From Across the Net – “When Will Your Church Be Back to Normal?”

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I have loved watching my own church pivot in this crisis. Embracing technology as a way to bring us all together.

Photo by Ron Smith on Unsplash

Some churches that never even recorded their sermons were able, in no time, to livestream their services, to provide ways to do youth group Bible studies via Zoom, and maintain prayer chains through texting and social media. Churches without even a website address found ways to enable their people to give their offerings online. Some churches had to find a way to vote on calling a new pastor with online voting or drive-through affirmations. 

This sort of creativity will not end. The fact is that though many, if not most, churches can plan for a “re-opening” some time in the foreseeable future, in almost every case, this will not mean dropping live-streaming and other forms of connection but adding in-person gatherings to what we are doing now. 

You can read more here

Simple Accountability

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I stepped out of my comfort zone Sunday morning. Normally, I teach adults during the Sunday School hour at church. But yesterday, I went and joined a 9th-12th grade boys class.

My friend Jon, who I used to co-teach with, leads this group of guys. He opened with the question:

“What did you read in your Bibles this week?”

The room was silent, awkwardly silent. Jon asked again, his question hanging in the air:

“What did you read in your Bibles this week?”

The silence broke as one of the guys talked about what he was reading in the Book of Revelation; another talked about reading in the Gospel of Mark.

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

We discussed other things, but our opening question stuck with me. Got me thinking about what would happen if I asked this question in an adult Sunday School group. What would the answers be like? Do we expect to be asked such a question by a fellow believer?

I think that often we can put up a good front. We can demonstrate that we know a lot about Jesus and the Bible. The difference between knowing and growing; the difference between reading your Bible and praying on a daily basis is huge.

I want to grow closer to Jesus. I want to be able to give an answer about what I’ve read on a given day… about what He is doing in my life. Accountability starts with a simple question: Are we willing to ask?

Someone, Please Save Us, Us College Kids

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During my junior college years, I listened to “College Kids”, by Relient K, on repeat:

Someone, please save us, us college kids!
What my parents told me is what I did
They said, “Go to school and be a college kid.”
But, in the end, I questioned why I did

I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I knew I wanted more than the part time restaurant job I was working. Surely there was more to life than general level college courses, commuting, and serving food/busing tables. Add on top of that friends moving away for school, girls/dating, and not being sure of who I was in the church (or the church having a clue of who I was)… this was a huge transitory time for me.

(Oh no!) Not for me, not for me
Call it torture, call it university
(No!) Arts and Crafts is all I need
I’ll take calligraphy and then I’ll make a fake degree

I am thankful for those that God stirred up and called into my life during that time. He is faithful. I just didn’t always see His faithfulness as I clearly do now in retrospect. Little did I know that He was preparing me for bigger things. Bigger things like:

  • Moving away from all that I ever knew (family, friends, etc.).
  • Texas. TEXAS. The shock of Southern/Bible Belt culture.
  • My wife. I met her within a month of moving/going to school.

For those in this period of transition, the church (as a whole) does little to help with the confusion. Once students leave the comfort and safety of the youth group, they are launched into church oblivion. This oblivion is somewhere between graduating high school and marriage. The church, inadvertently, preaches that marriage is the pinnacle; once married, growing a family becomes the next prize to be won. But where does that leave those in college? Forgotten.

Eighty grand later, I found out that all that I had learned
Is that you should show up to take your finals and your mid-terms
The party scene is kind of mean; I think it’s sick and twisted
The Navy showed up at my door and claimed that I enlisted

Some churches see the need and build college, young professional, and singles ministries (all of these are totally different ministries that should not be paired together) to bridge the gap till marriage. I am thankful for churches who see this need.

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

College kids want to be recognized, listened to, and accepted in the church. They do not want to be treated as second-class citizens who serve as babysitters. Nor do they want to be treated as the “forgotten”, in-between singleness and marriage. We, as the Church, have to do more. We need to change the messages we are silently/subtly preaching through our actions. We also need to point to the stable foundation that is Scripture. College students are hungry for truth (scripture), faith that has depth, and delicious food. And maybe even a chance to come over, hang out, and wash their clothes.

We can do better. I’ve learned that Satan speaks into the silent places the church doesn’t. So let us speak and do.

Rewind Wednesday: Being Atlas

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In my senior year of high school, I served as a background vocalist in my church’s youth praise band. Because of my “position” in the youth group, I was considered to be in leadership. At the time, I admit, I had no clue what that meant.

One day, I remember being approached by the pastor’s wife, she wanted to talk. Word had gotten back to her that I had been talking about a R-rated movie I had watched (The Patriot). While I didn’t think that this was any of her business, she was upset that I had been talking about this movie in front of others in the youth group. I didn’t see what the big deal was. I was told that because I was in leadership, I needed to either lead by example or step down. Time went on, I must not have changed, and soon I felt pressure to move on. I left the church in anger and frustration.

Looking back on this situation, I can understand it more as an adult. I can understand how talking about a movie (yes, something this simple) could potentially be damaging to other believers. Romans 14 goes into greater detail on this subject of the “weak” and “strong” in faith. Verses that really stick out to me are:

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (14:13)

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. (14:19-20a)

And finally:

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. (14:22)

I do not want to be a stumbling block to anyone. I do not want to destroy the work of God over something as petty as what I consume media-wise. With this in mind, anytime I write about a certain game or a game review on this site, I am writing about it just to share my experience. I am not writing about it to brag or to cause someone to stumble (“Hey look, Bryan is doing it, we can too!”). Just because I can guilt-free, without conviction, play a first person shooter doesn’t mean that you necessarily can. God may convict you over things that I am not convicted over. That is cool.

I now know that being in a leadership position, a position or platform in the open, automatically holds me to a higher standard. As a blogger, that is something that is constantly running through the back of my mind. I have a responsibility for what I write and say. Words can bring either life or death.

What do you think?

Being Atlas

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In my senior year of high school, I served as a background vocalist in my church’s youth praise band. Because of my “position” in the youth group, I was considered to be in leadership. At the time, I admit, I had no clue what that meant.

One day, I remember being approached by the pastor’s wife, she wanted to talk. Word had gotten back to her that I had been talking about a R-rated movie I had watched (The Patriot). While I didn’t think that this was any of her business, she was upset that I had been talking about this movie in front of others in the youth group. I didn’t see what the big deal was. I was told that because I was in leadership, I needed to either lead by example or step down. Time went on, I must not have changed, and soon I felt pressure to move on. I left the church in anger and frustration.

Looking back on this situation, I can understand it more as an adult. I can understand how talking about a movie (yes, something this simple) could potentially be damaging to other believers. Romans 14 goes into greater detail on this subject of the “weak” and “strong” in faith. Verses that really stick out to me are:

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (14:13)

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. (14:19-20a)

And finally:

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. (14:22)

I do not want to be a stumbling block to anyone. I do not want to destroy the work of God over something as petty as what I consume media-wise. With this in mind, anytime I write about a certain game or a game review on this site, I am writing about it just to share my experience. I am not writing about it to brag or to cause someone to stumble (“Hey look, Bryan is doing it, we can too!”). Just because I can guilt-free, without conviction, play a first person shooter doesn’t mean that you necessarily can. God may convict you over things that I am not convicted over. That is cool.

I now know that being in a leadership position, a position or platform in the open, automatically holds me to a higher standard. As a blogger, that is something that is constantly running through the back of my mind. I have a responsibility for what I write and say. Words can bring either life or death.

What do you think?