I was at a writers’ conference on Wednesday, and interestingly, “vintage” Christian themes came up at least three times, usually in the context of young adults. I’ve discussed the attractiveness of “vintage” quite a bit in the blog, so I figured I’d give some concrete methods for incorporating Vintage Christianity into college ministry.
That’s this week’s Fridea. In case you have missed the summertime Frideas, we have talked about…
- Sending some “big love” to your missionary / camp-working students this summer
- Involving Q&A (even via text messages!) into your “big group” meeting
- The Unplanned Mission Trip
Crazy stuff… but it’s summer! A good time to try something new – or to spend a few months thinking about how these ideas might fit in your school year plans!
This week, we’re thinking about “vintaging” our ministries!
It’s important to remember that incorporating “vintage” into your ministry doesn’t have to mean entirely new methods. It may instead mean adding vintage aspects within your already-existing methods. This may be a healthier tack, in fact.
vintaging your worship
One place to introduce vintage could come within Praise & Worship. On Wednesday, our worship leader at the conference included a specific medley of songs from the 1970s. So it was that old-school Maranatha stuff that I grew up with in our little Bible church.
There was a purpose in using these somewhat cheesy, simple, 70s-style worship songs. We sang from that particular decade because this was the 35th anniversary of this particular conference, and each night of the conference would involve a new decade. As the leader said, we were worshiping in ways we could imagine attendees worshiping back then, and it was that thought that brought the whole thing together.
In other words, the quick “history lesson” added authenticity to the vintage. It’s about “Authentage,” remember?
The whole 70s sing was actually pretty meaningful to me, as I worshiped while thinking about all those Christian-hippie-authors joining together through praise.
So what if your next worship set involved songs sung when your church or ministry was started? Do your students even know the history of your church? Believe it or not, they might be intrigued by stories of the wide-eyed, Jesus-loving planters who were brave enough to start something new. That history could add real depth to 20s-era hymns or 90s-era choruses that connected those first huddled congregants in God-adoration.
Likewise, filling students in on any of the stories behind the songs you sing (from hymns to modern stuff) can add depth to worship. Remember – this is the generation that’s used to an influx of info. They can feel right at home juggling the words, the theology, the source material, and the historical context within a worship experience.
vintaging your teaching
Another example of “vintaging” your ministry: Using illustrations from deepest history…
Where do you get your illustrations / examples for teaching moments?
Alongside your personal stories and modern anecdotes, you might add examples from the deep past, too. You could be surprised at your students’ rapt attention when you throw obscure peeps into the mix (Bernard of Clairveaux? Maximilian Kolbe? Zwingli?).
Even whole series can be built on these ideas. Anything from an expository book study to a thematic series can be enhanced with purposeful vintage tie-ins: representative moments (or periods) from church history, a saint-a-week, or other ideas to flesh out what you’re teaching.
vintaging your ministry
I know for some of us this “old stuff” may seem like the furthest thing “youngsters” would want to see. But those who have dealt with today’s young adults realize this is a new generation, and there’s a draw to this deep-roots Christianity.
Sure, some eras / aspects / methods may flop with your group. For your students, music from the Jesus Movement era or stories of great preachers from the 1800s might not inspire or instruct.
But the point is, they just might. And you’ve got plent of source material to try, with some 1,975 years of Christian history to draw from – and several more millennia if you really want to go old-school. You’ll just have to see the “roots” that most connect with your tribe.
Again, I don’t want to encourage anybody to use a method simply because it’s “hip.” That’s no good. But if we can find examples, methods, and tweaks that better connect our students to the truth we’re sharing and the God we’re seeking, then giddy-up. That’s the key – awesome methods serving the purposes you’ve determined.
Once you’ve got those purposes in mind, you’re very likely to find some great ways to meet those purposes through “vintaging” your ministry.