Tag Archives: Change

When Change has gone too far

chick change

Change has gone too far when the gospel no longer looks or sounds like the good news and Jesus no longer looks or sounds like the Jesus found in Scripture. – Outreach Magazine

That was a quote in an article in Outreach Magazine that  I read this morning that caused me to go, yep, that’s what I’ve been thinking, I just hadn’t put it that eloquently. I would say something more along the lines of “That doesn’t work,” or “Show me where Jesus was in that.” Both of which immediately put those on the other side of my argument on the defensive. And this comment might, but I think not. Because this comment puts Jesus right in the front of the conversation; and you have to go around Him to argue it. Once you’ve done that the argument is essentially over because Christ is no longer in the picture.

I’m all about change, I love the latest and the greatest. If there’s a new tech toy trending, I need it. Not, I want it… I need it. No, it’s not a healthy need. But I have a curiosity level that resembles that of a toddler. If you don’t believe me look at the “stack” of techy things in my living room; I’ll go one further and say look at the stack of instruments in my living room. I go from old to new it matters not, because I can make the old new again. But here I am at 52 years of age learning to play the fiddle, mandolin, guitar and upright bass. I figure I don’t have enough years left to try one at a time and that plays well into my Attention Deficit Disordered personality.

The problem lies when we treat church the same. I must reiterate the thought that I’m all about change, until the change has Jesus standing on the outside of the church asking to be allowed back in.

When change works:

Jesus was a culturally adept Savior. The culture was the people He met on the street, the hard working blue collar workers as well as the prostitutes and politicians. It was not the people at the church who were trying to fit the world into their building. Jesus said they were stinky, empty tombs.

Matthew 23:27

27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

And while that is certainly an excellent description of the religious crowd it could just as well be said to those who are shouting loud how “culturally correct” they are and yet I don’t see Jesus. Jesus met in the middle with the commoner on a level ground where everyone could love on Him. Yes, He was extreme, but He spoke clearly. Yes, He offended…those whose hearts were not right with the Lord, He did not offend His own people.

As a youth leader I want to keep it hip and fresh. Yes, I am aware “hip” is an old word, I am an old woman, but I still like youthful things. That is why I attended Winter Jam with a few of our youth back in the winter. It wasn’t my genre of music, I’m a bluegrasser, but I enjoyed parts of it. It was the parts that I didn’t enjoy that I still have an issue with and are always in the forefront of my mind when I’m pondering the direction of our youth ministry.

  1. When the music level of a few of the bands got to the point where babies cried and my ears physically hurt I didn’t see nor hear Jesus. And I don’t really think He would approve of them causing hearing loss in His creation. Just sayin’.
  2. When a few of the groups screamed into a mike and called it music, and said they were proclaiming the gospel, yet I didn’t understand a word they said, I disagree that they are proclaiming the gospel. Jesus may have hung out with rockers, but He spoke clearly.
  3. When one group of guys “pranced” across the stage and sang a song about a chainsaw I thought… I don’t see Jesus.

Now for the flip side of that coin. If we expect youth to sit in a church that makes no attempt to keep it relevant to their world they’re not going to see Jesus either. I’m not talking about the preaching time. That time is between God and the man of God. And if He is preaching the Word… leave Him be. Kids need to be in a preaching service, whether that is one of their own or the regular worship hour. They need to see the gospel preached. But when it comes to the Sunday School hour and the youth ministries, that time should be their time, exclusively.

  1. Keeping it culturally correct doesn’t mean doing everything they like.
  2. Whatever it is that you do, when you’re done they better have seen Jesus, or you were just entertaining.
  3. Only infants like to be read to. If they are above the age of two, stop it.
  4. Invest in them both financially and on the clock.
  5. Find out what’s trending in their world, good or bad and then talk about it.
  6. Make sure it’s a two way conversation.
  7. All of these rules apply to adults as well!

 

Organic Christianity… keeping it real in the youth ministry

Organic Christianity…Something the Pastor said in passing yesterday that has been stuck in my mind and obviously needs to go from pen to paper. Pricey organic foods are all the rage in healthy eating, although for the most part I have to wonder if it’s merely a difference in labeling than foods, and no different than the others on the shelf. I’m not real trusting of marketers. I’m even less trusting of many who share the gospel; one of the many reasons I’m a KJV (King James Version) girl. Just give me the basics. Is that not what organic is… just the basics. No additives or preservatives, its good just like it’s grown!

At a youth leadership meeting yesterday our discussion was around ways to improve the youth ministry, it’s always a subject of debate on ways to engage youth in the service. I was engaged with youth yesterday in the service, my three grandchildren. Curtain climbers that they are… I however was not engaged in the Pastor’s message for the distractions and concerns about the babies distracting others. Children are not born with social graces… it comes in time. I’m not so sure I’ll live that long. Insert grin here.

But the debate is, how do we change how we’re serving the Lord and keep the basics?

Luke 9:34-35; a portion of the scripture of the transfiguration of Christ says “While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.”

According to commentary the appearance of Moses and Elijah symbolically represented the law and the prophets. But God’s voice from heaven – “Listen to Him!” – clearly showed that the law and the prophets must give way to Jesus. The One who is the new and living way is replacing the old – He is the fulfillment of the Law and the countless prophecies in the Old Testament. Also, in His glorified form they saw a preview of His coming glorification and enthronement as King of kings and Lord of lords.

The disciples never forgot what happened that day on the mountain when they saw the new Jesus, yet He was still the basic. He was still the same, yet visibly different; God doesn’t change. That’s what I want to see happen in our youth ministry. I want it the same, yet visibly different. I don’t want to get away from the King James Bible, or reverence of God’s house; after all a youth program should be a training ground for servants, not an entertaining ground ~ but there’s nothing wrong with something new! The problem with new is it pushes us out of our comfort zone, but I’m not really the expert on that because I have the personality that embraces “new.” I do however understand that everyone does not, and as a leader I have to be considerate of that and make “new” softer and flexible if I want an excellence in the ministry for which I’ve been called to serve in. Because it’s not about me, it’s about everyone.

Shane Duffy’s definition of excellence in the ministry is found in John 12:24

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Excellence is giving up something good for yourself to provide something great for someone else. Youth ministry is not for everyone, but it’s for someone. It’s a sacrificial ministry. And there have been times that I have felt as if I was sacrificed on the altar of insanity. It’s those times when people who have not been called to the ministry look at you like your crazy and say… “you want to do what with the kids?” Let me rephrase my statement about the youth ministry not being for everyone. It is for everyone, but in different capacities. If it’s your church you’re either a part of it, a supporter of it, lest you be a hindrance to it. It’s important that there are multiple people with multiple ideas involved else you get someone like me that goes to the extreme.

Perry Noble in a recent leadership podcast said this about extravagance….

Excellence is the overflow of attention and hard work where Extravagance is something you buy so it looks like there was hard work involved. If the average person doesn’t notice the difference, what we’re using becomes a toy, not a tool. We need to makes sure that what we’re using is a tool to reach people for Christ, not a toy to entertain. Spend money on what matters, otherwise it’s extravagance.

I love that! I needed that!

Because I love toys in the ministry. I like shiny things and far too often they’re just attention getters and take my eyes off Christ. If we want something new, it needs to be for the basic concept of drawing young people into a relationship with Christ, and families into to the church. Just the basics… organic, grounded in the gospel Christianity…. With perhaps a side of bling…

Hope this helped you… it sure helped me today!

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a New Season on the Horizon

Seasons are one of my favorite things to write about. Every season of the year stirs an excitement in my soul; the seasons of life not always so much. We arrived at the beach this week just as their season was changing. The tourist were dwindling down to a few; I could count 30-50 people at any given time on the beach directly in front of our hotel. The shops had marked down merchandise and many had even closed down. It was a perfect season for us because the cost was much less and the crowds were gone. We enjoyed an evening on the beach with just a few other people milling around taking in the last of the summer waves.

Genesis 1:14-15

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

And it was so…

The lights in Heaven that men are so curiously entertained by have not just beauty, but purpose and names.

Psalms 147 says He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.”

God asks of Job in 38:31-33 asks the questions…

“Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?”

Who but God can do those things? And if we believe that God can control the constellations, creation and seasons, can yet He not control the seasons of our lives?

They divide the darkness and light…

And thereby the beauty of the upper world blesses the world below. One advantage that we often take for granted in the country is star gazing. A clear West Virginia night sky is filled with countless stars that twinkle and dance across the Heavens for our entertainment. Just that little bit of twinkle can cause you in childlike splendor to break out in a rousing rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” The same way that just a little twinkle of light on a dark day in our life springs joy in the soul; a glimmer of hope is all it takes to cause sadness and heartache to flee.

They bring the change of seasons…

In creation and in life as one closes out a new one is on the horizon, it is inevitable. We cannot extend our favorite season nor can we extend our favorite times in life; each are designed with purpose to usher in the next. My season is about to change… my current job ends and I don’t know what the next season has in store. I prayerfully ask God for mercy and a quick end of this season of uncertainty, but it’s yet to come. He seldom rushes seasons…

Are you in a season of uncertainty? Perhaps you’re in a season of harsh winds and weather? I encourage you as I encourage myself, “Don’t lose heart Christian soldier… God’s got this.” Just as God created each star with purpose and named them every one so did He design you and I. There is a purpose in our season and a hope on the horizon that from this time God will spring forth a newness that will excite our soul.

An f5 Transition

Nine months ago Victory Baptist Church set on the brink of uncertainly with our Pastor of 21 years leaving and there was a gamut of emotions within me. I feared being leaderless, I had concerns over what a new leader’s ideas might be and what my role would be in the church, I had trepidation for my co-workers in Christ, how would they weather this storm we were about to go through and would the storm be a breeze or would it be an f5 tornado; and who would be left standing when the wind died down? I had faith that I’d be one of them, but also the reality that I’d seen many others in the faith who’d walked away from God in good times, so I knew I wasn’t invincible. Over nine months we’ve gone through the F5 phases of transition: fear, fret, frustration, fatigue and praise God, faith!

So last night as I watched my new Pastor, Steven Carter, announce his resignation to his current church my heart sunk a little for them. Not as much, because their circumstances are far different from ours; he was a co-pastor with his father. Therefore their transition is more the adjustment to the filling of roles that Pastor Steven played and missing his family’s presence in their congregation, which I don’t make light of. Things that are different are not the same… I think someone wrote a book about that once. Oh yeah… my new Pastor’s father! But even though our circumstances are different, there is one thing for certain, the transitions in life are usually only enjoyable at completion. That middle part… it’s rough.

Life transitions… childhood to adult, single to married, full nest to empty next, job to job, location to location… the list is endless. Life is ever changing. And Solomon, the wisest guy of all said it well in Ecclesiastes 7:8 when he said “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

It’s great when we get to the position in life where everyone’s comfortable in their place and content with that stage of life, but when things are a little shaky and uncertain there’s a humility necessary. You tend to rely on one another more and turn to God more frequently than before. I’m speaking tomorrow at a ladies retreat about how “epic failure equals expert.” So can transition. It’s a learning experience. Now that we’re almost to the other side of this phase in our church we can draw from that for future transitions. This was a first for many of us. I’d had only one Pastor since salvation in 1996, that’s about to change!

I’ve seen others not fare so well in the transition. Their f5 was full of fault finding, falsehoods, forsakenness, foolishness and fussin’. And what it left was devastation. Transition success is relational. It’s not leaving one to never return, it’s about moving down the road to the next phase. The road’s still open (unless you burn the bridge). But it’s good to travel back down the road from whence we came and pull from those experiences, and talk to those people to remind us of the lessons we learned in that phase. That’s why transitioning correctly can make you an expert.

Is Victory Baptist Church an expert? We had less than glowing moments, but they were short lived. And because of that, the ties that bind us are even tighter. We depended on each other, a lot! We talked a lot along transitions road, sometimes healthy conversations, sometimes not. But the point of the matter is as we’re nearing the end of our phase, another church is just beginning theirs. Life…. Forever changing. It’s best to stay in the slow lane when transitioning from place to place, enjoy the view…roll the windows down and get some fresh air… stop and ask directions…. Fill your tank up… keep travelin’…. Enjoy the destination when you arrive. But don’t drive your tent pegs too deep!

It’s Not About the “Place”

1 Kings 22:43

And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord: nevertheless the high places were not taken away; for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places.

The temple was completed, there were no need for the “high places” of worship. My first thought as I write this morning is, “how on earth did I get here?” This was not my intended thought to write upon, but it seems so necessary. Jehoshaphat was a good King. He was following in his father’s footsteps, he was trying to do everything right, but there was that “one thing.” That act of disobedience that was a distraction from the house of God. There was no reason that the people could not worship at the temple, they had that freedom; but the high places were loved by the people because of their antiquity and so they were left, against God’s word.

We all have that “one thing”. That one thing that takes our eyes off where we are to serve God. We are a people who love traditions. And while traditions have their place, because it’s good to see where we’ve came from and respectfully remember those that lead us to this place; but there comes a time when we have to move on. When those places become a distraction from actual worship and more of a repetitive action or should I say repetitive distraction.

The high place is not a bad place.

My beloved Victory Baptist Church is in a state of transition. Our Pastor, who we love, has decided that it is God’s will to move on. He has Pastored our church well for 21 years, he told me about Jesus and changed my life forever, and countless others in our congregation. He brought revival into our community and taught us how to serve God. He discipled us before he sent us into the community and considered his station behind the Holy desk of God as one of accountability and responsibility. He took strong stands in the face of opposition… he did right as did Asa, Jehoshaphat’s father… I Kings 15:14b says ~ “Asa’s heart was perfect with the Lord all his days.”

And Jehoshaphat followed in his father’s footsteps, he continued in the right way, except for one the thing… those high places. Those high places had become what the people were looking to instead of the Lord. Certainly they worshiped the Lord there, but the “there” became as important as the Lord.

Victory Baptist Church has long been the victim of multiple rumors. I’ll not give credence to any one of them here, but let me just say there were MANY! We have been a watched congregation. Every time someone fell out of fellowship with the Lord it was noted. When the church was founded in 1992 their motto was “Discover the Difference” and it was that difference that got cheers and jeers. What was the difference?… accountability for one. The new Pastor held his leadership to a high standard. If you talked it, you better have walked it and that unsettled those who thought God didn’t mind slacked standards. I better be careful, I’m bordering preaching. 🙂 We loved our Preacher, we treated him well, and people took note of that too.

But here we are in this transition. And people are watching. They want to know if it was real. Were we there because of the leader or the Lord?

Where we were was not a bad place. It was an awesome place. But it’s moved and now we’re here. We will continue in the path of righteousness. We will continue on the Word of God (King James Version), but under a new leadership, one that we’re excited about. We are anxious but waiting for the new place. We’ll love him too.

When I began writing this today, I did not know that I would end up in “this place.” The place where I have to say it’s not about the place, or the man; it’s about God, our mighty Redeemer. Jehoshaphat and his people left those high places standing and it took their sights off God. I don’t want that for my church.

Perhaps your church is in a time of transition. Tear down the high “places.” Let the Word of God stand. The traditions of man mean nothing unless it’s God’s design. We have to move in to the new place. Get ready!