I am a full time Youth Minister. I serve a Church in Big Rapids Michigan and I a believe one of the most important things I can teach my young people whom I serve is Church isn’t all about them. Church is about the body of Christ coming together. It is about being one body not just a youth church. We get in trouble in ministry and a church when we say one group is more important than the other or I only care about one part of the body who are like me.
I don’t do worship in youth group on purpose. For those who know me, they know I can’t sing. In fact Sunday I left my mic on for the whole last hymn. Needless to say their was some crying at the end of the service. I don’t do worship in youth group for a whole different reason. I do not believe youth groups should do worship regularly for Youth group time. The reason is I don’t want our students thinking that YG is the same as being a part of the whole body of Christ. I want are students in worship because it is where we see the whole body of Christ gather and share its need for forgiveness in confession and absolution, in the breaking of bread, and fellowship.
Many of my students and even their parents can forget this fact about the body. We seem to think all to often that Church is about me and my group of peers. I have had parents and students say “They aren’t going to Church but they are going to be at Youth group which I the same thing.” I cry a little when that happens. Being a part of the body of Christ is all about being with the whole body. The body needs those who are 95 and crusty, it needs the 5 year old with snot running down his nose, it needs the teenager who is uncomfortable with her body, the single mom, the dad who is struggling with self worth, It needs all of it because it is all the body trying to come together to follow the head who is Jesus. It is these moments when we learn to walk together through our mess and see Jesus clean it up.
The whole body in needed to function properly is doesn’t mean we don’t have groups who meet together who are alike, it just means that shouldn’t be the end goal. Our end goal should be the whole body gathered together. So how are you intentionally gathering together with those in your Church who are not like you? How are you helping grow the whole body of Christ?
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Ephesians 4:4-7 ESV
My body wash reminded me of something this morning. Every so often in the morning I want to stay in the shower. Sometimes because it is warm, but mostly because it gives men a few minutes to get my head on straight before I have to deal with the world of two young people and a teenager. Oh my kids aren’t that bad. They have their cranky moments and they act like all little sinners some times but I wouldn’t expect anything less. Their dad’s theme song is often chief of sinners though I be. Today I was in the shower and happened to be reading the back of my body wash. I know I am weird but like I said I like to take a few minutes. I was blown away as I read the bottle. Rinse lather and repeat as necessary, it says. As a guy I have never really thought about doing it twice. Most of the time if I have done it twice it is because I got so little sleep the night before that I forgot I did it in the first place.
When we talk about sharing our faith with our kids, families and for me Youth group, I forget that I need to rinse and repeat more often than not. I sometimes forget the importance of this process in making disciples of Jesus. I often think of Jesus and how he taught the same thing over and over again just so he could give them the holy spirit and then they would finally understand. We are a stubborn people in need of constant reminder. We like the Israelites, disciples, and really everyone else in the Bible have seen God work in great and amazing ways yet we constantly have to be reminded of the things God has done in our lives.
So maybe today you are struggling with teaching your family, your youth group, your Church, your friend or yourself. Remember we need to hear it over and over again. Like shower time it isn’t is a one time thing. The really tough stuff might even take multiple times in one attempt to get it clean. So lets all remember to keep bathing in God’s Word! Rinse, lather, repeat.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
This past Sunday, at the congregation I am privileged to serve, I was asked during the message to contemplate something I have been talking with my pastor about for some time. We were asked “Are we just members of a congregation or are we disciples of Jesus?” Now before you get angry and say this is just part of the wishy washy Christianity that says I don’t want to go to Church or organized religion I just want to follow Jesus crowd. That was not the question I am asking, nor was it the question asked of us on Sunday.
The question we were asked is do you just want to be a member or do you want to be something more? Do you want to be a disciple? You may be asking “what is the difference?” Those terms have meaning and this is what I think they mean. Members are people who belong to a group for a benefit. Disciples are people dedicated to the teachings of a master and to spreading that teaching to others.
Did you become a member of the Church just for the benefits? Are you coming to our Church to have someone to bury you when you die, or someone to marry you when you fall in love? Are you coming to youth group just so you can go on trips, and have fun events? Or, are you coming to this community, this congregation, because this community is dedicated to learning from the master Jesus Christ. You see a disciple is something more that just coming to make sure our name is on a membership role. You are coming to meet with these people so we can learn from the Master. We come so we can learn who God is through his Son Jesus Christ, the Master. As disciples we don’t just learn about Jesus but we go and share that Jesus with others. A disciple is a learner and a sharer. He or she not only gets something but shares something with those who God has put in her path.
So are we challenging our students, our children, and our families to be disciples? Are we challenging ourselves? Are we reinforcing a mentality that says “I come to this place called Church so I can be a member, and receive my rewards for doing this. Or are we challenging ourselves, our people, our families to be disciples. Are we asking them to be in the Word to receive the greatest gift we have in Jesus. Are we asking our students, parents, families, adults, and children to be disciples who come to the master to learn and to share? I pray our answer is yes.
Often as we read through twitter, or look on facebook we see a lot of anger, hate, sin, and frustration. We see people with stress, letting it out. We see broken relationships being hashed out online. Have you ever read the comments under most articles published on the web. People are angry, broken, and afraid. I am angry, broken and afraid many times. So my question for today is how can we respond to all the anger, the hurt and pain?
To start I am reminded what my pastor said to me recently. He said “I am never surprised when people act like the sinners they are, I am shocked when they act like Christians.” Too often I think we believe that everyone should be nice and happy all the time. The reality is we are all sinners. We are all broken, angry and stressed, however we are also loved, redeemed, and saved by the one who came down from heaven. So what do we do? How do we make it through the day with so much stress, anger and hurt filling our world? I have a suggestion, remember to breath, pray, and breath again.
I have seen lots of ways to help us but none has been more effective for me than just breathing, and praying. Breathing is essential for life and so is prayer. Pray can help us see God at work, Prayer can help us focus on Jesus. Lots of people take a walk, or look at something pretty. Recently I have see people post pictures of flowers to remember God’s great creation. These can all be good things. I would add breathe, pray and breathe again. To breathe is to have life and to pray is have life. Jesus is there with you, you can pray his words, “Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more”John 8:11b
I know we will continue to sin, we will continue to see others sin. I often try to remind myself Jesus has forgiven me, now go back out and follow him again. Be reminded of His kingdom of forgiveness and grace. So as you are hurting, broken or angry today remember to breath, and pray, and breath again.