So I remember when I first started as a youth pastor, just a couple months into the adventure. This lady calls the church I was serving at that time and asks me, what is your stand regarding dating? I told her I was in a fairly serious relationship, and wasn't interested in seeing anyone else. No, no, no, she explained. Which do you teach at your church, dating or courtship? Not knowing that there had been a new book cannonized to scripture titled IKDGB by the then famous prophet Joshua Harris, I said "Neither really, we teach students to honor God and to honor their parents". I explained that we had quite the diversity of students in our ministry. I explained that I felt my calling was to be a coach and partner and whatever they labeled the process they used for trying to find that special someone, I would encourage them to do it in a God honoring, self respecting, obeying mom and dad kinda way. This lady went balistic! "SO YOU DON'T TEACH COURTSHIP!" We will not be visiting your church! click.
I was stunned!
(It is interesting that the youth pastor who came in after me did a whole series on Josh Harris' book. If "that lady" had only visited then she could have had her cake and eaten it too!)
I was remembering this story last night following our weekly youth ministry meeting. You see, I have at least eight guys in our group right now that are home schooled and then there's this other group of students who are only eighth graders and they've already been expelled from our local school district. Yet when we came together and worshiped together, did some crazy role playing about "gentleness", explored some ancient stories about a guy named moses, and ended praying with one another... we were one "group". You could call us... a community! I invited the students to come this afternoon and assist me in bus graffitti removal (if anyone is wondering "spot shot" carpet cleaner works great for removing the spray paint with out affecting the original paint). I fully intend to have a strong response from both "tribes" of boys. It brings real joy to my heart that our group is not some homogenius, vanilla only, boring club. Yet, even in my current place of ministry I see so many silly discussions that seperate the so called body of Christ. Home school/ public school, liberal/conservative, never ever drink/ occasionally responsibly drink, tradition/contemporary, modern/postmodern, ford/chevy, caff/decaff/ half caff, you get the picture! And these are just with in our church! Include believers from other churches and boy can we have some disagreements! It breaks my heart, when people who love Jesus, miss loving others, over small, silly things.
It just seems that in our efforts to be holy, some have got really stuck on the need to be right!
In my church now I know of one family that has their youngest kid in christian private school. Their oldest boy is in ASB at the public High School. Their middle schooler also goes to public school, but their daughter, who used to be home schooled, now attends non religous, private school. Could their be a different "right" educational path for different people? Yep!
Their is one pastor at our church, who drives a big gas guzzling Chevy Suburban. His wife drives a Toyota Prius and commutes to the OC every day (makes me laugh every time I pass their drive way). They also have four kids! Is it possible, that for some people, both the Prius and the Suburban could be enviromentally responsible choices? Yep!
On any given Sunday morning in our church, you are just as likely to hear the old hymnn, "How great Thou Art", as you are to hear the popular Chris Tomlin song, "How great is our God". Is it possible that guitars, piano, drums, dj mixers, silence, raising hands, kneeling, choregraphed praise, flutes, trumpets, lyres, tamburines, and spoken word are all "right" ways to worship? Yep!
This week, I watched as many as you did, the "Madame Speaker" and Vice President "seesaw" back and forth as they sat or stood during the President's State of the Union address. (I am not familliar with how either of them practice faith, but I do know people who love Jesus from both parties). Is it possible that folks could be voting republican, and others democrat because they want to apply biblical principles when they vote? Yep!
I notice this post is getting rather long, so even though I could continue, I will stop. I'm doubtful many made it this far. May we not only remember, but also live out, the Augustine maxim...
"In the essentials, unity;. in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity."