Thursday, July 3, 2008

America's Most Beautiful Corner

Tonight I found the most beautiful corner in America. It is the intersection of a not-so-very-busy street and a very busy street that has restaurants and shops along either side. My family sat on a section of the green grass that flanked the edges of the road and waited.

Nobody else was around for a while. And we waited.

A few people whom I have never met before came and sat with us. And we waited together.

As the sun slipped below the horizon to illuminate the billions of people who would likely never see this beautiful corner, the sky erupted in percussive blasts. With each shower of light my body trembled with the thunderous booms of the celebration.

Then another sound began to break through the fireworks. Voices. Voices that carried wonder and amazement. Voices that pointed out the colorful display to children seated in their parents laps. Voices that were saying the same thing, but in many different ways.

I heard Chinese, Spanish, and English in all sorts of accents all around me. I looked around and noticed that of the five other families sharing this street corner, none looked the same as the other. Yet there we gathered for probably the first and only night of the year with one purpose: to celebrate the freedom that we have.

At the point of this realization, I knew that I was sitting on the Most Beautiful Corner in America, and I suppose that many of you will find yourself on the same corner in the next few days. Perhaps it won't be in Addison, Texas, but we will share the corner together, remembering and celebrating the freedom that we have.

God bless each of you this holiday weekend and God bless America. And to my non-American readers may God richly bless you and whatever country you find yourself in today.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

5 Tips For GenY

I recently came across this article from PC World listing 5 ways to make a Gen-Y friendly workplace. The five suggestions they offer are

  1. Offer Attractive Benefits

  2. Promote Work/Life Balance

  3. Narrow the Rungs of the Corporate Ladder

  4. Ensure Managers are Enganges and Accessible

  5. Foster "Face Time"

While (most) people don't come to church looking for promotions, some of these suggestions do carry over into the way we think about and do church.

But, I decided that as a member of Generation Y (or the tail end of X by some estimations), I would give some helpful tips to those who are now peering into almost complete void of ministries that exist to equip young adults today.

1. Change churches
When I graduated from high school in 1998, I, along with many other people who were in my high school youth group, had no where to turn in the church. We had a booming youth ministry and lots of "adult Sunday school" classes, but there were not many options for the 20-somethings to get connected in the adult ministry.

If you want to be treated like an adult, you need to find people who didn't change your diapers. No matter how old you get, whenever you get up to teach that Sunday School class and you imagine your audience in their underwear in order to calm your nerves, many of them still see you crying because of a poop-filled diaper.

Some good qualities of a new church home are
Out of state (or oversees if you can swing it)
Near a major university
Plays U2 for 80% of the worship set
The pastor wears jeans

2. Get Married
If you decide to stay with the church you grew up in, I applaud you. But in order to show your adult-ness, you need to take on some responsibilities. You might think that helping with the hospitality ministry will do the trick, but you are mistaken. You're still a kid, but now you get to hold a stack of church bulletins that everyone will read while you teach Sunday School (see above).

3. Have a Baby
It is very likely that after getting married, you still won't be a "real" adult in your church. I don't know how many times my wife and I have heard this said, "You can't really understand the love of God until you've had a child." And we don't have a child yet, so how can we argue with that? I like to say under my breath, "You can't understand the complexities of God until you've built your own computer." So if you've gotten married, and still feel out of place in your church, try having a baby. I'll let you know in 6 months if this works or not.

Note: This only has the potential to work if you are married. If you are not married and attempt this solution, it will backfire tremendously.

4. Facial Hair (guys only please)
So you've tried everything so far. If you're lucky you went the marriage and baby route since now you can really understand the infinite transcendent God. If that whole marriage thing seems too far away or way to scary, allow me to suggest a simpler solution you might try. Grow facial hair.

If you're anything like me, this will not work. When I try to grow facial hair, I look like a fat homeless man suffering from mange. (When I shave, I just look like a fat homeless man.)

If you are fortunate enough to grow a distinguished beard or a classy goatee, then give it a shot. Maybe it will be enough of a disguise that people will forget you are that kid who stole snacks from the youth pantry and stored them above the ceiling tiles for increased snackability later on.

5. Volunteer to Assist with the Youth Ministry
This is your final line of defense and can be very effective. The pros, of course, are that you already know the ministry. You know every little thing about each of the current youth leaders like what time they go to bed, how soundly they sleep during mission trips and youth camp, and what their price is to let you off the hook. But you should follow some guidelines before jumping in with both feet.

Wait at least 18 months before volunteering. You may be tempted to get involved right away, but this can be dangerous. Allow me to illustrate. Remember that cheerleader you had a crush on in April? Well it's June now, she still has another year of high school and you just graduated. Unless you want to go from everyone thinking you're still "one of the kids" to "that creepy youth leader," trust me, take a break from any and all youth ministry related activities.

During your 18 month break, try to do #1 and #4 of this list.

Remember that volunteering for youth ministry does not make people view you as an adult, but it does keep you relatively out of sight from most of the people who would give you a hard time about it. And you still get to act like a child much of the time, which is the ultimate goal anyway. Right?

Please know that all of this is very tongue-in-cheek, but allow me to be serious for at least the next five sentences.

Whatever your age, life status, color, ability, knowledge or anything else, you are an important part of your church. Even if you feel overlooked, overworked and underappreciated, you are important. If you are young, you bring excitement and creativity that your church needs. If you are older, you bring the wisdom of your life experiences. Wherever you find yourself in your church, serve others with others to transform people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

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