Monday, June 27, 2011


I missed blogging last week because I was on a mission trip to Puerto Rico. I did not have access to the internet down there most of the time except on my phone and I am not sure I would enjoy typing something up from my phone.
Now I am back and we have been focusing on what we can learn from the David Kinnaman book UnChristian. This book shares some of the views that young people (between the ages of 16-29) outside of Christianity have of us as Christians. One view they have is that Christians just want to get converts. They have felt that Christians are just out to get bigger numbers for the membership roles or to get a notch in their belt.
This view has been propelled by evangelists who have very professional presentations. Young people see this as marketing tricks to get people to "buy" their product. This view also becomes real for young people when they are abandoned by Christians once they turn down an offer to attend church or a Bible study. They feel written off and as if the Christian did not really care about them. The main concern of young outsiders is that they want Christians to genuinely care about them and not just try to convert them.
I do not want to just give you more gimmicks or a to-do list on how to share your faith. I just want to encourage you to build relationships with people outside the Christian faith. Not in order to convert them, but because they are a child of God.
While in Puerto Rico I was reminded of this calling to build relationships. We had two projects to be done by our group in my mind. Half of the group was going to work with some kids; do crafts, sing songs, teach a lesson. That group was going to build relationships. My group was there for work projects. We repaired two church roofs, painted, moved a wall, replaced 31 shutter cranks and a few other things
A couple of days in Puerto Rico our hosts wanted to take us site seeing or to visit a ministry and inside I was frustrated. I wanted to get the work done. If we did not have those distractions we could get more work done. My mind was not on building relationships.
However, God kept calming me down until I finally realized that this trip was about building relationships and not work projects. Sure the work was nice, but I need to take my time to get to know these new friends. One night I had a chance to sit and chat with one of these new friends and I learned so much from that talk. God reminded me to slow down and take the time to ask questions and hear someone's story.
My prayer for you and for me is that this lesson will not just be for mission trips, but everyday. That every day I will take the time to slow down and get to know someone instead of just working on projects. People are not projects, they are loved children of God. They are our brothers and sisters and God wants us to get to know them and care about them. God also wants us to share our faith with them as we build that relationship. This is not to just convert them, but it is to let them know about something that has changed our lives and it could change theirs if they want.
So let's keep building what is important, relationships.

Monday, June 13, 2011

An Accurate Stereotype

85% of young people outside of Christianity view Christians as hypocrites. I call this an accurate stereotype. I found this description in a list of oxymorons. Stereotypes are by definition not entirely true, but if it is accurate, then it is true. And this describes Christian hypocrites well. A hypocrite is someone who says one thing and does another. And it is true that Christians do this, but I think it is also true that most everyone does this.
These same young outsiders that say Christians are hypocrites also agreed that everyone else is hypocritical from time to time, so it is not that big of a deal that Christians are. It does not bother them that much because Christians are just like everyone else when it comes to saying one thing and doing another.
Their problem comes when Christians do not admit their hypocrisy. It bothers them when Christians try to act as if their actions always match their words. So I want to encourage Christians to get better at acknowledging that we miss the mark. As Christians we need to be open and honest that we make mistakes even as we try to live for God.
Not being able to live perfectly the life God has called us to is nothing new. The Apostle Paul even wrestled with this. In Romans 7:15 he says, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Paul admits here his hypocrisy of not doing what he knows God wants him to do, and then doing what he knows God does not want him to do.
I think we all wrestle with that, I know I do. It is evidence of the struggle between good and evil in all of us. It is the tension created between our natural being and the supernatural working in us. It shows that the Spirit of God is at work in us, but not yet finished.
I hope as Christians we can address this accurate stereotype by acknowledging that we do not always act perfectly. I also hope that we will not settle for just acknowledging it, but press on to match our actions with the will of God. I hope we can continue to struggle and that God's better calling will be done more often.

Monday, June 6, 2011

To Reach the Next Generation

The congregation I serve is beginning a focus on how we can reach the next generation with the message of Jesus. We will be using David Kinnaman's book UnChristian: What the Next Generation Thinks About Christianity...and Why It Matters. So over the next two months we will learn what we can from this book.
For today though I want to praise God for the man that reached me with the message of Jesus. Thursday I will go to the celebration of life service for Stan Wierson. Stan was the pastor that looked at a 14 year old scrawny awkward kid and saw something more. Even though I was not a Christian at the time (I was a church attender because Mom made me go). The summer of 1992 Stan hired me to be on the staff of Summer Games.
I was a counselor and supposed to be sharing Jesus with the kids coming to camp, but first I had to get to know him myself. I did meet Jesus my first week at camp and that began my new life in Christ and the new direction of my life. Two years later I felt a call to full-time ministry, again with Stan highly involved in encouraging me in that direction.
Stan was a man with great vision as he started Summer Games. He also had great vision in seeing the gifts and talents in people. I am one of over 200 people Stan helped hear the call to ministry. Stan also was a man of courage and trust. He would allow high school and college students to take real leadership in ministry where many are hesitant. He trusted these students to do their best with God's help, and gave us confidence in working with God's guidance.
I hope that I can grow in reaching and touching the next generation as Stan did. And I hope as a church we can support and encourage the next generations as God reaches out to them with his love and grace.