Thursday, August 17, 2006

God is too big for my box...

Crisis of faith? Surely not.

Big youth event tomorrow night. Bring 'em in with lots of fun stuff, food, and the opportunity to win big expensive prizes - and while you have 'em, throw some Jesus at 'em. See what sticks. I know - it's the seedy underbelly of youth ministry. The bait and switch.

Somehow I got elected to give "the talk".

So now it's the night before, and I'm not sure that I should do it....
can do it. What I mean is, I don't think I can be spiritually and intellectually honest with myself and with God - and say the things that people usually say in these kind of talks.

I'm not really interested in convincing people to attend a church.

I'm not really interested in getting people to subscribe to a particular religion.

I'm not really interested in getting people to give their intellectual assent to a set of beliefs, or a well-formed spiritual argument.

I don't think I want to call people to make a decision to ask Jesus "into their heart" to become their "personal lord and savior".

Something in me knows that the point of life is bigger than that - that God is too big for that box. That God is bigger than morality, bigger than church, bigger than Christianity, and certainly bigger than the other religions. Something in me understands that, fundamentally, God is reality. God is the over-arching fabric and construction of the universe. God is truth. God is love. God is one. God is the way things
should be, were, and will be again. God is not a Christian - God is God. Christians do not own God. We don't even share Him with the other religions. So how can we presume to give him away?

I'm rambling on here, but I kind of feel like giving people an "invitation to receive Christ" would be a shallow, mediocre verson of what I should be doing. Kind of like a sales pitch, and my job, or my reputation, or our youth ministry depends on
how many people I can close the deal with tomorrow night. So the pitch itself has to be great (which pretty much goes against everything I believe about the way people are "saved", and God's role in the process)

But how do you invite people into a relationship with
the way things should be? Into a relationship with reality? How do you invite people into a relationship with the most unimaginably huge thing in all of existence, by getting them involved with a little bitty thing like church. How can I boil God down to a little formula, and a 15 minute talk, when it's taken thousands of years, and volume upon volume to get us to what we know about him today - which is still very little.

I guess I could try and hand this thing off to somebody who gives these church talks all the time - but my conscience would still hurt me because I bet they would probably say all the things I believe it would be dishonest of me to say.

I guess what it boils down to is this:
I know what I should say - and would love to say - and what I believe God is longing for people to hear.
And I know what a good youth minister at a local church is
supposed to say.
And they seem so far apart.
And that saddens me very much, because I think that God is too big for my box.

Can anybody hear me?
Does anybody have a clue what the heck I'm talking about?
Bueller . . . . . Bueller . . . . .

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

On Crack...

... Daddy, that is. Crack Daddy. We went to ETBU together. Actually, they used to call him Crackbaby, for obvious reasons. But his knack for luring beautiful women, and the fact that he's now married and the father to several delightful (I'm sure) children, led to my referring to him as Crack Daddy. Anyway, Crack always had a knack for getting songs stuck in my head. Every day in the cafeteria he would be singing some off-the-wall tune that inevitably haunt me for the rest of the day. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Good Morning, Starshine
comes to mind.

Since I have a gift for remembering lyrics, I am always getting crap stuck in my head.

Not long ago, Abby recounted a story to me that I had forgotten.
Back when we were in college, we were discussing this very predicament. Having a song stuck in your head, I mean. She says I told her I thought that having a song stuck in your head was one of the ways God speaks to us when he wants to tell us, or remind us of, something.

"Well, what's he telling you today?" she asked.

"Don't Fear The Reaper" I said.

"Good word." she replied.

So true.
Anyways - I told you that story to tell you this:
Evidently, today's song/word from God is:

"Might as well jump. Go ahead and ju-ump."

Also a good word.


Thursday, August 3, 2006


I love the ridiculous power of media. I also love the ridiculosity and truthiness of Stephen Colbert. The Colbert Report just might be my new favorite show. Since I was actually watching during this bit - I thought it was hilarious that had this as one of their "slices" today:
After a segment on his show poking fun at the user-updated online reference database Wikipedia, Stephen Colbert got blocked from the site. On the air, the satirical talk show host logged into the site and changed random facts within articles and then challenged his viewers to do the same. Chaos ensued, and it all ended with Colbert getting banned ...8/3/06 | 10:54 AM
Currently Listening
By Derek Webb
Track #2 A New Law

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

"Our Church Is Smaller!"

I LOVE Relevant Magazine. Who cares about CNN or FOXnews - I get my current events from the "slices" at I also love the way they seem to completely agree with me theologically and culturally. Way to go, Relevant!

I've posted a couple of their articles here before that deal with the "small church" theology. In conversations I have gone on and on about "small church", often pointing to the way the church in Communist China is thriving, not in spite of - but because of - the persecution. Today, Relevant posted an article by R.C. Bachmann called Our Church Is Smaller! on their front page, and it blew me away. I write this post to recommend it to you. The cool thing about Relevant's articles is that they are barely a page long - so check it out.

Apparently, the Chinese government has actually gone so far as to authorize two choices for Christians - The Roman Catholic Church (for Catholics) and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (for Protestants). It was even more interesting to hear that:

Not one of the people they encountered said they belonged to either of the authorized churches. Instead, nearly everyone answered that they were members of “house churches.”

“Aren’t house churches illegal?” my friend asked.

“Of course they are,” answered one Chinese Christian. “But the government leaves house churches alone as long as each one remains small. Apparently they do not think small churches are a threat.”
Later - as they are discussing what a typical Lord's Day looks like, he mentions:
“Our church is about 20 people. We tithe 10 percent of our income, and from that money we can rent an apartment that is used just for church. Two of the brothers get to the apartment early Sunday morning and begin too prepare a meal for the others.”

"Yeah, our church serves donuts and coffee, too,” my friend offered.

The Chinese brother smiled: “Well, this meal they prepare will be the biggest meal of the day. While they are cooking, brothers and sisters begin to show up one or two at a time. We all come at different times so as to avoid attracting attention.”
Their meeting lasts the entire day, and they leave just the same way they arrive - in groups of one or two - so as not to attract attention.

For all my going on about house-churches, and pointing toward the Chinese - it may be that what they have there can't be reproduced in America. Perhaps because of the hundreds of years of institutional religion, or because of the lack of persecution. But it sure does feel like home to me.

Currently Listening
She Must and Shall Go Free
By Derek Webb
Track #10 - The Church