Harbor Mid-City

The Dogpile Effect

Photo by John Shardlow via flickr (Creative Commons)

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-11

We live in a dog pile society. Everyone has an opinion on everything. Their own opinion is superior to everyone else’s. And nothing gets us talking faster than repeating or adding to someone else’s opinion.

It’s the dog pile effect. It takes a mountain, makes a molehill, then it makes Mt. Everest. All in the name of “just talking.”

As if the collateral damage was worth it?

The annoying thing about the whole dog pile method is that, at the end of the day, it’s typically over things we don’t actually care about or effect us.

And while we all join in, and get injured by, the dog pile– we do it to other people! (It’s true that hurt people, hurt people.)

National politics? Office politics? Denominational politics? Church politics? Sure, I’m up on the news but I don’t really care enough to say… hurt a friends feelings by saying his opinion is stupid.

The bottom of the dog pile hurts

Broken bones. Broken dreams. Broken lives.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a big, fancy nationally known person or the guy handing out flyers at the grocery store. When criticism mounts, when accusations fly, when things get repeated to the point that it’s assumed to be true even before you take a serious second to think… all of that adds weight to the dog pile.

Stop it

O, that we would be different! That we would seek to understand before volleying an opinion. That we would differ in opinions in a way that honored, loved even, others.

There are things in this world that are worth destroying. But one another is not one of them.

Harbor Mid-City youth ministry

To the mountaintop

I’m a dreamer. I like to dream big dreams for myself. But I really like to dream big dreams for the students in our ministry. So when Kathy gave me the opportunity to paint a big picture and ask big questions as we start off this Fall in our high school ministry, I jumped at it!

When I look at the transfiguration in Mark 9, I am left asking… How do I get to the mountaintop with Jesus? I want to be there! What do I have to do to be there and see what God sees?

And what is it about God and mountaintops?

Click the link below to download my talk notes

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Harbor Mid-City

3 Things I Love About My Community Group

When Stephen asked us to host a small group at our house, one week after attending Harbor Mid-City for the first time, we begrudgingly agreed. In fact, when he told us that Harbor was a church consisting of a few community groups… we were skeptical.

My faith in small groups had been shaken. I was pretty close to making the statement public that I’d felt for a while… “Small groups don’t work.” Most of my adult life I had either lead a teen small group or adult small group and they had always functioned but never “worked” quite like the books on small groups said they would. We had always met, done some sort of Bible Study, prayed for one another, shared food and some laughs– and that was it. The community thing never happened. The caring for one another or feeling connected… it never happened. Those groups were functional and great, but left me longing for that small group experience everyone talked about in the books.

I wondered if small groups were a myth!

Then I met these people. I don’t know how else to explain it but our group just gelled and it’s been a great group from our first meeting. Here’s a few things that I love about having the group at our house each Monday night:

  1. We keep the agenda in check. The agenda is that we’re in community together. There is likely a church agenda. Probably that we’d talk about the Sunday sermon or that we’d pray for one another. And sometimes those agendas converge while other times they don’t. Our group has done everything from adopting a refuge family to watching Monday Night Football. Most often we get together and talk about the past weeks message and pray for one another. We’ve had incredibly deep conversations and we’ve had a chili cook-off. I actually think the magical component that has made our group work is keeping the community agenda the only important agenda while keeping all the other agendas in check.
  2. We’re game for “one another. The core people of this group hasn’t changed that much in the last 12 months. In that time we’ve welcomed probably 25 different people who’ve come and gone. That really is how small groups go. Heck, that’s how churches roll! I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but this group has really taken care of one another.
  3. We don’t take ourselves very seriously. Last Monday, we spent about 10 minutes joking about the name of the restaurant we’re having lunch at on Sunday, Pho King. (Pho is a Vietnamese soup meal, pronounced “fu,” exactly like the first half of the F word.) We talk about serious things. We have serious moments. But laughter and hilarity are always within reach.

Each Monday, on my way home, I think to myself… “I’m glad it’s Monday.” This little group has been a testament that small groups can work.