Archives For Ministry

I have had little time to process all of the lessons, classes and discussions.  I thought I would relay some meanderings here that might help participants of NCYM, fellow youth ministers, church members and everyone else. I wish to do this in a sort of “lessons learned” format.

  1. For Youth Ministers, there is much to learn. I made the comment to a vendor at the conference that I have been in youth ministry for 8 1/2 years and feel like I still need to learn every day. Every… single… day.
  2. Never underestimate the healing of intense worship. Just about every speaker who was not COC commented on how beautiful the acapella singing was in the worship. Each night I felt myself drawn to the father through worship with a few hundred other folks who were bowing at the throne.
  3. We need the church. I heard this a few times in lessons and discussions. As broken and imperfect as the church is we need her. Why? She is the bride of Christ and the kingdom of God runs with, through and from her.
  4. Those in ministry need to be light before they can be leaders. Too often we are put to the front lines of leadership without really understanding what it means to “walk in the light.” We cannot lead a student to a place we have never been.
  5. The Church of Christ is still a beautiful place for students, families and the world to be participants of the kingdom of God. You say the word “Church of Christ” and people start freaking out and there are even some who are embarrassed by the name. We are not perfect folks (What denomination is?) but we are striving to be biblical, to listen to God, to seek the lost and to make heaven a reality here on earth.
  6. I am not the only fish in the sea. That applies positively and negatively.  Sometimes I think I am the only one going through struggles and conferences like this reassure me that I am not alone. On the flip side, often I think I have the best idea or my youth ministry is somehow better than others and discussions with other people humble me knowing there are far better youth ministries than the one I am serving.
  7. Theology matters. I wonder if people’s perception of a conference is that we go to worship and talk about our problems and then come home somewhat refreshed. Realistically, we spend a lot of time talking about the biblical text and wrestling with it and it’s implications in our ministries. I was refreshed to see how many people cared about Scripture. It was warming.

What would you guys add?



I am writing this from the Denver airport as my time to fly is upon me. I will give a few highlights from Day 3.

Wednesday Morning Mike Cope “Community in Lars and the Real GirlHebrews

  • It’s a movie about church, it begins in church and ends in church.
  • Hebrews
    • Imagining a world where we are not our own.
    • Somebody who watches for you.
    • The real test for community is the worst things you have done who is up there watching you.

Wednesday Morning Keynote Scot McKnight @ScotMcKnight “Did Jesus Found the Church?”

Major Idea: The church is naughty and the kingdom is nice

–       People today love the kingdom but are embarrassed by the church

–       The kingdom has come to mean “good things Christians do in the public sector usually involved in the political process.”

  • It has nothing to do with the church…people say
  • Social Justice? Where did we get this idea of social justice? There is one idea of justice in Scripture. Justice is connected to righteousness and justification.
  • Peace…compassion…walking from Cape Town to Alexandria raising money for water.

–       Kingdom has been flattened into an ethic: peace, justice.

–       “When we flatten kingdom to an ethic we deny the gospel.”

–       We have a young group of Christians whose kingdom theory has to do with changed political processes and are neglecting the church.

  • But…doing good in a society is a good thing.
  • Being compassionate is a good thing.
  • Working for peace in our world is a good thing.
  • But we do this because we are disciples of Jesus.

–       Good work versus Kingdom work

  • Did Ghandi do kingdom work?

–       The most profound act of kingdom work is when we celebrate Eucharist on Sunday morning.

–       “You cannot be committed to kingdom unless you are committed to the church and your commitment to the church is the sum total of your commitment to the kingdom.”

–       It is far too easy giving money to Rwanda and not to local people in the church.

–       Matthew 16:13-20

  • Their options to the question were not good enough.
  • Jesus was more than a prophet.  Prophetic Christianity is not enough.
  • The answer is that Jesus is messiah.
  • 1 Samuel 8—“They want a king because they want to be like other nations.”
    • Saul collapse
    • David…
    • Eventually they realize that Jesus is the king.
  • Peter labels Jesus with the right title. When the Messiah was said all the ideas came to completion: Temple, Torah, Land, Citizens, Command, Covenant.

–       When Jesus is the Messiah kingdom will always mean more than social justice.

–       Peter had no idea what Messiah really meant.

  • Messiah –> Kingdom –> Cross –> Resurrection –> Kingdom
  • Kingdom and social justice does not mix well.

–       Jesus came to establish a whole new social order. The ekklesia….the church.

–       There is an inextricable connection between kingdom and church.

–       Church is the only place kingdom work can occur because in the church is the only place where Jesus is king.

–       Kingdom never refers to social action in Scripture.

  • We have become intoxicated with social power and justice.

–       The kingdom is more than an ethic because Jesus is more than a prophet.

–       Kingdom work is about telling people about King Jesus.  Summoning people in the church as the place where God’s redemptive work is now alive.

Wednesday Afternoon Jon Acuff @JonAcuff “Our Relationship With the Gap”

Our job is hard because…

1)   We never feel it is over…

2)   There’s no manual for most of the things you do

3)   The success rate is really low for youth ministers

4)   You run into a period of life most people run from

  1. 1 out of every 4 girl will be raped by the time they graduate

5)   We don’t get to see the end of the song.

Three things of the challenges


–       It’s so easy to compare.

–       Never compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle.

–       Always play to the size of your heart not to the size of your audience.

–       If you tie what you do to the success/failure of it you will disappoint.

–       Measure your obedience not your results

–       God will not be handcuffed by my failures or unleashed by my successes.

2)   FEAR

–       It only bothers you when you do things that matter.

–       Voices?

  • You are not a youth minister…
  • You are woman.

–       The best way to fight those is to share those. Fears fears community.

–       The higher you climb in leadership the harder it is for you to be honest.

–       “Enough” is a slippery slope

–       If you ask “fear” when you will have enough experience it will be later.

–       Fear always says, “This is forever.”

–       What to do with voices

  • Write down the voice…
  • Answer it with truth
  • Share them


–       We are not good with criticism and compliments

  • Critic’s Math – 1 Insult + 1000 Compliments = 1 Insult
  • We have the ability to lose heart with insults.
  • Are you giving power to the very people you don’t need to give it to.

Those were the extent of my notes. I did not attend an afternoon class because I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Scot McKnight and Rusty Pettus for an hour and talk theology. Scot was gracious enough to extend some time just to talk and share some coffee. He even bought my coffee which he did not have to do. Before I close this blog I want to share something I did on my way back from Denver. I visited the Century 16 Theater in Aurora where 12 people were killed by James Holmes. Tragedy. Just like praying at Columbine I wanted to reflect and pray at the theater. To the left is a picture I took while driving to the theater.

Tomorrow I hope to reflect on the week with some implications.

Great day I experienced with classes, super-sessions and keynote messages from some of the finest people in Christianity. I typed 10 pages of notes yesterday so I cannot include everything here but I want to give you some highlights that stood out to me.

Tuesday Morning, Mike Cope “Spiritual Intubation: How Community Keeps Us Alive” The Wizard of Oz: Revelation’s View of Community

  • “No church ever existed in a pure state. The church is made up of sinners. The fleas come with the dogs.” (Eugene Peterson)
  • Four characters who are known by their deficiencies. Much like Christians today.
  • Showing of who Oz really is. “The great Oz has spoken, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
  • Pergamum
    • It’s a great distance from Colorado Springs to Pergamum.
    • In Pergamum it was very, very different.
    • Everywhere people went they told two stories: the power of Rome and Greek gods and goddesses. Everywhere they went they are told that they are caught up in and how could they not believe it. It “has to be true.”  Every market, athletic event, silver item told them about temple worship.
    • Where is the Pergamum church of Christ?
      • A tiny…insignificant few.
      • Imagine holding on to the story of Jesus while walking among the temples and other places where the minority is huge.
      • Have you been the minority?
      • Power, honor, identity was wrapped up into gods and Rome not Christ.
    • Persecuted Christians get it
    • “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.” G. K. Chesteron
  • Deep Community is anchored in Jesus
  • Deep community has to be eschatological in nature.
  • Deep community is at its best when it is part of a mission…a larger story.

Tuesday Morning Keynote Kurt Johnston @kurtjohnston “Deep, Redefined”

  • Have you ever stopped and thought about all the things in youth ministry that you don’t do very well? We are great at trying to control the perceptions of other people. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great at creating perception of us.
  • Four truths I have learned that have 1) pointed out my shallowness and 2) led him into a deeper experience in faith.
    • Life is a squiggle
    • I need a travel partner
    • Busyness will keep you in the shallow end.
    • When you begin to have a long view of youth ministry

Tuesday Super Session Frank Viola @FrankViola “The Missing Ingredient”

Observations about ministry to young people:

  • Catch30 Crisis – Human beings go through developmental stages as they get old. When they are 30 they reassess every decision they made in their 20s and they either abandon what hey believed or abandon them. You don’t know where someone is spiritually until they are thirty. You could not serve in the house of God until you were 30. Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was 30. Young people need to be prepared for this.
  • There is a difference between youthful enthusiasm and spirituality. Most of the big Christian movements are built on youthful enthusiasm. The problem is that many operates on youthful enthusiasm and the well runs dry
  • You can’t pass on to those whom you minister to what you have not experienced yourself.
  • I have to prepare them for the forgotten beatitude. Blessed is he who is not offended by me.

Other Notes from class…

  • If you cut the bible in any place it will bleed Jesus Christ.
  • Moses and Christ
  • Creation and Christ
  • Isaac and Christ
  • Jacob and Christ
  • Conclusion  – #1 – Find Christ in the bible. #2 – Do business with the Lord

Tuesday Afternoon Class 1 Josh Graves @JoshGraves “The Bible Jesus Read: Genesis 1-2”

2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 5

  • We need a more mystical understanding of Scripture. But also how it calls us to new spaces.
  • “All Scripture” does not exist yet and he has in mind Torah.
  • Inspired…he does not infallible, inerrant. They never show up in the bible. Sometimes the most important work we do is not learning new things but relearning old things.
  • 2 Timothy is not about proving Scripture over science but it is about inviting people into God’s world in order to see the world differently and “to do something about it.”
  • These stories carry the freight in any given culture.

Genesis 1

  • God can’t help but to create. He is in control. The things God creates would not be believable if we have not seen them.
  • Everything else that has creativity or imagination that somehow it is all linked back to the God who started.
  • One of the ways Genesis invites us to go deeper and that we live in a good creation. Does not deny the dark side of life but he made everything and called it good.
  • Most people who tell the story of God begin with Genesis 3 and not Genesis 1.
  • We have to introduce paradox to our students. Life is full of joy and pain. Paradox is one of the greatest contribution to the Western world.

Tuesday Afternoon Class 2 Sally Gary @centerpeaceinc “Reaching out to Teens Who Identify as Gay and Lesbians”

Many who struggle with same sex attraction but still love the Lord.  Struggles do not divide us.

Starved for Intimacy. Facebook and its struggles for intimacy. Question is: How can we meet this need? This desire for community. There is a great need for this connection.

What teens learn from the world: Glee, Modern Family.

What teens learn from the church: Nasty messages about homosexuals from the church

What they need is looking for a safe place.

How to be a safe place?

Deal with our own fears.

  • Change our thinking
  • Change our language
  • Listen
  • Be consistent
  • Model the Love and Acceptance of Christ

Tuesday Night Keynote Frank Viola @FrankViola “God so loved the world vs. Love not the world.”

The world in the New Testament is used in two ways…

  1. Speaks of the material universe. Jesus of Nazareth is this world’s true Lord.
  2. A system or network or order of things designed to draw us away from God.

Historically Christians have taken two postures: 1) Retreated from the world’s system (Isolationism) 2) Enmeshed by the world and married to it.

The most miserable person is a Christian who is living in a way where deep inside them they are told to give something up and they can’t. When we are in community with other Christians the Holy Spirit is clearest.

The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is of the world.

2 Kind of legalists: 1) Salvation by works 2) I am going to take what the Holy Spirit has shown me personally and make it a law to you.

“The gospel spreads best not through force but through fascination” (Shane Claiborne)

Dinner in Colorado Springs: Uchenna Ethiopian Restaurant

This was ranked #2 in Colorado Springs by TripAdvisor and it was awesome. I had Yebeg Alecha which was tender pieces of lamb marinated with butter then sautèed with ginger, garlic, and 12 spices. There were no forks but you had this roll that you put the meat and the sauce in. It was excellent. The owner’s name is Maya and they cooked everything to order so it took a while but the food was worth it. They have mostly organic food and a substantial vegetarian menu. I have never tried authentic Ethiopian cuisine but this was a must! Went a left the owner looked at me and said, “Go in peace.” I love her already.



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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Technically the conference starts today but I flew in early yesterday rented a car and had a day for myself. That sounds pretty selfish but with a wife and four kids, a student ministry of 30 kids, a part-time job and other things on my plate I rarely take a day just for me…. so I did. Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 wrote, “What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.” I don’t think my work is meaningless (or vapor as the Hebrew indicates) but I do think we get to a point that if we do not take a day and do nothing then toil can be imminent if not definite. So here is what I did…but don’t judge me on the first thing. (See all pictures below…)

Coors Brewery Tour (Golden, Colorado)

IMG_3525I know I am probably going to get slammed for this but if it helps you I did not drink anything but water. Having said that it was a free tour to see how beer was made. It was a fascinating tour and I learned a lot about something I was ignorant in and it was helpful to me. As I was on the tour though I could not help but to think of all the money and time spent on a drink that will lead a lot of people to do some really dumb things. So I prayed a lot on the tour and reflected.

Columbine High School (Littleton, Colorado)

IMG_3530I vividly remember when the shootings occurred in 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold showed up to school and killed 13 people and then ended their own lives. I pulled up to the high-school and noticed that it was a picturesque setting. It was in the middle of middle to upper-class suburban homes with a beautiful mountain setting in the back. It just did not seem that such a shooting should have occurred here but those are assumptions on my part. I felt broken and humbled at the violence that occurred here. All I could do was pray for their families. The parents of Klebold, Harris and all of the other victims as they still search for answers they may never get.

Food and what I am doing right now…

I love researching places to eat and often frequent the app Urbanspoon to see local dives and hot spots. I found a neat place in Colorado Springs called Bird Dog BBQ which was excellent. I had the brisket which was tender and flavored to perfection. I am on a diet so I coupled that with baked beans some corn and toast. It was amazing. Highly recommend. Right now I am writing this from the Agia Sophia Coffee Shop in Old Colorado City. It is a wonderful setting that serves as a coffee shop, food connoseur and nesting ground for discussions about religion, politics and life. I love places like this where I can work, drink coffee and enjoy a tremendous view of the mountains.

I assure you now the next time I write it will be more about ministry and less about tourist attractions. I plan on wandering the city a little bit and discovering neat things to do/see. Our conference starts later. Pray for me. Enjoy the pictures…


Some things just get a person in trouble. Many of us have been guilty of writing that scathing e-mail where we use ALL CAPS to get our point across and later regretted we even sent that e-mail. Or maybe you wrote that blog post with every intention of settling the score once-and-for-all only to have 44 comments of people bickering about how wrong you were. Or maybe… just maybe… you were preaching from a book in Scripture and a sermon fell on a particularly controversial passage (say Matt. 19:3-12.. or any thing related to M.D.R. for you coC friends) and you presented a different view and received scathing comments. Either way there has to be some advice one should receive before sending “that” e-mail, preaching “that” sermon or writing “that” article. I have come up with a few suggestions:

  • What is your purpose? Some controversy should just be avoided altogether and your opinion on the matter, albeit important for your faith formation, will probably solve nothing and might even stir the pot a little more. Consider your motives and read 1 Corinthians 16:14 and then write the post.
  • If you can’t take the heat, then stay out of the kitchen. There is a reason why some people avoid the controversy as they do not want to deal with the fallout. This is especially important if your leadership has to deal with some of the darts people throw at you. A leadership may not want to deal with the extra stress so if you don’t have the tools and people to back-up what you say then don’t say it.
  • Let someone older and wiser read what you have to say before you publish it (Prov. 15:22). There are some things I have preached on that were controversial that could have been polished more with the eyes of an older and wiser Christian. I may have said the right thing but I probably said it in the wrong manner.
  • Sticks and stones may break my bones AND words will still hurt me. Be very careful when you label someone. Words like “liberal” and “legalist” and “sacrilegious” and others are probably not helpful, especially when you have not talked with the source. Bashing people online (“trolling”) is a passive-aggressive form of bullying and is weak, cheap and cowardly.

Did I miss anything?

If you follow my posts then you probably know that I have a tendency of getting annoyed. We all get annoyed of various things for various reasons. I will give you a few things that annoy me…

  • Parents who fall into the comparison trap.
  • Men who pee on the toilet seat. You women thought you were the only ones who hated this!
  • People who chew food with their mouth open or who smack their lips.
  • People who talk, text, or check their phones while I am trying to have a conversation.
  • People who have more than 20 items in the 20-items-or-less check-out lane.
  • Complainers, whiners and those who love to bicker.
  • Anyone in ministry who cares more about their title, position or status than they do about the gospel.

I could go on and on. You get the point. So how do you handle those pesky little things that annoy you. Here are some suggestions…

  • Be a peace-maker (Matt. 5:9; Rom. 12:18). If what annoys you is simply something that is your opinion then try to be peaceable with people. What makes you right about this over them?
  • Check your attitude (Phil. 2:1-11).
  • Ask some discerning questions. Why am I acting this way? Why am I so easily bothered about this?
  • Confront those who annoy you in a loving way. If someone is texting during a meeting you are holding do not lash out sarcastically at them in front of everybody simply ask that we turn our phones off before the meeting.
  • Finally, use what annoys you as an opportunity to learn about you, about people and about God.


I need corrective lenses to see well but if I do not have them I can get by. I have pretty good vision but with my contacts I have perfect vision. This past week on vacation one of my lenses broke and I failed to bring an extra pair so I was left without perfect vision for two days. An important lesson came to mind: Almost perfect vision is still not perfect vision.

I find the story of Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52) intriguing because it was a blind man who confessed Jesus was the son of David while the disciples struggled to do so. A man who has no vision seems to have more vision than those who have it. Ironic? I thought about not being able to see perfectly and it reminded me of a few lessons related to church and youth ministry:

  • After a while it becomes more and more difficult to function.
  • What is at stake is our ability (or inability) to focus on important issues.
  • I did not notice the details like I should have.
  • I never knew how much I could not see until I put my contact lenses on.

So what would you add to this?

A Gay Response

July 20, 2012 — 2 Comments

I know I am a little late but I was intrigued by the recent “coming out” of news correspondent Anderson Cooper who is a prolific journalist/reporter for CNN. Cooper is just another individual in a long string of people who have announced to the world that they are gay. I thought about blogging then but waited until I can read some more and then a magnificent post came out by Craig Gross who is Pastor of the He wrote a fabulous article for CNN called, “My Take: Will there be gays in heaven? Will there be fat people?” He said this:

In 1 Corinthians, the Bible says don’t indulge your body with food or sex: “‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,’ and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”

I have always heard people go this direction when discussing the issue of homosexuality. Quite frankly I can almost anticipate someone who speaks about the sin of homosexuality and then their wardrobe of selected verses. Gross made this comment that got me thinking:

If you indulge your body with sex via pornography, affairs, strippers or hookers, and your secrets are exposed, you will not be preaching on Sunday. Sexual sin is not tolerated in our churches. If clergy are caught in these things, they’re disqualified.

What if you indulge your body with food? Well, then you can pastor some of the largest churches on the planet and have the most successful broadcasts on the religious channels and sell a lot of books.

Same biblical passage, same sin. Why is one accepted and one rejected? Why is it that religious folks want to camp out on a few things rather then all things?

Why do they believe that the gay guy goes to hell but the fat preacher who builds some of the largest churches in the world makes it to heaven?

He concludes by pointing out that the road to sanctification for the homosexual is much like that of a person losing 100 lbs. It does not happen overnight but it takes a while. He points to the need for churches to be more open in practicing community with gay people instead of ostracizing them to the corners of the disenfranchised. Whether you agree with his post is irrelevant because I think the underlying issue he unearths is what we in the evangelical world struggle with: Do we really care for gay people like we do heterosexual people?

Look at any evangelical church infrastructure and you will notice committees delegated with the task of reaching a specific need. A mission’s committee, a youth committee, a benevolence committee, a women’s ministry committee, a prison ministry and on and on the ministries go yet I wonder how many committees exist to find ways to reach those who are gay. I don’t think developing a committee approach is the answer but it should prick our hearts that Jesus spent a majority of his time with sinners and the marginalized and most church-goers only surround themselves with people they fundamentally agree with.

I wonder if our churches are even safe places to harbor those who are gay.

A church should be the safest place for a person to say, “I am gay,” yet that is the last place a gay person wants to share this news.

Or even someone who is alcoholic.

Or even someone who is addicted to porn.

Or even someone who is addicted to drugs.

Or even someone who is having an affair.

Why? Church has become a place for those who have already got it together instead of a place for those to get things together. We have become saints who are once and for all sanctified instead of sinners who are continually seeking sanctification. I wonder what our churches need to do to help gay people in their journey of sanctification. I wonder what if we spent more time and energy focused on helping gay people, drunk people, addicted people and people who need us instead of paying the different ministers, and building projects and on and on.

What would a church look like if it really welcomed sinners like that…like you…like me?

Starting June 1st I decided that I would take a break from Facebook until August 1st so that I could devote more time to the ministry, to my family and to my God. I must say that I still have not done very well at all three but not checking Facebook all the time has helped. I will make a confession that I got on Facebook a couple of times because I had to send someone a Camp Staff Packet who does not check their email. But I did not browse nor check updates or messages. Just sent a message. Whew…I feel better after that!

When I first started with my Facebooklessness there were some mental challenges, nay devilish temptations, that I had to overcome:

  • What if I missed a ministry opportunity?
  • What if I missed some important information that came on?
  • What if a door was opened on Facebook and I miss it because of this “fast”?

On and on came the temptations and pretty soon I came to the conclusion that if something were important enough to occur on Facebook two things were bound to happen:

  1. Either God was going to reveal this door to me some other way (he can do that you know?) or,
  2. God was going to put someone else there instead of me to help that situation.

Either way I felt as if God was in control and that he either uses me or does not use me but either way he gets the glory.

As I am halfway through my journey I wanted to give you some lessons I have learned (am learning) about my facebooklessness:

  1. You don’t know how dependent you can be on something until it is taken away from you. Learning to do without is a lot harder and takes more self-control than having it all.
  2. I never realized how much Facebook was about gossip. In the conversations I have had with people I noticed there is the “Did you see what they had on Facebook?” It has been a real joy to be able to say, “No.”
  3. The world still goes on without my participation. I used to think I had to contribute to Facebook so that people who are (supposedly) interested in me could stay aware of my whereabouts, studies, pictures, etc. The fact is that out of my 1000+ friends only 10-15% probably look at my statuses. Score a 10-15% on a test and the teacher might consider you completely useless.
  4. I am not tempted as much. Please don’t read into this much but I am a male and part of my struggle is the opposite sex. Most guys appreciate the female anatomy and most (if they are honest) struggle when women wear revealing clothes or, as is the case with Facebook, little-to-no clothes. I don’t have to look at girls (sisters-in-Christ?) and their proud pictures of bikini’s as they pop-up on my news feed. I don’t have to get frustrated by that because I don’t see it at all.  It has been a blessing.
  5. Time has been diverted to what’s most important. I will say that I have spent hours more this month than last month with my kids. Why? Simple…time. I don’t look at my phone for updates, or messages or anything because it does not matter.

Facebook is not intrinsically evil but like many things can be used for both good and bad. Fasting may not be for you but I have really grown from it. I look forward to another Facebookless month. Try it.