management The Youth Cartel

How Dreams Come True

If chasing dreams is the folly of youth I want to be forever young. 

I’m chasing some dreams right now. I’m unashamed about it. For too long I sat on them, taking little action in their pursuit or even allowing myself the mental capacity to dream about these dreams.

Perhaps I was convinced they weren’t worth chasing? Or perhaps I lacked the wisdom, skills, knowledge, or intestinal fortitude? Or– worse yet, perhaps I was convinced that dreams that I had wouldn’t make a difference and were therefore meaningless to pursue?

If not me than you?

youth ministry

Too big to fail

Too big to fail” is a colloquial term in describing certain financial institutions which are so large and so interconnected that their failure will be disastrous to the economy, and which therefore must be supported by government when they face difficulty. ~ Wikipedia

Since the mid-1980’s the federal government has mandated that some banks are so important to the operations of our country that they, literally, will not be allowed to go out of business.

No matter how bad it gets. No matter much much money they lose. If you stick your ATM into the machine or swipe your card at checkout, it should work. Those companies can be bought and sold, they can be taken over by the government, and their business practices can morph over time.

But these banks are too important to the livelihood of our country to be allowed to go away. 

Youth ministry is too big to fail

Youth ministry is too important to the Kingdom to be allowed to fail. (As I wrote in this article, we do need to address our actual failure though.)

It’s too important to be folded in as an extension of children’s ministry or simplified into a church-facing, sterilized family ministry. (I love potent, community facing family ministry!)

It’s too important to be tamed by lawyers and protected from actually doing ministry by safety policies. And all-too-often true youth ministry can’t be measured by business goals or contained to mission statements, it’s bigger and more important than those things created for Main Street.

We need to remember what youth ministry has always been… A little bit wild, a little bit dangerous, and recklessly chasing all of God’s kids.

Organizations like Youth for Christ and YoungLife were created, not as nice extensions of the church, but as a response rebellion to the churches failure to reach teenagers for Christ.

Sometimes, youth ministry isn’t nice. I know too many friends who were nice about getting fired for reaching “the wrong kids.” I know too many people who are silent as a board embraces stupidity to the default of its most important ministry. I know too many people now tamed by jobs they hate to hold onto a sliver of hope that one day things will get better.

We’re too nice. We need to embrace rebellion again. We need to drag this thing back to the drawing  board and innovate like we used to.

We need to re-embrace our 1-eared Mickey-Mouseness when it means reaching “the wrong kids.” We need to be willing to get fired for the sake of bringing “the wrong kids” into the church. We need to yawn at staff meetings. We need to forsake office hours. We need to be more willing to please our Father than please the board.

We need to adapt to a climate that is less likely to fund youth ministry endeavors, becoming empowered by unleashing our creativity instead of held back by a lack of resourcing.

We need to get really engrossed in ethnography while restlessly becoming disinterested in chasing the latest craze.

Precisely because youth ministry is too big to fail we need to step back, take a deep breath, and allow ourselves to dream again!

Christian Living

To be like Joseph

Mr. Insignificant

You don’t get much more insignificant in a family of 12 than being number 11. As the 11th born you aren’t the baby of the family. And in this case you aren’t even the last baby boy. You are just number 11 with an abundant allotment of big brothers.

Joseph was an insignificant son with significant dreams. One night Joseph had a dream that one day he’d rule over his brothers. This was a seemingly impossible dream. And, sophomorically, he told his big brothers about his dream which lead to them hating him.

All throughout Joseph’s life he lived in the reality that he was chasing his dreams but his anti-dream was also chasing him. Over and over again we see Joseph’s life take wicked turns. His brothers staged his death while selling him into slavery. His slave owners trade him like a camel and he ends up in Potifer’s house. There he becomes the object of a cougar’s affection causing him to flee naked from the house before being caught, accused of adultery, and thrown in prison. On and on this calamity continues– his whole life!

Life didn’t just deal Joseph lemons. Life dealt him poison.  Joseph was a man with big, significant dreams but a murderous monkey on his back.

But that never stopped Joseph’s dream. He worked towards that dream, not knowing if it’d ever come true. Until one day it did!

We are all Joseph

Most of us are insignificant. By birth, by education, by performance, and by recognition… we are not born rulers or leaders of tribes.

But we all have dreams. Some are aspirational and within reach. And some are so big that our dreams make the 6 year old who lives inside of us blush to mention them in public.

We are all driven by dreams while gravitational held back by circumstance.

Joseph’s Posture

With all the crap that hit the fan in Joseph’s life no one would have blamed him if he’d defined himself by the poop splattered on the wall of his life. Everywhere he turned there were people sinning against him, seeking to destroy both him and his dreams.

Instead, Joseph makes a radical choice. He refused to allow the sins of others to define his life and ruin his dreams. No one could have forced him to do that. It came from within. It was a daily posture he took as he continually kept his eye on his dreams. He worked hard, he overcame, and eventually– his dreams came true.

The Cycle Ends with Me

When I think about my own life and my own dreams it is easy for me to think of all the obstacles. I can point to specific instances where my dreams were thwarted because someone sinned against me. (In some cases, maliciously intending to harm me.)

But the choice is mine. I can define my life by taking a victims posture or Joseph’s posture. I could be destroyed, defined, and devastated by the sins against me OR— supernaturally and by God’s grace– I can decide that the cycle of retribution, revenge, anger, malice, and sin ends with me.

I can’t control my circumstance but I can control my response to my circumstances.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Genesis 50:20