How far we’ve come

This post over at Through a Glass Darkly has got me thinking. Specifically I’ve been pondering on my own past as an “on fire Jesus freak” in my teen years. How far I’ve come. Yet some things are still the same. I still have a passion to help students draw near to God. I still want to be there for students to have a shoulder to cry on, I still want to help people through difficult times and worship with them and a thousand other things. But I’m also more mature. I have a different perspective on things. I no longer read the Bible starting with Matthew. I don’t expect people to listen to me just because I’m passionate. I’ve learned a lot more about life, and about God. I’ve learned that Jesus is bigger than I ever thought he was before.

But the post at TGD has caused me to reflect on something that I’ve been spending some time turning over in my head lately. Parents, pastors and elders want to see teens who are “on fire” for Jesus. That’s what they want the youth ministry to produce. Yet I am far less interested in making on fire Christians than I once was. Today I would rather seen teens who have a vibrant relationship with Jesus, yes – but who have also counted the cost of discipleship, realized that it is not easy, that God doesn’t always make sense, and that sometime life is down right dreadful. I want to disciple teens and help them realize that if someone says “shit!” that doesn’t mean that they are a less spiritual person than someone who doesn’t.

I’m not saying that I want to stifle the passion that some teens have for evangelism, far be it! I do, however, want to help them to understand that there are better ways than being completely in your face. I’m not criticizing the students that are mentioned in the TGD post, I don’t know them, so I can’t say what they motivations were.

I guess you could say that ultimately I want to help students become Christians who are passionate and who view their ultimate loyalty as being to Jesus – not to a denomination, not to a person, not to a nation, not to a brand, but to the Most High God. This has some implications that may be hard for some people to swallow, but I want to help students wrestle with these questions. I want to help students prepare for life – and sometimes that doesn’t always look as “righteous” and “battle ready” as some churches expect from their youth ministries.

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2 thoughts on “How far we’ve come

  1. Thanks for these thoughts, Calvin. I worry sometimes about our evangelical youth group culture. I’m glad my kids have a place to go where they can blow off energy and hear about Jesus at the same time. But I do worry about the sort of spirituality that sometimes gets represented by this. I wonder if kids really need to know that it’s “ok” to be an “ordinary” Christian — a person who puts his or her boots on every day and works hard at a “normal” job, who has a family that isn’t perfect, who has to deal with money, health problems, conflicts, and worries — and yet who livve with a quiet, steady, abiding faith, seasoned by hope, abounding with love.

  2. Excellent post and very well-stated. I sometimes wonder if we realize that sometime getting kids to be “on fire for Jesus” really means that we are manipulating the emotion centers of their brains which developed much sooner than the reasoning centers of the adolescent brain. Giving kids a path to a live-long relationship with Christ, one that recognizes the costs of faith, is a better goal.

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