As a person who has attended church since birth, it is can sometimes be easy to casually spout out the phrase “God is good”, or “God’s timing is perfect”. But today I just can’t shake those phrases out of my mouth. They are bubbling out of my heart.
Because this journal entry is way more than 200 words (as required for school) I’ve marked the section most relevant to school in quotation format (as is this sentence) rather than writing 2 blogs – one for school, one for personal growth.
After a week full of tragedy, bitter news and nasty surprises I was dreading having to publicly journal any of it, and I don’t know if I could have if I tried. It all just seemed too depressing to share, and too abstract to sting into a sentence. To top it off, I was looking down the barrel at two 16 page magazines due for October at my “day job”, a 300 page book to read that arrived yesterday, my response to that book due in a week, a sick wife, a sick newborn, a very healthy 2 year old, and a commitment to the hold the fort while my youth pastor was away.
- Daily bible time becomes… Audio bible in the car on the way to work.
- Intimate prayer time becomes… “I’m sorry” & “Heeelllllp!”
- Daily bible study becomes… Um, no daily bible study.
- Family time becomes… Working in the same room my family is spending time together in.
Friday after work, I come home and look at The Complete Book of Discipleship that has finally arrived in the mail–oh joy. My wife and I had prepared ourselves for a very testing week, as usual she graciously encouraged me to to get to work on my assignment while there was a break in my work flow. My boss had informed me that I would probably be getting called in to work over the weekend, so I took Maggies advice and started on the book after eating.
Everything about the book seemed ugly and undesirable. Of course I hadn’t opened it yet but my mood provided all the energy I needed to start the criticism. From the long title, to the graphic design flaws I had already projected that I would not enjoy any of it. Haha, oh what fun I have making fun of the person I am confessing to actually be.
At page 25 I am totally in shock. Bill Hull is answering the questions we (Stan–my youth pastor and I) have been desperately seeking to help us re-form a thriving discipleship ministry in the Youth of Campbell River!
Our church, CRBC, has the highest attendance on Sundays and youth group in our city of 33K. This year we are excited to see 140+ students attending Sr/Jr High youth. It sounds like a brag, but I mention it because our size and ongoing growth is our biggest challenge. Youth groups of 12, 25, 50, 100 & 150 can not function with the same discipleship methods as each other. Community-intimacy, styles of games, rules, catering, leadership, caring follow-up, venue size… as the ministry grows, your structure and planning needs to change. As Stan and I felt the pressure of this reality pushing against us, we spent time during the summer planning to adapt well. One of our resolutions was to address the issue of the unsaved youth feeling alienated by the Christian School feel of our youth group and the Christian youth feeling a lack of emphasis on deep spiritual growth and over emphasis on just hanging out. We developed the Evangelism/Discipleship Mind Map which proceeded, organizing a Vision Cast meeting for our team. The plan was simple; our current evening of youth group will continue to serve as our main evangelism venue for meeting and building relationships with unsaved youth of Campbell River. On top of that a discipleship training night will serve as the place to train the christian youth in spiritual growth (Matt 28:20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded), and the place to send participants as committed disciple to be missional in life and more directly at the evangelism focused youth night.
We now have two daunting questions to make this work. 1) Where the heck are we going to get the time and resources to pull this off. 2) How are we going to lead these young disciples in true faith means follow discipleship after all the complaining about the lack of spiritual food to eat they have been doing, like the hungry consumers of religious goods and services they are. Well needless to say the book which I had subconsciously dismissed as inconvenient school work had now become the perfect guide to understanding the depth of our quandary, and a just in time tool to inspire a vision of resolution.
If that wasn’t good enough to get me in a better mood. My 14 year old brother, unsaved and feeling very spiritually insecure, texts me at 12 and asks if I will get on the computer and chat to him about God. I have been eagerly praying for my brother for about a year, so this was very exciting for me. I ended up driving to his house at 2 a.m. to spend the night chatting about what it means to be a sinner, and what it means to be a Christian.
I found myself applying the things I had learned hours before in conversation to find myself in one of the most fruitful spiritual conversations I’ve ever had. It concluded with prayer and my brother realizing a desire to read his bible. I asked my brother if he would like to get baptized – his reply was almost foreign, but it was music to my ears – “Woah, that would be a big deal!” He understood! He understood the depth of faith. He understood the glory and the leap of faith into unfathomable self surrender, He said he want to wait! And I couldn’t be happier.
Well, I got the call from my boss. I have to go into work and (hopefully) finish some magazines. Once again, not enough time to journal as much as I would like. I guess I’ll save the rest for next time.