Monday, February 25, 2008

Youth Ministry as Education - A Third Option? (part four)

I've looked at two very different philosophies of education used in youth ministry: transmissive and romantic. But is this our only option in youth ministry? Do we have to choose between three-point sermons (transmissive) and small-group discussions (romantic)?

My initial answer to this was, "just combine the two." Do some for of transmissive education at one time and romantic education at other times. This would be similar to a weight room workout--you work on your arms on the bench press; you work on your legs doing squats. But then I realized that each of the models builds on a foundation of assumptions and presuppositions

Transmissive education assumes that the student is basically flawed, with a need for more information. There is little need for emotion or experience, as the processing of information is key. This is a decidedly pessimistic view of humanity--the student is broken and in need of information to be fixed. On the other hand, romantic education assumes that the students is basically good, with a need to express their emotions in order to bring out their inherent beauty. This is a very optimistic view of humankind--each student simply needs to share their feelings and experiences.

The vastly different view of humanity is only one of many presuppositions that don't seem to connect. If a teacher or pastor decided to incorporate both forms of education, it would begin to feel very disjointed. One week might communicate that students are just in need of better information; the next week communicates that students need less information and more experiences; the next might go right back to giving information. It feels inconsistent.

So perhaps there is a third option. And perhaps Jesus knows of this third option: a holistic option that recognizes both the flawed and beautiful parts of humanity and challenges them to growth and maturity. The goal is neither better information, nor expressing feelings: the goal is life transformation.

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