Since 2008 I’ve taken teams from the Plunge Gap Year Course to Thailand or Cambodia as part of their Mission Exposure. And every year they buy ‘Same Same But Different’ t-shirts. It got me thinking, How does ‘same same but different’ apply to the gospel? And is that too dangerous a question to ask?
After a bit over a decade with Baptist Youth Ministries and 20 or so years in youth ministry, 2012 brings a new challenge with Global Interaction.
Change brings with it a certain energy, partly driven by fear: What if it leads to failure? What if we lose our identity? What if the things we hold foundational suddenly go askew?
As followers of Jesus, part of this paradox – at least in my view – has to do with the struggle to delineate between the changing and the changeless.
As a youth worker I lived and breathed and had my being in the fluid culture of adolescence; the continuing shifts of taste and music and art and terminology. It became increasingly difficult to keep up with the pace of the change. Just when I thought I had the lingo down I’d move into a different youth culture, with different rituals, codes and practices, or the culture I was working in would evolve into something I didn’t understand. At times my ignorance was amusing, at other times infuriating. I was forever a student and never a master.
Change was (and is) everywhere.
Yet there are some things that never change. They remain true and stable through the rise and fall of empires and economies; they resist the capriciousness of fashion and the evolution of language; they stand in the face of frontal assault or subtle undermining.
And they are all observable in the character of God: faithfulness, loving kindness, justice, truthfulness and His Lordship. And all of these characteristics are found most profoundly in the cross of Christ. These truths anchored my youth ministry.
The Good News never changes. The great love song of God resonates in every language and every culture and every era, all the time.
As much as it is comforting to remain static in our language and culture and methods, the gospel imperative demands that we resist this temptation. We are a sent people and a significant part of being sent is developing new ways of communicating the unchanging love song of God in forever-changing cultures. And just as musical styles and tastes change and evolve (and sometimes return!) so must our methods of communicating.
A significant part of our missional task is developing ways of communicating the unchanging love song of God in forever-changing cultures. And just as musical styles and tastes change and evolve (and sometimes return!) so must our methods of communicating.
I know I’m pressing the musical metaphor but this is important: only the melody changes. The lyrics remain the same. This was true for me as a youth pastor working with different youth cultures and generations and I know for sure and certain that it will be true for me in my new role with Global Interaction.
I hope that you’ll join the chorus with us as we together sing God’s great love story to cultures and peoples and generations around the world.