Monthly Archives: July 2011

Youth and College Ministry: is it biblical?

In the past week, I’ve been getting questions and inquiries about the legitimacy of age-segregated church from a variety of different people. I wonder if they are trying to tell me something! (ahem…”quit your job, Lazo”)

Anyway, I haven’t devoted too much attention to the questions–probably my bias as a college pastor precluding–until a recent link was sent my way. The video below is a documentary attempting to exposes the unbiblical notion of youth ministry, children’s ministry, and even college ministry. It’s fielded by some heavy hitters (Paul Washer, R.C. Sproul Jr., Chuck Bomar), and boasts that age-oriented times of teaching, study, and worship are foreign to the Scriptures, a result of paganism, and are actually the cause of the growing attrition rate between High School graduation and college.

Some of the points they make are sobering. Of course, I disagree with their conclusions, and am not ready to end Adorn anytime soon. But perhaps my bias is a liability?

I was hoping to hear your thoughts on this. I am open and ready!

4 ways I use Twitter to do my research

I am a college pastor, worship pastor, and husband. Yet, I also blog and tweet my face off. As some of you may have experienced, it can be hard to find the time, let alone the content to broadcast when you sit behind your computer on a Saturday night. Here are four social media functions I have found to be invaluable when researching content to tweet or blog. In fact, when I use these regularly, I almost always end up with too much content on a Sunday night.

Hashtags.

You know when you see a word, or a one-word phrase with a “#” right before it? That’s a hashtag. A hashtag is just simple metadata; a quick way of categorizing a topic so that it is easy to track. For example, if you want to follow everything that can be said about the upcoming explosion of shark festivities next week, just do a search of #SharkWeek. It’s an easy way to sift through all the information and uncover the content you’re after. In fact, it was by using Twitter hashtags that I learned about the earthquake in Chile and Haiti, and the death of Osama and MJ before any major news station. Information travels in a millisecond, and hashtags instantly funnel them to your device.

Lists.

You ever get lost in all the informational noise? After you follow a certain amount of people, your timeline will be overwhelmed by many people’s tweets. You can unfollow them, or you can assign them to different lists. For example, I have lists for missiologists, lists for worship leaders, and lists for college students at Adorn. There are some Twitter clients that emphasize lists, making it functional, and readily accessible (TweetList and TweetBot come to mind). Instead of trying to look for gold in the middle of hundreds of tweets about bowel movements and Justin Bieber, you can just focus on the Tweeps you know will send good content your way.

Favorites.

This is easily one of the most neglected functions on Twitter. Those who do click on it use it as a way to pat someone else on the back. I suggest favoriting articles and resources that you plan on coming back to later. It’s like having Instapaper in your Twitter client. You’ll slowly begin to archive useful information.

Google reeder.

I know this isn’t a Twitter function, but I would be remiss to ignore it. As a pastor, I find blogs as vital as books. They are a constant flow of daily information, and when you follow blogs that are within your interest, e.g. college ministry, college life, short-term missions, etc., you will always have good information at you fingertips. If you want to get crazy, download a reeder app on your phone, tablet, or computer.


I have to share one last thing. You have to have a niche. Meaning, you have to focus your blog on something that matters to you. If your blog is about “theological ramblings” or “my random thoughts” it will be so broad that hashtags, lists, favorites, and reeders will simply add to the noise, causing you to be more overwhelmed with how much is out there that you don’t care about. Further, you will fail to get the short attention span of internet junkies who are looking for something focused.

For example, instead of focusing my blog on “Theology, Worship, and Saving the Whole World for Jesus” I decided to go with something more focused, like “dispersing communities of Christ-like millennials back into the city.” Now anyone who has the same niche can count on my blog to meet that standard, and vice-versa. It becomes reliable. Then in order to post content that meets that standard, I start saving blog posts in my Reeder, and researching hashtags like #missional, #millennial, etc in order to focus the stream. I focus on other Tweeps who have an interest in college ministry, by looking through my missional-ministry list. I archive everything I may find useful, by favoriting them all for later use. Then I start blogging in my niche.

At the end of the week I end up flooding your timeline. And that’s what separates me from the Lazo of two years ago who just “doesn’t get twitter.”

Do you have any Twitter tips that have helped you study, research, or learn?

Proportion vs. Reality

Wow… I’m so ripped that I make these two guys look tiny. Good thing they both have a healthy self-esteem.

Poor guys.

Image by Jenny Hopwood.

Missional Millennials (part 2): Discipleship through worship

In the first post of this series, I suggested that our identity forms what we worship. Now I’m proposing that what we worship will inevitably form discipleship in our lives and in others around us.

My mom used to say “You are what you eat,” as a euphemism for healthy nutrition. In other words, you become like what you digest. It’s not much different for making disciples and being discipled. You are who you hang around, and most communities gather around a common purpose. Something which both parties share a mutual interest in.

You will become like who you hang around.

You will hang around people you have something deeply in common with—your social circles will revolve around the things that you adore. In a nutshell, you will be discipled in accordance to what you most value. Further, you will also influence others in the same sphere of shared desires. Take bowling, for example. If your identity is shaped by your desire to become the best bowler in the world, the practice of bowling will feed your obsession; you will go bowling all the time. You will also surround yourself around a natural community that gravitates towards the same passion, and in so doing will unavoidably become like them, as they become like you. Mutual discipleship. You are what you eat, and you eat bowling.

This can get really interesting for the Christian. We immediately have an open door of evangelism with many people based on shared interests.

  1. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
  2. Who else likes to do that?
  3. Share with them this common purpose, and build a community around it.

The reason this is usually problematic, is because many Christian’s don’t like hanging outside of their usual church culture.

We like to spend time with other Christians, and remove ourselves from the big bad world. In doing so, we disciple other Christians, and only influence them. Yet if you scan the New Testament, you will see that all people are disciples of something or someone, because we all have an inherent sense of identity, that leads us to seek out communities of worship centered around a common purpose. But dozens of people in your social stream are being naturally discipled by everyone else but you. If it’s true that God shares common grace on the wicked and the righteous alike, then shouldn’t we learn how to enjoy the finer things in life with the non-believer, if for no other reason, than for friendship?

It seems these days, the only time we will ever spend with a non-believer is for the split second it takes to convert them to Christianity. And even supposing that strategy works, they will convert to Christianity without any hope of godly discipleship. Oh but they will be discipled. The question is who?

The conversion lie.

Dealing with demons from a biblical perspective

Last night  at Adorn we spoke about demons to cap off our series The Standoff. I wanted to share how I usually approach a demonized person—assuming they want to be set free—without getting too formulaic. This is not rigid, magical recipe; but it is a general approach that has proven effective.

  1. Deal with any sin issues the person may be accommodating
  2. Ask Jesus to deal with suspected demon(s) that are taking up space
  3. Confront the demon(s) when necessary
  4. After the confrontation, make sure the person is born again and filled with the Spirit
  5. Make sure to connect the person to Christian community
Not everything evil in a person’s life is due to demonic influence (#1). Sometimes we’re just dumb, and we need to repent of our sin. If that doesn’t solve the oppression, perhaps it is a demonic influence. By moving to (#2), you appeal to the authority of Jesus Christ who alone has power over demons. If this turns into a deeper confrontation, it may be necessary to verbally confront the demonic presence in Jesus’ name, and to command it’s eviction (#3). Since Luke 11:24-26 shows is the possibility that demons may come back once cast out, it seems fitting to make sure their is no room for them upon their return. If the person is not saved, there is no guarantee they will be safe for long. I would also pray they would be filled with the Spirit of God (#4). Satan seems to like to pick off lone-rangers, and God designed Christian community with the intent to edify and grow the body of Christ (#5). So plug them in to one!
By the way, this is all assuming that the person demonized desires to be set free. None of this will work unless the person wants to repent and turn towards God.

Have you had any experiences with demonization? How did you handle it?

Don’t you wish life was this precise?

Pastoral Handball at Westmont College

The school is prayer, and the teacher is Christ (pt.1)

Not resurrection power, not the ability to know thoughts, not demon-casting, healing-powers, or that sweet vintner’s trick with the wine, no…The only record of tutoring the disciples requested of Jesus was on how to pray.

Luke 11:1 (NLT) “Once when Jesus had been out praying, one of his disciples came to him as he finished and said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.'”

“Jesus has opened a school, in which He trains His redeemed ones, who specially desire it, to have power in prayer”[*] – Andrew Murray

Below is Jesus’ answer, broken down into practical advice for today…

Luke 11:2a “He said, ‘This is how you should pray: “Father, may your name be honored.”

  • Immediately approach God in the most intimate, yet securely fashioned way possible: “Papa”
  • Give him reverence, honor, glory, worship.

Luke 11:2b “May your Kingdom come soon.”

  • Ask that your will be aligned with His will in everything that will happen today

Luke 11:3 “Give us our food day by day”

  • Do ask him for what you will need. He is, after all, your Papa.

Luke 11:4 “And forgive us our sins— just as we forgive those who have sinned against us.”

  • Repent of ways you’ve fallen today, for you are forgiven in Christ.
  • Pray for others too.

Luke 11:5 “And don’t let us yield to temptation.”

  • Ask for redemption and rescue from the evil of this world, and for His transforming power to renew your thoughts and actions before you ever step foot out the door.

Footnotes:

Worship and Community: Baptism

I’ve often been perplexed by the altar call.

You may recognize this as the common evangelical practice of calling people to the front of a meeting after a church service in order to make a decision for Christ. It originated in the nineteenth century under the revivalist, Charles Finney, who first described the practice as an “anxious seat” which denoted those souls which were urgent to make a public pronouncement of their faith in Christ.

Preach to him, and at the moment he thinks he is willing to do anything . . . bring him to the test; call on him to do one thing, to make one step that shall identify him with the people of God. . . . If you say to him, “there is the anxious seat, come out and avow your determination to be on the Lord’s side,” and if he is not willing to do a small thing as that, then he is not willing to do anything for Christ – Charles Finney (cite).

I have conducted altar calls in the past—I know it works. I’ve seen the wonderfully changed lives it has yielded. I’ve also seen the same people come forward over and over and over. But, that’s not what causes me to write this post.

I am perplexed by the similarities between the modern day altar call and the ancient practice of water baptism.

You see, a baptism is a public profession of faith that identifies in you the saving power of God to a community that loves you. How is an altar call any different? And if it isn’t any different, why should we entertain them both?

If we must decide between one (which we do not), I propose we put more emphasis on water baptism for two reasons,

  1. Baptism is the practice mandated to us in the Scriptures.
  2. Baptism immediately invites you into a community of believers

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it would seem that we may have replaced water baptism with the altar call, which brings good results, but not always great ones. But when a baptism happens, worship and community combine for the joy of the newly forged saint.

What is your experience with altar calls or water baptism? Do you have a different story? Similar story?

Christians using Twitter #1

There are a variety of reasons why people use Twitter.

  • To talk about their food habits
  • To incessantly narrate their day
  • To stalk celebrities
  • To post an occasional, random quote
  • To talk about or promote themselves, etc.

The list of reasons to dislike Twitter is endless. But I’ve found that it’s not really the medium that deserves blame, but poor tweeting. Poor tweeting makes you hate Twitter. But…

There are several avenues in which a person can make good use of Twitter.

  • When you share
  • When you interact
  • When you’re in an actual community out of people who share similar interests.
  • When you are consistently engaged
  • When you post useful, thought provoking content
  • When your content blesses others, or offers them something of value

The next thing I’m going to say should occur to most of us…

There are some good reasons why a Christian should consider using Twitter.

  1. Content. You can communicate things that matter.
  2. Context. You can get second-by-second, real-time information from anywhere in the world on current events (before the news channels do!)
  3. Community. You can interact with people who share with you a common interest (for example, underwater basket-weaving), and connect with them over that very ordinary commonality.
Before you know it, you’re tweeting about underwater basket-weaving, connecting with others that share the same interest, exchanging content you discovered that might bless them—you’re engaging a community of real people in the normal rhythms of your life. But it’s going to take a bit of work, time, and commitment. You can’t remain satisfied with tweeting mundane information about a concert you attended or a meal you ate, and hope to connect with real people. However, if you take the time to engage  and follow through with those who have similar interests, you’ll look back at your tweets one day and realize you’ve been on mission the whole time. Many have overlooked the usefulness and capacity behind Twitter. Don”t be that person.

image at gigaom.com

(Article on how not to suck at Twitter coming soon)

Do you hate or love Twitter? Why?

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