Thursday, October 8, 2009

From Apathy to Paralysis

A youth ministry buddy of mine, Tyler Parsons, polled high school students in his youth ministry. These questions really got me a thinkin'. Here's what Tyler found out...

Things we’ve heard/read/been taught but not sure we believe them or questions we have:
-All the stories (i.e. Jonah, Daniel, Noah, Moses) – did all that stuff actually happen or are they just illustrations?
-“Baldy” and the bears – 2 Kings 2 when bears maul the youth…God wouldn’t do that.
-If Jesus turned water to wine and gave sight to the blind why doesn’t that stuff happen anymore?
-Another student commented: maybe it does happen just works differently now…(i.e. doctors/medicine/etc.)
-Can God be surprised?
-Why do we pray? Does it make any difference?
-If God is love, is love God?
-KJV…? Why all the different versions/translations of the Bible?
-Weren’t some things lost or misunderstood in translation?
-Limbo…? Do people really believe that? Is it real? In the Bible?
-Genesis 1:26 – plural reference to God?
-How do we know which religion or denomination is right? How can we know that we are?
-Does the Bible change over time?
-Tattoos & Piercings
-Women with long hair/short hair?
-Jesus drank wine, why do Christians say alcohol is bad?
-God and the problem of human suffering/evil
-Can a person have an addiction and still be a Christian?
-Why do some people get “cured” from their addictions and others don’t? are they “better” Christians?

These questions point out for me a new awareness.
I've always known that students have a lot of questions. That's healthy. But what I'm becoming more aware of is the number, intensity, and scope of their questions/doubts about God and the Bible. The questions from Tyler's group carry all kinds of assumptions about life, authority, and truth from all kinds of mental frameworks. These questions reveal sophistication. And not only that, its truly overwhelming to think of these questions as the tip of an iceberg of questions/doubts that students wonder about every week. Plus, these students' questions seem to convey elements of genuine doubt. Overwhelming!
I don't know about everyone else, but when I'm overwhelmed I become paralyzed. Maybe our students aren't apathetic. Maybe they are Spiritually PARALYZED! Paralysis looks a lot like Apathy. You don't see much movement in either case. But I think the treatment for Spiritual Paralysis might be more challenging.
With apathy, the student doesn't want to move. In the case of paralysis, the student might WANT to move forward spiritually, but she CAN'T.
So, I'll leave you with this question, if our students are paralyzed, how can we help them?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I Stink at Some Things

Sue sent this blog link to me with some comments (below):

"For far too long the Christian community fell into that ridiculous trap at yearly evaluation time by elders where the laser was focused on weaknesses under the guise that we are supposed to be "balanced". God never created us "balanced", i.e., with the potential to be good at everything.

"That's one big lie from the pit...we end up spending all our energy on things He created other people to shine at and only have time to function in a substandard way within our own strengths because we've run out of time to focus on improving our strengths. Did that make sense?"

It sure did! I married a great gal, huh?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Get Ready for your Egg Roll Competition

I strongly encourage you to begin this fantastic Easter tradition for all ages. Let me know if you do it this year:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Could This Be True?

The Christian Science Monitor posted an article predicting the demise of Evangelical Christianity. One directive I gain from this article it that we need to be more Spirit-Directed and perhaps less "Strategy-Directed".
I'm curious to see what you think about the article:
(sorry, for some reason blogspot wouldn't let me embed this link)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Who is Fighting for Your Heart?

"How many of you have someone who is fighting for your heart?" Only a few raised their hands. There was an awkward silence.
This was a question I asked a group of high school students in a seminar I led at the Impact Conference. Although the response didn't surprise me, it did sadden me. For me, the group's response seemed to underscore their collective loneliness. At the time I wished I had a hundred arms to reach out and give each kid a hug.
How can we hope to walk through life in a meaningful way and never be able to point to someone who has chosen to be our strong ally?

Friday, January 23, 2009

What Frustrates You About Youth Ministry?

I think the group of youth workers I meet with are awesome. We asked each other to respond to the question, "What frustrates you about Youth Ministry?" The answers revealed a group of young men who really care about kids and who get mad when kids aren't treated right.
What Frustrates Us...
Church board discussions where they talk about the thermostat in the gym rather than how we can reach the unchurched.
Getting a phone call before every event by the same parent asking, “What time is it?”
Kids who don’t come because they have a relational problem with other kids.
Loving a needy kid.
Parents’ bad influence of kids.
“Country Club Christians”.
Being without a senior pastor.
Church parents who tell daughter, “You’re at church too much.”
Sponsors who call 2 minutes before the event to say they won’t be there.
Parents who wrongly believe their kids are perfect.
I’ve been constipated for about 3 days.
Sr. high kids with no passion; bad attitudes.
Getting the leadership to listen to me.
Getting the parents to catch our vision.
When one kid doesn’t come and then the other kids don’t come because others don’t come.
Eighteen year old boys whose mothers do all the work for them.
Elders and deacons who don’t get on board.
Not being taken seriously by the elders.
Losing a large senior class.
Not feeling like I’ll ever thrive financially in ministry.
Not getting a mental break from ministry.
Leaving a church and find out that no one is caring for your youth group.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Effective Ministry: Don't Build a House in a Graveyard

A friend of mine said, "Don't build a house in a graveyard." We were talking about church planting. His obvious point was that we should find ministry spots that yield fruit. Don't waste precious resources for no gain.
Jesus modeled and taught his disciples this principle: "Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. [11] And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them." Mark 6:10-11 (NIV)
I think this principle can be applied on a large scale (church planting) or on a small scale (individual, personal).
Here's what I need to do to avoid building a house in a graveyard:
  • Listen to God's Spirit throughout the day. He'll lead you to the right people and situations.
  • Avoid comfortable endeavors that don't produce fruit.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

That's Why I Do It

Dozens of high school students were clustered in pairs and 3's and 4's with caring youth workers. I walked back and forth between the groups, praying, looking at the intensity of kids dealing with God, and, more importantly for me, filling my soul.
Thomas Young had challenged 900 students to come to Christ on Saturday night at the IMPACT conference. After a year of planning by our team we got to see the fruit. This is why I direct the IMPACT conference...
  • A youth leader shared that 5 of his 15 students came to Christ at Impact. With a gleam in his eye, this volunteer leader said he will have to "reassess his youth curriculum for this coming semester" ( by the way, who wouldn't want a 30% conversion rate in their ministry?).
  • A 16 year old girl followed up with me after my breakout seminar...she wants to stop cutting and burning herself. She wants to one day wear a wedding dress without scars showing.
  • Something hit home with another girl in my breakout; she was in tears talking with a caring adult.
  • Another kid shared with her leader her struggle with sexual identity issues.
  • A junior is close to giving Christ his life.
I need to reassure myself more frequently, "This is why I do what I do."