The last year I was on student staff with YL and the last year I formally led (and was training freshman leaders with Shey) I was most involved with work with middle school students. I thoroughly enjoyed their energy, their questions, and their perspectives on faith issues. The other leaders on my team and I realized that the sort of formula of talks that we had been working with wasn't reaching kids in the way we hoped and the kids who had been with us for a while had heard similar talks for two years now, and more than that, the changes we saw in a lot of the kids wasn't lasting as long or going as deep as we liked. Now I'll be the first to say that we weren't a perfect team, or that the results were a direct result of YL formulas for talks or anything trite like that. I realize that life is never that black and white.
But in our third year of working with students we felt this overwhelming sense in our prayers and in our conversations as leaders and with some other leaders from other schools, and my conversations with the area director who I worked with at the time (who was going to seminary), that we may try to explore more of the story of God's over-arching narrative. That we would begin where the Bible begins and tell the story of God's activity and redemption, and creative reconciliation over the period of a year beginning with talks about God the Father and creation, then stories of sin, promises/covenants, brokenness, the birth of Christ, the life of Christ, the death and resurrection, the life of the church, the mystery of the Spirit...we were still all relatively conservative on most theological matters, but felt compelled to tell these other parts of the story.
The three of us who were leading did not come into a relationship with Christ through YL, though we all strongly identified with the mission, and the relational connections that YL espoused and lived, but we struggled with the club talks aspect and the formulaic approach to the talk schedule that didn't always fit in with where our kids were at, and in our thoughts didn't express the fullness of the story that we felt like beginning in the OT helped to accomplish.
We had some really positive results with the kids, but more than that, we felt like we were able to help kids to take a step back and look at more of the picture of how God has worked throughout the ages, especially in Christ, but also through the Spirit and in people. To expound on my first comment in the previous post on this stuff, I think the main crux of the issue is that McSwain wanted to present the gospel story in a different order: person of Christ, love of God, repentance (possibly here), cross, (repentance possibly here), resurrection (repentance possibly here), sin (repentance possibly here). YL is advocating: person of Christ (which may include love of God, but is different than what McSwain is arguing for in his understanding of covenental theology), man's need, sin, cross, resurrection, repentance. I may be a little out of order with man's need/sin, I can't remember which goes first for YL, but with McSwain, his issue seemed to be that the presentation of the gospel had to follow the YL outline when theologically it didn't mesh with his reformed and covenantal theology.
I have two issues with this situation mainly: first is the whole formulaic approach to the gospel presentation/non-negotiables. Where do you draw the line on the non-negotiables? If the non-negotiables are the essential matters of the faith, what does that do to the rest of the story of God in Scripture in terms of fitting in with the gospel presentation?
Second, is how the document is being used from the top-down as a litmus test of theological priorities for staff who are all over the board theologically. I am not trying to say YL is out to get people, I don't know Denny from anybody else, but it stinks that it has come to firing folks over disagreements over the methods of sharing the gospel in YL club talks.