First Third Conversations

Reflections on "Urban Ministry and the First Third of Life" with Brenda Olson

By Allison Tunseth, MA Children, Youth and Family student at Luther Seminary

Brenda Olson’s presentation and article on faith formation and the urban church, unpacks the theme of relationships by engaging the idea of ‘accompaniment’.

> See video of Brenda's summary here

Olson defines accompaniment in the urban church as, “a joint venture in which collaboration and community building serve the margins of our society to develop a new generation of leaders ready to change the culture of our churches and our neighborhoods and serve the common good.” (Olson, p. 1)

In Ms. Olson’s presentation it became clear that ‘accompaniment’ with our youth is not the practice or exercise in getting our youth to come to confirmation and hanging out with them while they are in the high school youth program. It is the true commitment of walking along side our young people on their faith journey and that this missional accompaniment serves as the basis for building community in the church and in the world. What would it look like if we as leaders served youth with the idea that we would go to them and seek them out instead of creating a program for them to attend? What would it mean as leaders if we had to and pick kids up in order to even have a ‘youth group’? How would the faith formation of our youth look if we based our leadership practices around compassion instead of commitment or numbers?  Through this work, God accompanies us.” (Olson, p. 12)

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