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Church Leadership The Youth Cartel

Pushing Past the Pain of Change

This weekend, at Open, I heard a few things. Some were from attendees, some speakers, and others from the Holy Spirit.

Most of the thoughts that stuck are along the lines of change. People are ready for change. They are hungry for it. And the pain of continuing this cycle of depreciating returns is too depressing– finally overcoming the reality that making some levels of foundation shifting change is worth the cost.

Thoughts like this…

  • how we as a tribe gathers needs to change
  • how we gather teenagers needs to change
  • how we disciple teenagers needs to change.
  • how we think of ourselves needs to change.
  • how we fund the movement of ministering to adolescents needs to change.

With declining numbers in all of the categories that seem to matter, the reality is that there are so few winners and far too many losers.

We all need things in our life and vocation to change. And we are in the position to do something about it.

People, like you and me, are beginning to realize that it is up to us to make these changes instead of waiting for someone else. (Cough, be a leader. Cough, cough. Entropy. Cough, cough. I KNOW! Cough, cough.)

The Pain of Change

Actually changing things will cost you something. It might make people hate you. It will be messy. It might lead to your organization losing money or even closing. There’s a pretty good chance that you could get fired.

But I want to encourage you as you think about change. When you lead towards what you feel God is calling you to move towards… it’s always scary. It’s always full of fear. It’s always brought with some pain.

Sometimes in Scripture we need to read between the lines a little bit. I think of people like Noah going home and telling his wife he needed to build an ark and gather animals. I’m guessing he and his wife didn’t see eye to eye on that at first blush, something tells me he slept on the coach, and maybe it was a little while until she accepted the lunacy of her husbands vision. Rest assured… building an ark isn’t good for your sex life. Or I think about the Centurion in Acts… I’m sure it went well when his boss in Rome found out he and his entire house converted to the religion he was paid to squelch. I don’t think that guy got a raise. Or I think about the Peter on the day of Pentecost… I’m sure that his message of Jesus as the Christ went over like a pile of bricks. Remember, most of the people in the audience walked away saying he was drunk.

So this is what I know. Not just from the Bible but from my own life: Until you suck it up, accept that the changes you know you need to make will involve some pain, you’re just going to keep doing nothing.

No sir. Not for me. I want to sleep at night. The word regret will not be on my tombstone.

Things will change because they must. Pain will be overcome because its just pain. And the vision and dreams God has laid on our hearts should scare the hell out of us.

But fear of pain preventing me or you from the leaders we can be?

May we never sink so far.

Categories
Christian Living

Real Life Ministry: Real Hurts

Real Life Ministry: Why does serving Jesus sometimes hurt so bad?
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If it didn’t hurt so much sometimes it wouldn’t be personal.

Categories
Christian Living family

Helping our kids love church, again

The reason I hate church is that you pay attention to everyone else there but us.” ~ Megan, age 7

Those words rattled my soul. I’d rather have gotten cold-cocked by Mike Tyson in a bar fight than heard those words. That’s when I knew that things had to drastically change in how both how I related to my family and serving the church.

Every time I volunteered somewhere or went to a meeting it lead to fights with the kids. “You don’t love us you only love stuff at church!

Their anger lead to my tears.

Here’s what I wrote last October in a post, “When your kids hate church“:

Yesterday, I sat in the car with a child who refused to participate. Not all Sunday’s are like that. But sometimes the feet literally stop moving and the tears start flowing. It’s hard to look in your child’s eyes and see them tearfully say “please don’t make me go,” and then force them to go.

I can’t stomach it. That is, clearly, not the type of relational connection I want my children to have with Jesus.

Read the rest

That post lead to an impossible number of conversations with friends in ministry. By sharing my pain and acknowledging that one of my darkest fears had become my reality I connected with others who serve in full-time ministry and find themselves in similar situations.

Of all of those conversations I had a single phrase spoken stuck out to me. Paraphrasing what she said, I’ve probably added to it: (not accusing just thinking out loud)

“I wonder if you’ve laid your children on the alter of your own ideals and put them into impossible situations? They go to a school you have chosen for them which meets all of your ideals for living in the city, they go to a church you have chosen for them meeting the ideals for you living in the city. They walk a mile in your shoes every day and never get a break.”

Dear Jesus, this was true. It cut past the niceties right to the bone.

So we made some changes. Kristen and I have worked on it. And, on our road to recovery, we have seen some moments when our kids love Jesus and His church. Last night was one of those moments as Paul brought his Bible and a little devotional thing from church to do as a bedtime activity with mom. That totally made me cry!

Some other waypoints on this path have included…

  • Praying with and for our kids.
  • Inviting them in to freely sit in on stuff we are doing and to ask questions. Usually, this has been Megan.
  • Putting our family as the priority over our beloved community group when Jackson was born. (We’ll rejoin them this Fall)
  • Being joyful as we made a transition from one congregation to another, in part, based on their feedback.
  • Experiencing Lent together seemed like a turning point. (Kinesthetic learning is perfect for them)
  • Awana, as much as I’ve lamented about it for years as a leader, has been a gift to them as they’ve gotten more familiar with the Bible and how to use it. (A free date night each week for mom/dad has been good for our marriage as a bi-product!)
  • Moments with each kid when they said, “Daddy, remember when you were in charge of that stuff at church? I liked it when you did that. It would be fun for you to do that again. You were good at it. I miss that.
  • Eagerly signing up and bugging us about details of summer fun camp.

Like any hurt or injury it’s a long process. The quote above is from 2008– we’ve been at this for 1/3 of her life. We haven’t arrived and we still have some very difficult things to work through. And I don’t know if they will ever love the Bride of Christ like I do. But I’m happy to see progress.

It brings me deep joy to begin to see how Jesus is bridging the gap and building a relationship with my children in a way that isn’t forced, coerced, or built on expectations from mom or dad.

O, what a day that will be!