Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Making a point to not become one...

Here's something that took me by surprise when I heard about it: the "Christian famous" pastor/author/speaker Francis Chan is basically packing himself and his family up and moving where there is no celebrity status tied to his name. Check out the article by CNN here

At first glance I kinda shook my head in disbelief wondering why he'd throw all of that away. I've personally been in attendance as he's spoken at conferences, I've read his books and even used his material and plan on using them in my youth group. I regard him as one of the most straightforward and challenging authors there are out there in his genre. In fact there have even been times I've avoided reading his book because I knew what he'd challenge me to do! Of course every time I walked away from something he had put together I felt challenged and encouraged to live differently. Why would a man who walks closely with God and such a significant impact walk away from where most think he's having the biggest impact?

His words resonated with me as he said that more people talk about him then they do the Holy Spirit at his own church. Further stated he quotes the Apostle Paul who rightly said "I didn't die for you" to the congregation arguing about if Paul baptized them or not. Chan is making a point to not become one... and let the point be God instead.

So where is this balance? I'd be a flat out liar if I said I didn't want to become "Christian famous" or make a little more money in being a pastor so that I didn't have to work two jobs. Chan, by the way, only took home a small salary on purpose so it wouldn't be about the pay. If anything his decision caused me to reflect a little on my own situation and motivation. If I only had a dollar for every time someone asked me question like when are you going to become a real pastor or grow out of youth ministry... Even in those I wonder if they are not really asking when are you going to become "Christian famous." How does one balance being successful with not becoming the "point" of the ministry? Even on your way out, thanks for helping me to wrestle with some great questions Francis!

God, may my motivation and position as a youth pastor be one of humility and with perspective that only you can give...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An Online Poll to Decide a Baby's Fate....

I've gotta say that I have seen quite a bit of shenanigans take place on the interweb over the years of my browsing experience, but this definitely one of the most shocking. If you head to the site birthornot.com, you'll find that a couple from Apple Valley is asking people to vote on the decision to keep or abort their unborn baby. In fact, the decision is ultimately up to those who vote. There are plenty of words flying back and forth in the comment section of their page representing both sides of the issue. What I'm wondering though is what this tells us about the 30 and under crowd and how should I respond to this as a Jesus-follower?

Over the years our world has seen an epic battle take place about how people decide on the truth and what their morals should be. I like to think of it as a giant "you are here" arrow on a mall map. If you come to a crossroads and need to make a decision on where to go, you decide based on where you're currently standing. It wouldn't make sense to choose a direction if you didn't know where you were at! This situation is no different. We're standing at an unusual crossroads of how to process this couples decision to let people vote on the life of their unborn child. Our decision comes based on where we are standing, or in other words, we decide based what we think is right.

For some people, their decision is made by emotion. For others, they rely on an authority such as the Pope. An atheist may argue that science determines what is right or wrong as illustrated by Sam Harris in his book End of Faith. And it seems that popular opinion, such as a poll in this case, is becoming the new "you are here" of many people 30 years old and younger.

Because this is just a somewhat simple blog of my musings, I won't trace this out into how we've gotten to this point. But I will say that the postmodern culture heavily depends on popular opinion to determine what is right. Attitudes about everything from gays to abortion, our culture is influenced by the opinion of the masses. Especially those younger than 30.

If you're one of my Student Impact students, you should know this verse "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right." 2 Timothy 3:16. As a Jesus follower it must be through God's Word that we make our decisions. So next time you see something outrageous such as birthornot.com, ask yourself not what everyone else thinks, but how does God's Word speak to this? Stand on the Truth with humility and a heart open to God and your decision making process won't require a poll.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Casteller

I think my search for the best youth group team building activity is finally over!




OK before you panic and think we should have EMT's on standby at this week's youth gathering, let me tell you what I'm really thinking. My mind has been wandering in a couple of places this past week. I'm wrestling with what the most important things are that a 12-15 year old should learn about God. Building a solid faith is just that - building.

Really now, who comes up with Casteller? Hey let's build a ginormous human tower and send small children all the way to the top! They must have been a youth pastor... I think they're on to something though. They don't put the fun sized people at the bottom, there are specific roles for each person. Those roles contribute to the building of a pretty sweet looking tower! Even Peter recognized the importance of building the structure of ones faith when he said "make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love." (2 Peter 1:5-6)

The question I've been asking is what goes on the bottom, middle, top of your faith? How do you not end up like half of the human towers that utterly failed (although I secretly was cheering for them to fall...)? I am open to suggestions as I'm working on sorting this out for our discipleship program in our 7th-9th grade ministry here at Grace. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Don't be surprised about bullying...

The results - shocking. Ranging from suicide to low self-esteem, these past few months have generated some rather desperate action on behalf of a few youth being flat out tormented by their peers.And those were just the ones in the news. Even local school districts are clarifying anti-bullying policies to prevent the effects.  As a youth pastor and father my heart is wrenched when I hear of a teen dying or inflicting damage on another as a result of bullying. Human interaction is a powerful thing, and the results of that speak for themselves. But don't be surprised.

Timothy shares some rather blunt news about what we as Jesus-followers should expect in these days:

  "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God."  (2 Timothy 3:1-4)

The Inspired Word of God gives warning of the days in which we live. Disturbed, yes. Shocked, well if we spend anytime in the Word this should come as no surprise. So what should we do with this? We need to set a different example, one of a called people as 1 Peter 2 talks about. I know it sounds cliche and something you'd expect your pastor or parent to say, but this is absolutely the truth. Even those in the secular realm recognize that the current issues with bullying stem from poor modeling in our society.

The bottom line is that we have a great opportunity to respond in a redeeming and Gospel-bearing way. For our teens this holds especially true, but if I as a pastor/father/adult don't model this to them, well the opportunity is lost. Let's live as those called from the dark into the light so that others may ask why and we may have an opportunity to share the reason for the hope we have!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Far East Movement - Like A G6 ft. The Cataracs, Dev

Thanks to one of my creative volunteers, we recently introduced the "phone bucket" to our small group meeting times. Everyone deposits their phone in the bucket with no questions asked. Funny thing happened Sunday night when the phone bucket started going off to the tune of Like a G6.


I'm such a youth pastor! I couldn't help myself when I saw such a great opportunity to talk about that song, so music choices and lyrics became our conversation piece for the next 10 minutes. Before you read any more of this, go listen to the song which literally tops all of the charts right now.


The song at face value seems fun and ring tone worthy, but start thinking about it and you may change your mind. A G6 is a really nice jet. So to say something is like a G6 is a reference to cool factor of this sweet and very expensive mode of transportation (although in the video they show a G4... hypocrites =). All sounds good so far right? Well what is so G6 in this video is a night of heavy drinking.

Take a look at the words written in 2 Peter 4:19 "They promise freedom, while they themselves are slaves to depravity - for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." Here we find Peter's explanation of those who follow the sin nature rather than the Spirit. Just like this fun upbeat video - they "promise freedom" through a night of drinking, but not shown in this video they really are "slaves to depravity." That's the real danger here in my opinion. Fun, catchy song - absolutely. Do I want to walk around celebrating being a slave to depravity, being mastered by alcohol? Singing that song is also speaking that message. Truth is, I'd much rather be a slave to Jesus and His way of life than sin and the consequences of it. Oh and how come the video doesn't show these guys absolutely sick the next morning?