An Open Letter to Our Former Youth Group

Dear Former Youth Group {an open letter to generation Xers and Millennials}

Dear former youth group,

I'm here to say I'm sorry. I'm sorry we told you not have sex, do drugs, or drink alcohol. I'm sorry we guilted you into devoting your midweek to our service rather than your God-given-interest. I'm sorry we taught you self-righteous religion rather than the true character of God.

Here's the thing. The Bible isn't a book mostly about YOU and what YOU should be doing. It's a book about GOD and what HE has done.

We unintentionally taught you that that every story in the Bible somehow points to you. We explained that your behavior was the ultimate dictator of salvation. Though we never would have come out and said it knowing it was totally false, we let you believe that your behavior swayed God in some way, good or bad. We painted a picture of God as a Santa-figure who sees you when you were sleeping, sees when you're awake, knows if you've been bad or good, so please be good for goodness sake.

The Bible does have guidelines for how life works best. Why wouldn't it. It's a story about the Creator and His creation. It's bound to come up because the story of God and what He's done is made even more amazing in light of how things were supposed to work, how we jaked it up, and how His genius master plan is going to redeem us even though we don't deserve anything.

Many of you in our youth group were coming to 'church' alone. You're parents weren't devout Christ-followers or even if they were, they were possibly relying on us to teach about God. Most adult use youth group like a public school, trusting that the fundamentals of "Christianity" are the responsibility of the staff at a 'church'. Because of that, I'm even more sorry we didn't show you complete truths.

Every story in the Bible points to Jesus. Not you. You're not supposed to attempt to find yourself in the stories of Noah, Mosis, or David. You're supposed to seek God and His kingdom. Every story whispers His name.

As I watch you grow-up, go to college, move, get jobs, get married, have kids I see religion failing you. No matter how much attempting to be 'good' you can handle it will always leave you empty. Life won't unfold into the christian-karma-crap we filled you with. Because of that you will run. You are running. You're leaving the Church in droves because morality has failed you.

I'm sorry I helped lead you to this place but now I'm hear to fight to lead you back to Christ. To show you His true character. Every aspect of our life bleeds the DNA of who we think God is. Your view of who God is the foundation for your belief system and you believe system determines your actions. Out of our love for you in our youth group, we targeted the only thing we could see, your actions, in an attempt to determine if you were a Christ-follower.

Maybe we had a savior complex, maybe we were just that ingnorant. Painting a picture of a self-serving, smoke and lights, hype and games, fame and fortune religion remorsefully. God's taught us so much over the last few years and we hope to chase down the dechurched generation that we had a hand in running off.

Sincerely yours,

Regretful Youth Pastors of Generation Xers and Millennials

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“Be Holy as I am Holy” Ehh?

As Christians, especially those of us who are "lifers" {been in church since the womb}, have a hard time naturally "sharing the gospel". Can I get an amen? ;)

I think the biggest reason this is unnatural is because we're taught so often that we are to be holy. And we are. And we don't get what that means. We are supposed to be holy -set apart- but that doesn't mean separate [from "heathen" things]. Set apart does not mean separate. Christians are "set apart for God". We are chosen for a purpose. We are chosen to be a part of God's plan.

I think it's kinda like a recipe. Let's say the recipe ingredients calls for 2 cups of mozzarella cheese but in the directions is says, "Mix in 1 and 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese in to [yada yada] and set aside the other 1/2 cup to sprinkle on the top at the end. We are the 1/2 cup of cheese set aside for the top. We are set to the side because we have a different, more specific purpose, not because we aren't to be part of the main dish. God has a plan to spice up the recipe!

Holiness: Set Apart as Part of the Plan to Spice Up Life

Well, hopefully that made any sense. You know He's a lot smarter than my cheesey illustration and our purpose is much more grandiose than extra creaminess. {budump bump} ;) Basically what I mean is, we are not made to huddle together with those who believe, think, look, parent, talk, dress, etc just like us. We're meant to get our hands dirty with the real ingredients of life. It's not always pretty, it will be a LOT of messy, sometime challenging, but it'll taste awesome when it's done.

Be Holy -------> Jesus -------> Friend of Sinners

We're told to be holy. Holy like Jesus. Jesus was a friend of sinners. So what should we be doing? Befriending sinners! Not walking along side them at the store/game/restaurant and thinking how much better was are because we follow Jesus. We are to break down our misplaced pride, remind ourselves we are just as sinful as the next person {follower or not}, and actually care about others.

Holy means set apart for a purpose. Not just tossed to the side to be looked. That's wasteful and there is no waist in the economy of God. Don't separate yourself and become useless. Be Holy as Christ was Holy.

 

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The Great Commission: not so scary

Missional living is about using every aspect of your life to live for the mission of God. In order to do that, we need to know His mission.

God's Mission: make disciples of all nations.

empowered way of living that will have world changing results

Okay, now that we've got that, now to do we do that? It's kind of scary and overwhelming when you first hear that. How in the world am I supposed to make disciples much less of all nations? The same way you eat an elephants! One. Bite. At. A. Time.

Matthew 28: 18-20
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

My understanding of this passage comes from years of confusion, fear, and several wise dudes. Let's break it down!

  • Go- as you are going {recognize anything- yeah- live by it}, while you're doing life.
  • Therefore- He's referring back to the "given all authority" buisness right before this. That means, because He/you have been given all authority in heave and earth, do this...and don't be a chicken because He's qualified and equipped you with everything you need to do it and do it well.
  • all the rest- you're going to do this by living like Jesus lived

See, not so scary. It's not a long list of do's and don'ts or a bundle of tracks. The great commission is an empowered way of living that will have world changing results. God has invited us to be everyday radicals; to join in the journey, mission, story, adventure of His that He's going on with or without us.

 

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Memorial

I love taking pictures. Pictures of basically everything. I think I may have an unhealthy fear of loosing my memory some day and these captured snapshots will be all I have of the past.

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I started a {multiple} cute little scrapbook(s) for Mags {my 6yo and eldest} as soon as she got here. I loved coordinating the paper and choosing which adorable picture from each month I would memorialize in that month's page. We all know where that went with baby number two! Don't get me wrong, I was not naive enough to think this wouldn't happen so I planned strategically to minimize the things I kept and the professional pictures I took. I was preparing to be overwhelmed as other children came into our family. I only did what I thought I could pull off with the next kids. Well, I almost made it...I printed pictures for Izzie's scrapbook. lol And we're kinda close to the same number/aged pictures for each child hanging on the wall.

This is a big deal to us. Remembering. I was never one of the cool kids who complained about History class in school. I kinda understood that history was for us to learn from our past and I really enjoyed story. Names and places are fine but unless they were attached to a significant story, it was lost on me.

As Christians, remembering is what we're built on. If story hadn't been pasted down, we would be way worse off than we already are. Knowing there's a loving creator whom we offended yet has a history of chasing down His people passionately. Story after story telling of our attempts to make things right and then falling back into the arms of a never-shaken Savior. Every story in the bible points to Him, Jesus. Stories of conquering battles, unmerited love, and ultimate sacrifice.

Often, when we are touched by something, {person, event, words} we like to memorialize it. We never want to forget what happen or when it happened. It becomes a cornerstone on which we started something new and want to build on it.

As Christians we need to remember. To build on the heritage of faith before us BUT the ultimate mission of God is not to make sure everyone remembers where we've been, what He's done in the past, or even what we stand on/for. "We need not memorialize Jesus but Build The Church." -Michael Frost {Sentralized 2014} Memorials are temporary and easily torn down.

In many years, Maggie will not remember the story behind all those pictures in her scrapbook. If it even survives until she's an adult or lets even say until her grandchildren come along as well as the stories attached to them that I'll share with her. Memories of a joyous time of the past will make no impact the future unless action in life is taken to preserve the action behind the memory.

After Israel crossed the river on dry land, Joshua had 12 men build a memorial in honor of that event that became a turning point in their history. 12 Giant stones were there to remember what God had done for them. The significance of that was lost in just a few short generations.

The Church is one generation away from death. We need to focus on what we're called to; God's indestructible Church- the People.

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Sentralized 2014

Sentralized 2014

My hubs, Matt and I went to an amazing conference this past week. He's attended before and we've been journeying through the paradigm of missional living. You've likely hear be bumble through trying to share what that means and how its fleshed out but this group of people helped me hear in new language and see it through practical living. I just want to start sharing with you some of those things {guess that's a good place to jump back on the blogging-wagon, ehh}. Today though, I just want to tell you a little about Sentralized, the conference we attended, and the foundational verse this years gathering was focused on.

You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.

You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.

Isaiah 58:12 MSG

Sentralized is designed for anyone who calls him or her self a Christ follower. It's the perfect learning opportunity for pastors, church planters, individuals, and teams of church members that are working through the issues and ideas of missional living, learning, and leading.
First, we believe there is a need to continue to bring clarity to the missional conversation.
Second, we want to ensure the missional conversation moves beyond theory.

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