The Gospel in 140…Go

wordle_gospel_smallIn the age of twitter, how would you proclaim the Good News with only 140 characters? 

Redirecting to external links doesn’t count. 

Today the amount of written material and media is astounding.  Most of it is just background noise to us.  It is hard to have something that passes through our filters and then makes an impression.  It seems that there is great value in short and sweet.

So with 140 characters PROCLAIM the WORD!

Faith Lab: Fine Print

imageIf you look at newspaper headlines on the front page you will notice that font size makes a big difference on how important the paper feels a story is.  After all the larger the headline,the less room for other stories on the page.  The things deemed less important thus get a smaller font.

We do the same thing with our biblical witness.  We give greater importance (in one way or another) to the more “important” things while the hard topics, or the things that we are not so sure about or that don’t line up with our understanding of God take on a barely visible font size. 

How do you deal with the tough stuff in the Bible?  How do we deal with the things in the Bible that make us uncomfortable?  What about the things that cause us to stumble?  So we just tip toe around them or do we slowly make our way over them? 

Lets face it there are parts of our scripture that we are more comfortable with.  This says a lot about the way that we prefer to view God.  Yet it short changes and stunts our growth as people of faith when we are only willing to look at God through a portion of scripture.  Also, if we are teachers of the word we are giving those who have been entrusted to our care a slanted or partial picture of faith.  It would seem that the parts of scripture that are though are the ones that we are always called to defend.  The parts about God ordering the decimation of whole people is something that we would like to give a very small font size, whereas people asking questions about Christianity make it of headline proportions.  Other questions become like the role of women in the church, issues of sexuality…and the list goes on. 

Just keeping these parts of scripture to the fine print does a great disservice to ourselves, those in our ministry and those who are asking the questions.  So how do we being to wrestle with the head text? 

  •   Make a teaching plan:  When we just pick up the Bible and teach whatever we would like we tend to go to the “softballs”or the headline fonts catch our eyes.  Teaching plans ensure that we cover the topics we need to cover (both large and small) and it gives us enough time to faithfully prepare.
  • Continue to do personal study.  When we come upon some of the fine print we shouldn’t just let it pass.  Because the fine print is like the tip of an iceberg.  We have to, first, do the hard work of digging out the issues to get a fuller understanding of the bigger questions and issues at work. 
  • Don’t just give answers.  Have the students dig in and get their hands dirty too.  Teach them the process of learning and biblical study.  Don’t just give them the fish, teach them to fish. 
  • Don’t ignore the fine print!! It is tempting to give a stock answer or a nice one liner, but it does no one justice in the long run. 

these are just a few of my thoughts.  What are some ways you deal with the fine print?

Transformers: Fail

transformersThis past weekend that i thought would be a great idea.  We kicked off a new series called “Becoming.”  It is all about being transformed into people that God has made us to be.  The thought was that we would try and reflect what we are doing in Sunday morning worship by having a series that kind of went along the same lines as the other series without duplicating it.

I went and got a couple of Transformers with the idea that we would talk about the way that they were a fine toy in their vehicle state, but they are so much better when they are transformed and you can play with them in a couple of different ways.  I thought that it would be fun to have the object lesson of me then transforming them up front during the talk.  Before the service I tried transforming them to get an idea about how long it would take to make the change.  It took way longer than I thought it would. I gave them to one of our great youth workers and she too took a long time. Plan B was to turn it into a bit where we would time the a couple of kids to see who could transform the the fastest.

After a couple of minutes of the students fumbling with the toys, we gave it up and put the illustration out of its missury.  Oh well better luck next time.  The two transformers now have found a place on my shelf as a reminder that the best thought out plans go bad and we just have to work though it.  doh’

Faith Lab: The Question

101_6245So the picture to the left is the current state of the Xbox360 at the Bishop home.  A little while ago we had the spinner go out of the Xbox and so the ability to play a disk became impossible (because it couldn’t spin).  As of late the Xbox has become a way that we stream Netflix to our bedroom because we don’t have cable there. 

Because of some recent game releases and my desire to play online with some friends, I have taken it upon myself to fix the beast.  The warranty is up and I don’t want to spend $150 and lose 8 weeks in official repair cost, so what is there to lose? 

101_6248Something struck me as I dismantled the sleek and nice looking case was that the core of the machine is a very simple computer of sorts.  So this got me thinking about the core of of a question Jesus asks his disciples. 

“Who Do You Say I AM?”

Our answer to this question will speak volumes about our personal witness and faith and the shape of our ministry.  Is Jesus a teacher, friend, guide, healer, redeemer, sustainer, revolutionary, or primarily  something else to you? 

Jesus resonates in many ways with many people and each way can be alright.  But then as people who work with student we MUST have an answer to this question and we have to be able to articulate it to our students, their parents and anyone else who asks. 

Take some time this week to write down who Jesus is to you and why you place your trust in God.  Then try and share this with someone (it could be your friend, spouse, cat…).  The more you tell it the more you will be comfortable and own it.  The first 5 times will be very hard, and the next 5 you will be able to go off script.  After telling your core story 10 times you will own it. 

When you can tell your story to those who care about you are are willing to invest relationship time with you, then they will be willing to consider responding to the relational invitation of God through the person of Jesus.  And in this invitation we are living our the call to journey with one another toward deeper discipleship. 

The 85% Statistic is Back

 Activity-MonitorI saw this post the other week and I thought that it was really interesting.  It has been rolling around in my mind along with a quote from Kenda Creasy Dean that says that, “youth ministry is the R&D of the church.”  Makes me think about how youth are a great barometer for the health of the church.   Perhaps the exception to this is Churches like National Community Church in DC where 70% of the congregation is single twenty somethings, and in a very transient area. 

Take a look at the article, I found it to be some great food for thought.  Follow the link and scroll to the comments to read  other people’s thoughts on what Kara Powell wrote. 

You’ve perhaps heard the infamous statistic that 80-85% of people who become Christians do so before age 14.  We youth workers especially love quoting that data when we’re asking for a larger ministry budget.

There hasn’t appeared to be lots of hard data to back up that stat.  But maybe that’s changed.

Sociologist Dr. Christian Smith and his team at the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) have studied teenagers of all religious persuasions (Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Religiously Indifferent, etc.).  He reports in his new book, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults, that 85% of those 18-23 who have ever made a commitment to God did so before age 14.

Remember, the study includes teenagers and young adults of all religious persuasions, and it’s not entirely clear from the book what students mean what they say they have “made a commitment to God”.

But nonetheless, this is the best data I’ve seen in a while that supports that 85% statistic.

The 85% Statistic is Back — and Pretty Strong Actually | Fuller Youth Institute

A day in the life 1/14

CupojoeToday began with the reminder of my role as dad when Eden popped out of a dead sleep, and waddled over to where I was still dead asleep to inform me that she was awake and she needed to go to the potty RIGHT NOW!

Following that the morning continued as Katie and I waited till 9:30 when we could call in for the big news of weather or not we had been approved to become fully ordained members of the United Methodist Church.  During the excruciatingly slow time we got Eden ready to go with my mom for the day, got ourselves ready for the day, cleaned the house, checked e-mail, Played some Mario on Wii (after Eden’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fix of course), and finalized some plans for our trip to Disney.

Eventually we were able to call and find out we were both approved and then the day really started.

I spent a chunk of the day at the hospital visiting various members of the congregation.  We had one surgery patient, 2 members in ICU another in a regular room.  While there i connected up with a couple of members who were working or volunteering at the hospital.

After my visitation was over I decided to grab a chi latte and talk to the anesthesiologist who was part of the surgical team for the member I visited.  I got the good news update on how he was doing.  While waiting for the latte to reach the right temperature, I had a great talk with the barista about his tattoos.  And it turned into a great time where we talked about our faith and how his tattoos are a way to talk about his story with others and help them out of hard times in life.  It was really neat.

I went home for lunch with Katie.  Made some phone calls to update others as to the status of the folks in the hospital.  I did some contact work on Facebook.  Then went back to the office.

Back at my desk I had conversation with our family ministries director, checked in about final bulletin points for the weekend.  Gave the OK for a special love offering in light of the earthquake in Haiti.

I had a great talk with a man who wants to be baptized.

And after this post I am going to write a youth message, start on a sermon and then get ready for young adult small group.

I suspect the night will end with family time and snuggling on the couch.

As I think about where God has taken me in the past 7 years that have lead up to the green light on ordination I am amazed.  I would have never thought I would have a day like today.  And if I would have thought of it I would have cringed at that thought.  But, now all I can think is what a privilege it is to be on this adventure knowing tomorrow will bring another round of excitement.

A Biker Gang

mumc bikersWe went biking yesterday with a group from the church and I think we counted about 35 people that came out for the event.  It was a really great time and I think everyone had fun meeting some new faces.  We stopped in Harpers Ferry for ice cream and some time to talk.  At one point we were blocking the street and a park police officer turned on his siren to get us to move 🙂 kind of fun.   I think that this was a definite winner and we are going to have to do it again.