There are three reasons why your church needs Christian Endeavor. I’ll explain one in each of the next three posts. Explaining the first reason begins with three letters . . . Meh! I was introduced to this word by the older of my two lovely daughters. She was home on break, slept till Noon, then staggered downstairs looking like America’s Got Talent had a dance party in her hair. I looked at my bedraggled offspring and asked how she was doing. Her response? “Meh.” (Abrupt guttural reptilian tone.) Never had three letters in one monotonous syllable communicated such heartfelt meaning. She could have used several sentences to communicate how she felt. Instead she just said, “Meh.”
Meh is a simple word for a simple time. It simply communicates disdain, displeasure and general feelings of “get out of my face and stop smiling you ignorant, Nerf brain.” Our culture in all its complexity evidenced in technology, academic advancements and medical breakthroughs is screaming for simplicity. People have filled the open slivers in their schedules with texts, Smart phone app use, and desperate attempts at remembering everything their minds cannot recall because of life’s clutter. The drastic result of our advanced society? “Meh!!!” (Said with a sustained, almost melodious belching sound.)
Christian Endeavor started as a tool churches could use to have a simple way to introduce young people to Christ and give them clear guidance to grow as His disciple. As culture has become more complex, churches are saying, “Meh!!” to the student ministry models that require adults to do all the work while teens sit on the sideline. Churches are embracing a structure that gives them direction with simplicity. The Gospel is simple, “God demonstrated His love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Our method to reach students for Christ should be simple as well. If three letters are describing how you are feeling about life, your schedule or the youth ministry at your church . . . stop saying MEH!!!!! (This time use a rough higher pitch with sound reminiscent of your great grandmother calling you for dinner) Instead, embrace Christian Endeavor. Three words describe this ministry approach. You will read about words two and three in my next two posts. Today I leave you with the first word describing C.E. In a world of Meh!, Christian Endeavor is Simple.
The Force Awakens!! OK, I loved Star Wars Episode VII, The Force Awakens. Yes, it drew numerous parallels from previous Star Wars installments, but it was incredible story telling and masterful character development. I recently spoke at a Christian high school and over half of the 800 students had already seen the film. Many of them had watched the movie more than once after less than three weeks at the box office. Since students are seeing this film; hopefully parents, care givers, youth workers and those involved with youth discipleship have also been in theaters to see what this movie has to say about The Force Awakening in today’s generation.
My focus is on the very last scene. (Spoiler alert if you have not yet seen the movie!!) Luke Skywalker is finally found on what appears to be a deserted island in a remote corner of the galaxy. Luke ran away. Why would he run away? He was a hero that saved the Republic (the good guys!). He was the last remaining Jedi and arguably the most powerful person standing on the side of the Light. The movie explains why he ran away. He ran away because he was training up the next Jedi generation when one of his trainees turned on him. Luke ran! He didn’t run because of his failure. He didn’t run because of disbelief in his abilities. Discouragement made him run.
As we begin a new calendar year, have you “run away”? If so, it is time for God’s “Force” to awaken inside of you. I watched Star Wars with one of my best friends yesterday. He mentioned how we can wake up one morning and find ourselves on a deserted island like Luke Skywalker; discouraged, searching for meaning and purpose in our daily lives. I have found myself at this same place just as many youth workers, parents and students have.
Turning to 1 Kings 18 and 19 we read how Elijiah faced the prophets of Baal. He watched God miraculously rain fire from heaven showing His incalculable power. Then Elijiah led those faithful to God in slaughtering the pagan priests as Israel’s people watched. One would expect Elijiah to do his own version of a touchdown dance (or Wokie shuffle), instead, HE RUNS AWAY!!! Queen Jezebel threatens Elijiah and so he takes off running! On the surface this doesn’t make any sense. Elijiah just watched God do the unthinkable in front of thousands of people. Then he runs because a cranky witch of a woman threatens him. God gives Elijiah just enough time to wallow in his fatigue, loneliness and discouragement before revealing Himself. Elijiah’s true force awakens as he is reconnected, not with his own powers and abilities, but with the boundless power God wields through the life of those who are fully committed to Him.
Maybe you have run away. Maybe you know talented and gifted people who have turned into hermits on their own deserted islands. Let the power of the Holy Spirit be the force that awakens inside of you. Let him work in and through you to bring courage and strength from the Lord to others as well. This, my friends, will be a Force worth Awakening!!