Tag: compassion

Don’t give me relevancy

For a long season, churches focused on relevancy. They wanted to look cooler, sleeker, hipper, and funner than the options that the world had to offer. Take this world and give me Jesus…the cool one with gel in his hair, a tat on his left arm, and when he speaks, LED lights shine through the thick fog that billows around his feet. The one that speaks in catchy phrases, never offends anyone, and focuses on being slick rather than worshiping the King.


image credit: Flickr user http://www.flickr.com/photos/friulivenezia/

I wonder if that trend is over.

I hope that trend is over.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being slick. Or using LED lights (we use them at Grace). Or having gel in your hair. Please, Lord Jesus, tell me there’s nothing wrong with gel in my hair.

The problem isn’t those things at all. In fact, the Church should be the most creative, mind-and-heart-stretching gathering on the planet. The problem is when make our aim and end-goal “relevancy.” The problem is when those things become our crutch, and substitute for what my generation is really looking for.

If you aim for relevancy, you’ll be frustrated every time. As soon as you find the coolest lights, you’ll realize that the touring Broadway company that comes through town just smoked you. As soon as you shoot the best video, you’ll realize that Hollywood just released a blockbuster with a budget of $250 million. As soon as you print off the best-looking bulletins that the church world has ever seen, you’ll realize that the start-up A/C company down the road sent out 15,000 mailers that make your bulletin look like the preschoolers colored it.

Maybe relevancy shouldn’t be our goal. Maybe we shouldn’t rely on the “cool” and “wow” factor to draw my generation in. (and I’m thrilled that my church doesn’t rely on these things to be the hook)

My generation wants counter-cultural. Not relevancy.

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The Gospel is relevant. It always has been. And as long as there is pain, frustration, disappointments, failed expectations, failed families, abuse, neglect, and a desire for a more beautiful reality, the Gospel will continue to be. But it’ll never be relevant because of the lights, sounds, and hipster tight jeans.

If we want to reach my generation, counter-cultural should be our aim. Not anti-culture. Not oblivious-to-culture. Not naive-to-culture. And not enmeshed with the culture. Jesus seemed to do this pretty well, living in culture among us (John 1:14), but he stood out because of his love and radical grace.

Lights, videos, and billowing fog are great. But don’t forget the weightier matters: justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23). That’s what’s going to hook my generation.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2



Washington, D.C. changed my life

Normal is the enemy of a full life.

And for me, life was normal.

I was a sophomore in high school, and nothing was shaking.

But Washington, D.C. changed everything.

It was late summer, and I was knee deep in summer assignments. Normal.

Practicing hard for my team’s upcoming Fall season. Normal

Cutting yards for a bit of cash. Normal.

I had signed up to tag along with our youth group to go on Mission Fuge, a camp in Washington, D.C. I’d gone to summer church camp since I was in 5th grade. Normal.

Abnormal smacked me in the face

When we hit the ground in D.C., planning our week out and scoping the work we’d be doing. We were going to be working with some local kids doing, basically, a “Vacation Bible School” with them for a week.

“I got this in the bag,” I thought. I’d done VBS stuff before. I could throw that hat on. And I could rock it.

The following 5 days, though, unwrapped poverty like I’d never seen it. And it wasn’t “poverty” asking for my money and looking a little creepy. It was poverty that looked like me. Poverty that wanted to play basketball. Brokenness that I could be going to school with. Brokenness that broke my heart.

For the first time in my life, “poverty” wasn’t a problem that was simply a nuisance sitting on the side of the interstate begging for booze money. It was a real person. These were real problems with real needs…and God used me, in a minuscule way, to meet those needs. And the Gospel I knew became the Gospel I lived. No longer was “compassion” just what Jesus did on the cross. “Compassion” was what I offered because my King led the way. “Love your neighbor” wasn’t simply the 5th point of a sermon on what I had to do…it was the compelling force breaking my heart and mending others’.

Turns out God used that week to shape the hearts of a handful of teenage guys, like myself. He used that week to drive us to search our own hearts and, over the course of the next two years of high school, God would solidify a small group of guys and prepare us for great work ahead. From that group, 4 would go on to full-time vocational ministry. All because we weren’t satisfied with the “normal” high school experience, the “normal” church experience, or the “normal” relationship with God.

You never know when abnormal is going to happen. Sometimes we choose it. Sometimes it’s chosen for us.

When it happens, thank the Lord. Because Jesus didn’t come to offer us a normal life. He came to give us life to the full. (John 10:10)

Time to embrace the abnormal.

(this post is a part of a blog series today hosted by Prodigal Magazine. Check out some great posts HERE)



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