In a short, but helpful, article, Roslyn Hernández writes about the diverse, complicated, sometimes painful, but also rich history that people of Spanish speaking descent bring to the table. Our city consists of a 48% Latino population. Not every area (or even the region as a whole) is going to reflect this percentage in their demographics but still, if you are doing Young Life in our region, you will be doing ministry among Latino/a students.
Roslyn writes about three things we can do to engage Latino/a students, grow in our understanding of their ethnic identity, and help them with their sense of belonging. Here are some takeaways from that article.
She encourages us to be curious about cultures, traditions, and histories. Some students will feel comfortable sharing these things. Some will even be excited to share these things with you. That’s not always the case though. She encourages us to develop relationships with parents because this allows us to take relationships to a deeper level. I think of how many Quinces my family has been invited to because of how Amelia is pro-active with her engagement of parents. Roslyn also recommends that we become familiar with socio-political issues affecting the lives of our students. As she explains, you don’t need to become a foreign policy expert, but knowing a bit about these kinds of things goes a long way because many of these issues tangibly affect our students and their families.
Acknowledging the unique contributions that your students’ ethnic and cultural backgrounds bring to your club speaks volumes of how you value them as individuals. What events or holidays do your students celebrate? Here’s a practical question: How can you incorporate these holidays or events into club? Into social media? How about having a fundraiser in December selling homemade tamales or champurrado? You can connect with your student’s traditions in various ways, this shows that you see them and value their heritage.
Roslyn also talks about making space for lament. This doesn’t need to be – but can be – in a large group (i.e. club) setting. This can be more of a one-on-one thing. But to enter into that space of lament you’ll need to build relationships with them to the point where they feel safe enough to share what they are lamenting about.
She makes several suggestions about “recovering” but one that stuck out to me—because it is so in line with our values in Young Life—is the idea of creating spaces where students can just rest. She points to a phenomenon that many Latino/a kids experience: guilt associated with rest. There can be a huge expectation placed upon the shoulders of some of our students that if they aren’t actively doing something for the wellbeing of the family then they should feel guilty. I don’t want to take away from the practical realities of this, some of our students need to work to help the family, some of our students will need to function as a parent towards their little siblings because of the long hours their parents spend at work. Because of that, creating an environment where kids can be kids, where they aren’t expected to perform, or to be responsible for something, can be such a life-giving thing, even if its just for 2 hours on club nights.
In our TheoPsych project, we provided training in the psychological sciences for theologians from around the world in 3 small, private learning cohorts. We brought in psychologists, skilled in interdisciplinary dialogue, to inspire conversations around using the psych sciences as a tool for developing theology.
But now, we’re excited to share that the material from the seminars we hosted, is now available to anyone who wants to access it. We’ve adapted material from our 3 events, into a series of courses that you can explore for free in something we’re calling TheoPsych Academy.
These courses include short lectures from psychology experts working in many subfields including: Robert Emmons, Justin Barrett, Pamela Ebstyne King, Mari Clements, Peter Hill, Lindsey Root Luna, Brad Strawn, Joey Fung, William Newsome, and more! In addition to this group of psychologists, there are also conversations with theologians from the project, discussing how they’re using psychology in their work.
If you decide to work through a course with a group, there are opportunities for great interactions as the courses are highly customizable, including options for discussion questions, quizzes, and “dig deeper” supplemental sections to help you take the material in different directions.
Those who enroll within our launch year will have access to private online events, for live interaction with psychology experts, to get their burning questions answered. It’s our hope that theologians, ministry leaders, and those just curious about how psychological science might interact with our understanding of God and the world will benefit from these courses! Enjoy!
Above content comes from the TheoPsych team at Blueprint 1543.
I just got done reading a new book by Lamar Hardwick about – as the title obviously implies – disability and the church. While the focus is definitely on church I think there is some important overlap for Young Life as a whole and not just Capernaum. I recommend the book but I know many of you are busy getting ready for the school year, have your own training readings to worry about, etc. so I wanted to distill some of the key ideas for you.
Lamar is pastor of Tri-Cities Church in Georgia. Sometimes known as the Autism Pastor, Lamar has a heart for issues od diversity, and specifically the question “Who’s missing?” This is partly born out of his experience as an African American in leadership but also as someone who was diagnosed with Autism as an adult.
His concern for those who are missing grows out of an understanding of Jesus’s mission:
Lamar works through Jesus’s story of a man holding a banquet, telling his servant to “invite the poor, the crippled the blind, the lame.” And even after these people come “there is still room for more.” (Luke 14:21-22). Often times we think about this story in terms of Jesus heart for the furthest out kids. That’s absolutely right! But as someone with a disability Lamar can’t help but also hear Jesus’s heart for inclusion of those who society has excluded because of physical or mental disabilities. But it’s not just about “society” its also about how Christian communities have excluded our disabled friends. Often times this isn’t intentional, it’s more the fact that ministry to the disability community is more of an afterthought. Thankfully through opportunities like Capernaum we try to be faithful to intentionally engage those that society-and churches-often unintentionally forget.
The pandemic pushed churches to create accommodations that made it possible for people to participate. Imagine having the same sense of urgency and placing the same value on a large segment of our communities that have been largely unable to participate in our weekly gatherings prior to COVID-19 pandemic. (48)
There is an enormous difference between being invited and being included. (51)
4 Characteristics of Ministries that Are Moving in the Right Direction
People over programs.
Diversity is celebrated and not merely tolerated.
Structures that prioritize interpersonal relationships
Leaders who are personally invested.
It might be worth the time to examine whether your ministry reflects these characteristics and what it could do to improve upon them if you aren’t already moving in these directions.
Some Stats on Disability
About 56.7 mission people—19% of the population—had a disability in 2010.
Estimates are that 80 to 85 percent of churches don’t have any level of special-needs ministry.
Only 5 to 10 percent of the world’s disabled are effectively reached with the gospel, making disability community one of the largest unreached—some say underreached—or hidden groups in the world.
More than 90 percent of churchgoing special-needs parents cited the most helpful support to be a “welcoming attitude toward people with disabilities.” Meanwhile, only 80% of those parents said that welcoming attituded was present at their church. (103)
The fact that the disability community is one of the most under-reached populations breaks my heart but at the same time I’m so encouraged that Young Life has made it a priority through Capernaum.
Parents of Capernaum kids are a part of our ministry too. While your focus isn’t necessarily on parents, know that you are providing real, tangible, care for these parents through your ministry to your Capernaum friends. You are being a tangible expression of God’s love to these parents too and not just to your Capernaum friends!
Building a Leadership Culture
Something that has been on my mind for some time now is the role that our Capernaum friends can play in leadership.
Raising disabled persons to leadership isn’t tokenism. Disabled persons bring a unique vision and skill set to our ministries that we would miss out apart from their involvement in leadership. It’s worth thinking about how to raise up Capernaum students to leadership positions. This would probably start with removing barriers to leadership.
One barrier is a lack of understanding of the inclusive nature of God’s people. The Bible has plenty of examples of the place of disabled persons in Jesus’s ministry. If you want to take a look at some of these passages see: Matt 25:36, Luke 4:18-19, Luke 10:25-37, Luke 13:10-17, Luke 14:1-24, John 9:2-7.
At times raising Capernaum students to leadership will require some accommodation. In the calling of Moses (Exodus 4), Moses says that he is slow of speech and slow of tongue. But instead of ruling him out because of that, God accommodates for him. God gives him assistance: Aaron would speak for him. What kinds of accommodations might you need to make for our disabled friends to help them flourish in leadership?
I remember a training I was leading for our area walking through some principles of biblical interpretation. One of our Capernaum student leaders was visibly frustrated and she was having a hard time tracking with the content. After talking to her about it we discovered that an accommodation that would help her grow in her leadership was to provide the content in written form ahead of time so she could review it before the meeting. Does that add extra stress as we are preparing an all-area meeting since now I can’t go off the cuff with the training? Yes. But is making an accommodation like that worth it to make sure that our friend could flourish in her God-given call to leadership? Absolutely. To be honest though, that is a pretty easy accommodation. Other accommodations might be significantly weightier… But again, as Lamar said, “Disability ministry will cost you something but not doing it may very well cost you everything.”
At other times we might have to carefully think about what makes a “good” leader. I’m sure all of us have an picture of what an “ideal” leader looks like. But does your picture of an ideal leader exclude the possibility of someone with disabilities from fitting that mold? For example, will someone with autism who is sensitive to sensory overstimulation not be an “ideal” leader because she’ll have to step out of the room for several of the games at club? Will someone who suffers from social anxiety not fit the mold of an “ideal” leader because contact work will look a lot different for him than for the traditional Young Life leaders?
I would challenge you – and I need to challenge myself too – to think about how to raise up qualified, called-into-leadership, persons with disabilities into leadership in our areas. Without a doubt their unique vision and skill sets will enrich our ministries. I’ll leave you with a quote from Bonhoeffer’s classic, Life Together, to reflect upon:
Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need to strong but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of fellowship. (Life Together, 90)
Lamar Hardwick, Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion (Downers Grove: IVP, 2021)
Almighty God, who by thy son Jesus Christ didst give commandment to the apostles, that they should go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature: Grant to us, whom thou hast called into thy church, a ready will to obey the word, and fill us with a hearty desire to make thy way known upon the earth, thy saving health among the nations. Look with compassion upon the peoples that have not known thee, and upon the multitudes that are scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd, and gather them into thy fold, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP)
Inter-Varsity Press and the Tyndale Fellowship’s Study Group for Philosophy of Religion are pleased to announce this year’s ‘Early-Career Philosopher of Religion’ competition.
This year’s essay question: What does it mean that God is good?
Prizes: Book prizes are to be awarded to the value of: 1st Prize: £100 2nd Prize: £50 Books must be purchased from IVP books.
The winner is also to be named ‘IVP Early-Career Philosopher of Religion 2021’, and offered a slot to present at the 2022 Tyndale Conference.
Submissions are welcome from those that are either within three years of their first, permanent academic position (on the closing date) or have never held such. Previous winners are requested not to re-enter. Submissions must be between 2,000 & 4,000 words, and will be assessed by a small committee on professional Philosophy benchmarks, including:
Display of a questioning intelligence
Ability to engage critically with ideas
Clarity in making relevant distinctions
Ability to construct reasoned arguments
Ability to evaluate arguments critically
Knowledge of the history of Philosophy and the Philosophy of Religion
There is no requirement that the essay defend any particular theological or philosophical view. Essays must be written in English, and submitted electronically as either a Word Document or a PDF to:
Daniel Hill (firstname.lastname@example.org) by midnight on Friday September 10th 2021.
We hope to announce the winners within one month of the closing date. Dr Daniel Hill (Chair, Tyndale Fellowship’s Study Group in Philosophy of Religion) Dr Yang Guo (Co-Chair, Tyndale Fellowship’s Study Group)
In Young Life we value relationships…. a lot. Relationships are a key aspect of our methodology. We go where kids are at and build personal relationships with them. We earn the right to share the good news of Jesus. We personally invite kids to respond to the gospel and walk in friendship with them regardless of their response. We prepare them for a lifelong relationship with Christ and his church. Young Life, at its core, is a relational ministry.
Besides Young Life I’m also engaged in academic theology. One of the most interesting trends in academic theology that I’ve been a part of the last few years is a thing called TheoPsych. As the name implies, it’s the convergence of theology and psychology.
I recently saw that IVP published a book titled, Relational Spirituality: A Psychological-Theological Paradigm for Transformation [Todd Hall with M. Elizabeth Hall]. My interest was piqued since two of my interests (relational ministry and TheoPsych) converged. In this book, the authors argue that
Human beings are fundamentally relational… we develop, heal, and grow to become more loving and Christlike through relationships. (3)
Because of this fact of human nature, any account of spirituality and transformation will need to take into account relationality. In the process of developing an account of relational spiritual transformation the authors begin by making a theological case for the relationality inherent in human nature. They tie human relationality to a relational account of the image of God. This is based on their relational trinitarian theology—I’ll get back to this later…
In addition to the theological case for human relationality, the authors draw heavily upon psychological studies on topics like infant development, attachment theory, and neuroscience to argue that humans are wired to be relational.
Hall and Hall weave their way through relational epistemology and address attachment relationships, arguing that human relational attachment theories are important for understanding how we relate to God. Anyone has pastoral experience knows this to be true. Our relationships with emotionally significant people become filters for how we feel about ourselves, God, and others. (172) Study after study shows that there is a link between people’s experiences of attachment figures and their experiences of God. (126).
The authors argue that the relational goal of spiritual development is loving presence. But what does loving presence look like? Drawing upon Aquinas’s theory of love, they argue that love consists of goodwill and connection. So how should someone enter into the process or relational spiritual transformation? It should be no surprise that the authors argue that community plays a huge role. Additionally, the use of story, suffering, and spiritual practices contribute towards spiritual growth.
This book contains numerous psychological studies which are used to back theological points made by the authors. Whether it’s talking about how humans are wired to be relational or how stillness is crucial for self-reflection/evaluation, you are bound to find an interesting psychological study in this book. If you are in ministry and are hoping to “bring down” some of this content to people you are training or you hope to incorporate some insights into your preaching and teaching you won’t be disappointed. Psychological studies really lend themselves towards being used as teaching illustrations! Plus, they blow people’s minds when you share some obscure scientific study, e. g. the one about infants crawling over “visual cliffs” or the one about Italian monkeys and Mirror Neurons.
If you are approaching the text from an academic perspective—perhaps someone who is getting their feet wet with TheoPsych—you’ll see one clear example of what new insights concerning human nature may be discovered when theology and psychological science are brought together. Ideally reading this book will lead you to pursue other TheoPsych adjacent topics. For example, one project—the one I’m working on at the moment—concerns human flourishing. I hope address a puzzle like the following one:
If acting as “priests of creation” is—at least in part—humanity’s vocation, should we expect that those who are actively living out this vocation to report high levels of psychological well-being? If so is there a particular account of psychological well-being that would best fit the vocation of “priests of creation?” Would positive results strengthen the argument for this vision of vocation?
I can see parts of this book, especially the arguments regarding how crucial relationality is for human flourishing to make their way into my own project.
While I think this book makes an important contribution regarding the relationship between spiritual growth and psychology, and the role that relationality has in spiritual growth more specifically, I think it’s grounded upon a false premise. Now this false premise doesn’t necessarily undercut the big picture argument of the book but I think it’s a genuine weakness—one that a lot of contemporary theological anthropology tends replicate.
The problem is that the book (almost) assumes a relational account of the image of God. In other words, humans image God by being relational creatures, existing in personal relationships. This, the authors argue is grounded in Trinitarian theology. The author(s) draw heavily upon relational (or social) accounts of the Trinity, drawing upon authors like Zizioulas, Grenz, and Gunton. They echo Grenz’s call for a “relational ontology of personhood,” where personhood is not located in the individual but rather in the relationships among persons in community. (64) They express agreement with those who are suspicious of notions of persons as substances. While adopting a relational ontology or a social trinitarianism or a relational view of the image of God certainly gets them the relationality they hope to motivate, none of these things are in fact necessary for their argument. One could simply argue that part of human nature is to be relational, without arguing that relationality itself is what makes humans to be the image of God. You don’t need to mess with the Trinity or ontology to get that. Simply say that biologically human beings are wired to be relational. By saying such a thing, you get almost everything else that the authors want to get. It’s a minor point in my opinion because I could get the same results without those initial theological claims. And because of that I feel that the Halls’s thesis is just as strong, despite my misgivings about how they begin the book.
Note: IVP provided me a copy of this book in exchange for an impartial review.
I’m excited to announce the next big step in my family’s life….
A while ago I announced that I would stepping onto Young Life staff to serve as the Trainer for the Los Angeles Young Life Region! My new role – which I’m starting today (!) – will allow me to do what I’m most passionate about: equipping Christians to be effective on mission. I’ll get the chance to work with students aspiring to go into ministry as well as with those who have years of experience doing Young Life. My purpose is to seek, develop, equip, and unleash leaders to introduce kids from all walks of life to Jesus. This ministry does so much to introduce kids – especially those who are the furthest from Jesus – to who Jesus really is. I’m excited to play a role in equipping leaders on the front lines to be a witness to Jesus as they invite kids from all over Los Angeles into the abundant life that Christ offers! I’m also immensely excited about Young Life’s vision to reach even more areas within Los Angles. We are currently in 30 areas and we are actively working on establishing a gospel presence in Simi Valley, Carson, Compton, Inglewood, Downey, La Miranda, Alhambra, West Covina, and Pomona (just to name a few). With 1600 kids in club each week, 7600 kids know by name, and a presence in 82 schools, I know that we are poised to make an impact on this city. I’m stoked to step back into vocational ministry!
Because of my shift in focus, my blog will also shift it’s focus a bit too. While I will still blog about calls for papers, conferences, academic projects I’m working on, etc., I will turn towards blogging about ministry and mission related topics a bit more. That was actually the original focus of this blog when I started it! When I started this blog I was working as the college ministry director at a church in the West San Fernando Valley. This blog let me think through some ministry/mission topics out loud. Writing was part of the way that I would process things. Now I’m turning back towards the very reason I started this blog, to present scattered thoughts about theology, ministry, mission, and culture. You’ll get to see Woznicki Think Out Loud (get it, CWoznicki Think Out Loud is the name of the blog) a bit more in the coming months.
Call for Papers: 2021 Virtual Southeast Regional Meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society
On March 19-20, 2021, Charleston Southern University will host the Southeast Regional Meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, in conjunction with the meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.
The conference will be held live via Zoom.
Conference Theme: The Doctrine of God
Plenary speaker: Dr. Scott Swain (President of the Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL)
All members of EPS (full, associate, and student) are invited to submit a paper proposal on any philosophical topic (papers connected to the conference theme will be given priority). To sign-up/renew EPS membership, please go here (membership includes a print subscription to Philosophia Christi).
Paper proposals of 200-300 words, prepared for blind review, should be sent via e-mail as an attachment to Ross Parker, associate professor of Christian Studies at CSU (email@example.com). Include a title for the paper.
In the body of your e-mail include the following: contact information (e-mail and phone number), membership status in EPS, institutional affiliation (school, church, or ministry name).
By now it’s a tradition: at the end of each year I post all the books that I finished reading during year. Here are all the books I read in 2020. Some are brand spanking new books. Others are older books. This year’s total is…. *drumroll please*:
64 Books Read in 2020
So what was my favorite book this year?
The book that I was most enthralled by this year was actually delivered as one of the Gifford Lectures (2011). In The Territories of Science and Religion, Peter Harrison argues that the shift in conceiving of religio and scientia as virtues to seeing them as external practices (a shift that began to occur in the early modern period) is in part what has led to the–supposed–modern conflict we see today. Approaching the “conflict” in terms of virtue was a paradigm shift for me.
Heresies and How to Avoid Them – Ben Quash and Michael Ward
Children of God: The Imago Dei in John Calvin and His Context – Jason Van Vliet
Authority – Jeff VanderMeer
Acceptance – Jeff VanderMeer
The Extent of Atonement: The Dilemma for Reformed Theology from Calvin to the Consensus – Michael Thomas
The Liturgy of Creation – Michael LeFebvre
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God – J. I. Packer
Born Again: The Evangelical Theology of Conversion in John Wesley and George Whitefield – Sean McGever
Hearers and Doers – Kevin Vanhoozer
Calvinism and the Amyraut Heresy – Brian Armstrong
For Us and Our Salvation: Limited Atonement in the Bible, Doctrine, History, and Ministry – Lee Gatiss
The Death Christ Died: A Case for Unlimited Atonement – Robert Lightner
Living in Union with Christ: Paul’s Gospel and Christian Moral Identity – Grant Macaskill
On Death – Timothy Keller
Aliens in the Promised Land: Why Minority Leadership is Overlooked in White Christian Churches and Institutions – Anthony Bradley
The Atonement and the Modern Mind – James Denny
Definite Atonement – Gary Long
Approaching the Atonement – Oliver Crisp
Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development – Bryant Myers
The Comanche Empire – Pekka Hämäläinen
The Ten Commandments – Peter Leithart
Insider Jesus: Reflections on New Christian Movements – William Dyrness
Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture – Lesslie Newbigin
Ethics: A Very Short Introduction – Simon Blackburn
Logic: A Very Short Introduction – Graham Priest
In My Place Condemned He Stood – J. I. Packer and Mark Dever
The Possibility of Prayer – John Starke
God and Guns in America – Michael Austin
The History of Bourbon – Ken Alba
Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory – Tod Bolsinger
On the Road with Saint Augustine – James K.A. Smith
A Grow-Up Guide to Dinosaurs – Ben Garrod
The Atonement and the Death of Christ – William Lane Craig
Baptists and the Christian Tradition – Matthew Emerson, Christopher Morgan, R. Lucas Stamps
A Discourse Touching Prayer – John Bunyan
Edward Irving Reconsidered – David Malcolm Bennett
The Saint’s Privilege and Profit – John Bunyan
The Breadth of Salvation – Tom Greggs
How to Read Theology for All Its Worth – Karin Stetina
The Story of God: How the Cosmos Declare the Glory of God – Paul Gould and Daniel Ray
Surprise the World: Five Habits of Highly Missional People – Michael Frost
The Work of Christ – P. T. Forsyth
God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science – James Hannam
Alta California: From San Diego to San Francisco, a Journey on Foot to Rediscover the Golden State – Nick Neely
The Soul of Prayer – P. T. Forsyth
God’s Mediators: A Biblical Theology of Priesthood – Andrew Malone
Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation – David French
Caffeine – Michael Pollan
Science and the Good: The Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality – James Davison Hunter and Paul Nedelisky
Before the Bear: The History and Legacy of California Before it Joined the United States – Charles River Editors
Jesus Christ in the Preaching of Calvin and Schleiermacher – Dawn DeVries
Territories of Science and Religion – Peter Harrison
Toward a Theology of Nature – Wolfhart Pannenberg
Before You Open Your Bible – Matt Smethurst
I am Restored – Lecrae
Trinity and Creation: A Scriptural and Confessional Account – Richard Barcellos
Stewards of Eden: What Scripture Says about the Environment and why it Matters – Sandra Richter
By Design: Developing a Philosophy of Education Informed by a Christian Worldview – Martha MacCullogh
The Liturgy of the Ordinary – Tish Harrison Warren
Creation and Doxology: The Beginning and End of God’s Good World – Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson
Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life – Zena Hitz
The Doctrine of Creation: A Constructive Kuyperian Approach – Bruce Ashford and Craig Bartholomew
Journey into God’s Word – J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays
While Jonathan Edwards has been crowned “America’s Theologian,” his successors in the early republic can rightly be called American theologians. Known pejoratively as “The New Divinity,” the Edwardsean tradition was a socially-oriented Calvinism, confronting the most controversial and even volatile issues in their infant nation. With the ideas of Edwards and some of the most capable thinkers for their age, the New Divinity became the first indigenous school of Calvinism in American history, shaping the American theological tradition and helping forge the national identity. A volume that examines the influence of America’s theologian on America’s founding would thus fill a gap in historical studies and better explain the development of religious identity in the United States.
The editors of the proposed volume, Jonathan Edwards and the Early American Republic: Patriotism, Exceptionalism, and the Pursuit of Happiness are seeking chapter contributions of 5000-7000 words. Chapters should focus on the Edwardsean engagement with salient issues in the early American nation. Suggested topics include: political economy and the expansion of trade and/or capitalism; language, epistemology and the organization of knowledge; human rights, and thinking about war and peace; slavery and abolitionism; gender and the church; international relations; the social hierarchy; poverty and the marginal of society; anthropocentrism and ecological dominance; etc. Other related but not listed topics would be welcomed as well. The chapters shall be arranged into thematic sections. Contributors must be Ph.D., or at least ABD. Contributors must use The Chicago Manual of Style and conform to the norms of the Jonathan Edwards Center (see the Jonathan Edwards Studies Journal).