Support Your Local Youth Pastor!

I am pro-local church.

That said…I am everlastingly grateful that God has called and equipped me to work in (oh, how I detest this term) “parachurch” ministry.

Why?

For one reason, because of the way many…if not most…churches treat their youth pastors/workers.

I write particularly of full-time, vocational youth pastors; though the premise is sadly applicable to all who work with teens in the context of a local church.

I’m not writing of the budget (or lack thereof), or the folks who gripe that the youth “mess up” the church…or their music is too loud…or their room is painted weirdly…though things like the aforementioned and so much more are “little foxes that spoil the vine.”

I write particularly of those church members/leadership who:

  • don’t like that the youth pastor talks about sex so much
  • don’t like that the youth pastor spends so much time at games, concerts, and plays that involve teens
  • don’t like that the youth pastor takes his kids to camps/programs/concerts that aren’t their particular denomination or favorite “ism”
  • don’t like that the youth group is allowing “those” types of teens to attend
  • don’t like that the youth pastor is encouraging students to ask their parents to pray and/or study the Word with them
  • don’t like that the youth pastor occasionally challenges students to think about the level of their commitment to sports

Yes, I’ve heard all of those and more…some of them during times when I was serving as a part time youth pastor in a church whilst they looked for a full time guy or girl.

Too many church types want “their” youth group to be a social club for the church kids…only. Why do they feel that way? Probably because that’s how they look at church themselves.

After all, the great commission, obedience, discipleship, mentoring, holiness etc are great things to talk about (or listen to); but, gee whiz, you don’t want to complicate my already busy life with actually doing something, do you?

Thus when a youth group starts rolling as a group of Christians seeking to love, obey, and share the Lord (in other words, to be the church) that group can and does make a lot of the church folks nervous…and thus they take out their arrows to shoot at the youth pastor.

And that stinks.

Bad.

An Out-of-Context-Sort-Of BOOM!

W hat follows is written by Seth Godin. I have no idea where he stands with Christ, but his writings are well worth reading.

This is from today’s blog entry, and I have not changed a syllable. 

He certainly is not writing about the church…but it sure does fit. I believe, however inadvertently, he nails with a sniper rifle the infections that have permeated most of the professing church for a couple decades.

Read it, think about it, and let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

If, of course, you’re willing to think…

If you want to reach more people, if you’re measuring audience size, then the mantra of the last twenty years has been simple: make it dumber.

Use clickbait headlines. Short sentences. Obvious ideas. Little nuance. Don’t make people uncomfortable or ask them to stretch. Remind them that they were right all along. Generate a smile or a bit of indignation. Most of all, dumb it down.

And it works.

For a while.

And then someone comes along who figures out how to take your version of dumbness and go further than you were willing to go. Until everything becomes the National Enquirer.

While this downward cycle of dumb continues to be passed from hand to hand, a few people headed in the other direction. Measuring not the size of the audience, but their engagement, their commitment and the change that was possible.

This is an upward cycle, a slow one, a journey worth going on.

Dumber is an intentional act, a selfish trade for mass. It requires us to hold something back, to avoid creating any discomfort, to fail to teach. Dumber always works in the short run, but not in the long run.

Don’t confuse dumber with simpler. Simpler removes the unnecessary and creates a better outcome as a result. But dumber does little but create noise.

Everyone owns a media company now. Even media companies. And with that ownership comes a choice, a choice about the people we serve, the words we use and the change we seek to make.

It’s only a race to the bottom if we let it be one.

>Church versus other "Institutions"

>

“All other institutions serve good and honorable purposes at present, but they await termination at the day of Christ’s return. The church, in contrast, awaits Christ’s return as a day of consummation, when as the bride of Christ she will take her place at the wedding banquet of the Lamb (Eph. 5:22–32; Rev. 19:9–10).”
— David VanDrunen
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1433514044&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr 

>Top Ten Signs of….

>

The Top Ten Signs Of…
10.    There’s plenty of parking near the building for weekend services.  
9.      You can always get your favorite seat, or simply ask who is sitting in it to move.
8.      The music is always familiar, and never too loud.
7.      The pastor has been in everyone’s home, and knows everybody’s name.
6.      You are never asked for money.  
5.      Phrases like, “We’ve never done it that way before,” “I’m not being faithless, just realistic,” “Why pray?  God’s gonna do what God’s gonna do,” “If God wants His church to grow it will grow – we don’t have to do anything,” and “They really should do something about that” are common refrains.
4.      You can be confident that whatever change there is will be incremental, insignificant, and will only happen with your direct input and approval.
3.      There aren’t any of those left-leaning, evolution-believing, gay-marriage supporting, Harry Potter reading pagans daring to attend; just the pro-family, Christian-radio listening, fish-sticker wearing, big-Bible carrying types.
2.      The Bible is seldom taught in ways that are uncomfortable or challenging.
1.      It is always about you – getting fed, getting ministered to, with services evaluated by what you get out of it.
Yep, there you have it.  The top ten signs of
…a dying church.
James Emory White

>Secret of Appreciating Church

>This is by Hunter Baker via ZACH NIELSON

The secret of the church is not that it is some business to be run or a show designed to catch curious onlookers. The secret of the church is that is a community. It is a place where you belong and where people know you. In other words, it is a lot like the old bar on the television show Cheers. And it helps you to live the Christian life. In the church, you will become aware of what is going on in other people’s lives and they will learn about your life. You will pray with each other and minister to needs. Christianity is not meant to be practiced in isolation.

So, stop shopping for a church. Stop sampling. Don’t fall for all the hype of a Disneyworld experience with a Christian aura around it. Don’t chase after a superstar preacher. You can hear that on your iPod. Feel free to contribute to that ministry. But find a church where you can be part of a community of people who know each other and will help one another live the Christian life, sometimes as helpers and sometimes by being in need and providing an opportunity for others to help.

>"Gospel-Centered" – What Does It Mean?

>Beatles - Sgt Pepper
“. . . a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”  Luke 7:34

What does it mean for a church to be gospel-centered?  That’s a popular concept these days.  Good.  What if we were scrambling to be law-centered?  But the difference is not so easy in real terms.

A gospel-centered church holds together two things.  One, a gospel-centered church preaches a bold message of grace — so bold that it becomes the end of the law for all who believe.  Not our performance but Christ’s performance for us.  Not our sacrifices but his sacrifice for us.  Not our superiority but only his worth and prestige.  The good news of substitution.  The good news that our okayness is not in us but exterior to us in Christ alone.  Climbing down from the high moral ground, because only Christ belongs up there.  That message, that awareness, that clarity.  Every Sunday.

Two, a gospel-centered church translates that theology into its sociology.  The good news of God’s grace beautifies how we treat one another.  In fact, the horizontal reveals the vertical.  How we treat one another reveals what we really believe as opposed to what we think we believe.  It is possible to say, “We are a gospel-centered church,” and sincerely mean it, while we make our church into a law-centered social environment.  We see God above lowering his gun, and we breathe a sigh of relief.  But if we are trigger-happy toward one another, we don’t really get it yet.

A gospel-centered church looks something like this album cover — my all-time favorite.  A gospel-centered church is a variegated collection of sinners.  They come together and stick together because they have nothing to fear from their message or their culture.  The theology creates the sociology, and the sociology incarnates the theology.

The one deal-breaker in a gospel-centered church: anyone for any reason turning it into a culture of legal demandingness and negative scrutiny.  Few would do that in the theology, of course.  But still, a church with a message of grace can stop being gospel-centered in real terms.

A major part of pastoral ministry is preaching the doctrines of grace and managing an environment of grace.
 
The latter is harder to accomplish than the former.  It is more intuitive.  It requires more humility and self-awareness.

May the Friend of sinners grant beautiful gospel-centricity in all our churches.

RAY ORTLUND