speaking the truth in love

there are some times in ministry that are not my favorite… one of those times is when I MUST be confrontational.  let’s be honest… no one in their right mind should LOVE confrontation, and if they do, they probably shouldn’t be in ministry.  But the harsh reality is that we have to, from time to time, speak difficult truth in a loving spirit to someone or a group of someones.  I have told my students, on occasion, that it is not my job to make them feel better or worse about themselves (that’s the Holy Spirit’s job)… it is my job to inform them of the truth, no matter how easy or difficult it may be.  This is not easy for me, because I have a propensity towards desperately wanting people to like me.  I hate it when I think that someone may not like me because of something I said or did.  I have stuck my foot in my mouth on occasion b/c of this… or been guilty of saying what people will like instead of what people will need.  It’s something I grow in every day.  but the fact of the matter is that, as a leader or youth pastor… Jesus calls us to DISCIPLE people… and part of discipling is discipline.  and discipline means speaking the truth in love.  Last night in OSM we concluded our “Multiple Choice” series by talking about a topic that is very confrontational:  How students use their words to and about each other.  I had to “call out” the attitudes, actions, and words that students were using in facebook, twitter, texting, and talking about other students.  It’s never easy.  you would think that it would be easy to do that in a large group setting… but for me, whether it’s up front speaking or one-on-one with someone, it’s always uncomfortable.  But I will tell you, the reward of doing it FAR outweighs the uncomfortable feelings.  Especially when you read a comment on facebook or twitter that says, “WOW, I really needed to hear that tonight.”  I have come to the conclusion that teenagers (and adults for that matter) hear partial, half, distorted truth all day long.  It might just be refreshing to hear the complete, whole truth in love for a change.  I know that I’ll still struggle with wanting people to like me, but this is too important to let that get in the way.
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GFS Twin Overdrive + STRAT = VERY TASTY TONE

so I have been asked over and over again “what does the twin overdrive from GFS (guitarfetish.com) sound like?  there are no youtube videos.”  This is a video of our band doing Derek Trucks song “revolution.”  I used a STRAT, my GFS Twin Overdrive, an MXR dyna comp, a EHX holy grail reverb, an early 90’s dunlop Crybaby, and a Vox AC 15 with the greenback speaker.  here is what this overdrive could sound like:

“communional” – what is it? (part 2)

So where do we find this “communional” ministry in the Bible?  I mean… I’ve had responses ranging from “this sounds like commune living” to “is this a hippy movement?” to “sounds like communism to me.”  just to be clear… the Bible actually speaks of all three current church movements (Attractional, Missional, and Communional) in one passage.  A passage of scripture that is, actually, foundational to what the church SHOULD be (imagine that):

“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.  A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.  And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.  They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.  They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people.  And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”      Acts 2:42-47

“communional” – what is it?

the answer to that question is… I’m not sure.  but check out this quote from a web-site of a festival called “burning man.”  it is a completely pagan festival… but for some reason they get it and are marketing well to today’s teenagers and twenty-somethings (a group that says they hate being marketed to):

“You belong here and you participate.  You’re not the weirdest kid in the classroom – there’s always somebody there who’s thought up something you never even considered.  You’re there to breathe art.  Imagine an ice sculpture emitting glacial music – in the desert.  Imagine the man, greeting you, neon and benevolence, watching over the community.  You’re here to build a community that needs you and relies on you.”

that is a direct quote from the book “youth ministry 3.0″… but it is so true.  If teenagers are looking for and longing for affinity and acceptance, that kind of “marketing to the non-marketable” is working.  I highlighted that last phrase “you’re here to build a community that needs you and relies on you” because shouldn’t that be the central message of our youth ministries to teenagers?  If we don’t start figuring this out… we are going to lose a generation to a pagan, “Moses is away so the Israelites will play” festival in the desert… both figuratively and literally.

6 values of a “communional” youth ministry

I wrote a couple days back about the idea that youth ministries need to become 1)attractional, 2) missional, & 3) communional.  None of us, not even Mark Oestreicher who wrote the book on this subject (youth ministry 3.0) knows how this is all going to play out, but there are a list of things that we know are definitely NOT communional and a list of things that definitely ARE communional.  here are those lists:

What “Communional” is NOT:

1. another PROGRAM to try and create community within your ministry.

2. manipulating forced relationships for the sake of community.

3. the assumption that “hanging out” {even in a spiritual sense} is the same as community.

Oestreicher used this definition for communional that helped me begin to understand it a little better: “it is the organic, unmanipulated, difficult to quantify shared experience of consistent relationships with Christ in the mix.”

OK… clear as mud.

Well… maybe these 6 values will help us start to understand it better:

Communional ministry IS:

1. Small – it rarely occurs in a large group setting.  it usually happens in a close, intimate environment.

2. Slow – It doesn’t happen instantaneously {pure chemistry}… you can not rush it.

3. Simple – simple in its structure… not in its formation.  not driven by flash.

4. Shifting – you cannot sell it, box it up, buy it or market it because it is ever changing.

5. Shared – requires some face time… it must become a personal experience.

6. Suspenseful – it’s eager to see God show up in big ways.

Once again… these are all GREAT THEORETICAL IDEAS, but how it practically plays out in our youth ministries is still TBD.  How it plays itself out in OSM is TBD.  The one thing we do know is this: WE MUST GO AFTER IT!

Making the Wise Choice

Last night in OSM we had a former student tell her story to our teenagers.  Her life in High School was VERY MESSY.  drinking, partying, drugs, sex… you name it, she was into it.  she went to a drug rehabilitation center and 27 days later relapsed back into drugs.  She finally went to a place called “Vision of Hope” in Lafayette, IN and God got a hold of her like you would not believe.  her story is the amazing story of life change and how God can miraculously turn a life around.  I am so proud of her for realizing the wrong in her life and allowing God to move in and change her from the inside out.  She shared with our students that making wise choices can help them avoid the life of regret.   Her story is inspiring… but it is even more so because she is telling it in hope that students will flee that path and way of living and pursue the fear and love of God, which is the beginning of wisdom.  Way to go, kattie!