« Home | One Of These Things... Part Deux, The Answer » | Lutheran Carnival LX » | Absurdity Running Amok » | Preparing For Sunday School » | Lutheran Carnival LIX » | How Sunday School Class Can Cause Sleep Loss! » | The Last Supper…For Rats? » | One Of These Things, The Answer » | Lutheran Carnival LVIII » | The Witness Duck? » 

Tuesday, October 09, 2007 

A Great Weekend!

Wow. I only had about five hours with the missus this past weekend. Because of a meeting that I didn’t actually receive an invite for until five days before it was scheduled, (even though the meeting had been planned well over three weeks before) my Saturday was ruined.

Sunday’s Divine Service as well a pretty well attended Sunday school class took up the morning of my remaining “day off.” I didn’t leave the kirch as my drive home, with the cost of gas being what it is, would have dipped further into my wallet as well as leaving me stuck in my truck for another hour and a half. I already spend too much time in said truck so I just hung around.

But hanging around allowed me to wash my truck which has been the blunt of many a pigeon jokes at work. The extra free time gave me a chance to exercise my artistic side and work on a requested desert scene. I then laid out the basic groundwork for a “little country church in snow covered mountains” scene that my missus has asked for. Yep, that turned out to be a productive day. But does productivity equal a great weekend?

Nope. I would have been just as content catching up on some reading while telling the wife to keep it down as her favorite football team can't hear her if they are, quite literally, a thousand miles away, no matter how loud she yells at the TV screen.

What made it a great weekend was the Sunday evening Bible study with our youth group. There are few things more awe-inspiring than seeing a group of teenagers actually becoming engaged in an argument on the canonicity of the book of Revelation. (Uh, just so we all are clear, Revelation is in the canon. If you don’t believe me, just look in the table of contents it’s there, really.) To see them excited about something other than Gamespheres or Xcubes was the really a treat. And watching them all have fun and not minding playing Apples to Apples even though we had purchased the “Bible” edition was too cool.

Our youth group participation had fallen in recent years for a variety of reasons. It’s not always easy getting them to “give up” their weekends. As a congregation we have to compete with every sports activity ever conceived, parents that think that church activities are just one more thing, as well as our ongoing battle with a society where absolutes are considered small minded and should be discouraged. It has been and will always be an uphill battle going against our culture.

But slowly and surely the youth are starting to come back and give the group another try. Very, very cool. By offering a consistent gathering where the Bible is the core of our study followed by great food and games that don’t treat the kids like they’re idiots, they are returning. And they are having fun to boot!

And finishing the evening by dropping in over at LongEyeMoose’s place for a twelve year old single malt, well, that was just icing on the cake.


That's great news about your youth group, Frank. It's easy to underestimate how smart kids are, even at 4 years of age. :) Are your kids pre- or post-confirmation?

The kids I deal with are all high school age and post confirmation. And all of them are smarter than most adult give them credit for. When I started teaching their Sunday morning class, I made a genuine effort to treat the material as if I was teaching an adult class. Our hope is that if we carry that thinking over to the youth group, more discussion will result as they are engaged in a theological conversation that would shame most adult classes.

You paint? Watercolor or acrylic?

Dan, the more I think about this the more my blood pressure spikes. We not only treat our kids like they are as dumb as rocks, but we also take the same tactic when we look at out reach to the “unchurched”. We are so afraid of putting forth solid theology that most of the time our outreach looks indistinguishable from junior varsity fundraising drives. With this “we need to meet them where they are at so we don’t frighten them away” tact, we water down, on purpose, Christ to the point even Universalists can nod their heads in agreement with what we present as Scriptural truths.

Anonymous, neither, I'm srictly a polygon guy.

Well, I'm glad that you're not "watering down" your youth Bible study with.... oh I don't know games and food.

I'm sure that you youth are sincere in their beliefs, and I'm sure that your main focus is the Bible studies. However, I'm sure that you are drawing some on their personal interests with the games and food.

Hi there kirnkorner2001

Good to see ya back!

The core of the study is of course Scripture. And yes we do play games. There is nothing at all wrong with playing games. The kids know when playing games is appropriate and when it isn’t. We often do lock-ins where we not only have Bible studies and play games but also include Vespers, Compline, and Matins. They know for instance that during Vespers, Compline, and Matins that we need to show reverence.

With a youth group we try to juggle a few different hats. We need to encourage fellowship, we need to foster and instill the need for service as well as educating the little ragamuffins. Certainly, it’s not always easy striking a balance.

Hi again Frank. I'm like a bad penny, you never know when I'll turn up :) I've been reading here, just haven't seen anything that I felt I wanted to post about. Life's been busy the past few weeks also. You stated in our previous discussion that your wife doesn't understand how you can have a conversation with a complete stranger, and disagree on things, and you like it. Mine is the same way. She says that I'm being antagonistic. I tell her that we're all having a civil discussion, and I don't think either of us our out to change the other's mind (at least that's not my intent). My Grandfather liked to "discuss things" too, but he was very argumentative most of the time, I guess I get it honest, but I don't like to argue. My wife calls me "John" (his name) when I discuss things - you gotta love her :)

Anyway, back to the discussion. I was hoping you could see the correlation that I was trying to draw. You have to do things and speak to your target audience in a way that they will understand, while still bringing the Word of God along with it. What's wrong with taking God right to the streets? If I pull up along the side of the street in a van, pull some speakers out and start playing some contemporary Christian music, and people come, we have a small message to give to the people, is there any harm in that? Yes, they come initially because of the music, but they stayed for the Word of God. But something even stranger happens the next night - those folks come back, and they bring their friends!

If I'm handing out meals to homeless folks (not in a food kitchen, we take the food to them and serve out of the back of a truck), and we have a small prayer, is God present? I'm pretty sure that person will probably never walk through my church doors, but he's got a full heart from God, as well as a full stomach for the night. And the next time I hand him a container of food, he may offer to say the prayer. You bet God is present there!

To use your focus term, we have a very specific focus, to reach the unchurched people, and sometimes to do that we have to do it in an unorthodox way.


While my wife hasn’t called me “John” yet, she does shake her head a lot in sheer disbelief.

Yes, I saw the correlation but was hoping you’d respond to my comment just to make sure you and I were on the same page. Sometimes we all, while using the same words, talk past one another.

Anyhoo, while much of what is called contemporary Christian music makes me a little nervous, I’m completely on board with your method of outreach to the homeless. Certainly God is present and using us to feed those less fortunate. Truth be told, we really shouldn’t even concern ourselves why the folks are there. If they never walk through the doors of our sanctuaries, is also not” our” concern. What is our concern is that we give them the opportunity to hear the clear words of Christ. Everything, that will move them to actually visit us, will be done by God.

I think too often we all get caught up in expecting a clear tangible result from our works. It’s just human nature to want to keep track as if taking care of those in need can be plugged into a spreadsheet. You clearly are not and I’m on board with that. In fact, I don’t think there is anything unorthodox about your approach at all!

One of the themes this year for our youth group will be service to others without expecting something in return. (In addition to some fun stuff.)

Where I think we should draw the line is when folks say we need to make church not look like church so as to not scare people away.

Post a Comment

About me

  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
My profile


Powered by Blogger