Thursday, March 25, 2010

I SHOULD be Working on my Newsletter Article...

As the title of today's post says... I should be working on my article for our church newsletter The Lamplighter. Sigh. That's a fail. But in my defense, I was inspired for this blog while I was attempting at getting inspired for The Lamplighter. I was going through my favorite books (most of them written by the authors I mentioned in my last post) and looking through what I had underlined/highlighted to see if I could get any ideas. I got ideas... but my Lamplighter article needs to be much shorter than the ideas I had. Again... failing at writing my lamplighter article.

Anyways, I came across this quote in Donald Miller's book Searching for God Knows What and it really hit me today. "The greatest comfort I can feel in the middle of this is that Jesus did not lend Himself to war causes, to tax issues or political campaigns. For that matter, He did not lend Himself to raising money for education or stumping for affirmative action. It was as if He did not trust us to build a utopia. He kept it very simple, in fact. Follow me, He said. I have no opinion about what color the paint should be in this prison. Follow me."

First, it gives me comfort about my view of politics, especially with recent events in our government. I have my opinions about politics but I usually try to keep them to myself. 1) because where I am at right now, not a whole lot of people agree with me and I choose to pick my battles. 2) I honestly don't feel like I know enough about politics to voice my opinion. I just don't keep up with it enough. After reading that quote... I feel better about admitting this.

Second, it made me think about the ministry God has me doing here in Cape Girardeau. I COMPLETELY agree with what Donald Miller has to say. What Jesus asks is very simple, "follow me." That's it. He doesn't ask us to build huge church buildings, design amazing youth programs, redecorate the youth room, etc. He just wants us to follow him. It's something I long for in our church today. Make everything simpler. Follow Jesus.

A book I have recently read that I think every person who is involved in youth ministry, or the church for that matter, should read. It's called Youth Ministry 3.0. It's brilliant. It's everything that I always want to say about youth ministry but don't know how. Mark Oestreicher (the author) does a fantastic job of breaking down what we have done in youth ministry in the past and where we need to go. At one point he says "One of the most important, dangerous, and courageous steps that any youth ministry needs to take if it's going to make the shift from Youth Ministry 2.0 [the "purpose-driven" type of model] to Youth Ministry 3.0 is to cut programs."

YES! HALLELUJAH! sang the church choir inside of Emily's head.

Then I look at my life and what I am doing. I feel like I am doing the exact opposite. I see myself sitting in my cozy little church office/cubicle finding ways to make our youth programs better, how to bring more youth into our church walls, writing surveys, rearranging and buying new stuff for the youth building. Sigh. Fail. Maybe.

Are these things individually wrong? I don't think so. Sometimes you need to get work done in your church office. If programs are what work for your youth group, improving them is great. Bringing more youth into the church building can be awesome depending on what you do once they get there. Surveys can be a good way to get feedback. If your building has great potential and could be use effectively then improving it is a good thing. But where do you draw the line?

How do you know when you're focusing too much on the paint of the prison instead of simply following Jesus?

Do you ever feel paralyzed? You know what your vision is, you know what you want, and you know what direction God wants you to go, or at least you think you do; but then you turn around and go back to habits that you know probably won't be effective but do it anyways. What do you do when you get in a rut?

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