Photo by David P. Young

I’m on my way home from the Presbyterian Youth Triennium, a once every three years youth conference that brings together Presbyterian youth from around the country (and world).  This year, 5000 youth and adults gathered on the campus of Purdue University for five days of worship, small groups, and fun.  Someone noted on Twitter that this is the largest gathering of Presbyterians there is—not even General Assembly or other big conferences gather anywhere close to this many people.

This was my first time at Triennium.  Since I didn’t grow up in the Presbyterian Church, this was never even on my radar.  The church I served in Clarendon Hills has never attended PYT and my first full summer at Fourth Church three years ago was not a great time to do something like this.  So I approached PYT2010 as a complete newbie, though I had heard quite a bit about it before arriving on Tuesday.

For the most part, I really enjoyed Triennium.  I found a lot of it very inspiring and energizing.  I enjoyed meeting and reconnecting with youth ministry friends.  It was a great opportunity for me to feel the pulse of Presbyterian youth ministry around the country.  Yet, some of it just didn’t connect for me.  Though I approached this experience with an open heart and an open mind, I have to say that some of it was just not my cup of tea—and it wasn’t always a great fit for the youth I brought from Chicago.

Part of this is a cultural thing that I think is more regional than anything else.  By and large, Chicago Presbyterians are not accustomed to this kind of flashy, semi-evangelical youth conference.  I think this is why we have (in my opinion) a hard time putting on Presbytery youth conferences back home: we use this same model but it doesn’t connect with the youth group experiences of most of our churches.

But part of it is also a theological difference, or at least a difference of emphasis—which is probably connected to these regional cultural differences as well.  Our kids have not had a lot of exposure to youth that wear Christian t-shirts, listen to Christian music, and “talk the talk” of (semi-)evangelical youth culture.  They were a little weirded out by all the screaming and shouting about Jesus.  In general, the constant emphasis on Jesus in worship, music, and small groups was more than they are used to.

As a recovering Southern Baptist who used to very much inhabit this culture and who left it for many good reasons, it was all a little more than I was interested in as well.  I was most troubled by the music during daily worship.  The rock band was excellent.  And overall, worship was very creative and was quite inclusive and in some (sometimes subtle) ways progressive.  But the music and the music leaders used pretty much exclusively male language to talk about God.  Most of the songs were more christocentric than theocentric, and usually really christocentric.  There was a whole lot of what I began thinking of as “Jesus, bloody Jesus”: a high christology that was almost exclusively informed by a theology of bloody, sacrificial atonement.  This kind of christology was so thick that when Tony Campolo preached about a radical, earthy Jesus (you know, the one we read about in the synoptic gospels) during our final worship service, it almost seemed to me like a different Jesus than the one we had been singing about all week.  (You can guess which Jesus I found more compelling.)

All of this stirred within me thoughts I have been having for a while about what I think is an idolatrous attitude toward the worship of Jesus in most circles of the church today.  I’ll write more about this later, but here is the tension I felt at Triennium: there seems to be a huge disconnect between the Jewish peasant that preached humility, servanthood, and a paradoxical embrace of power through weakness and 5000 youth in an auditorium using flashy rock music, t-shirts, and signs to worship and exalt a Christ that reigns in power and is somehow involved in every aspect of creation.  Would Jesus point to himself in this way, or would he instead point us to God?  This, of course, is a sticky question of christology, a question I fully intend to return to.  But for now, I have to confess that this kind of Jesus worship just doesn’t seem to me like the kind of thing Jesus lived and died for.  If Jesus wanted this kind of worship, he could have asked for it while he was with us.

In the end, my problems with the music certainly didn’t ruin the entire experience for me.  I tried to keep my Twitter snark to a minimum, since I could tell that a lot of people were really connecting with what they were hearing.  And I’m sure I will come back in three years.

But as I leave my first Triennium, I can’t help wondering if there is some way we could harness the collective energy and spirit of all these youth and move things in a slightly different direction.  I’d like for events like this to represent the cutting edge of Presbyterianism.  I realize, of course, that not all of us may agree about what is cutting edge and what our growing edges should be.  And I also realize that this experience may be more about me learning where the majority of Presbyterian youth ministries are and where I stand in relation to them.  Yet I can’t help thinking that there was a hunger at Triennium for something different.  I can’t help thinking that there is so much potential for transformation.  I can’t help wondering what it would take to get us there.

John W. Vest

John is a "church hacker" attempting to overcome the limitations of church as we know it. To connect with him and learn more about his work, please visit johnvest.com.

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Comments

  1. ah, bloody Jesus music. Almost as awesome as Jesus-Is-My-Boyfriend music.

    I wonder what a re-imagined Presbytery youth retreat would look like? We’ve stopped going because our youth are not interested in keynote speeches…we do our own retreat now. What would it be like if we completely left the standard retreat-box at the Presbytery level? Or the national level, for that matter? Does every retreat have to be structured like Montreat or Triennium, on that 1970s parachurch youth ministry model? Or could we reinvent?

  2. This was my first Triennium as well. The kids I brought from Southern California weren’t used to this environment, save the one who had been to 3enium before. To their credit, the worship leaders outside of the band were mostly balanced in their language. I think when you bring a band to an event like that, you know what you’re getting when you sign them up; find me a rockin’ jean-clad, floppy-haired Christian band who doesn’t use exclusively male pronouns in their music and I’ll be truly impressed.

    What struck me was how easy it was for y kids to get into it. Talking just about worship here–I was a small group leader and so wasn’t with my kids outside of worship–our students showed no visible signs of being confused or uncomfortable with the He Bloody Jesus vocabulary and the Make-Your-Choice imperative of the thing. I found myself doubting myself. Maybe this is the real deal, I started thinking, and what they’re getting from me is watered down intellectual fluff. I’m mostly over that.

    I’m convinced this is a valuable event for Presbyterian youth from everywhere in the U.S., if only for the connections it nurtures outside of the planned program time of worship and small groups. But I thought the small group curriculum was very thoughtful and added some heft to the worship presentations.

    I’m absolutely certain there’s a conservative Presbyterian blogger out there lamenting that Triennium is a festival of liberal feel good activism blather that doesn’t even offer kids the chance to make a decision for Christ. We are a divided people.

    I’ll definitely go back, and I’ll push as many youth as I can to go. But next time I’d like to go as an adult adviser, so that I can connect with my own youth and see how they’re processing all these things as we go.

    Good post, this.

  3. Hey John, you were in my small group and I am sensitive to what you are saying I did try to keep my theology theocentric but sometimes it is tough if the manual is written in a different way. I saw a number of opportunities to accomplish just what you are talking about (using inclusive language, less sacrificial attonment humanity/divinity together)
    I am in the midst of planning our HS retreat right now and the youth that are helping are asking for just what you are saying. We are looking for a band to do Taize style contemplative music. The youth are asking to learn spiritual practices and they want to know about the earthy homeless guy from 2000 years ago. I think a PYT with all these elements and still lots of fun and games would be wildly successful!
    The youth do want this and can handle it but to often we think they are not capable of thinking that deep, but they are! That is the funny/cool thing about youth they will rise to the level of the expectations you put upon them, almost every time!
    Lets make it happen…

  4. @Chris: Right on, man. Let’s shake things up in three years. BTW, I thought you did a great job with our small group. I loved the balance between games and Bible study. You did a super job moderating the whole thing and delegating stuff to the adult advisers. I was especially grateful after hearing about some of the other small groups from my youth.

    @Rocky: thanks for the comments. I totally agree with you. I’ll be back in three years for sure.

  5. John:

    I find your post to be challenging. I’m probably that conservative Presbyterian blogger one of the responses refers to. When I was a youth pastor I would have never taken my kids to Triennium, or the Montreat Youth Conference – so I freely admit I’ve never been. My motivations were the clear impression, reinforced by many conversations, that the denominational conferences were interested in talking about “God”, not much about Jesus, and were allergic to asking young people to make personal, intentional, commitments to Christian discipleship. I sought out parachurch conferences and “Fun In The Son” kinds of experiences. To hear we now have an overload of “Jesus talk” is a surprise.

    Having come out of the reformed, evangelical movement I was taken with, and agree with, one of your points. We tended in the past to overemphasize a “bloody Jesus” at youth events I attended at the expense of one that could be followed into the world. Some years invested in developing a more missional theology have hopefully corrected some of that imbalance in my own ministry.

    That said, my general impression is that denominational youth ministry experiences have been better at telling young people what to do – activism – that they have been in telling them in whose name they do it. There’s no shortage of encouragement to produce the fruit, but real ambivalence about the “root” of the faith. Perhaps you are right – there should be less “bloody Jesus”. And I absolutely agree there should be great attention devoted to cultivating spiritual disciplines. But no less of a call to follow Jesus Christ. When I make a list of what scares me about the PCUSA, waking up in a room with a bunch of Christocentric crazy people is not on it.

  6. Honestly, I kept reading your post and waiting for you to write “just joking”.

    Should Jesus be so lifted up in our worship? Two quick texts: John 16:14 tells us the Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus. John 15:26, part of the Holy Spirit is to testify about Jesus.

    Thus, if the Spirit of God is active in a worship experience then Jesus will be being glorified and testified about a good deal.

    Holy Spirit lifts up Jesus / Jesus points us to the Father (sorry, Jesus words not mine so if you want to complain about inclusive language, talk to Him about it)

    Jesus said, the Old Testament is about Him and the New Testament, well—seriously, what do you think it is about? So if you have preaching from the Bible, what you should get is a good deal about Jesus. Spurgeon said, “I start with the scripture text (whatever it might be) and make a beeline to the Cross (of Christ).”

  7. Fascinating analysis and I enjoyed reading. The challenge, I believe, isn’t that sacrificial atonement being uplifted but it being balanced with Christus Victor and Moral Example. Presbyterian theology uplifts all three. To deny or downplay any of the three moves away from what Scripture and Reformed Theology teaches about Jesus.

    As for contemporary worship music, little of it today anywhere upholds Reformed Theology. There is a definite need out there that needs to be met.

    It is exciting to see so many young Presbyterians gather. Our median age seems to perpetually be creeping up.

    I enjoyed your blog and look forward to reading future posts.

    All the best,

    Tom Paine, Pastor & Air National Guard Chaplain

  8. For me, the Triennia have been hopelessly bereft of genuine spiritual power. They have not presented nearly enough contact with Jesus Christ. Youth I know who have attended have asked, “Why are they so blocked in their worship?”

    For me, there is no more compelling, no more radical and earthy Jesus than the Son of God presented in the Gospels. My problem with Triennium is that it pulls its punch, not that it is too evangelical. People under 45 generally want nothing to do with the PCUSA. From your photograph and the information in your post it appears you belong to this demographic. I don’t. But I believe the reason for our denomination’s failure to reach younger folk is that our Gospel has too much progressive water and not enough evangelical wine. (If “evangelical wine” is not an oxymoron.)

    The bloody Jesus saved you. And me. Why act as though our youth are too sophisticated to accept his grace? I mean, I’ve been to Chicago. It’s not that nuanced of a place.

  9. Hilarious! You WERE joking, right???
    If not, maybe take the group to Six Flags next time– probably a better theological fit for you.

  10. It’s not that I’m against Jesus at events like this–or any Christian event for that matter. It’s more a question of emphasis. I’m much more compelled by the Jesus we can follow into the world (as Mike G. so well put it) than the bloody Jesus that solves all our problems by dying on a cross, leaving us to only sing love songs to his name.

    By far my favorite preacher at Triennium was Tony Campolo, the most conservative (and non-Presbyterian) there. The Jesus he talked about challenges us to live radical lives that seek to transform the world. I would love for an entire youth event to focus on that Jesus. I would love to find a rock praise band that sings about that Jesus.

    As for singing power ballads/praise songs to Jesus, I just don’t see where in the Bible Jesus asks us to worship him or pray to him.

    On that note, it is abundantly clear from close reading that each of the four canonical gospels presents a different understanding of Jesus, not to mention the contributions of Paul and the rest of the New Testament. The “low” christology of Mark and the “high” christology of John are not talking about Jesus in the same way. Why am I less faithful for gravitating to one end of the spectrum rather than the other?

  11. Jesus referred to himself as the Son of God one hundred percent of the time.
    Maybe you miss the real picture of who and what Jesus did for you
    when you are so centered on inculsive language. What is inculsive is that
    Jesus alone offers reconciliation with God through the blood shed on the cross.

  12. Jesus has been worshiped since he was born. “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” – Matthew 2:1-2

    You cannot even begin to truly follow Jesus unless you are willing to acknowledge who he truly is. Otherwise, your just following some version that you have made up to fit your particular image.

    • @Calvin: It is perfectly obvious that Jesus has been worshipped from an early time. But can you show me where Jesus himself taught his followers to worship him?

      As for acknowledging who Jesus truly is, that is exactly what I’m trying to do. Saying that I’m following a Jesus of my own design is a weak argument. I can ssy the same of you or anyone else.

  13. I brought a small group from the Detroit suburbs, and like you this was my first Triennium, and my first experience with this type of event. My kids also don’t have a lot of experience with the more “evangelical” teens.

    I prefer traditional worship styles, and I cringe every time they applaud our youth choir in worship. The concert style of worship bothered me at first; but it really became a celebration, which traditional worship rarely is anymore. I love the idea of cheering the declaration of pardon, we all should be celebrating that.

    I blinked at you comment of too much Christ, but you are right it was very Christ-centric, and I do think we focus too much on his divinity and not on his humanity. But I think at that age Jesus is the one they can better relate to. And while Jesus 2000 years ago wasn’t worshiped with rock music and cheering kids, I think he would be now. Look at their response to Bill Nathan, who was probable the most Christ like figure on that stage. His story really moved me and when those 5200 kids jumped to their feet screaming when he walked on stage, I was right there with him.

    I’m definitely taking a group back in 3 years.

  14. John, Thanks for your thoughtful post. It seems appropriate to me that a youth event is focused on Christ’s sacrifice and atonement for us and His call to commit our lives to following him. As I think of my own coming to Christ–that was the message I needed to hear at that point. Now, many years later, the messages about how Christ lived on earth are more compelling as I seek to find His strength in my weakness, His love when to love another is inconvenient.
    Many of the youth attending Triennium are at the entry point of faith. It is right and good that they consider first, the “bloody Jesus” who gave his life for them at the cross and that they count very carefully the cost of following this Jesus. There is time enough for them to get to know how to follow him in the daily realities of life (provided the local church is teaching those truths).
    At the recent General Assembly we heard numerous times the complaint that our youth are not being attracted to the church. If 5,000 of them were at the Triennium and actively worshipping Jesus, then I would say that is where God is working and we ought to get on board!
    Maybe our youth are looking for an authentic Jesus and not just a ‘feel-good-about-myself’ visit to the local food bank. Maybe they need the “bloody Jesus” to get through the next year of high school where a stand for their faith will mean facing ridicule and taking a spiritual beating.
    And Calvin, just for the record, Jesus was actually worshipped BEFORE he was born–remember John the Baptist leaped in the womb of Elizabeth in the presence of Jesus in the womb of Mary.

  15. I found this to be a thought provoking post. After reading the first couple of paragraphs I wanted to take issue with it all but I couldn’t.

    It is true that we are to worship the Triune God first. As I practice personally worshiping and “seeing” the “unseen things” in my feeble mind I have a mental picture of God (very mysterious/light and white), Jesus, the human person within the white and light, and the Holy Spirit, a series of rays that emanate in every direction from a surrounding sphere. Maybe this misses the point of the post a bit but I wanted to share it. I believe that worshipping and praising Jesus within that larger context is very Scriptural therefore appropriate. Maybe the kids who take issue with that kind of worship should be led to see what the Bible says about it.

    I like Mike Garrett’s closing statement above and agree with it…..but…

    If we are to train our youth in evangelism and excitement about the Lord for the future we MUST make sure they are very willing to speak and sing about Jesus when the opportunity presents itself. But that opportunity will be given to us by unbelievers only when we first love as Christ loved, in that Tony Campolo described “earthy” way. Love first, then be free and equipped to share Jesus, the ONLY redemptive Hope for humankind.

    How about planning the next triennium around that worldview theme?

    As to inclusive language, our best denominational guidance mandates that we take every opportunity to use it when speaking of fellow human beings. The same document does not mandate being all over the gender map when referring to God. Masculine pronouns are appropriate. When worship leaders insist upon using inclusive gender language about our Father they are going well beyond the guidance offered by official GA statements. But, alas, they have probably been trained to do so in our seminaries.

  16. Continue your journey, you came to the PCUSA searching for what you did not find in the Southern Baptist tradition and now may be the time to continue your search. In the Christian tradition being Christ centered is to be God centered since our theology teaches Christ is God. Why then is it so unacceptable that we should be worshiping the one who atoned for our sins by the gift of His life on the Cross. This is absolutely central. Instead of trying to change the theology of our Church, continue your journey. You might find better comfort and acceptance among the Greek Orthodox or maybe you are moving to the Universalist positions. Go and be blessed in your seeking. But, whatever you do, I would encourage you to be respectful of those who are not as “enlightened” as you want to be.

  17. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. (John 4:23)

    My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all ; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:30)

    Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. (John 5:23)

    Marie is correct, the worship of Jesus started before he was born – there are numerous references of people worshiping him in the gospels and the epistles.

  18. Given the unnecessary hostile responses to your thoughtful, I am chiming in to say that I appreciate your willingness to struggle openly and publicly with the tension of a Jesus so exalted that we willfully ignore the God that makes it possible and a Jesus so human that we willfully ignore the ways in which he was an instrument of God’s redemptive action. I appreciate your willingness to listen to folks that chimed in not to engage you in dialogue but to berate you for posing questions that matter.

  19. When I read your reflections on Triennium, I found myself conflicted. On the one hand, I remember distinctly the day in 1983 that I stopped listening to Contemporary Christian Music. I was a junior in college and completely immersed in evangelical culture, a culture and faith that had liberated me spiritually from a fundamentalist upbringing. But that day I was listening to a song about the sacrifices of the Christian life, sung in an up-tempo, saccharine-like, mood that completely clashed with the lyrics. I had had enough. So Amy Grant went out, and Bruce Springsteen, Talking Heads, and Dire Straits came in (with a dash of Parliament-Funkadelic). So when John complains about the musical culture, I can relate.

    And while I do not object to blood language in hymns about Jesus, it is really easy to make the cross trite. I was sad when I found a more compelling description of sin in Springsteen’s “My Father’s House” than in any Contemporary Christian Music. So, I can relate.

    But when you points to christocentrism as the problem, I head in another direction. For believers in the Trinity, to be theocentric is to be christocentric, and vice versa. The Trinity is an extreme view of God, with an equally extreme vision of each of the persons. To be Trinitarian is to be extremely theocentric, christocentric, and pneumatocentric.

    I am reminded of Hans Frei’s excellent, but dense, Identity of Jesus Christ, a narrative Christology focusing on Mark. Frei notes that the narratively-constructed identity of Jesus as God is made most clear in the cry of dereliction on the cross. In the veiling of God from Christ, Christ’s divine identity is unveiled. But in Mark’s characteristic fashion, there is no commentator in the story to tell the reader this in prose—the story is the message. A very similar picture of Christ’s identity is working in Philippians 2 where Jesus makes himself nothing, is obedient unto death, “therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” This Philippians passage proclaims that it is through the worship of this Jesus that God is glorified “that at the name of Jesus ever knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the Glory of God the Father.” Truly christocentric worship is theocentric worship.

    So, thanks for giving me something to think about. And in my case, an occasion for thanksgiving for being free to worship the Son, Jesus Christ the Lord.

  20. @Charles: Thanks for reminding me about the Frei book. That’s a good place to go as I continue to think about this stuff. I read (at least part of) this book in college or seminary. In general, I do enjoy his work (and I have a great deal of respect for Yale school folks like Bill Placher and Kathryn Tanner).

    Thinking about Frei takes me back to some sermons I wrote back in 2000 and 2001, dealing with some similar issues. In at least one of them I used Bonhoeffer’s Christ the Center. I’ll give that one a spin too.

  21. Fully human, fully God. Lose either one and you have also lost the other. Also, (and I realize this is difficult to do in a short time like the triennium) we need to bring in a variety of images used for Jesus’ work on the cross, like reconciliation, redemption, etc.

    Too much God talk about Jesus and he is way off there in the sky. Too much human talk about Jesus and he’s just another guy, although a famous one with lots of good things to say. We have to put them together. The early Church didn’t fight about this for 400 years for nothing!

  22. I find this a bit odd, since twenty years ago I stopped even thinking about sending kids to Triennium because you couldn’t find Jesus there. I may have to re-think that decision.

    I know that we tend to view the Presbyterian church’s identity through the lens of our own experience. Progressive/liberal churches tend to stress God. Conservative/Evangelical churches tend to stress Jesus. If you come to the PCUSA only through the lens of the former, I can see how you might be surprised to run into Jesus at a Presbyterian event., since you don’t run into him much at your church.

    What I’m a bit mystified about is that you somehow think that worshipping Jesus is neither Biblical nor Reformed.

    Six times in the Gospels we’re told that people “worshiped” Jesus. Thomas calls him “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28.

    More times in the Epistles than I care to count, the worship of Jesus is specific or implied: Phil 2:9-11 “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, {10} that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, {11} and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

    Even the most universal Christian creed reminds us that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are to be equally worshipped: “And I believe in the Holy Spirit…who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified” (Nicene Creed).

    Is contemporary Christian music a little too Jesus oriented. Maybe, but you could do a lot worse. And if you think no one in Chicago talks about Jesus, go to Willow Creek some Sunday morning or mid-week night. He’s alive and doing quite well there.

  23. @ Charles re Christian music: there was always Phil Keaggy. And more recently Iona and Jars of Clay. Iona’s “Chi Rho” speaks to the issue at hand but with a Celtic/Rock/Jazz fusion. But you are right there is a lot of dreck out there in the Contemporary Christian Music scene.

  24. Charles,
    I was listening to Keith Green at the time you mention and Bob Dylans’ Christian albums came you then (still listen to both at times). There were others who were on target in the Christian music field at that time but it sounds like you threw the baby out with the bath water. There is still too much “Jesus is my boyfriend” stuff being put out and some of the pop Christian tunes have bad theology in there (some rather harmless some not)—all a good reason that pastors have oversight of songs being sung in worship, if they will but take the time to do it.

  25. Immediately following the last sermon of trieneum, some members of my presbytery(blackhawk) immediately discussed the pros and cons of the whole trip. Even though the last two sermons had amazing speakers, we felt as though they were pushing us to be radical in the name of Jesus, which is fine in moderation, but it doesn’t take giving up a job of helping kids in a good neighborhood to help kids in bad neighborhoods to see jesus. Our group also discussed the music and found that we were more inclined towards the songs that were about us and our faith, not jesus dying. I am one of the youth that went on the trip. I am 16 and sad that I cannot go on it again

    • Thanks for your comment, Connor. It’s nice to hear from a young person that was at Triennium!

  26. @ Bob and Matt,

    Yes, I listened to Keith Green, and I enjoyed Second Chapter of Acts. I became very fond of John Michael Talbot and used him to teach my children about Eucharist (Come to the Table of Plenty is great sacramental theology). I still have a stack of Larry Norman albums in the basement.

    What I got tired of was bad CCM and “I want to sound like top-forty” CCM. I found much more spiritual depth in other types of music. I eventually stopped buying “Christian” music.

    I love a good worship band leading worship with depth, so I’m not opposed to the whole enterprise.

    In the world in which I work, filled with folks with unnatural affection for pipe organs, I often am the defender of contemporary worship music. But there is so much of it being produced, it is only to be expected that much if it really is bad.

  27. Charles I’m with you on both Keith Green and John Michael Talbot. And while it may not be “Contemporary” I love Taize music as well. Of course in you listen to all of JMT he has an album of Gregorian Chants.

  28. I agree, my church has never had anything close to the worship services we experienced at triennium, but i really loved them. Our youth group has really been pushing to have a contemporary service at our church and hearing some of the music and seeing the acting the drama team did really made us want to push for contemporary services even more. I thought that massive, contemporary services like the ones at PYT were so amazing and I stayed more focused hearing the sermons relate back to youth and how we can make a difference. All in all, I thought triennium was an unbelievable experience and can’t wait to go back.

  29. John – I’m curious. Do you know of or did you see any presence of a Presbyterian (or Presbyterian-Supported) Campus Ministry while at Purdue? And if so, how present/visible were they? Did they help with Triennium at all?

  30. @Dan: no, I did not notice any Presbyterian campus ministry at Purdue, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one. I did notice very peripherally a street that seemed to have several different religious groups, but I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to it. And, as far as I could tell, the only real outreach to college bound students were recruiters from Presbyterian colleges.

  31. I have not returned to this conversation not knowing it was still going. And now I just have to speak up. The church I use to attend, Warehouse ministries (not Presbyterian) was one of the first places that Keith Green held concerts-way back then. My Pastor’s wife had a radio program called Rock and Religion which was very good and played on Voice of America often. It was loaded with people like Green, Barry McGuire, T-Bone Barnet (think O Brother Where Art Thou), etc. But something happened and all of that good music started fading away. We sang praise songs that were mostly scripture now much of that is gone too. I think it was God’s timing which it always is. And since I am married to a piano tuner who loves pipe organs it is a good return to a denomination. But I just wanted to say I think the best is a combination of services as long as it is music and words that teach and affirm the Scriptures and the confessions.

  32. I think you all should read your Bible again and become clear as to the relationship between God and Jesus in the words of Jesus.

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