Thursday, May 2, 2013

2013 Pepperdine Bible Lectures – Day 2

Missed the opening night (Tuesday) of the 70th Annual Pepperdine Bible Lectures (April 30 – May 3, 2013), but I was able to make the drive out to Malibu Wednesday afternoon for three enlightening sessions. Coming off of the lunch break was Holly Catterton Allen, co-author of Intergenerational Christian Formation: Bringing the Whole Church Together in Ministry, Community and Worship, who I knew from Creekside Christian Fellowship years ago. Her talk, “Entering God’s Story: Reframing How We Teach the Bible to Children,” discussed how the true purpose of Bible stories – to reveal the who God/Jesus Christ is – is often overlooked as teachers focus instead on teaching children how to live. I was reminded of Dan Owen’s talk at the Recharge conference earlier this year as I listened to Dr. Allen give some examples on how the event-precept-application method often results in misinterpretation. For example, Jesus feeding the five thousand has been used to teach children to share, rather than understand Christ’s power and compassion for His people.

To counter this problem, Dr. Allen stressed that morals are better extracted from direct scriptural commands. Bible lessons need to reflect the true intent of God’s story. She discussed the idea of putting together a “Christian metanarrative” that unites different biblical stories into one continuous story and allows children to develop a Christian identity. To help Sunday school/Bible class teachers achieve this, Dr. Allen suggested activities and illustrations that allow children to personalize the events and see themselves as part of the ongoing mission of Christ.

Next I attended Chris Buxton’s “Pushing Back Against the Young Adult Exodus.” A campus ministry director, Buxton discussed how to combat the growing trend of children who grew up in the Churches of Christ abandoning their faith after high school graduation. One-on-one mentoring is the oft-cited solution, and Buxton endorses that, believing that he has seen positive results pairing up kids with older adults who can provide some answers and guidance during a confusing time in their lives. I would have preferred it if more time had been spent on how to directly respond to the criticisms that lead these kids away in the first place, but time was understandably short.

Finally, before heading back home for the day, I listened to Linda Egle of Eternal Threads and Brittany Partridge discuss “The Red Thread Movement: Combating Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery.” Previously, I was somewhat familiar with the sex trade issue, but this introduced me to the specific situation in Nepal and Bombay, India. The speakers discussed the success of Kingdom International Nepal’s “border units” that rescue Nepalese girls being brought into India and the “safe houses” that provide biblical-based counseling and job training (including friendship bracelet making for donations) for victims before they return to their villages. It wasn’t made clear what are the legal statuses of prostitution and slavery in those areas, but there was some discussion about the shame many girls feel from having been tricked by promises of jobs across the border. Since sex trafficking, prostitution, and modern day forced labor are the kind of social justice issues that often get swept under the rug, I was pleased that this talk was programmed. It makes the Bible lectureship, which some see as a remnant of a bygone era, more relevant to today.