mindGrazing

chewing ideas down to stubble, then moving on…

Posts Tagged ‘church’

Lent is Almost Upon Us

Posted by Jason on February 23, 2009

Ash Wednesday is coming up in a couple of days, so I thought I’d share this little blurb I was asked to write for our church’s Lenten devotional that they put out every year. I was assigned a little reflection on Psalm 135. Wifey says I should be a pastor. I say sure, another few years of school to move to a different career where wages are low and workload is high… sounds awesome! Anywho, maybe this will help someone get in the mood for Lent. Enjoy…
“Psalm 135 calls us to praise the Lord for all He has done. The Psalmist recounts a series of acts through which the Almighty has shown favor and faithfulness to the people of Israel. Lent is a time of anticipation and of praise. Even in difficult times, we know God will be faithful just as He has been time and time again. Lent provides for this because of the palpable anticipation of Easter, God’s most perfect act of love and faithfulness toward all humankind.
In our lives, Lent is an excellent time of year to evaluate ourselves and our walk with Christ. It is a time for thankfulness and reflection. Where have we been? Where are we now? Where are we going? Perhaps through this reflection we will find that the culling of unfruitful things is not necessarily what will get us to the place with Christ where we want to be. Perhaps we need to add things to our lives that are righteous and that further our growth in the Spirit.
This year during Lent, let us heed the message we find in Psalm 135. Let us praise the Lord and give thanks for all He has done in our lives and the life of our church. Let us also not forget that our faithfulness in trying times is as important as the Lord’s.”

Peace.

Posted in Musings, religion, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Why I don’t Like “Young Adult” Groups at Church…

Posted by Jason on December 9, 2008

I’ve been part of several of my church’s attempts at creating a viable young adult ministry. Just about every one of them has failed, no matter which pastor leads it, or which approach they take. I agree that churches need to find some way to recruit/encourage/cater to young adults, because they will be the ones that move the church forward when all the old farts die. However, a church with only young adults cannot possibly be self-sustaining, since this demographic really doesn’t have any big money.

In district and regional level church politics, I’ve attended several Young Adult meetings and one of the main things that this hodgepodge of college-age and slightly post-college-age folks cares about is “more representation in our district and conference affairs.” That’s the main rally cry of these people. Now I know I’m different than many of my “peers.” I’m married; my wife and I are professionals with salaried jobs (it sounds like I’m bragging). However, even when I was in college and didn’t have any money, I still didn’t find much resonance in my life with this “We need more representation” message. 

Here’s how most young adults I know participate in the church. They either go away to college and hang out with friends when they’re home, or they stay around and become youth “leaders” and camp counselors while they attend junior colleges or work minimum wage jobs around town. Some people leave the church after youth group days, and you only see them around on special days and such. It’s actually not the “lost sheep” that I’m interested in talking about now.

They main problem that I see with these “young adults” and their desires for more representation at the local, district, and regional level is that they want more of a say when they don’t really contribute to their churches very much. Sure, youth ministries are important, and we need good youth workers. However, we need youth workers who can mentor the youth in their walk with Christ. Usually this type of effective mentorship requires that the mentor have some life experience; not just youth group… The youth director at our church had a good policy where he wouldn’t let former youth group participants become leaders until they had finished AT LEAST one semester of college, sometimes more. I waited about 4 or 5 years until I helped out with the youth, and I think that helped create a more meaningful contribution that I could offer.

What young adults should really strive for is integration into the greater church, rather than segregation into a special group or what have you. Not only does this benefit the local church by having young, energetic participation in the larger church mission, but it also provides young adults with wonderful interactions and mentorships with older church members that really know what it’s like to live in a walk with Christ. 

So my advice to young adults throughout the Christian world. Don’t worry so much about having your own group. Once you get involved with the life of your church, the older folks will be so thrilled to have you around, and you will make friends with so many people that you never would have known otherwise. Furthermore, demanding a new group only puts a huge stress on your pastoral leadership. Why not make life a little easier for your church and jump into things head on as an adult. After all, young adults need to become adults at some time…

Posted in religion | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Any former Catholics NOT bitter???

Posted by Jason on December 5, 2008

I read this post this morning and I realized how incredibly bitter this person was about Catholicism. I grew up Catholic and chose a different denomination. However, I don’t feel wronged or lied-to about my spiritual upbringing. I’ve met so many people who are totally pissed at the Catholic church because they decided it was a bunch of crap when they grew up and started thinking on their own.

I believe all denominations that profess that Jesus Christ is Lord and preach faith in that Christ should be called Christian. Each Christian church has some specific way of reaching its parishioners that encourages them to come. The Catholics use a lot of ritual and tradition, which works for a ton of people to have a relationship with Christ. Evangelicals use a lot of excitement and biblical authority, which attracts a different set of worshipers. Some denominations seek a mix of tradition and emotion, and yet others do different things.

Why is everyone so angry at the Catholic church once they leave it? Now I’m not looking for the answers from non-Catholics such as, “Look at all the horrible things they’ve done: the Crusades, killing/converting natives, the Inquisition…” I’m also not interested at hearing about the child abuse unless you were abused by a priest and that’s why you hate the church. I’m really interested in the feelings people have that are so strong that they can’t let go of this acid animosity for Catholicism.

There are people that were raised in the Evangelical tradition that feel like they were too sheltered and such, but many of those people get over it and they move on. For so many people, though, the Catholic church is something that just can’t be gotten over. Why? I’m horribly curious as to what keeps people hating Catholics once they leave the club… Any thoughts, experiences, stories? Comments are welcome.

Posted in religion | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Ah, but what is Truth?

Posted by Jason on December 3, 2008

So I’ve been reading some of the myriad religious and anti-religious blogs in the wordpress universe. I’ve read a few that I like, and dozens that I don’t like. I’m still on the fence about Truelogic, but I’ve been engaging this blogger and his fans via comments and spirited intellectual e-conversation (notice how I assume this blogger is male, maybe it’s the intellectual confrontationalism. Truelogic could just as easily be female).

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about Truth in the intellectual arena quite a bit. Many Christians feel the Bible and God are Truth, capital T. Many people believe that the Truth is that the Bible and God are false, completely not True. And then we have people who say that, because each person is unique, there is no Truth: nothing can be known with zero degree of uncertainty. Finally, there are those who say that Truth exists, and each of us defines our own Truth. Therefore we have an infinite number of Truth’s -well, somewhere between 6 and 7 billion anyway. 

Now, I’m more inclined to believe in the last two scenarios: it depends on if I’m feeling optimistic or pessimistic about the universe on any given day. I actually really believe the last scenario most fervently, but I can accept the third as completely valid. 

Here is my question, especially to Truelogic. Are those who believe that the major tenets of Christianity are absolutely unTrue any less naive than the Christians they scoff at as ignorant and gullible fools? By drilling into children that Christianity is patently false, doesn’t one teach them to believe something based on incomplete evidence? Christians don’t teach their children to believe blindly: they often just don’t give complete evidence (that’s right, I don’t think the Bible can serve as complete and unquestionable proof of God). There isn’t unquestionable proof of any Truth, just as there isn’t unquestionable refutation of any Truth, either.

Sure there are things that are true, such as “My dog’s name is Scout.” or “I got married on March 31, 2007.” But when we start talking about things that are not tangible, and also things about which many people care passionately for or against, that all information becomes suspect. Does that mean we’ll ever have enough information to really know if God exists or not? It depends on each person’s individual threshold of believability. Some skeptics have a very high threshold over which nothing except for the most rock-solid arguments may pass for truth. Some religious people have a very low threshold that may be crossed into the realm of truth quite easily by anyone of supposed religious authority.

All of the sudden, Truth becomes quite a subjective business. I believe Truth exists, but Truth is made up of the sum or perhaps the average of all the little truths in each one of us. Viva postmodernism!

Posted in Musings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »