Who needs Diversity of Experience?

Do youth or adults in the church need more experience of diversity?

Heard a speech here at Annual Conference about a bishop who, thinking it important to open “Christians to diverse expressions of our faith,” began an annual trip to the Taize community.

I am all for helping youth experience a variety of Christian expression. I am, perhaps desperately, opposed to only our youth having these experiences.

In fact, I am fairly sure that encouraging youth to experience places like Taize then bringing them back home to congregations that act as though Eisenhower were still president, and hope their congregations never change anything more than carpet is one of the main reasons we lose so many youth as soon as they are out of the homes of their parents.

As Christians generally, and as United Methodists particularly, we need to take seriously that there are many and diverse expressions and experiences within our faith, and these are valid and beneficial to Christians of ALL ages, not just, not even mostly, our youth.

5 thoughts on “Who needs Diversity of Experience?

  1. great post…could be some of what lies at the heart of the disconnect for our students as they move out of their local congregations into the world…cannot find what they experienced there or looking to experience something completely different. as i was saying last night, we must do the hard work of equipping and empowering youth to discern and create, that way when they head out into the world and fail to find the particular means that connects them with God and with others, they can do the work of creating those experiences for themselves and others. if we train youth that worship, programs, church as we do it in (fill in the blank) is the only way it is done then when they leave (fill in the blank) or that experiencing God through new and diverse worship, service to others, and daily spiritual practices of contemplative prayer and action they will have little ability to take their relationship with an authentic and real God into their own hands and continue it.

    also note that in congregations where taize and other “diverse” worship experiences are offered are usually relegated to alternate locations, times, and dates giving the appearance that they are supplemental at best to the “real” worship experience that goes on in the sanctuary on sunday mornings.

    mission, pilgrimage, experiences of diverse worship/spiritual practice, poverty simulations are not just “youth” activities, they are the activities the entire church should be engaged in.

  2. After looking at the title of this post what struck me was perhaps how adults more than youth need to have diverse expereiences.

    What I mean is in this globalized world the youth are growing up in, diversity is the norm. Diversity is the standard. Diversity is “normal”. Monolithlic culture is not.

    So perhaps it is in the best interest of non-googlers to seek diversity, because googlers are getting it in spades.

    Like all sterotypes and broad brush strokes this is not prescriptive to every individual. And I could be way off, just sharing something that popped into my head.

  3. Change the carpet? Are you sure they’re willing to change the carpet?

    I’m not sure it’s accurate to speak as if diversity of worship is in any way normal globally. Doubtless there are diverse ways of worship out there, varying from culture to culture. But I’d also be surprised to discover that most of those other Christian cultures that worship in a way other than “ours” practice multiple worship styles or seek out other worship styles.

    Just to be perverse, I wonder if our urge for diversity in this area is largely due to a prior commitment to a consumerist model that demands constantly New! and Improved! products. Globalism has added new dimensions or flavors for our variety of products.

    As one who likes (at least some) diversity in this area myself, I don’t speak to reject the idea.Just trying to figure it out.

    • I may or may not be for diversity, Richard: my point here is primarily that if diversity of experience is a good thing, it is a good thing not ONLY for youth, but for adults as well.

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