Tag: culture

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



The day I got into a fight with my wife’s grandmother

There are some blog post titles that people use just to draw you in.

“Sexy” titles, if you will.

Titles that build hype, often overselling and under delivering.

This happens to not be one of those titles.

image credit: Creative Commons user Robert Daniel Ullman

It was unintentional, really. I didn’t set out that warm Saturday afternoon telling myself, “I bet Laura’s grandma and I could scrap today. She’d probably love that.”

It just sort of happened.

Round 1

We were standing beside the door, she preparing to leave. In retrospect, I should’ve just given her a hug and opened the door. We launched into a conversation about a TV show that my wife and I watch. One that she, consequently, doesn’t. Her reasons for abstaining are moral convictions, which I can completely understand and respect. With respect to the show, she doesn’t appreciate how the children interact with their parents, how the wife interacts with her husband, and some of the lifestyle decisions that characters on the show have made. She laid out her whole case in about 5 minutes.

Round 2

When she finished, I felt like she has issued an invitation to me to lay out my thoughts. As I creeped closer, though, I realized she was siren-ing me to the edge of a cliff. Like a moth drawn to that strangely-buzzing blue light, I walked right into the trap. There was no winning this one. No way I could emerge a hero of informed reason and logic. Not a chance. I was peering off the edge of a cliff.

Round 3

As words came out of my mouth, I tried to catch them. The whole time I’m talking, I’m thinking, “What are you doing?!? Back away…back away!” I got that look from my wife. I don’t even have to describe it. Husbands, you know what I’m talking about.

But it was too late. Back out now, and I look like a heel. Keep going, and I look like a heel. Close my eyes and run…that was probably the best option, but Reeds aren’t cowards. We’re a bit foolhardy sometimes, but we’re not cowards.

The point I was trying to make was this:

I don’t get my theology from a TV show.

I can watch a TV show (note: the show in question is family-friendly), and completely separate it from informing my theological framework. In fact, when I watch a show, I view it through the theological lens I’ve constructed through hard work, sweat, and tears. I strive for a theology informed deeply by the Scriptures.

I can watch a show and say, “What they’re doing there…that’s not good. That’s not how I’m going to parent.” Not in a judgmental kind of way. But in a way where I’m exercising wisdom and discernment.

I’m not watching TV as my devotional time. Nor am I watching it in hopes that they’ll somehow slip in a good word about the local church. That’s not TV’s job. That’s my job!

In fact, the moment I allow TV to twist my theology is the moment I’ve headed down a slope more slippery than the one I was peering down with my grandma-in-law.

The eye of the tiger

She stood on the other side of this argument, urging extreme caution with what we fill our minds. She warned that subtle lies slip in back doors, and make their way into our lives. TKO. She just ‘eye-of-the-tigered’ me.

I don’t wholeheartedly disagree with her. I just happen to see the other side of the coin, enjoying 30 minutes of laughter, catching a slice of culture, and not succumbing to the subtle lies. I believe that this is a generational issue more than anything else. My generation can watch a show, laugh, enjoy the story, and separate that from how we live our lives. I believe that the generation that precedes me more closely intertwines real life with media content.

I’m not sure that one of us is right and the other wrong. In fact, in that moment, I waved my white flag of surrender. And made a future note to myself:

Don’t pick a fight with a grandma. Even if you win, you’ll lose.


Where do you stand? Is it acceptable to watch a show with questionable (though not offensive, cause-you-to-stumble) content? Or should we shield our eyes from anything that could depict something less than what we want for our lives and our families?

 * image credit: Creative Commons user Robert Daniel Ullman


The 1 Question Innovation Asks

image via BioJob Blog

Innovation asks, “What’s next?”

Innovation doesn’t stop with the latest success

or slow down with the last failure;

it trudges on amidst a flurry of opposition,

enduring through the “No!”

“Better” is its carrot.

“Enough” doesn’t compute.

“Finished” isn’t an option.

“Change” is its motto.

“Creation” its creed.

Innovation asks, “What’s next?”




Small Group Books

Recently, I’ve been getting this question from a lot of other pastors:

Besides the Bible, what are the best books on small groups available?

Here are the ones I think are the strongest, and most helpful, when you’re looking to launch small groups or significantly change your system.

Best books on small groups

Small Groups with Purpose by Steve Gladen

Creating Community: 5 Keys to Building a Small Group Culture by Andy Stanley

The 7 Deadly Sins of Small Group Ministry by Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson

Simple Small Groups by Bill Search

Sticky Church by Larry Osborne

Community: Taking Your Small Groups Off Life Support by Brad House

Leading Life-Changing Small Groups by Bill Donahue (and the 2nd book, Coaching Life-Changing Small Group Leaders)

Seeker Small Groups by Gary Poole

Activate by Nelson Searcy


Creating a culture vs shaping one

Some people like to start from scratch, and create their own culture.

Others like to change an existing culture.

Church world

photo by Ales Cerin

Some people like to launch church plants.

Some people like to work within existing churches and change the culture.

Blog world

image by Scott Foster

Some people like to create a culture based on their unique wirings and giftings.

Others do research prior to launch, determine trends, and shape their writings around that.

Business world

photo by Augusto Avila Jr

Some people like to forge their own path and start a new business.

Others would rather work to improve and expand an existing one.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here.  What you prefer is based on how God has gifted and wired you.  We need both.

And I’m thankful that we serve a God who does both…and neither at the same time, because He’s making all things new.

So what do you prefer?

Do you like to create a new culture or shape an existing one?

Would you rather save a sinking ship…or let it sink and build a new one?


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