Towards A Missional
Hermeneutic of Care in
A presentation by VICTOR COUNTED at the International
Association for the Study of Youth Ministry Conference,
Sydney Australia, 4-7 January, 2017
Published as: Counted, V. (2016). ‘Missionising Youth Identity Crisis: Towards a missional hermeneutic of
coping in youth ministry practice.’ Missionalia: South African Journal of Mission Studies 44:1, pp. 85–102
“Finding God Without Losing Yourself” is a book that
looks at life through the lenses of attachment and
authenticity, as the two main needs of people. These
experiences were discussed as the building blocks of our
internal conflict. This conflict affects our relationship
experience with God and our desire to stay true to who
we are. Selected stories of conflicted youths with similar
experiences were shared with the intention of drawing
some real-life lessons whilst introducing a missional
opportunity with which believers within a redemptive
community can attain wholeness and healing in their
Young people have two
main needs: attachment
To study youth identity crisis, we would need to
look at the attachment and authenticity needs
and/or experiences of young people. This is
because when young people feel abandoned and
betrayed by those who are supposed to be there
for them, they often enter into a cycle of identity
crisis, trying to stay true to who they are in order
to deal with their relationship problems.
THE “WHAT” AND “HOW” OF
YOUTH IDENTITY CRISIS
Some empirical results - quantitative study
(r = .279, p<.01). 7%
(r = .204, p<.05). 4% of
(r = .324, p<.01). 10% of
Attachment was measured using the
Attachment to God Inventory. Assesses
attachment dimensions of anxiety (48%)
and avoidance (35%).
Authenticity Scale was used to measure
dimensions of authenticity: Authentic
Living (24 %), Self-alienation (11%),
Accepting external influences (13%).
(α = .806)
Some empirical results - qualitative study
THE SELF CONFLICT
- From an attachment contagion to a
cycle of weak self-integration
- The Borderline Self (Masterson, 1976):
self defense using unnecessary
tantrums (acting out) to fight an
imploding att. crisis
- The Promissory Self (Moltmann,
1976): an emerging sense of promise
and a response to a hurtful
- The Hyphenated Self (Jeroncic, 2014):
manifesting positive, cut and paste
images of themselves
- The Religious Self (Muck, 1998): a
sense of spiritual maturity and an
indicator of spirituality and religious
(For more insights read: Counted 2016)
THE GOD CONFLICT
- Attachment with God replaces
parental attachment and
compensates for a dysfunctional
- Insecure attachment with God (e.g.
anxiety with God) linked to the
attachment behavioural system
(internal working models)
- There is a sudden need for spiritual
- Experience with a divine attachment
figure shadows how they stay true to
- Negative attachment experience
with relational figures plunges the
youth into a cycle of self-splitting
(For more read: Counted 2016a, 2016b)
Introducing a missional
>>>a hermeneutic of divine love grounded in the theological
principle of the missio Dei, or mission of God, which sees the
Scripture bearing witness to a God who is already on a
mission to heal a broken world<<<
A MISSIONAL HERMENEUTIC is an interpretive approach that
privileges the missio Dei as the key to reading and interpreting the
bible (Hunsberger 2011). The mission of God (missio Dei) is
summarised within the context of:
God created the heavens and the earth (cf. Gen. 1)
The entrance of sin into the human race (cf. Gen. 3)
God’s promise to restore His people through a nation
➔ The Messiah
Man was reconciled back to God through a suffering and
resurrected Christ. God launched a “divine rescue mission” (N.T.
➔ The Church
Christ restores a broken world through the sending of his Church
➔ New Creation
God redeems us and gives us new life through the person of
Jesus Christ, and sends us out to the world to represent Him
through the agency of the Church
2. contd. Intro
A MISSIONAL HERMENEUTIC recognises these four
➔ The Missional Direction of the Story
How is a text framed within the story of God’s mission?
➔ The Missional Locatedness of the Readers
Readers must locate themselves in mission - find a
➔ The Missional Engagement with Cultures
How biblical texts model engagement with culture.
How is the culture of that time fused into the context of
➔ The Missional Purpose of the Writings
Scriptural stories and characters are outposts for
advancing the gospel
Introducing a missional
hermeneutic of care - a
Imagine a hermeneutical approach that privileges the
missio Dei, or the mission of God, as the key to interpreting
our stories of identity crisis and experiences of anxiety.
Hence collapsing the vast space between our story and
3. A missional
hermeneutic of care
A MISSIONAL HERMENEUTIC OF CARE recognises these five
hermeneutical tasks (cf. Counted 2016) as well:
➔ Personalising the Missional Direction of God’s Story
How is our story framed within the story of God’s mission?
➔ The Missional Locatedness of the Carer
The youth worker sees him/herself in the missional promise.
➔ The missio-cultural locatedness of youth identity crisis
A cultural community as the brewing ground of identity crisis.
➔ The missional purpose of the crises of youth identity formation
Our stories as outposts for advancing the gospel.
➔ The prophetic-missional voice of the youth in crisis
Applying a ‘prophetic pathos’ to challenge the unknown.
Missional Direction of
How is our story framed within the story
of God’s mission?
“The missional story starts and ends with
the revelational portrait of what the
future new creation in God should look
like in relation to God’s character” (p. 90).
Locatedness of the
Christian counselor or
The counselor or youth worker must
locate him/herself in the sending of God
- find a common ground in God’s
See yourself as part of the missional
locatedness of youth
To understand the way in which issues
of youth identity crisis are embedded
with a particular culture and community.
➔ How does our understanding of
community and family affect the
way we relate with our loved ones?
➔ What factors influence the
normalisation of parental abuse
within our communities?’
The missional purpose
of the crises of youth
Seeing the stories of young people
experiencing an identity crisis as
outposts for advancing the gospel
and having a missional purpose - a
Pastoral-caregivers can also bring
insights rooted in Christian
convictions hope into identity
missional voice of the
youth in crisis.
Penetrating into the word-event in terms
of how the youth verbally appropriate
the meaning of their identity crisis.
Testing the actual crisis of identity
formation over what is most essential to
it: a prophetic-missional voice. Some sort
of God-control or self-regulation that is
Your story is God’s story.
>>>We are in the big revelational portrait of God<<<
Missional therapy seeks to
interpret experiences of
identity crisis and help
change unhealthy thought
patterns by drawing insights
rooted in missional
convictions and Christian
hope. A missional therapist
is therefore one that is
equipped to reframe
stories of identity crisis into
A PORTRAIT OF HOPE AND
Benefits of A Missional Therapy
➔ An embodied gospel
Learning to interpret our discrete emotional conflicts within the grand
narrative of God’s mission provides a crucial angle for communicating a
new embodied gospel.
➔ A missional community
Helps us to recognise that every experience and story shape us to serve as
a missional community.
➔ Embodying the imago Dei
Our stories transform us to embody the character of God in, to, and for the
world. This is a form of kenosis - self-emptying of one’s will (cf. Phil. 2).
➔ A new form of worship
Connects worship explicitly with our internal conflict and life in the world by
establishing a missional ethos for living in a difficult world.
“Whatever one think or do
with regard to youth, if it is not
supported or carried by love, it
is worth little.”
- Jurgens Hendriks
Thank you for
For more about the stories
and ideas informing this
presentation, keep an eye on
this forthcoming book:
FINDING GOD WITHOUT
I hope you’ll use these tips to make a tangible
difference in the world!
PS: Please seek written approval from the author
prior to sharing or using the PowerPoint slides.
School of Social Sciences & Psychology
Western Sydney University