American Churches have spent literally hundreds of millions of
dollars in the past 20 years in a sort of “culture war” to save our
kids. We’ve created amazing facilities with video games, basketball
courts, multi media, etc. It was almost as if mega church pastors got
into a sort of contest to see who could build the biggest most
expensive facility to “reach” the youth culture. I believe that this
comes from a good place in the hearts of our elders and don’t pretend
to know whether or not it’s proper. I’ve been at this long enough to
learn that God will work all that out.
(In fairness I just
left Willowcreek and their “youth room” was the former main auditorium
for the church. The youth room was a 2500ish capacity state of the
art facility that most mega church pastors would give an appendage
for. They spent the week on a rice and beans diet at Willowcreek
working up to an offering from the money they would’ve spent on normal
food for building fresh water wells in Africa. I don’t intend to lump
everyone into one bucket with generalizations)
I just think it’s
worth asking; how’s that working out for you? A few decades of event
driven ministry, how’s that working out? If Barna is right and over
80% of our kids are walking away from the Lord after graduating High
School, I might suggest we have a hole in the boat. The biggest
brightest facilities in the country are of no use if we’re not
utilizing them for biblically based works. What do I mean?
James 2 we’re told that if we don’t have works to go along with our
faith then our faith is dead. He says in verse 14 if someone claims
to have faith and has no deeds can such a faith save him? He then
goes on to give an example of seeing a brother or sister with no food
or clothes and what our response is to that person. He then gives that
quintessential statement, that “faith without works is dead”.
Theologians will debate whether it’s faith or works.
I think the best answer is: it’s faith that works.
there in James is an emphasis on works, and works defined by serving a
brother or sister without food or clothing. When I cross reference
those works with the works that I spent most of my life engaged in I
find myself seriously lacking. It’s a great lesson for you and me
personally as well as a great basis for how to raise our children in
this culture defined by indulgence and self.
Does building a
multimillion dollar facility to “compete with the world” (a literal
quote from a pastor who built a facility like this) actually just
validate the system that we’re trying to rescue them from? In America
it takes a multi million dollar facility with the latest and best in
multi media technology to get a students attention. In Haiti (where
I’m going in 5 days) it takes a bowl of rice.
I wonder if
those resources could be better diverted to resourcing an army of
students to the “works” that James writes about. I dare say that if we
were gathering students together for the purpose of serving others
instead of them selves it might cause a monumental shift in the youth
culture; and thus the culture as a whole.
I’m part of a movement like this in my home church. (www.journeyfranklin.com)
we recently figured out that we were completely packed out in
attendance we had the normal questions of whether or not we should do
multiple services. An email sent from someone in the church suggested
we might be asking the wrong question. The subject line said: “more
services or more service?”
For the past 5 months, every
Sunday there is a gathering of 5-10 of our small groups who gather
together and head out into the community to serve our brothers and
sisters. We have painted schools, repaired homes for single mothers,
cleaned up the garbage at a local housing project, and gather food for
a local food ministry called Grace Works. We do this on a Sunday
morning. We’re literally asking 50-100 folks to NOT come to church
We don’t have a multi million dollar facility for
the students, heck we don’t have any facility for the teens but we’re
doing the “works” that James writes about under the influence of the
Holy Spirit. It’s not a spectator type atmosphere, but then again,
was it ever meant to be?
So far my kids have stood side by side
with Shannon and I as we’ve picked up unmentionable (even by me)
garbage from the back of a public housing project where a single mom
was raising her children. We’ve gone door to door inviting folks to
donate food to Grace Works. We’ve sorted that food. To put it simply
we’ve done “works”.
I knew that it was connecting this
morning when the kids asked me on the way to church; “daddy do we get
to serve today?” They were genuinely bummed when the answer was no.
Not today. It occurred to me that we invite folks into the Kingdom
by saying “all you gotta do” in reference to a prayer that doesn’t
even exist in scripture. Maybe the invitation instead is “all you get
strongly believe that faith that works has to start at home; in our
personal lives, in our families. I must not outsource my personal
responsibilities to church leadership. Pastors and youth pastors are
integral parts of our lives but as the priest of my home, it is
absolutely my responsibility to lead in these areas. As for me and my
house we will serve the Lord kind of thing.
One idea to join this movement is the lemonAID
coming up in May. We’re planning to do ours on Memorial day, but it’s
perfectly OK if you feel like you should do yours on another day due to
travel plans or other conflicts in the schedule.
The idea is
simple. Set up a lemonade stand in your neighborhood and donate all
the proceeds to Conduit Mission. We’ll put the money to immediate use
in Haiti, Africa and right here in Middle Tennessee at Place of Hope
(www.placeofhope.us) I know I say this all the time but we give away
over 96% of the money that comes in. The majority of that 4% that we
spend is actually credit card/ paypal fees that we pay on donations
that come in.
If you’re looking for a teachable moment with
your kids, something to do with your youth group, something for you and
the roommates, the band, or whatever I think this is a perfectly simple
way to make an impact immediately.
For every .50 glass of
lemonade it could feed a kid in Haiti for a day. Not a bad way to
spend a few hours. I’ve had a few responses from folks who plan to
join us, if you are for sure wanting to do this, please contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org or on my facebook. We’re going to put
together a list of everyone participating.
We’ve got some
collateral materials being put together for you to use at your stand.
If anyone has any killer recipes for lemonade send those on too. Madi
has suggested adding cookies to the stand and we’re planning on doing
that as well.
All money raised will go immediately to work
clothing and feeding our brothers and sisters in need. Conduit Mission
is a 501C3 and all donations are 100% tax deductible. I hope you’ll
pray about it, and hope you’ll join us.
See you tomorrow.
back for Conduit tomorrow night at Journey Church in Building 8 in the
Factory. We’ll be meeting at 7:30pm. We’ll start our conversation
about the law. Could you recite the 10 commandments? Do you think you
even should? Have you tried to go for a period of time and not break
any of them? How’d that work out? I’m good on the not murdering or
adulterating. I’m sucking on coveting, the Sabbath, and idolatry.