Let Your Voice be Heard
Guest post by Chiara Siano
In 2008, Mark DeVries wrote one of the best youth ministry books available in the field, Sustainable Youth Ministry. This book influenced churches all over the country with a sound theology and understanding of the workings of youth ministry. The practical tools and insights that DeVries provided have increased the effectiveness of many local church youth ministries.
In April, 2012, Youth Ministry Architects published The Sustainable Youth Ministry Study Guide as a companion to Sustainable Youth Ministry. Created by Abram Kielsmeier-Jones and Mark DeVries, this study guide is the perfect companion to the book and is ideal for training a leadership team and developing partners and key stakeholders in youth ministry in the local church.
Abram Kielsmeier- Jones has been in ministry for over a decade and I have had several opportunities to collaborate with him and to sit in on some of his staff meetings and trainings. Abram values discipleship and leadership and takes great care in training and developing leaders, parents, and students while nurturing their relationships with Jesus. It is exciting to have a youth minister and developer of leaders of this caliber writing the study guide for Sustainable Youth Ministry. He implemented this study guide as he developed it. This work is not just a compilation of theoretical ideas; it is practical, and its value has been proven in the field.
The Sustainable Youth Ministry Study Guide is a thirteen chapter, downloadable, PDF book that follows the outline and structure of Sustainable Youth Ministry. The study guide breaks down the chapters into easy to understand chunks that convey the main ideas of the book for time conscious parents, ministry leaders, and volunteers. The questions asked in each of the chapters help leaders to determine how best to apply the book and its insights to their unique ministry context and to think critically about youth ministry. The suggested prayers at the end of each chapter help to focus the readers on the Sustainer Himself. The study guide is easy to read and to follow and is consistent in design, layout, structure and quality.
Sustainable Youth Ministry is a must read for every youth minister and pastor, and I highly recommend The Sustainable Youth Ministry Study Guide as an addition to the book to help train parents, ministry leaders, and volunteers in the local church. I am very excited for the impact that this tool will have on youth ministry when coupled with Sustainable Youth Ministry the book.
To find out more about The Sustainable Youth Ministry Study Guide, Sustainable Youth Ministry the book, or Youth Ministry Architects, please visit Youth Ministry Architects at ymarchitects.com.
A Review of Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, By Nancy Pearcey
"They mean to tell us all was rolling blind, till accidentally it hit on the mind." – Robert Frost
The theologian and minister A.W. Tozer is quoted as saying, “Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.” While this is true Christian thinking, it would also have to be equally true that nothing less than a whole person can make a whole Christian. Both must be true. This would include our mind, our thinking, and our vocations. Nancy Pearcey addresses this point in her book Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity.
In Total Truth, Pearcey addresses the issue of the false dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. The divide between the sacred and the secular is a false dichotomy. This is dualism and a plague, according to Pearcey, which does not reflect a true Christian worldview. Pearcey seeks to recapture the idea, which our early church fathers had, that “all truth is God’s truth” and that this truth is to be lived out in every area of our lives. She states that the “total truth” captures all of life and reality. We are to be integrated and whole human beings, living in the world, while living out our faith consistently in a manner that brings glory to our God. As the Apostle Paul puts it in Colossians 3:17, “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” This is a more accurate picture of a life lived by a whole, and integrated, Christian.
In Total Truth, Pearcey defines what a worldview is. She defines it simply as the understanding of the entire human experience. Pearcey explores Christian worldview, the understanding of the whole human experience, through the lens of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. She states that “the Christian worldview alone offers a whole and intrical truth.” It is through this perspective that we properly understand and live out our Christian faith in the world fulfilling the “cultural mandate.” Pearcey describes the living out of a Christian worldview, and the fulfilling the cultural mandate, as a “higher calling,” which entails being creative with our lives and work. It is in this higher calling, that we help restore our full humanity and begin to live out of a truly Christian worldview. As Christians, we are called to “creative effort extended for the glory of God and for the benefit of others.” Pearcey states that we are to be “Participating in the work of God as agents of His grace.”
Our job as Christians, according to Pearcey, is to apply the finished work of Christ on the cross to all of our lives. This integration of faith and life is what all Christians are called to and this is what scripture speaks about in the grand narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. This “total truth” of the Christian life does not allow for fragmented thinking, false dichotomies, or disintegrated truth. A better reflection of a Biblical and Christian worldview is one without division of public and private, sacred and secular, or fact and feeling. Our beliefs are to be integrated and our faith must be reflected and integrated in every area of our lives, especially in our thinking. As Charles Malik put it, “The problem is not only to win souls but to save minds. If you win the whole world and lose the mind of the world, you will soon discover you have not won the world.” We cannot and must not divorce our faith and our thinking.
Any alternative to this holistic, “total truth,” Christian worldview, or any alternative to Christianity, according to Pearcey, is religion and the worship of idols. Having a false worldview demonstrates a misunderstanding of the true character and nature of God, and in effect, this leads to worshiping a false god, or idol worship. If we are to participate in the liberation of Christianity from its cultural captivity, we must not yield to the cultures “gods,” or look at the one true God falsely. When we yield to the idea that God’s universe, and all the truth therein, is not His own, we neglect God and are no longer worshiping the one true God, or living from a Biblical and Christian worldview.
Nancy Pearcey’s book Total Truth addresses all of God’s truth, or “total truth,” and addresses living from a Christian worldview in four sections. In section one, What's in a Worldview?, she talks about a Christian worldview through the following chapters: Breaking Out of the Grid, Rediscovering Joy, Keeping Religion in Its Place, and Surviving the Spiritual Wasteland. In section two, Starting at the Beginning, Pearcey addresses philosophies or origins and differing worldviews in these chapters: Darwin Meets the Berenstain Bears, The Science of Common Sense, Today Biology, Tomorrow the World, and Darwins of the Mind. In section three of her book, How We Lost Our Minds, Pearcey explores the predicament that we find ourselves in, in modern Christendom, in these chapters: What's So Good About Evangelicalism?, When America Met Christianity -- Guess Who Won?, Evangelicals' Two-Story Truth, and How Women Started the Culture War. In the final and fourth section of her book, What Next, Living It Out, Pearcey applies these sections in her final chapter, True Spirituality and Christian Worldview.
At the end of Total Truth, Pearcey includes several helpful and insightful appendices, appendix one, How American Politics Became Secularized, appendix two: Modern Islam and the New Age Movement, appendix three, The Long War Between Materialism and Christianity, and appendix four, Isms on the Run: Practical Apologetics at L'Abri. Then, she includes an exhaustive section of notes. Next, she includes a thorough recommended reading list. Finally, Nancy Pearcey ends her book with a helpful Study Guide.
Total Truth, by Nancy Pearcey, is a fantastic book on truth and living from a Christian and Biblical worldview. This is simply a must read for anyone in education or ministry, or anyone who is looking to think and live rightly, Biblically, holistically, and from a Biblical and Christian worldview. This is a very important work as the culture has shifted, and continues to shift, to a postmodern and to a post Christian thinking and worldview. We must think rightly about all of God’s truth and all of God’s creation. Nothing less than the “total truth” will do as we seek to participate in the cultural mandate to help liberate Christianity from its cultural captivity as we think rightly and live Biblically from a solid Christian worldview.
Pearcey, Nancy. Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity (Study Guide Edition), Crossway Books, Wheaton Ill., © 2004, 2005.
The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Col 3:17
To learn more about Jack Baumgartner, or to see more of his paintings and artwork, please visit him here at The School of the Transfer of Energy.
Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (See John 20:19-29)
Belief and doubt are common to faith and to life. The resurrection assures us, but resurrection is no easy concept to grasp, and is no easy picture to paint.
In “Go On, Saint Thomas,” by Jack Baumgartner, we get a glimpse into the consummation of faith and doubt with Jesus and Saint Thomas meeting after Jesus’ resurrection. What appears to be the account of Saint Thomas putting his fingers into the side of Jesus can easily be construed as a humble embrace between the doubt of man and the Love of his God.
As in many other Biblically themed works by Jack Baumgartner, we see the curtain being drawn by the hand of the “Omniscient Storyteller” giving us a glimpse into this scene. We also see the white banner being pulled by Christ into this landscape. This image weaves together the common narrative, which connects this moment and the entire storyline of God’s work of redemption and restoration from Genesis to Revelation.
In the background of the painting, we see what looks like a spot light illuminating the scene and the dark background, which looks like a large circular stone that would cover a garden tomb. In the center, we see Jesus with Thomas, in what looks like the beginning of an embrace. In the foreground of the painting, we see ten daisies representing the other ten disciples. All the disciples, minus Judas, are represented here. The flowers also suggest we are outside the garden tomb, they are also reminiscent of The Garden of Eden, and they foreshadow Eden’s perfect paradise restored in resurrection.
In the upper right-hand corner of the painting, we see a window revealing a blue evening and a section of a full moon helping light the darkness of the painting’s “stage.” The window suggests the scene is referencing the upper room, where we know Thomas meets his Lord (see John 20:19-29). This occurs a week after Jesus has defeated death and removed “death’s sting.” Now, He reveals Himself to His disciples in their prison-like tomb of doubt, death, and despair. Jesus reveals His Resurrection Life to them. The Son of God illuminates the darkness in the resurrection morning, and now transforms doubt into belief and death into life.
Jack Baumgartner captures this moment of Thomas’ “resurrection” in the Resurrected Christ’s arms and assures us all of our own resurrection in the midst of our sin, death, doubts, fears, and uncertainties. Just as Jesus transcended death and the grave, He transcended the locked doors of the prison tomb-like locked upper room. Jesus freed His disciples and He frees us from our sin, from our fears, from our prison tombs of death and doubt, and He leads us into the light and life of the resurrection morning.
As always, Jack Baumgartner packs so much movement, color, beauty, and Biblical imagery into his art, and “Go On, Saint Thomas” is no exception.
For other reviews of Jack Baumgartner’s work see below:
Jack Baumgartner - Jacob Wrestling the Angel of God, © 2009. “Jacob Wrestling the Angel of God- Art Review,” by Robbie Pruitt, © September 2011.
Jack Baumgartner - Jacob Wrestling With God, Painting, © 2011. “Stone and Knee: An Art Review of Jacob Wrestling with God,” by Robbie Pruitt, © December 2011.