Human flourishing and theology of the body
Currently, the trend we see in both youth ministry and the church at large in regards to issues of physical behaviors (especially, but not exclusively, sexual) is one of policing said behaviors in isolation from a larger holistic theological context. When we talk about sexuality or homosexuality we have thus far attempted to do so in a sort of theological vacuum that is void of a baseline agreement on inherit and inalienable worth and goodness of the divinely created being. Based on personal experience in the field, as well as current research, we believe this is ineffective in large part because it lacks a substantive underlying “so what” that provides a fuller understanding of God’s design for covenantal relationships—sexual and otherwise. Without a comprehensive “theology of the body,” youth ministries and the church at large will continue to function in a fearful and reactionary mode to issues of sexuality, sexual practice, health and wellness, etc.
In order to develop a truthful and useful theology of the body, we must first learn processes of theological reflection, which requires and may grow out of a deeper literacy (or perhaps a “theology of the Book,” which in turn will inform a “theology of the Body of Christ” or the rebirth of the church as we know it.) Some possible avenues for this may be a theology of personhood workshop—a guided tour, if you will, among community—rather than just a book. One of the end goals will be to create a mechanism that disallows quick and shallow answers to difficult questions but instead requires reflective responses. Being able to offer reflective theological responses to questions that up to now have either received pat answers (don’t touch, don’t taste, don’t do) or silence (we don’t talk about that here) will require.
Train and Educate:
Resources that exist:
CYMT is proud to announce the expansion of our original initiative into Theology Together 2.0. CYMT aims to develop a curriculum to be used in local congregations and ministries. Taking what we have learned about engaging youth in deep theological reflection during missional experiences and embedding those processes into congregational youth ministries.
"I hope students come away from my courses with the ability to think more deeply, richly and theologically about their youth ministry practice. I think a lot of what happens in youth ministry happens unreflectively and can be deforming to young people, and my courses are intended to give students a theological framework for evaluating and reforming their youth ministry practice."
Of course, I want students to drink deeply from the academic readings, lectures and discussions, and I want them to be informed by the academics. But more than that, I want them to see that youth ministry is a calling of God, an important part of God’s mission in the world, one that should give them pride and evoke humility at the same time.