Wide-Eyed Wonder

I’m not a morning person.

At all.

My disdain for mornings has actually increased in recent years, although I didn’t think it was possible.  At one point, I thought that I hated mornings so much that I couldn’t hate them anymore, so I’d start a slow progression to becoming a morning person.

Boy, was I wrong.

Do you who lives in my house and is a morning person?

My son, Caleb, who is three and a half months shy from turning 2 years old.

Every weekday morning, I wake up instantly angry at my alarm.  I begrudgingly get in the shower, murmuring because the bathroom light is too bright to my darkened eyes.  I then get dressed in silence because the only thing worse than mornings is noise in the morning.  Finally, I shuffle out to the living room to take some medicine and watch the news while waiting for Caleb to wake up so I can feed him and get him to daycare.

Every weekday morning (usually), Caleb wakes up ready to greet the world around him.  If you were to sit in my living room in the mornings, you’d hear nothing come out of the monitor.  Then, all of a sudden, you’d hear a little bit of shuffling and some happy, loud babbles as he’s marveling at all the things in his dark room.  Sometimes he’ll even shout “Dad!” as he is waiting for me to come in and get him out of the crib.

When I hear that happy chatter, I shuffle back to his room, turn on his lamp, and he greets me with a pretty happy sound.  He’s wide awake, sitting or standing in his crib, and then he does this thing every morning that makes me laugh: he points out all of the Disney cartoon characters in his room.  Every single one.  Lately, we’ve started with his rug that bears the images of Pluto, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy.  He stands and points at them, attempting to say their names.  He’s gotten “duck” and “Pluto” out decently clearly.  But after he points them out, he points at the cartoon characters on these canvases above his bed.  They bear the images of Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, and Mickey Mouse.  Again, the same thing – happy chatter as he points at them and I call out their names, and he tries to repeat me.  Finally, we move on to the 7 other Mickey Mouse characters in his room: 2 on the mobile, 3 on the wall above his closet, one sitting on his dresser, and a big one clung to the wall above his changing table.  After that, we get a book and he looks at it while I change and dress him.

I’m not sure where he gets that wide-eyed wonder.  Amy is a morning person, but not like that.  And, well, you already know about me.  But Caleb his picked up this habit.  Everyday is a new day.  Every morning is a chance to see all of the Mickeys, and Pluto, and Donald Duck, and Winnie the Pooh, and the other characters scattered around his room.

This morning, as he went through his daily tradition of pointing these things out, I couldn’t help but wonder myself.

Caleb’s daily wide-eyed wonder is a trait of God.  Marvel and wonder are at the heart of Christianity.  Consider the shepherd’s at Jesus’ birth.  They were there to marvel and wonder.  That’s it.  No end game, no agenda.  Just to look, marvel, and wonder.

Maybe this is the reason wonder brings us closer to the heart of God.  Maybe it’s why Caleb, in the innocence of his childhood, his marked by wonder.  Maybe that’s what we’ve lost as adults and, in turn, has made us hate the mornings.

Aren’t mornings a picture of wonder?  The darkness of night chipped away by the gradual light of the sun – a metaphor of wonder, if there ever was one.

Maybe the reason I hate the mornings is because I’ve lost the ability to wonder and marvel.  Maybe that’s the reason you hate mornings, too.

Maybe what we need to do is take a page out of Caleb’s book and marvel once again.  Find one thing to point at every morning and wonder at.  I don’t know if it will work, but it’s worth a shot.

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The Unfortunate Fraternity

It may be hard to believe, but I have been trying to write less and less about grief recently.  It’s been just over two years now since my dad passed away, but occasionally things happen that get me caught up in the grip of grief once again, just like if the passing had happened yesterday.  Today was one of those times.

I opened up Facebook for a few minutes of downtime before I went on to my next task of the day, and I happened to see a video of George W. Bush’s eulogy for his father, George H.W. Bush.  I typically don’t watch videos on Facebook that are more than 30 or so seconds, but something compelled me to click on this video.  So I did, and for the next 3 and a half minutes, I watched Bush 43 deliver a moving tribute to Bush 41.  3 and a half minutes of remembering a giant of a man.  He started off with tears in his eyes, but quickly moved on to some typical George W. Bush brand of quips, complete with his smile and quick glance over to his brother, Jeb, and his wife, Laura.  He delivered this short speech powerfully.  As he got towards the end, grief caught him once again.  He became quite emotional, even just for a few seconds, before regaining composure to finish out the last half sentence.

I’ve been in that position too many times.  Not with a eulogy or speech, but I’ve talked about dad in some of my sermons.  I can’t necessarily remember if I got emotional on stage in front of the congregation about him, but I definitely have as I did a run-through of my sermon.  There’s something odd about preaching to an empty, dark room.  There’s something even stranger about getting emotional while preaching to an empty, dark room.

Truth be told, I don’t think it matters if people are in the room or not.  Bush 43 could have been speaking to an empty room and would have had the same reaction.  It’s what grief does.

It’s the same thing as listening to a song and suddenly turning it off because there were 5 words that reminded you of your dad.

It’s the same thing as putting on your dad’s old work boots before weed-eating the lawn, and pausing with a lump in your throat, standing beside the weed-eater in a dimly lit garage.

It’s the same thing as delivering a eulogy for your father to an international audience and, even though you’ve held the title as President of the United States, still breaking down at the end.

Grief hits everyone.  President or not.

As I watched George W. Bush walk back to his seat, I realized something: George and Jeb had just joined a fraternity that no one wants to be in.  I’ve been part of that unfortunate fraternity for two years.  They’ve been part of the unfortunate fraternity for less than a week.

I joined George W. Bush in grieving today.  Before my own father passed away, it would have been difficult for me to do that.  Today, it was far too easy.  But that’s how grief works.

Being part of this unfortunate fraternity works like that.  I can identify with those who have lost loved ones.  I’ve read and shared stories with widows, widowers, parents who have lost children, and children who have lost parents.  I don’t know what they’re going through exactly because it hits every person differently, but I know grief.  I’m familiar with his ways.  And our shared membership in this unfortunate fraternity allows us to grieve together, even in our own unique ways.

As news coverage continues on George H.W. Bush’s funeral in Texas, I know that I will grieve some more.  So will George W. Bush and Jeb.  And, if you are a member of this unfortunate fraternity, so will you.

Thankfully, we can grieve together.

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2 Years

I’ve said this before on this site: grief overwhelms you at the most random of times.

For example: This past Tuesday I was driving down a road near my house.  I had left my office and was headed home to eat some lunch.  I have no clue why or how it even happened, but my eyes began to fill with tears.  I wasn’t necessarily thinking about my dad at that moment.  It just happened.  Luckily, I was able to bat back the tears, get home, and eat my sandwich.

I’m sure you know what has happened in my life but in case you’re new around here, let me explain.  On October 5, 2016, my dad passed away from ALS.  It’s a neurological disease that essentially slowly shuts down your body via your muscular and nervous system.  Some can live with it for years and years.  My dad wasn’t one of them.

Time seems to be arced for me.  I vividly remember where I was when I received the phone call from my parents letting me know that dad had been diagnosed with ALS.  I was at Orange Leaf in Florence, KY.  My wife and I had a friendly bet on something small, and I had won.  I answered the phone while holding my frozen yogurt.  I don’t remember much of the evening after that.

There’s a line from that moment to seeing my dad in the hospital.  Then there’s a line from that to telling my parents that Amy was pregnant.  Then there’s a line from that moment to seeing my dad essentially helpless in a bed.  Then there’s a line from that to him passing away.

Fast forward two years, and there’s a line from that day to October 5 of last year, to October 5 of this year.  And I’m sure that there will be another line drawn from this October 5 to next year’s October 5.

Due to this upcoming date, I’ve tried to keep myself busy this week.  I’ve worked on the yard for a few evenings after work.  Tonight, I stripped wallpaper from our entry hallway.  Right now, I’m supposed to be finishing up my sermon for this Sunday.  I’ve done all of these things to keep my mind off of the painfully obvious.  But here’s the thing about working: it reminds me of my dad.

When I worked out in the yard, mainly weed-eating, I wore his old work boots.  I pulled up some of the grass in the cracks in our driveway using work gloves that are almost identical to his.  Even while stripping wallpaper, I could easily imagine my dad running a scraper up and down a wall like I was.  I was trying to keep my mind from floundering in grief by doing things, but in the midst of doing these things, I was warmly reminded of my father.

It’s weird how that works.

So on October 5, I may pick up a weed-eater.  Or some trimmers.  Or a scraper.  And remember my dad for all that he was.

Or I’ll pick up my son and play with some blocks with him.  And in the process of doing so, instill in him the same thing my dad instilled in me; the very thing I’m reminded of whenever I weed-eat or strip wallpaper.

Maybe the line drawn from October 5, 2017 to October 5, 2018 won’t be one that is from one grief-filled day to the another.  Sure, grief will be there.  But honor will be, too.  Remembrance.  Maybe even a hint of joy, as I spend time with my son like my dad spent time with me.

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1 Year Later

On October 5, 2016, I received news that no one wants.

My father, after a long battle with ALS, went on to receive his eternal reward in heaven.

In the days following October 5, 2016, I went through a whirlwind of emotion as my family and I went through dad’s belongings, attempting to pick out what we’d set out at the funeral.  We also had to plan that service.  Looking back one year later, I don’t remember much about the details.  I just remember specific events and instances.

I vividly remember going through my dad’s truck to find things to put out at the funeral.  I saw his coat embroidered with the logo from the Morehead Utility Plant Board.  I saw socks, hats, and gloves.  Various notes and papers were scattered around.  It was as if dad had driven the truck yesterday.  But the truth was that he hadn’t driven the truck in almost a year.  He was physically unable to.  I just somehow stumbled upon a snapshot of his last drive in December or so of 2015.

In the weeks following October 5, 2016, I tried to get back to normal.  My wife and I came back home to Northern Kentucky, and I went back to the job I had at the time.  As I’ve written about before, grief came at the oddest of times.  I’d be fine but then I’d see a commercial that has nothing to do with fathers or death or sickness, and I’d lose it.  It was strange.  Needless to say, normal for me was never really normal again.  I had to find a new normal.

Since my dad passed away, I became a father myself.  My son has the same middle name as my father had.  I switched jobs and moved to a new city.  I’ve dreaded this day for a few months, knowing that it was upcoming and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I didn’t know how I’d react today or what I’d feel.

I wanted to honor dad today, somehow.  As I thought over things, I figured the best way I could honor him was pretty simple.

I’d go to work.

I’d come home and play with my son.

I’d love my family as he did.

My wife and I even read a book about fish tonight to our son at bedtime.  He seemed to enjoy it.  It was fitting, given my dad’s love for fishing.

I’ll never talk to my dad again this side of heaven.  I’ll never be able to ask him how to fix something on my car or in my house.  Those things are hard to live with, but I know what I can do.

I can take my son fishing when he’s old enough (and tell others how the fish just weren’t biting due to factors beyond my control like the weather).

I can talk to any person like I’ve known them for years, instantly putting them at ease and letting them know that they’re valued.

I can share stories (even when my wife and son rolls their eyes).

I can have a natural love for Scripture and a desire to grow as a follower of Jesus.

These things that my dad did are traditions, in a sense, that I’ll continue.

And I know that I’ll see him again.  On the other side of heaven.  I’m thankful for that.

All day today, I’ve been reminded of this passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14: Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

So, I don’t grieve like those who have no hope.  Dad didn’t while he was alive, either.

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The Best and Worst Father’s Day

A little over 2 months ago, I was sitting on my couch holding my 3 week old son watching TV.  This was one of those times where the baby isn’t sleeping, so I’m sitting in my rocking recliner trying to get him to start catching some Zs.  Usually I watched Netflix or something, but this particular night I was watching The Tonight Show.  Jimmy Fallon and his friends were entertaining me while my son started to slip off to dreamland.  Then, at the end of the show, the Zac Brown Band comes on and starts singing “My Old Man.”  I like country music, I like the Zac Brown Band, and I hadn’t heard of this song before, so I waited for it to start.

Halfway through the song, I’m in tears.  Here I am, holding my newborn son, watching the Zac Brown Band in teary awe.  The heavy-handedness of the song was real.  I lost my father on October 5, 2016, due to ALS.  My son was born just 5 months after he passed away.  Zac Brown was crooning about the influence of his father, while hoping for the best for his influence on his own son.  I could relate in a very real sense, so I sat in the dark, holding my son, watching and crying during The Tonight Show.

Life is strange.

Today was bittersweet for me.  As I’m typing this, it’s closing in on midnight on Father’s Day night 2017.  Today was my first Father’s Day as a father.  It was also my first Father’s Day without my dad.  I gave the message at a church this morning and told stories about my son.  I also told stories about my dad.  When I think of one, I think of the other.

I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to Father’s Day.  I knew it’d be tough, but good at the same time.  I thought the day would come in waves–waves of joy and happiness with my son and then waves of grief and sadness because of my dad’s passing.  But, strangely enough, it didn’t happen that way.

When someone wished me happy Father’s Day, I was made aware of both facts.  I cherished my son and mourned the loss of my dad.  Not one emotion at a time, though.  It’s almost like it happened simultaneously.  I thought of both people–my son and my dad.  Maybe it equaled out the grief.  Maybe it made the joy hit my soul that much deeper.  I’m not sure, but it happened that way.

Grief hits you at the strangest of times.  Just a few weeks ago, I was watching a replay of a country music awards show (what is it about country music!?) and they were doing a 50 year tribute to the greatest country songs.  At the very end, a feeble Randy Travis walked out and belted out the last couple of notes of “Forever and Ever, Amen.”  It was a special moment because he had suffered a stroke that really did a number on him.  But here he was, celebrating country music with all of his friends on one of the biggest stages in Nashville.  I don’t know why this reminded me of my dad, but it did.  Looking back, I think it may have been the joy on Randy Travis’ face.  It reminded me of my dad’s joy, even when ALS had taken away his ability to move and speak.  Maybe it was the resilience, too.  I’m not sure, but I just know it reminded me of dad and I couldn’t continue watching it.

Then my son was born.  One of my favorite things to do with my now-3-month-old son is make him smile.  I do that by painting a big goofy smile on my face.  He responds with a face of pure joy.  That, too, reminds me of my dad.

I was able to go back and finish watching the country music awards.  I even re-watched the opening with Randy Travis.  I held my son while I did it, because I knew the joy was a familiar thing with Randy, my dad, and my son.  It gave me joy, even in the midst of grief and sadness.

Life really is strange.  Even in sadness, joy is there.  Sometimes the two are experienced simultaneously.

Happy father’s day to you.

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Where Are We Going?

I’ve always enjoyed traveling.  It didn’t really happen that much until I went to college, but then it hit me: I have friends from all over the nation.  What if I went where they lived?  I could experience and see different areas of the USA.  So I did just that.  As a result, I often asked where we were going.

It’s fitting I’m in ministry now, I guess.  That question should be a headlining question for those in ministry.  It’s a question I love to answer, and it’s one that I’ve asked every step of the way in my experience.  When I was a fresh new student pastor at a church in Norfolk, VA, I asked it.  When I was a church planter in southeastern Kentucky, I asked it even more.  As a semi-experienced student pastor in northern Kentucky now, I ask it often.

I suppose this is the reason for this blog post.  I realized that I haven’t put the answer to this question out to the public at large.  I’ve shared it with parents and student leaders, but not with everyone.  Now’s the time.

So.  Where are we going?

I’m glad you asked.

Before we jump in, let me give some background info: I started serving at The Mount in Williamstown, KY, about a year and a half ago.  We’ve had some success and failure, but that’s ministry.  I’m of the mindset that churches and ministries should dream big and take risks.  Honestly, I’m not interested in being in a ministry that doesn’t do that.  So here I am.  Even better, here we are.

The student ministry at Mount Olivet Christian Church is one that takes Ephesians 3:20-21 seriously: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  The question that I’ve wrestled with is, “What does ‘immeasurably more’ look like for Students at The Mount?”  I’ve also wrestled with the question, “What can we do now to set up for ‘immeasurably more’ in the future?”  This all stems from the statistic that 70% of 6th-12th graders in Grant County, Kentucky, are not involved with any church or student ministry.  To me, this means that 70% of our 6th-12th grade students don’t have a relationship with Jesus.  30% do, and that’s great, but our work has been defined.

The mission of Students at The Mount (the name of the student ministry at Mount Olivet) is simple and identifies with the whole mission of the church: To lead students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.  There are two key words here.  First is lead.  We can’t spoon-feed or drag students into a relationship with Jesus.  We can lead them, though.  Even further, students can lead other students into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  This is where the 30% comes in.  The second word is growing.  8 out of 10 students leave the church and faith altogether after high school graduation.  Our traditional youth ministry methods and efforts obviously haven’t worked.  So our youth ministry now must look and be different.  This is where “growing” comes in.  Let’s equip 6th through 12th graders now with the knowledge, skills, and passion to continue their relationship with Jesus through their 18-22 years, into middle and late adulthood.  We are intentional about our mission.

A mission is great to have, but if it isn’t placed into the context of a vision, then it isn’t that useful.  So our vision (what we want to see happen within the next 5-10 years) is simple: To create a different student ministry that students want to belong to.  Our mission will remain unchanged.  Our vision is time specific, though.  In 10 years, we will see where God is leading us at that point and probably shape another vision statement.  There is something important about putting this down where you can see it.  The reason behind this vision is shared in the previous paragraph; our student ministry must be different to achieve different results than the status quo.  The student ministry of the 80s, 90s, or 2000s simply will not work today.  If you don’t believe me, walk into any church with a fledgling youth ministry.  They can do a lot of events and have fun, but the students continue to leave Christianity because their faith just doesn’t work anymore.  My biggest prayer for Students at The Mount is that we don’t become a youth ministry that just has some fun and throws a little Bible in from time to time.  My second prayer is that I don’t mess up what God is doing.  Both will lead students into a diminishing relationship with Jesus, and that isn’t our mission!

Our mission and vision have to be accomplished through various strategies.  To that end, I know that laser-sharp focus is necessary for effective ministry.  Again, if you don’t believe me, walk into any church that starts groups/ministries/programs for every niche.  They’re a sinking ship.  So, we will focus on the following strategies to accomplish our mission and vision.

1. Irresistible environments.  This might not seem like much, but it is.  If a student walks into a dingy and dirty room that could double as a storage closet, they probably won’t be back.  But if a student walks into an inviting environment where they are welcomed by friends and sense something going on, they will probably want to come back (and hopefully will bring a friend with them).  This doesn’t just fall under room engineering, though.  This is the responsibility of everyone involved with the student ministry.  Smiles and positive attitudes go a long way.  For Mount Olivet, it can be difficult.  We eat dinner in a lobby and share space with every other ministry in the church.  But we are slowly engineering every environment we are in to be one that is unique to students, whether it be through music, games that they can play upon arrival, and our leaders smiling and welcoming students as they arrive.  It will only improve from here, too.  This feeds into our mission and vision by giving students a different place (than typical youth ministry environments) to connect.

2. Small groups.  Great things happen within the context of community.  Students connect with each other and with leaders that want to see them grow in their relationships with Jesus.  Even better than that, these groups create their own unique type of culture.  Students might not want to share what they’re struggling with with their parents, but they can share it with their small group leader.  They also get to put handles on what was just talked about in youth group.  They can apply it to their own lives, process what it means, and hold each other accountable in the context of a small group.  Those types of things typically don’t happen in a large group setting.  So we love small groups!  This feeds into our mission and vision quite obviously: it allows students to grow in their relationship with Jesus with others.

3. Middle school and high school retreats.  I wanted to line this item out specifically.  We pour a lot of emphasis on these retreats for a couple of reasons.  First, students need an opportunity to disconnect from life as usual to focus on something spiritually.  There’s more growth that can happen within a weekend at a retreat than can happen in a month’s worth of youth group meetings.  Secondly, it allows students to connect with others that aren’t in their clicks and circles.  In other words, it broadens their horizons.  This is a good thing that can happen within an environment like a retreat.  This is why we partner with churches like Williamstown Christian for events like this.  It lets students see that they aren’t the only ones living out their faith at school, work, and home!  Our mission and vision is accomplished when students can grow exponentially at retreats.

4. Connection events.  Sometimes students that have never been to E4 (our Sunday night student gathering) don’t want to come because they’re intimidated.  I completely understand as I am an introverted person.  So we offer connection events that are completely fun and meant to help students connect with one another, building community.  Things like game nights, bowling, baseball games, concerts, etc. all feed into this, as well as our mission and vision.  The only fear I want to mention here is that we don’t want to become a youth group that is all about these types of events.  We already know that a busy youth group isn’t necessarily a sign of a healthy youth group.

5. Partner with parents.  We (SATM) have students for 2-3 hours a week, on average.  The rest of the time is spent between work, school, and home.  The bulk of that time, however, is spent at home.  This is why we want to partner with parents and equip them to lead their students into a growing relationship with Jesus (see what I did there?).  We know that what happens at home is more important and impactful than what happens at church, so let’s partner up.

Those strategies, obviously, help us accomplish our mission and vision.  But how do we know if we are actually hitting the mark?  Again, I’m glad you asked.  We want to measure the wins, because we know that “wins” determine how we are doing.  So the primary win is that a student is led to take ownership of their faith.  This means that they are doing things that are also wins for us: reading their Bible daily, regularly attending church/E4, take the next steps in their faith (baptism, serving, etc.), investing into and inviting their friends, and showing excitement for what the student ministry does.  If we can do these things, then I think we will be on the right track.

This is where we are going.  This is the type of student ministry that I feel like God is engineering here at The Mount.  Do you want to get involved?  Awesome.  Let me know.  If not, please at least pray for us.  This will be big, risky, and slightly crazy, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Enjoy Your Iced Coffee

I went to Starbucks the other day.  I pulled into the parking lot, pulled up the app on my phone, and I looked to order my usual: a grande cold brew with a couple of pumps of classic syrup.  This is a pretty quick process; much quicker than standing in line, ordering, and then waiting.  I walked in, stood at the counter, and waited a couple of minutes for my mobile order to magically appear on the waist-high counter in front of me.  Eventually, a barista with an empty cup looked at me and said, “Sean?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

“I’m sorry, Sean, but we have run out of cold brew and won’t have any until tomorrow morning.”

“Oh…OK.  Well…uh…”

At this point, I was faced with a choice (or a dilemma, depending on how you are dealing with it).  I could angrily storm out, accusing them of negligence because the app didn’t alert me that they were out of cold brew, threatening to go to the Starbucks in Crestview Hills because they can probably accommodate my desire for cold brew.  In this choice, I would likely offend the barista, but she deserves it, right!?

Or I could just get an iced coffee is an appropriate replacement.  My barista was thinking the same thing.

“We can make an iced coffee for you, or maybe an iced Americano.”

“An iced coffee is fine.”

Within 30 seconds, I had an iced coffee in my hands.  If I had chosen the former option during my choice/dilemma, I would have been driving through construction to another Starbucks without the guarantee of cold brew, leaving the barista in bewilderment (and maybe hurt over something she can’t control).  But now I was sitting in an air conditioned cafe, sipping a delicious caffeinated beverage on ice.  Plus, I am a gold card member.  I get free refills.  What a deal.

I work in the world of full-time ministry.  Often, my person is not just associated with me or my family.  It’s associated with an entire church.  This is probably why people like to tell me what’s right or wrong with my church.

That’s fine.  It really is.  I’m more than willing to listen and talk about the heart behind many of our strategies and methods of ministry.  I enjoy it, actually.  But I occasionally run into something that cuts me to the core.

Sometimes people decide to rid themselves of the association with a particular church because of one method of ministry or strategy.  It almost always results in hurt feelings, lost friends, and bitterness.

You’ve seen it be done.  If you’ve spent any time in church at all, you’ve heard jokes about churches splitting because of a disagreement of the color of the new carpet.  We laugh at it, but we laugh nervously, because we know it’s about 10 seconds from happening in most churches.  Maybe even the church we are plugged into.

I think this happens because we begin to hold the ministry methods we are most familiar with in a sacred spot.  As in: If we don’t do this, then we aren’t doing anything right.

But in reality, our ministry methods and strategies aren’t sacred.  In fact, very little is sacred within the church (gasp!).  The only sacred thing in the church is God and his spirit living within his followers.  Everything else (including you, me, and our methods) are not sacred.  They may be God-inspired, and hopefully they are, but they are not sacred.  They will change.  They will probably change way sooner than you think.

Plus, when Christians assume that certain ministry methods and strategies are implemented haphazardly, they completely and totally disregard the countless hours in prayer and study that the church leaders have committed to this decision.  Maybe the leaders are doing this thing because God has given them the ability to lead this church in the way that he wants them to.

Remember my fun time at Starbucks?  If I were to yell at the barista and storm out, what would it accomplish?  The cold brew would still be out, and I would be completely disregarding the barista’s attention to detail and her kind demeanor when telling me that there is no more cold brew for the day.

If we decide, as followers of Jesus, to storm out of a church because we think that a certain ministry method is wrong, then maybe we should pray that God would lead us into full-time pastoral ministry.  Obviously, we think we have the market cornered.

Sure, there are times when a ministry method might be wrong scripturally.  But that will be painfully evident to everyone around, not just 5 or 1o of your buddies that sit beside you in the pew.

Maybe we should recognize that the church is a living movement organized by Jesus himself, so when we don’t know the reasoning behind something, we should search for it by searching Scripture.  Take into mind the heart of the leaders.  If we really think that the leaders are maliciously leading the church astray in terms of methods and strategies, we have a bigger problem.

Maybe, instead of being angry, we should be happy with the iced coffee in lieu of the cold brew.  Who knows…maybe we will enjoy it and be on board with it.

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