WHI-1279 | Millennials & Christian Education

Sunday, 11 Oct 2015

We are continuing our series on Brand Me, issues in authority and identity in the Christian life, on the White Horse Inn. This week we will be looking at higher education with the present generation. In light of what we have seen in previous episodes, what unique challenges face educators today? What might we do to faithfully and imaginatively engage the millennial generation with the gospel of Christ? What kind of educators must we be? How has education and catechesis of covenant youth changed?

To help us answer some of these questions, Michael Horton talks with Jim Belcher on this program. Jim is the author of Deep Church and In Search of Deep Faith. Among other things, they discuss his new role as president of Providence Christian College in Pasadena, California, and the challenges associated with fostering true Christian discipleship among today’s millennials in a college setting. Join us this week on another edition of the White Horse Inn as we discuss this important topic.

“If you look at how most of the time the evangelical world catechizes is more through experience and through emotion. I think that’s influenced the Reformed circles as well, and so we’re not as interested in the catechisms. We’re not as interested in Scripture memorization and kind of the structure of the faith. But it is interesting, isn’t it, that a lot of what’s coming out now with the new studies in liturgy are showing that it’s the communal practices. It is the liturgy, it is the structure that actually shapes us. And we’re hearing that from both philosophers and sociologists.
“So, you find even in Reformed circles now people are going back and rethinking liturgy and we just put a task force together for the next year, this academic year to ask ourselves how are students formed, how do we spiritually form them, intellectually form them and what does that look like? And we’re going to study that over the course of the year and say from the moment they get up to the moment they go to sleep, what are the things that will form them into followers of Christ and those who desire the kingdom.”
– Jim Belcher
Liturgical Formation
“While some of our habits are acquired by choosing to engage in certain practices (e.g., signing up for drivers’ ed or registering for piano lessons), many are acquired without out our knowing it. And this might happen especially when we are unaware of it. If we are inattentive to the formative role of practices, or if we treat some practices as thin when they are thick, then we will be inattentive to all the ways that such practices unwittingly and unintentionally become automated. We will fail to recognize that they are forming in us habits and desires, oriented to particular ends that function to draw us toward those ends at an affective, unconscious level such that we become certain kinds of people without even being aware of it.
“Liturgies are rituals of ultimate concern: rituals that are formative for identity, that inculcate particular visions of the good life, and do so in a way that means to trump other ritual formations. Our thickest practices – which are not necessarily linked to institutional religion – have a liturgical function insofar as they are a certain species of ritual practice that aim to do nothing less than shape our identity by shaping our desire for what we envision as the kingdom – the ideal of human flourishing.”
(James K.A. Smith, “Love Takes Practice” in Desiring the Kingdom, pp. 85-87)

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