Ben Conner was my director many years ago when I was a Young Life Volunteer. He taught our group of college students, the same way you teach fourth graders, and the same way you teach thirty-one year olds:
He asked more of us than we thought we could give and he repeated the same things over and over.
Life is liturgy. How are you participating in the life, death and mission of Christ?
Thus this liturgy of the ordinary, and this participation, became so much part of my own formation, and what I didn’t understand at the time, my practical theology.
And this book just took that framework to a whole new place, a place I have needed to be.
Ben, for years now a Director of Capernum, Young Life’s ministry for adolescents with developmental disabilities, unpacks mission (God is at work, are we joining him?), the doctrine of friendship and affirming presence, and the expansive Gospel, where we realize it’s so much bigger, so much more profound, and, at times, so much more inconvenient, than our rational, linear steps and equations.
Ben, with countless years of ministry, countless years of seminary and degrees, states, ” I came to the realization that if I can’t teach prayer to adolescents with development disabilities, then I don’t know enough about prayer.” (P.75)
And that single question has made me rethink how I regard so much of my life and interactions and “spiritual pursuits.”
Because it might just be my rational, intelligent, systems-based, (read: angst-infused) perspective on God that can lead to frustration and malaise. God is not limited. We limit Him with an incomplete glossary and biased and narrow views of how He works in the world and who, we think, gets to bear His image.
But, for fear of misrepresenting this book, I must add that “the practical element” here is part of what sets it apart and above. Ben weaves theological teaching throughout practical steps and personal stories regarding his relationships with these kids. The book itself feels experiential, and thus the theology real and possible.
Have a great weekend!We are packing up to move the girls into our bedroom, together. And Travis and I will be moving into Sophia’s old room, together. Help. Us. All. This should not be that hard, nothing is leaving the house, but maybe that’s the issue…(Especially because I’m about to discover what we’ve been “storing” underour bed for the past five years. )