Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"behold the lamb of god"

three posts in less than a week. unheard of here.

anyway, here is the link to a site that will allow you to hear (and read) the entire album of andrew peterson's masterpiece, "behold the lamb of god" (performers include peterson, derek webb, jill phillips, and others)

i recommend finding 45 minutes of uninterrupted time and listsening while reading this beautiful presentation of the story of redemption. starting in exodus, ending at the manger.

click here.

how to rid your church of youth

i received an email the other day with this excerpt from an article in the november/december 2006 issue of the afa journal, a publication of the american family association...

Young Adults Disengaging From ChurchAgape PressFindings from a new study by The Barna Group reveal a frightening disengagement from Christianity during young adulthood. The study, based on data collected from 2,124 teenagers and 22,103 adults, including 3,583 twenty-somethings, "shows that despite strong levels of spiritual activity during the teen years, most twenty-somethings disengage from active participation in the Christian faith during their young adult years -- and often beyond that," a Barna report said.Specifically, 61 percent of today's young adults, who, as teenagers, were churched at one point, are now spiritually disengaged. Spiritual disengagement is identified as being inactive when it comes to church attendance, Bible reading, or prayer. Only 20 percent of twenty-somethings have maintained spiritual activity consistent with that of their high school experiences, the study revealed."In total, 6 out of 10 twenty somethings were involved in a church during their teen years, but have failed to translate that into active spirituality during their early adulthood," Barna said.And for most adults, this disengagement seems to extend further into the stages of adulthood, specifically parenthood. Despite parental desires to give children spiritual guidance, the new study noted "that just one-third of twenty somethings who are parents regularly take their children to church, compared with two-fifths of parents in their thirties and half of parents who are 40 years old or more."David Kinnaman, director of research for the study, believes these findings lend significant insight into the current state of youth ministry and young adult ministry."There are certainly effective youth ministries across the country, but the levels of disengagement among twentysomethings suggest that youth ministry fails too often at discipleship and faith formation," Kinnaman explained. ________________________________________________________________
should we be surprised?
i have been a part of many student ministries. from serving as youth minister myself, to volunteering for other ministries, i have thankfully seen many ministries who taught their students that they were created for god, and their greatest need is him. but i have also seen many ministries whose only bible teaching comes in the form of quick 20 minutes devotionals after over an hour or two of playing games. why would students continue in the church after they aren't made to go, if what they have learned from our ministries is that we are willing to do whatever it takes to entertain them and make them comfortable?what do we expect them to do when the pizza parties and fifth quarters stop? if there are no churches offering free food and yearly trips to the beach, what is left to convince them the church wants them there?we need more churches who teach their students that there biggest need is salvation. and they need to be taught that they do not deserve that salvation, nor can they earn it. they need to be taught and it needs to be understood by them that holiness is not simply something you do at church, or a way to act to stay on god's good side. holiness is demanded of us from a holy god. they need to be taught to fear the lord, to love him and honor him and respect him. they need to be taught that they are loved by him, that he sent his son to be beaten and brutally and painfully killed so that they might have eternal life. they need to be taught that they were created for god's glory, not to have the best job with the best salary so they can buy the best of everything.if all our students are getting out of our student ministries is "don't have sex" and "don't drink or do drugs", then we are crippling them.there are lots of "moral" people who don't do the "bad things" that we warn our students about. and lots of those "moral" people have no need or time for church.do we want "moral" teenagers who grow to be "moral" young adults and raise "moral" families?or do we want young people who know their creator to be the one true and holy god. people who know their god, and know who they are in light of him? who know that they have nothing if they do not have him?are our student ministries entertaining and coddling our young people? are we sacrificing content to convince them that church is "cool"? if so, how do we expect to compete with a world who can do things bigger, better, and more relevant, exactly like the culture dictates? once they are out of youth group, why would they turn to a place that waters down the culture and christianizes it, when they can have the culture undiluted?we are amusing our young people to death. they do not need ministries that are more "relevant". they need to the word of god. should we constantly assess the effectiveness of our ministries? of course. it is certainly not wrong to speak in a way that your audience understands. but when we begin to compromise the content of our message in order to grow in numbers or "cool" points, then we are harming the ones we think we are protecting. instead of arming them to live in a world that is after them, we are teaching them to look, live, and act just like it.where are they learning to compromise? from the ministries that failed them.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

have a "seat", read a book...

stephen newell recently blogged about redeeming the time.. while you are....shall we say, "unavailable to come to the phone right now".
read his blog entry about reading material in the bathroom, and see if you're not convinced!

-stephen (cavness)

Friday, November 10, 2006

to be read aloud.. if you can

i never would have imagined that i would be convicted by a poem with the word "crap" in it.

i have written in the past about what a magnificent songwriter andrew peterson is, but today i stumbled across this poem written on his website. (it is at his site, under the journal entries for july- september 2006 a ways down) it is lengthy, but amazingly humbling, convicting, and beautiful... all at once.

if you are to where you can, read it out loud, and marvel at how a poem written by someone you (perhaps) have never met can speak so piercingly into your life. at least thats how it was with me.

A Poem on a Plane (to be Read Aloud)5-7-06
by andrew peterson

What does it look like, to put on your robes
To walk in the way of the Truth and the Life
Oh what does it look like carry the load
To take up the burden that’s easy and light?

Because here in America, now in these times
The pizza looks good in the junk mail I get
And the latest and greatest is cheap as a dime
And how could I pass up a new TV set?

And how could I possibly not buy the best
When it’s only another few bucks after all
And that discount subscription is hot off the press
It’s the gift that keeps taking my eyes off the ball

And these shoes are worn out, and my kids need new shirts
And the yard needs more work to keep up with next door
And the bills came today and boy, doesn’t that hurt
Honey don’t think about it--let’s go to the store

See, the fast food joint that we love’s on the way
And the video place—bring the coupon we got
We can rent a new movie and pay for the wage
Of the stars with their cars and their mansions and yachts

While we live in obscurity, relative wealth
Or relative poverty, sickness and health
While the beats of our hearts pound a carnival dirge
As they wind down till death do us part from this earth

And they bury our bodies ‘neath copies of credit cart carbons
And cables and lightbulbs and boxes and garbage
That rattles and crunches and smells of old cabbage
And reeks of the rubbish we’ve reaped of old habits

But look, it’s a new day, so fill up the van
Let’s drive to the country and try not to pine
For the vinyl recliner and patio fan
Or the wireless Internet phone or fax line

So what does it look like, and how do I walk
With the Spirit of God in the hole in my soul?
And how do I teach if whenever I talk
I’m ashamed of the fool who pretends like he knows?

But I don’t. I confess, I’m here sipping my Coke
With my green All Star Converse I got as a gift
And it still isn't easy to put on that yoke
Just to pick up that cross and to follow and lift

But there’s nothing I’d rather be sorely confused about
Nothing I’d rather feel dumb and abused about
Here in America, home of the brave
Land of the people who live in their caves

And pretend that the world is a nice little place
And say “Everything’s well,” from our cul de sac graves
When the cries of the dying are rising to space
And are mingling there with the satellite waves

That are laden with 200 channels of crap
Entertaining the few while the many are lost
Who reside in a faraway place on the map--
Or maybe the many will be better off

When the heavens are opened and in comes the Man
With a sword in his mouth and the angels in tow
We’ll be caught with a TV remote in our hand
As the voice of the Word puts an end to the Show

All the filth I have got in the name of good fun
Is a sorry exchange for the joy of the Saints
Who can bend at the knee in the name of the Son
And walk in His footsteps and never grow faint

But still, I don’t know. And still I confess
That I’m chief among sinners along the Old Road
But I’m happy to walk it, with all of the rest
With the cross on my back making light of the load

And God in His mercy will drag me on through
The so slight needle’s eye, to the kingdom of Grace
And I’ll walk the Old Road with a fine pair of shoes
And be finally free of the plastic and waste

Who knows what it looks like to walk in His shoes
In a country and culture that muddies the view?
Only walk, only trust that His promise is true:
Behold, He makes everything, everything new.

Friday, November 03, 2006