A few weeks ago, my friend Phil and I met with Mark Oestreicher before our Bay Area Youth Forum to help us get our heads around the unique context we find ourselves in and capitalize on those uniqueness so as to have a more effective and relevant student ministry.
What MarkO pointed out is the very fine balance between one truth that every context is unique and the other which is that for the most part students are the same everywhere. This really resonates with me. We are all humans and we are all made in the image of God. We all have the same longings and desires. (N.T. Wright wrote about this in the beginning of this book Simply Christian) But we all live in different contexts and these different contexts shape our worldview as well as our self view. Because of this reality, the felt needs to which the Gospel can be shared will very from context to context. Therefore, the trick is understanding the values of the context in which you live and so that you can capitalize on these values to find the “thin places” where the good news of Jesus meets people where they are at with language and stories that match their context.