Archives For Frustration


Yesterday the sessions started with an per-registration meeting with Patrick Mead that I missed (boo) but I decided to go to Agia Sophia’s coffee shop (see yesterday’s post). After that I did a little detour to visit a couple of places…

Manitou Springs

This is home of Pike’s Peak Cog Railway which was, much to my dismay, closed. I wanted to go up to the top but it is closed for the winter so I looked around at all of the neat shops and happenings. It is a quaint little town that is like Gatlinburg minus the rednecks and fudge.

Garden of the Gods

IMG_3551This was a great find. I hiked a little and was able to be alone and still for a small period of time. As I was walking up and down the trails my mind was drawn to the students in our ministry and how they would love this place. There are trails, rocks to climb and beautiful scenery and for that pesky youth group kid their are even mountain lions roaming about. JUST KIDDING!

U.S.A. Olympic Training Facility

IMG_3554This was free as well. I just showed up and was able to get onto a tour quickly. The guide showed us where Olympic athletes train for shooting, basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, wrestling, swimming and showed us the weight room. In the weight room we saw the University of California’s swim team and training with them was Nathan Adrian who won gold at London in the 100m Freestyle. Pretty cool.

Dinner Jack Quinn’s Pub

IMG_3572I loved this place for the Irish atmosphere and authentic Irish food. They are renown for their fish and chips and their Irish Boxtys (potato pancake with fillings) but I was in the mood for something else: Corned Beef and Cabbage. That’s right! Since my wife did not come with me I get to eat all the cabbage I want. I highly recommend this place that is located in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs.

Monday Night Keynote – David Skidmore @sycamoreskid – “A Few Good Aquamen”

Great lesson as he taught in metaphor which is a lot like what Jesus did with his disciples. He used aquaman as a template for youth ministers. Below are my (sporadic) notes and hope you enjoy them. I am off now to hear Mike Cope’s early session.

–       Job Description is crazy for youth ministers.

–       Prayed for Jason and Elyse. 2 months in ministry

–       This is kind of like that….

–       Tokyo Water Park

–       Bulls Eye Picture

–       Gas Gauge

–       Help is 172 km ahead

  • “Don’t let NCYM be a destination.”
  • “Let the overflow fill someone else up.”

–       Luke 8:29—“Driven by the demon into solitary places.”

  • How you get to solitary places.
  • Renew yourself.

–       Whale—frequency no other whale can recognize.

  • Most whales are making sounds higher but it is low.
  • It is never identified with other whales.
  • Your teens are on a frequency that nobody can understand and some of you youth ministers are on a frequency nobody understands. Parents are on different frequencies then we are.

–       2 Peter 1:8

  • Ineffective or unfruitful.
  • Do we bear fruit?

–       Super Friends

  • How lame was aquaman?
  • Every comic book…
    • A hero…
    • A problem
    • A question

–       Does he/she have what it takes to endure this?

–       Micah 6:8

–       It’s not just about depth but about distance. 20,000 leagues is not about how deep it was but how far they traveled.

–       Our churches will let us stay on the surfaces. If God (Satan?) cannot make you bad he will make you busy.

–       We are called to be a sycamore tree and not a savior.

–       1 Samuel 13

  • Running….
  • Hiding…
  • Blacksmiths…

–       “It is not within our power to place the divine teachings of God directly into the heart of another. We can only lay them on the surface of the heart, so that when the heart breaks, they are the first to fall in.” (Jewish Saying)

  • We are the only blacksmiths people have…

See the slideshow below of images from yesterday

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I wasn’t going to write about it as this blog post will surely become lost in the sea of characters of different people posting about different things in the wake of the deaths in Newtown, CO. Quite honestly it actually makes me nauseous and a little uneasy to try to reflect about what happened. Because with technology no longer can we simply interpret the act itself we now have to process the media’s interpretations, slants and bias of what happened. Then the extremists move in like Westboro Baptist picketing at vigils or discussions of gun control, more guns, more laws…on…and…on. Then there are the comments of hate towards people created in the image of God and our violent longing for justice becomes a hateful diatribe of our own spiritual depravity.

So I didn’t want to write about it because there is not much else to say.

What sense can we make of this?

Why do we have to know the “why”?

Will it do anything to help grieving families?

Sure it might help us avoid future mistakes but nothing is 100%. An elementary school should be a place where our kids go to be safe, secure and want to learn. Yet, nothing is 100% safe. No matter the ingenuous plan, the courageous teachers or any plan set in place, nothing is 100%. I was aware of this as I let 1st grader, my Kindergartner and my per-Kindergarter go to school this morning. James, the brother of Jesus (who knew this too well) reminds us:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:13-14)

We are vapors in the wind of God’s willful spirit. So what are we to do? Do what we always do. Trust God. Trust that God’s glory is revealed in some capacity. Pray to God for the victims (28 of them counting Adam and his mother) and their families. Pray for the glory of God to pervade the very fabric of our human existence. Trust God in his providence that when Jesus comes (remember Christmas?) all wrongs will be made right and no amount of hurt will go unaddressed. Pray for the misinterpretations, the straw hats, the confusion, the “Where was God?” comments and all of the questions that may never find answers.

Trust in God.

I may be the only one who experiences this but our pre-church service routine on Sunday mornings is similar to battlefield scenarios in war situations. There are strategies to do just about everything that needs to get done. One of the following seems to happen to at least one of our children on Sunday mornings:

  • Pop-Tarts are smeared on their clothes
  • One of the girls takes a bow out of their hair (I know…first world issues)
  • Screaming
  • Stomping
  • Yelling
  • Arguing
  • Falling asleep in the three mile stretch from home to church building
  • Forgetting a child at home…just kidding

Church services should at the least be something the family looks forward to. Church services should be something every family needs to start their week. So why do we lose it so much? Why does it seem we drag our kids (and ourselves) to the building only to pretend to be excited to be there but secretly longing for the bed, TV or a combination of the two? There is probably not an easy answer to those difficult questions but I have a few suggestions for you to make the most out of your Sundays…

#1 Start early

This may seem like a no-brainer to most but start early. Wake-up with plenty of time to get things done. For you list-makers, start with the most important thing and then work your way down. It’s hard to start early which leads me to the next suggestion….

#2 Go to bed at a decent time Saturday night

You can’t always do it and I admire those of you who go to sleep at 2am and still come to services. Seriously, go to bed at a decent time to make the most out of Sunday. If you need energy to work, exercise or play you also need energy to worship.

#3 Husbands, help out.

The little things count men. I have been horrible at this and the reason why Sunday mornings are chaotic in our family is that I have not contributed like I should. So I try to get things done on Fridays so I don’t have to go into the office Sunday morning. If I do go into the office on Sunday morning it is at the last minute, only when I have helped get the kiddos dressed, fed and on their way. Help out husbands!

#4 Go out to breakfast as a family once in a while…

That would require you to execute numbers 1-2 but if you wake-up early enough then try to mix things up. Take them to Waffle House, Shoney’s, McDonald’s, Panera Bread or to the local diner. Mix things up and add some flavor into your routine.

#5 Keep things in perspective

Most of our chaos on Sunday mornings are not real problems. They are real in the sense that your teenager does not want to go to services, your hair-dryer broke, that outfit makes you look fat and you forgot to put gas in the tank. Those are real issues but in the grand scheme of things they are not real issues. Most of us get to choose to go to services or to stay home. You can always stay home. Nobody is forcing you to go. If you feel like you “have” to go to services and your family hates it then now is the time to start questioning your motives. Keep things in perspective and try not to let the little problems be “big problems.”

“Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp” (Numbers 11:1).

I came to the office this morning and for the first time in a couple of months I was the first to the office. Now, normally when I get to the office the coffee is made by our secretary who has done this type of thing for Joe (our preacher) and I for years but since I was the first one, there was no coffee. I had two options: 1) Make the coffee or, 2) Wait until she gets to the office. I decided to make the coffee so it would give her one less thing to do but let’s be honest: I am too impatient to wait for my morning cup of Joe! I thought about the implications of waiting though and reasons I wouldn’t make the coffee and one of the reasons was this: It’s her job to make the coffee so why should I have to make it?

Have you ever said that one before?

I caught myself saying the same thing when I was working at our local YMCA. There was a toilet that was clogged and I thought about how it was not my responsibility to unclog the toilet. But what kind of attitude does that send? So I unclogged the toilet and cleaned it. I didn’t have to and it was not in my job description but who cares? I just did it.

I wonder how many of us complain about things we feel we should not have to do because it is another person’s responsibility. Youth Minister’s abound in this type of complaining (I am just as guilty):

  • Why should I have to clean the bus when there is a deacon in charge of transportation?
  • It’s not my responsibility to lock the doors when the elders have assigned someone to do that.
  • I shouldn’t have to keep office hours when I am with the students so often.

Or what about the relational complaints?

  • Why should I talk to her when she is so mean?
  • They always whine about things so why should I have to speak to them (note the irony of their complaint)?
  • I don’t like his preaching…
  • The elders don’t shepherd like I feel they should…
  • The youth minister does not attend the needs of my children like I feel he should…

On and on the complaints go. What about you? What are you complaining about right now that you have to do even though it is not under your specific realm of responsibility? You know what I have noticed? God calls us to do things we do not like but are tests to give Him glory. A huge project that should have gone to the person in the appropriate department now falls in your lap may be a nuisance to your routine but also might be an opportunity God has placed in your lap. Who knows? All I know is that this world is saturated with complainers and depleted in doers. Consider what God views on the subject:

  • Do all things without grumbling or questioning (Phil. 2:14).
  • Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29).
  • Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door (James 5:9).
  • Show hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Pet. 4:9).

So you know what you need to do when you feel like complaining? Just make the stinking coffee and get over it.

I am afraid we have missed the boat on a lot of key things and as a result, our young people (teens and twenty-somethings) have become disenchanted with organized religion. Keep in mind that this is not indicative of every church context (I know…your church is always the exception right?) but ever since I became a member of the Church of Christ I have seen some growing tension between organized church activities (including worship) and participation from younger generations. I do not have any hard data to prove this within the Churches of Christ (if there is such please comment below) nor do I think there is any specific causative reasons but what I do find fascinating is that there seems to be this trend among other Christian wings like the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and David Kinnaman’s book You Lost Me shows the trend of younger generations who are leaving organized religion. They are not leaving the faith as they still hold a high value on personal spirituality but they simply do not accept many of the different things their organized church stood for (Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus but not the Church is important here). But I wish there were data for the Churches of Christ to show the downward trending as all I have is experience which is limited in geography, theological leaning and other factors. 

So what I say cannot be authoritative because the Churches of Christ have no headquarters unless you count the various universities and preaching schools as different headquarters for different theological leanings (I digress).  I wonder what twenty-somethings long for in a church? Whatever it is I am not sure we are offering that to them. We think that we can have announcements, a few songs, a prayer, a quiet Lord’s Supper where nobody talks, a sermon, an invitation and a closing prayer and somehow that is supposed to spiritually feed them. Well you say, “Robbie, it is not our job to feed them as they are supposed to grow spiritually themselves.” That’s my issue!!! I think where we are failing can be summed-up in a few words: LACK OF INTIMACY.  

Somehow we feel that the teenagers and twenty-somethings are just supposed to “get it” by listening to sermons, attending a bible class and maybe the odd retreat thrown in there. Listen carefully: we need to get away from thinking that spiritual formation happens, or is even formed, from the church building. I have spent almost 8 years in youth ministry and the twenty somethings who were in my youth group would quickly tell you that they serve God not because of an event, sermon or bible class that happened inside the church building but it was the intentional, intimate relationships geared towards accountability, service and discipleship OUTSIDE OF THE BUILDING that changed their lives. 

That does not mean they are anti-church services or anti-preaching but it does mean that we have become too personal-salvation oriented to the neglect of inviting others to join in the conversation of spiritual formation. To illustrate this I wonder how many of your churches have poor, broken, drug and alcohol addicted people in your midst. Now church is not all about reaching poor people or those in the inner-city but nor does it mean churches are all about middle to upper-class people either. Why can’t we have both in the same building (some do…I know…but not many)? I think the issue is a lack of intimacy. We do not want to share their brokenness with them because it is ugly. Instead, we offer them to come to the building, hear a sermon, walk down forward and confess their sins and then we will pray for them. Good intentions but not enough. 

So here it is. Me and some friends of mine got together a few weekends ago to talk about this generation and what the church needs to do and what we came up with was nothing short of the Holy Spirit. We all admitted that we have failed to be intimate. Our marriages, our relationships with other men and women, our discipleship, our evangelism, our worship and our service. 

Here’s the problem…I don’t know how to solve it. How do you ask a church to become more intimate and change the way they do church in order to reach this generation? Also, how do you reach a church with intimacy issues who are in denial and say that they are ok? 

I don’t know but I am going to blog about it. These blogs are pro-Church and they are pro-Jesus (as if the two can be separated). I think we are just missing the boat somewhere and people are leaving and going elsewhere. So will the real church please stand up?    

***If you are from another denomination feel free to comment as I think the experience is normative across the evangelical board. 

Does the Bible offer hope to teenagers who live with emotional and spiritual pain?  What about all the suffering that exists in the world today?  What can we do as Christians to help others through these tough times?  In this post I want to share with you a few different ways to explain to teens how to endure pain and what God is ultimately doing to evil and suffering in the end.

The problem of our pain and suffering has a source and if we do not understand that source then we will not understand the solutions that God provides.  The problem that exists in this world is sin.  If we do not place the blame on sin, then we will not understand the answers God provides in the Bible.  Sin is the cause and reason for pain and suffering.

Sin began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:6).  We find in the rest of Genesis 3 that every area of life was dramatically affected by sin.  This sin has touched the world around us.  The entire message of the Bible from Genesis 3 on is how God is dealing with this sin problem.  Let us look at some of the solutions to this problem.

The first solution to the problem of evil and suffering is to understand your purpose.  The Bible tells us that our purpose is to know God (Philippians 3:10).  This may not give a solution but it may give you motivation to endure what you are going through.  There are two ways to find a purpose in your suffering.  The first is to know that God wants you holy, not happy (1 Peter 1:15).  This may mean that the suffering that is taking place is intended to make you a better person.  God does not care how happy you are if you are leading a life that will end up in hell!  The suffering that comes from our personal sin helps us turn back to God.  We must also remember that some of the things we endure make us look to a loving, heavenly Father for answers.  Another perspective from your purpose of knowing God is that the pain and suffering may be a test of spiritual maturity.  Do you love God for God’s sake, or for what you get from God?  Much of the pain we endure can bring about glory for God or can remind us about spiritual truths.  Death is a reminder of our short time on earth.  Suffering as a Christian can be a testament to others who see our faith.  Just enduring suffering with an understanding that God still loves us is an amazing tool for evangelism and encouragement.  These two areas of knowing God help us to look at pain, evil, and suffering differently.

The second solution to pain and suffering is that we need to understand that on the cross, Jesus did the ultimate judo move to sin.  If sin is the ultimate enemy, then what Jesus accomplished on the cross defeats its power.  What is the essence of the marital art of judo?  To use your enemy’s strengths against them!  Think about what Jesus does for us on the cross.  1) He defeated all the political evil that exists in the world.  He was tried and found guilty unjustly by Pontius Pilate.  2)  He also defeated all the religious evils.  The Pharisees and Sadducees called for his arrest and crucifixion.  3)  All the Satanic evil was defeated.  Satan entered Judas’ heart to turn Jesus over to the authorities.  These three areas were turned against themselves with Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection three days later.  There is hope for us all in the fact that the cross took the evil in the world and defeated it!

The third area is my personal favorite.  We need to understand that in the end God makes everything new!  Revelation 21:5 says this, “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”  Stop and think about this for just a second.  God does not say, “Behold, I am making all new things.”  What God says is that “I am making all things new,” in that order.  God, in the end, takes all that is wrong in the world and put it back to what is right!  Romans 8 gives an even clearer picture when it says in verse 21, “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”  Even the evils that fall on us from the physical world will be made right in the end!  The final message of the Bible is that in the end, God makes everything new!  What has existed in this sinful, broken world will be made right in the end.  Isn’t that more of what we long for than just a simple answer in the midst of our suffering?  

 As we close, I am reminded of the words of C. S. Lewis when we think of the day when Christ returns and turns all that is wrong back to the way God wants it to be.  Lewis says, “they say of some temporal suffering, ‘no future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”   Today, we eagerly wait for that glory and we need to understand that with Christ’s work on the cross all pain, evil, and suffering has been defeated!

Barry Throneberry has been the youth and family minister at the Highland Church of Christ for over 8 years.  He is married to Rebecca Schwartz Throneberry and writes a blog called Theology with Throneberry.  He is also part of the team that does the podcast.  His interests are in the areas of Theology, Spiritual Disciplines, and Apologetics.

I went into my room last night and saw a small cassette tape on the table.  We are long past the age of cassette tapes so I was curious about this and I picked up and noticed that it was a sermon I preached while I was an intern at Washington Avenue church of Christ in the summer of 2002.  I came to the church building this morning and searched for a cassette player and as I am typing this I am listening to my sermon entitled, “The Christian Soldier.”  It is a humbling task listening to the way I preached years ago because I thought I was a good preacher back then.  Some of the phrases I used and the theology I purported I think to myself, “How could I have been that naive?”  I even preached from the King James Version of Scripture!!!  I write this to you because it is not a bad thing to look at the skeletons in our closet. 

  • Looking at our past helps to shape us.
  • Looking at our past helps to comfort us and how far we have grown.
  • Looking at our past helps to center us if we have fallen. 

So what skeletons do you need to look at and get rid of in your closet?  What are those pet sins you have that keep you from a relationship with God?  So often we do not look at what’s deep in our hearts because we are scared at what we might find.  If we are scared to look at what’s inside then that should be a pause for concern.  A problem neglected is a spiritual life infected.  Think about that…I just made it up :).  A problem neglected is a spiritual life infected.  If I have a mold problem in my foundation neglecting it does not change it but actually the problem gets worse. 

So open your closet door, and get the skeletons out.  In honor of the KJV and my sermon…

“Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?  But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:  These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matt. 15:17-20). 

Christmas 1

November 29, 2010 — 7 Comments

The results of the poll are final and it looks like a total of 29 people voted and 65% of you believe that “Christmas”, in some form or fashion, should be celebrated in our congregations.  That is a majority of you but there is a large amount (10 people) who believe Christmas should not be celebrated.  The comments (click here) for the post were all positive and I did not receive negative feedback so I am just going to have to speak about negative comments as I have experienced.  To begin this series I want to first tell my story and then tell you where I want to go for the next few posts.  I did not grow up in the church of Christ (you know what that means) but was raised with a bend towards Christianity.  We celebrated Christmas like most Americans in that we exchanged gifts and met as a family to eat around the table and often we would attend my cousin’s church for their Christmas Eve worship that involved bells, organs, singing, a message and warm faces.  I believe Christmas was special for me because of the gifts but I also knew that it was important for the world because of this guy named Jesus and that he came to make everything right.  That’s all I knew.  For my family it was THE time of the year where we gathered as a family to share in laughter, story and even song.

Fast forward a few years and I was baptized in 1999 and my life changed as I knew it.  I remember my freshman year in college coming home for Christmas and attending the college class taught by a man I still admire to this day.  There was one gentleman in the class who was the disagreeable type but he was constantly searching for answers.  The discussion of Christmas came up and he stated, quite strongly, that Christians should not celebrate Christmas because the origins of this celebration are pagan.  Furthermore, he argued from Scripture that even having a Christmas tree was a form of idolatry (tree worship) that was practiced in the Old Testament (see Jer. 10:3-5, 32-33).  He also quoted Galatians 4:10 discussing that the observance of special days was not something Christians should do.  There was much debate over this at the time but I left feeling deeply discouraged for I thought that it was a good thing to talk about the birth of Jesus considering it was in Scripture.  I thought exchanging gifts was a means of giving out of your plenty and showing each other the true character of Jesus.

Here I am 11 years removed from that Wednesday night classroom and I am still discouraged.  I mentioned the word “Christmas” from the pulpit and I had someone come up to me after worship and shared this:

Person:  “Robbie, what’s the real reason for the season?”

Robbie:  “Why don’t you tell me?”

Person:  “We don’t know when Christ was born.”  (He was implying to me we should not talk about it)

I love this person but I could not disagree anymore and I feel strongly about this.  I want to offer a series of lessons discussing a real purpose for Christmas that is Scriptural and incarnational.  I will point out how the church actually is worse off for not emphasizing the real reason for Christmas.  There is a great possibility for us if we take this openly and honestly.

  • Lesson #2:  Origins of Christmas
  • Lesson #3:  Misconceptions of Christmas
  • Lesson #4:  Anticipating the Messiah
  • Lesson #5:  God in Flesh (Part 1)
  • Lesson #6:  God in Flesh (Part 2)
  • Lesson #7:  Objections Answered
  • Lesson #8:  Advent Implications

Stay tuned…

I’m so tired…

October 7, 2010 — 2 Comments

I believe the following phrase has hindered me from growing and excelling in ministry: “I wonder what ____________ will think about all of this.” Admit it, in your own network of people you work with it is those words that keep you from doing something that you feel is right but you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings.  It is necessary to consult people about your plans and often the thought of what ___________ would think has kept me out of trouble.  But I believe this is a fear tactic placed on us by none other than Satan himself.  I think he smiles when we don’t get something accomplished in our churches because we are scared of what ____________would think.  Often ______________ is the person who has all the money in the congregation and we don’t want to offend them because that would be a significant weekly drop in our contribution.

Leaders, you might call that fiscally responsible thinking, I call that sin.  I am not sure how many times I have squelched an idea because I was scared of what people would think.  Points I should have made in bible classes, retreats and sermons have gone by the wayside because fear has crippled me like salt on a slug.  Paul tells us:

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7)

Why do we get so afraid of what other people think?  If what Paul said is true then the very thing we hold on to does not (or at least should not) evoke fear rather it empowers us.

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”  (Romans 8:16)

Did you catch that?  We have God on our side.  We have the good guys and this means that nobody can question our salvation and of that we can and should be most assured.  Who cares what ____________ will think about this or that?  If we are following the will of God then who are they to question you?  They are probably just jealous, grumpy or like to pick fights because they are never wrong.

I am so tired of remaining stagnate in fear that someone might say something if I teach, believe or do certain things.  I am tired of the brotherhood watch-dogs who write in their bulletins, preach in their lectureships, and rebuke in their pamphlets little jots and tittles of what preachers are saying and doing.  I am tired of being scared to tell someone they are sinning in fear that they might reject me or that their parents would give me a verbal thrashing.  I am tired of not speaking up when I hear so much gossip and instead keeping quiet in fear that people won’t like me.  I am tired of not preaching/teaching things I believe in fear that it might cost me my job…I was afraid to even type that on my blog but I did it anyways.  I mean is it wrong to be able to disagree with each other on matters of opinion and still be called brothers and sisters?

God told Joshua: “Do not be afraid for I am with you” (Josh. 1:9).  I firmly believe that if we let fear grip us then we can never move on to the freedoms that are ours in Christ Jesus.  That’s all for now.

A lot on my mind today for a number of different reasons so I will try to keep this post near 1000 words ;).  I read the Tennessean this morning and saw that a “pastor” in Gainesville, Florida has plans to burn 200 copies of the Koran (Quran) on September 11 to memorialize what happened to the U.S. on 9/11/01 (see story here for a good response to this see Anderson Cooper’s CNN interview here).  It upsets me to see this and I hope that the emotive radicalism spurned by a few does not discredit the good of so many Christians out there.  Perhaps the same could be said for Islam as not every Muslim is a radical who believes all pagans should die.  I am not here to argue about this, the Islam community center plans near Ground Zero or any other facet of Islam but the nature of World Religions itself and what Youth Ministers should do about it. 

Jeremy Zach in his article, “5 Problems American Youth Ministry is Facing” at relates that one problem is that youth ministries contain weak teaching on other religions.     

“Our students need to know how to talk about other religions.  It’s unproductive when our students start talking down about other religions.  Especially when they are uninformed.  It is not good when it becomes ‘us’ versus ‘them’…I see more youth ministries teaching students the fundamentals of other religions while also educating  how to respect and admire them.” 

I think we border on sheer ignorance when we make claims of moral/spiritual superiority when we do not have a clue about what others believe.  The problem also lies in the FACT that most of us do not have a Muslim friend or a Buddhist contact or someone who believes something completely different from us.  I am not advocating that we become ecumenical but I AM advocating that we become educational and that we, like Jesus and Paul, get to know them.  In Acts 17:22-27 Paul learns of the Athenians and what they believe and what they teach.  Then he compliments them and then he teaches them about God.  It’s not hateful, it’s not coercion, it’s relational and incarnational. 

Let us learn what we can about others because last time I checked we ALL are created in the image of God (Imageo Dei) and all need Him.