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 . . . . .


Shane said...

Bitches Man...

krysten said...

therein lies the problems with organized religion, my friend. I hate the part of church that turns all the congregation into flyer-distributing "advertisers" for the church. something about asking everyone you meet if they enjoy Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior just turns my stomach. apart from invading people's personal space, i am like you in that i think it is more than a quick speal and a name on a dotted line.

i think it's where people stop talking and start living. i mean i guess there need to be some people out there on the corners thumping their bibles, but it ain't gonna be me.

sorry, i guess this isn't encouraging you in your already-reluctant mood. but maybe you should talk about what you talked about right here in the post - just be real. show people that Jesus isn't just a picture on the wall in the house of fanatics, but that He's a real part of real people's lives.

I'm so glad I don't work at my church anymore...

The Bagboy said...

Man, this is one powerful post. Thanks so much for sharing this. And I think what you just shared is what they need to hear. What most of the world needs to hear.

By the way, "throw some Jesus at 'em" might be the funniest phrase ever.

Anonymous said... GOTTA get out of the Baptist church!

Anonymous said...

that last post was me, cory...

CB said...

Hey man,

You did well tonight. I don't think you sold out.

And the Baptist church has hundreds of years of revolutionary history! JT is right where he should be!

taraanne said...

love you JT... and your insight.

Margaret said...

so I wanna know...what DID you say? I'm hoping for the most honest invitation into 'the way things should be.'