Plan B seems to be the logical response when what we’ve thought to have been Plan A has failed. An interesting thing about a good Plan B is that it’s sometimes the original Plan A, but was deemed to be too difficult at first leaving an easier plan to be developed in it’s place. As I sit here tonight with this on my mind I’m reminded that we often seem to put off the best plan over and over and over again in the hope that we’ll find something easier, less costly, simple and perhaps a plan that will allow us to not change so much or ask too much of ourselves. Soon, very soon the obvious plan slides down our “to do” list and becomes Plan C, D, E… and continues to slide in favour of plans that will eventually fail.
Basically, I think we all know what needs to be done, but are either…
Too afraid to do it
Too lazy to do it
Too indifferent to do it
Too apathetic to do it
Or, perhaps we just don’t know where to start
Dave Andrews knows this all too well, and in his book “Plan Be” he reminds us of a plan that was once shared with us by a carpenters son who preached on a mountain top about a simple way in which we can all focus on what really matters and remember what it really means to be fully human. As he delves into the beattitudes (the Be-Attitudes) we’re reminded that it wasn’t meant to be a list of things that it’d-be-nice-for-us-to-do-but-are-possibly-too-hard-for-the-average-person but instead were meant to be a liberating release to people enslaved by an ideal that was way too hard to live up to.
We’re reminded that the beatitudes are asking of us some simple questions and begging for some simple actions that, if adopted can change our community and perhaps our world.
Plan A, Dave reflects was to “treat others as they treat us,” Plan Be however directs us to a simple alternative, one that asks me to change myself to live and act along it’s be-attitudes.
I wonder if our youth ministries, if our churches have been aligning themselves to a mysterious other Plan B, and if so, what that may be? I’m assuming that in different spaces and communities different plans have been hatched, perhaps your plan involved getting a data projector and new seats, or possibly it was to get some Xboxs and a few copies of Halo, maybe it was to start playing the latest in Hillsong music and have a youth band, you may have decided to start a new youth service or youth group, or maybe your plan has been to do things the way that they’ve always been done.
What is your current plan?
I continue to wonder what our youth ministries, our churches, our communities would look like if we were to base them around the Be-Attitudes, what would we be doing, what would we abandon?
What would our ministries look like if we were to base them around these simple attitudes?
To focus on the poor
To grieve over the injustice in the world
To get angry but not getting aggressive
To seek justice (not vengeance)
To extend compassion to all in need
To be wholehearted in a desire to do right
To work towards peace in a world at war
To suffer for just causes
These attitudes can be broken down to include humility, empathy, self-restraint, righteousness, mercy, integrity, non-violence and perseverance, attitudes that could transform all our youth ministries if they were wholeheartedly embraced.
Is it time for us to have another look at our many alternative youth ministry plans and to refocus? Is it about time that we started a movement of youth ministries that adopted these attitudes as a foundation for what we’re on about? What do you think this’d look like? How would we live, how would we worship, where would we meet, what games would we play, how would we pray?
I know, that in a world that seems to suggest that our youth ministries need to have the next-big-thing to survive, (or at the very least an Xbox or PS3) this could be confronting. It’s always confronting to re-focus, but it’s not as hard as it sounds.
You see, one of the scandals of the be-attitudes is that it starts off by asking us for simple changes, it’s about changing myself first, my own attitudes, my own focus and attentions.
And the other scandal of these be-attitudes is that anyone can do it, it’s not just a Christian endeavor, but one that everyone can adopt, you don’t first need to be a Christian to suffer for just causes, or to extend compassion or to exercise humility. Which should be seen as something that frees us up to get others in on the idea.
For me, one of the burdens of youth ministry has been the idea that we have to convert first, then re-focus people onto changing their lives, (occasionally we call this the old bait n switch). In this way we’ll hold the huge events, the camps, the games night in order to attract people into the group with the hope that we’ll get onto the other stuff (you know, the stuff that doesn’t sell so well) at a later date. One thing about this model is that from experience we rarely get onto the “other stuff” and seem to remain on the games and camping without asking what it means to really follow Jesus.
These Be-attitudes however, if adopted by our youth ministries would dramatically change our focus, perhaps this refocusing may not be as easy for our churches, (Plan A seems so alluring and is marketed very well) but for us as individuals it’s asking of us a few small steps that make radical changes.
Over the coming year I’m hoping to put some flesh to these ideas as I ask what a youth ministry/church would look like if we were to take on these attitudes seriously.
What do you think it’d look like in your locality if your communities started adopting these attitudes?