Categories
Church Leadership

What does restoration look like?

Here is our old youth pastor, Adam. Photo by Ann Larie Valentine via Flickr (Creative Commons)

My heart breaks for those hurt by the church. Specifically, for people called to full-time ministry, but gravely injured by the people they were called to serve.

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t interact with a youth pastor or former youth pastor who was deeply wounded by their church.

The church treated them like a couch. One day they are the centerpiece of the metaphorical living room and the next day they were moved to the curb and left for the garbage truck to pick them up.

When you are called to a church you are applauded publicly. People pray for you. You are brought up front to acknowledge that the leadership feels you have been called to be a central figure in the church. But when they no longer need you? They basically kick you out of community, shame you, and write a small check for your private pain, and pretend you never existed.

While I recognize that there is always another side to their story– it nonetheless paints a vivid picture of what that church really believes.

  • You have to behave a certain way or perform to a certain expectation level or we will kick you out.
  • When we wrong someone, we cover it up with hush money, and we never ask for forgiveness, even when we are clearly wrong.
  • When we wrong someone, we never restore either them or the relationship privately or publicly.

It just leaves me to wonder about the state of the church. We reach less than 10% of the population on a weekly basis. And we don’t think our private institutional sins impact that at all!

It leaves me with three questions to ponder as I begin my work week:

  • What does it look like for the institution to seek forgiveness?
  • What would it look like if we restored people?
  • What do I need to do to seek forgiveness and restoration of both relationship and position in my life?

May we become a church who loves its staff as fellow men and women on the journey.

Categories
San Diego State

SDSU: I believe that we will win

This is more fun in person.

As a good friend and SDSU alumni is quick to tell me, I joined the Aztecs fan-dome at just the right moment in history. It’s been amazing to see this school go from identifying itself as a party school to a campus full of pride for its athletics. (Baseball, football, and now basketball.)

Not many people outside of Southern California have noticed this transformation. But it is exhilarating.

When we moved into the college area almost three years ago I decided I would embrace the school… because it’s part of my neighborhood and some of our neighbors are students. Yet, as a person who grew up around a major university, I was shocked by how little people cared about SDSU. You’d rarely see non-students wearing SDSU gear, people didn’t care about the sports, and even the school itself was kind of a third or fourth choice place. Non-student neighbors didn’t take much pride in being in the college area. And, unlike in South Bend, there wasn’t a soul who had the school’s logo painted on their garage door or a school flag hanging from their flag pole.

Not anymore.

Yesterday was marked by three major things in the life of SDSU.

First, they welcomed 4100 brand new freshmen on campus. They had record applications.

Second, I rode the train home from work with a trolley car full of fans headed to the game…. this is two full hours before tip off! This is something you only see with the Charger or maybe the Padres if the Angels are in town.

Third, the national media has no choice but to pay attention. They were the first team to 20 wins and hold the longest win streak in the NCAA.

As I walked around the Viejas Arena last night before finding my seats I did an extra loop around the stadium because the buzz was palpable. Everyone was wearing SDSU gear, walking through campus I saw tons of visitors carrying bookstore bags… and I mumbled to myself, “This is what jumping on the bandwagon feels like.

Categories
Church Leadership

Why Christianity Works

On my trip up the West Coast we’ve been meeting with youth workers in a variety of settings and a wide variety of types of youth ministries. And in those conversations we talk about what’s going on in their ministry, what they are teaching, what’s working, and what isn’t.

Now, youth workers love people. And they don’t just want to talk about themselves– so invariably they in turn ask me the same types of questions.

Here is one thing that has stimulated our high schoolers thoughts lately. This video actually covers the last month of our teaching in just 3 minutes.

A funny sidenote. As I’ve talked about before, our high school ministry is working hard to not just talk about Good News but to literally be good news to the students in our ministry. All of our core kids have limited church background. And every week God reveals a new way we need to be good news in order for the gospel to be Good News in their lives.

So, last week we taught the third portion of this video– that Jesus came to make a way to restore our hearts as well as the world around us.

In our small group time I gave an example from my own life about what it would look like if the Gospel penetrated into the way I think about being a dad compared to the way that I was brought up. A few of my students were really tracking with that because there is something within them that wants to be better fathers to their future kids than they’ve experienced.

As one of my kids got it, he blurted out “It’s good that God sent Jesus so we could be part of making things better. If he had just left us in that other mess, that’d be bulls**t.

I kind of laughed when he said it. As a churchified person I was a little uncomfortable with how he put it. But I was also appreciative that God had just illuminated a deep truth about Himself in this young mans heart. I looked at him with a big grin… “I think that’s good, too. God’s no bullsh**ter. That’s why we call it Good News.”