A great day, packed with good info.
It started this morning with Reggie Joiner. He's no longer on staff at North Point. He is CEO/founder of Rethink. A group interested in helping churches literally "rethink" their strategies particularly focused on children's and youth ministry.
- 60-70% of kids who grow up in church abandon their faith post-high school
- the church is not speaking to issues that our youth face each day in their schools
- Reggie challenged us that having our students "go to church" is not the goal. It's to have our kids "BE the church" that matters.
- He used the great example of the Church being described as a lampstand in Revelation. The only light in the temple that revealed, reminded, and showed the priest God's provision for His people. This suggests that the purpose of the Church is to "reveal God to the world".
- When we drift from this main purpose we use our "lampstand" to fight battles, make political statements, and often try to make our church look good. It becomes a 4-H Club - exposing Homosexuality/Hollywood/Halloween/style="font-weight:bold;">Harry Potter.
- When the lampstand is in it's proper place (shining it's light on what God's up to) , it will incite wonder, provoke discovery, and fuel passion. How often can we describe this experience in our churches today?
- Finally, Reggie reminded us about how much time we really get with our students in a year. On average, for a good attending student - 40 hours! This is opposed to the 3000+ discretionary hours that a family has together (on average). We've got to reach the parents to reach the kids. Countless parents surveyed (96%) have stated that they need help with their parenting. Here is where they most often turn to the church for help. Let's give them the skills they need.
Next, Eugene Peterson (author of The Message translation of the Bible)
A little disappointed since the topic was "The Contemplative Pastor" (which he wrote a book about), and he didn't really discuss this.
Briefly, he compared the mindset of Christ again the mindsets of Herod the Great and the Pharisees. Ultimately he spoke of Herod being a "successful" king with many building projects and relative stability during his reign. Jesus could have taken that as His model for building His kingdom, but instead chose to initiate it through the poor, lame, and second class citizens. I enjoyed this lecture, but it was literally that - a lecture. I felt like I was gonna have a test at the end - COLLEGE FLASHBACKS AHHHH!!!!
Next, Lauren Winner
Again, a topic that I was interested in "Sleep, Kids, Technology: Why They Matter" - no talkey. Completely different topic. But pretty good. Synopsis:
- Taking up where Reggie left off she made the statement:
"Part of the role of the church is to render those things invisible, visible."
- Culture is the script that a society has that makes us not have to think about everything we do all the time. (e.g. stop lights) A cultural script that is embedded. All of those scripts combined.
- We need to be aware of culture and it's affects on us. This is truly an impossible task. She challenged us to read Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine. This book chronicles how a couple spent a whole year pretty much disengaged with consumerism. I have to say, very much a challenge. They ate and did buy a few necessities, but no eating out, no new clothes, no movies, etc. Brought the realization that so much of people's time is spent "consuming".
- She went into a list of cultural artifacts and what they say about our culture. Things like a Blackberry reflect a value in our culture. The drive-thru window. Cell phones for kids. All things that tells us what is important to our culture.
- How can we as the church affect culture? Going from beyond merely understanding it to influencing it. Even changing it?
- Small steps can make a difference. Don't let satan's lie that "a token gesture doesn't make a real difference" stop us from challenging the culture. She gave an example of a group of parents who started a "No Sundays" Soccer League for their kids to allow their kids a proper Sabbath. Not a "Christians only" league, but one just giving kids a day off.
Next, Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission
Rescue to victims
Justice to perpetrators
Transformation to communities
•Slavery – 27 million victims worldwide
•Sexual violence – engine of AIDS pandemic
•Illegal Detention – 50% of people illegally detained
•Forced Child Prostitution – 1 million taken in each year
•Torture – more than ½ world’s governments practice
•Widow Land Seizures -
•Police Abuse – rather than running to them for safety
What can churches do?
Educate themselves. Train themselves when they go on short-term missions trips to spot injustice and then report it.
Finally, he inspired us by a story of how this commitment to justice (following Micah 6:8) can be a witness. A young woman went to a rally about international justice, saw what the people were doing in the name of Christ, and committed her life to the Lord. Very cool.
Last session: Chris Seay and Rick McKinley
Probably the most interesting session of the day. Rick and Chris are hilarious and at the same time profound. Having experienced Chris back at Emergent Convention 2003, I was a little leary since he came out "guns 'a blazing" at anything that would be considered not "post-modern". Today, much different story. A real humility and meekness that I didn't see before.
Both of these guys challenged us to the missional purpose of the church. To reach out to those in the margins. To address the big issues of the day and not the easy ones. Things like the environment, AIDS, extreme poverty, etc. I like the idea of granola environmentalists and Christians lining up on the same issues but for different reasons. God created this thing called earth and everything in it. He also called it good and gave us dominion over it. That means to take care of it. And be part of recreating it. The kingdom in environmentalism. Good stuff.
Well, that's about all I have to say about that.
More tomorrow when 10,000 people hit the arena! Yeeehaaaa!