. Stick around long enough and people will start listening to you.
  2. KNOWLEDGE: Rodigan know his stuff. His encyclopaedic  knowledge of dancehall and reggae is what gets props from the people in the know. Ministry is the same, people will listen to you if you have something to say, something interesting, relevant and important to their lives.
  3. PASSION: At the end of the day Rodigan jumps around like an embarrassing nut, but after watching him for a while his sheer passion, lostness in the music that he loves is what is infectious. If you have passion for God, passion for ministry and a passion for young adults, it will cut through what is cool, hip and ephemeral.
  4. RELATIONSHIP: Rodigan was friends with Bob Marley and just about every reggae luminary you can name. At the end of the day young adults like all people are desperate for genuine relationship. In ministry like in life relationship trumps age.

And besides somehow Rodigan’s total uncoolness ironically makes him so much cooler, authentic and engaging than the sight of pastors trying to fit into skinny jeans.

Tasty ‘Leadership in Your Twenties’ Morsels#5 Reading & South Dakota

For the first time this blog broadcasts out from very flat South Dakota. Today I discuss how important reading is to the leader, it is not a case of being or not being a reader, but instead developing a discipline for reading. Plus a tip on how you can pull off a talk or a sermon on the spot with no preparation. Check out the vid

This is the Seth Godin article that I discuss in the vid.

Tasty ‘Leadership in your Twenties’ Morsels

I have been thinking quite a bit lately about the fact that there are not a whole lot of people around me my age in ministry. The Church really lost a whole generation of Xrs like me. I fear that the same could be happening with Gen Y’. So with this in mind, I am going to do a little bit of a series in which I will share tasty leadership morsels that I have learnt, that will help you stay in ministry beyond your twenties. This is the first one it is called Character vs Career. Hope it helps.

A Key To Training Young Adult Leaders

Everyone about ten years ago began to rethink how we trained young leaders, we thought to ourselves that the days of plonking them down in front of a talking head for hours on end and filling their heads with pure info seemed pretty dumb in both theory and practice.

So organisations, mission agencies and churches decided to get experiential with their learning. Get recruits out and about, overseas, in the field, on the ground. Basically anywhere but the classroom. This made and continues to make a lot of sense. We as humans learn experientially, this is especially true of the current crop of young adults.

However there is a problem, young adults have come of age during a time when experience has been elevated over almost anything else in life. Western culture avoids the big issues of death, suffering, God and meaning by simply filling our lives with constant distraction in the form of a unquenchable thirst for experience.

Thus training programs/internships which are experiential have the potential to work against leadership development in young adults. They create another distraction, another excuse to avoid dealing with the big issues which believers and leaders must wrestle with. The issues that cause young leaders to run away from ministry in search of more distractions and experiences for the sake of experience.

Potential leaders must wrestle with their mortality, their falleness, their brokenness and total need for God, before they can move on. Yes there is a place for activity but first silence and space must be given to encounter the reality of oneself, minus the distractions.  In the 21st century training model the existential must proceed the experiential.

A Plea To Young Evangelicals

I have in the last couple of years become increasingly concerned with how we are treating each other within the Evangelical Christian sub-culture. The relativist context of the nineties and early noughties created a reluctance amongst many Christians leaders to push their opinions too strongly. At first there was some debates over church shape and what constitutes effective mission in a post-Christian culture.  However this debate seems to have subsided as a new battle has begun to rage, this time around what constitutes ‘evangelical’ theology.

Most of this battle seems to be waged on the internet. The rather unhelfpul comment/response format of blogs and youtube creates a kind of anonymous cyber duel in which very few seem to be able to exercise humility and winning the argument at all costs is the order of the day. This kind of battle is particularly tempting for young men, who seem to make up most of ranks of these new theological skirmishes.

Now I am all for people expressing their opinions, I supports critique, I am also all for protecting orthodoxy, and have no problem with robust debate. But it is worthwhile raising a warning flag from history at this stage. And I will do so by asking a seemingly unrelated question. How did the secularism which has marginalised the church in the West begin? Some of you will point to an anti-Christian bias of some European intellectuals during the Enlightenment, others will think of the rise of reason and science, others will point the finger at Darwin. All of these factors are part of the story which began the process that we know as secularism.

However the ignition spark which creates the blaze began as a result of the inter christian theological disputes which begun with the reformation, which at first pitted Catholic against Protestant, then Protestant against Protestant, in a struggle to establish what was orthodox Christian thought and practice. It did not take long for this struggle to spill into actual violence, violence which took the form of anything from Church sanctioned torture to full blown war.

It was no wonder that after seeing their continent torn apart by inter-Christian wars that thinkers like Hume, Locke, Voltaire, and Gibbon begun to question the legitimacy of Christianity. The deep suspicion towards religion and strong beliefs that we find in the religions West has its roots in this reaction. This is why we use the term Post-Christian to describe the West.

Many experts in secular theory point to the Dutch legal expert Hugo Grotius’ attempts to create a system of government separate of religious influence in Holland as the beginning of secularism. Grotius was a committed Christian, he was an apologist for Christianity. However Grotius realised that in order to stop the bloodshed that a secular state must be created so that Calvinists, Catholics, Anabaptists, and Jews could live in peace.

This history looms large over us today, as tempting as it is to ‘own’ some on on the internet who thinks differently, we must remember that such debates are waged in the public realm, those outside the faith observe these arguments. To the outsiders such debates seem like wars over unintelligible esoterica, and only confirm preconceived ideas about Christians and the Christian faith. So for the sake of the gospel we must learn to debate each other with respect, humility and civility. We must see the Image of God in others who we disagree with. To do so is probably going to one of our most important witnesses in the post-Christian culture of the West.

Panoramic vs Practical

Ever come away from hearing that expert on ministry who made you felt like you could change the world, only for you to return smack bang into the difficulty of your daily ministry routine? Have you found yourself reading a book and wondering why everything seems to easy in comparison to what you have to face in your context? Getting the balance between Panoramic vs Practical modes of ministry is key for any leader. (Warning: Video contains images of Pigeon dropping that some viewers may find offensive.)

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