Saturday, November 14, 2009

What about the active learners?

There was a book I read a few years back called "why men hate church." There were some good points in the book and some that were so-so. The parts I got the most out of could have been called why active learners hate church..

I see this being a segment of the population that is missing/under represented in the American church. Church in general does a great job of reaching people who learn by reading, and instruction. Maybe 10-25% of the population are these active learners. Many have tried the church and left they have ethier dismissed God or joined para church organizations.

The quesion is what can we do to reach people like this?

These are generalizations.Active learners consist of men, woman, young, old, business owners, philanthropists, mill workers, inventors etc, etc.

The message of Jesus is something that resinates with active learners.
The way He lived His life is something to literaly be emulated.
If the message is diminished/dumbed down or made easy it does not appeal to this group.
This group wants a message that they can live and die for.
This group will smuggle bibles into communist countries, move into trailer parks, would even falsely be imprisioned if it would help others find Christ.
Bottom line they want to be challenged in such a way that will change the world.
Challenge them to live on 10% and give 90% of their money away.
Many of these people are rich business people who are looking for a worthy cause to give their money too. (no a building project is not a worthy cause).
Unleash them on a city/community/country/world and watch what they can do.
Impossible projects energize them.
They will think creatively outside the box.
Current idea: How do we create a situation where we can get all the prostitutes off of the streets of Gary for one night? (You can tell if you are an active learner if this idea scares you or if you think how could this happen).

This group learns different than the rest of our classmates in school.
This group learns by doing as oppossed to listening, and books.
They learn by doing
Their hands and our hearts may change before our head knowledge changes.

Great attributes: (generalizations)
Faith- this group is going to live by faith.
Fear- Fear is going to play very little in the decision making process.
Self-motivated- This group does not need much if any motivation outside of themselves.
Energy- This group has energy it is either going to be used for God or self.
Passion- This group is filled with passion and lives it out.
Spontanious- On a moments motice an individual would drop everything for people in need(i.e. hurricanes, natural disaster) etc.

many times they speak with passion and not logic- Active learners will say dumb things but the motivation is passion.
No patience- active leaners will have very little patience with others who don't see the world the way they do.
Disdain for those who don't live like this-
Meetings are not viewed with hope.- Most active learners are not going to enjoy meetings.
Messy- There may be colleteral damage with any activity they do.
Jump before thinking- Does not need all the details before jumping in.
1. These type of people are much tougher to control than the average church person.
2. They generally scare the 75% of the population who govern American Churches.
3. In general,churches try to change these people to be like the rest of the church.
4. There are always going to be balance issues between the active learners and the rest of the church.
5. It may be because of the churches lack to imbrace these types of people- 20somethings and men's ministry struggle in most churches.
6. This group is going to be the front line soldiers and they are going to much more comfortable outside the church than inside. But they will share there faith wherever they go.
7. These type of people are may notto be great"vounteers" in church ministries. It doesn't have enough risk/reward for most of this group.
8. They would be willing to take a bullet for Jesus but yet may quit when the rest of church critizes and tries to make them tame.
9. These people are not going to mature into "normal" church people this is the way God has created these people. Of course there are rough edges that God will smooth out, but at the core this is the way God created them.
10. They will leave quickly when they see that they are not needed,wanted, or the vision of the church is too small.

Bottom line there needs to be balance between these type of people and the 75% of the population who endwells the current church.

Active learners form the Bible would include-
Peter- He was so willing to act and think afterwards
Paul- He was so willing to go wherever without worrying about the consequences.
Noah- willing to build an ark even when it didn't make logical sense.

This group of people needs to be an important part of the church body, the normal church has to realize they are not going to be like them and the active learners have to learn that they can't leave or do this on their own.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sacrificial loving/living

What if Jesus was serious when He said if you have two coats give to the one without? What if James was serious when he wrote true religion is looking after the widows and the orphans and keeping oneself from being polluted by the world? What if what Jesus said was true whatever we have done for the least of these we have done to Him? What if John was right when he said how can we say we love a God who we have never seen yet we hate our brother who we have seen?

I am going on the premise that this is true. That when one puts their faith in God, everything in life changes. That caring for the poor, needy, fatherless, and widows is not optional.

As Americans our culture is currently changing. 10% unemployment and probably closer to 17% under employed and those who have given up. What if America becomes the worlds 4 largest economy instead of the first? Those Christians who \ think this may happen also think that will bring the second coming. What if the American economy continues to falter and God doesn't come back? Will this end our faith? What exactly is our faith in?

As I have been with only a part time job for a couple of months, I have applied at many othersand have been turned down. There are a couple of ways of looking at this problem.
1.Logically- 10% of the country is looking for these same jobs and I have heard of over 300 applying for the same jobs I am applying at. I have had interviews where I am more qualified than the person giving the interviews. Many of the entry level jobs I have applied for are looking for fresh out of high school people. Someone they can boss around and not worry about. A friend of mine who is in the same boat dumbed down his resume and got a job.

2. The God factor- My wife and I can live on the amount of money we are currently making. Our outgo is very low. We have used our money wisely over the course of our marriage and the only bill we have is our mortgage. We don't like to live frugually or deprive ourselves of American pleasures but there is no reason why we can't live. Our house is not going to go into forclosure now or anytime soon. We have two running cars that are paid for. We have a savings.
Yet there is this tug and pull that money is going to be needed. We want to continue to build for retirement, continue to put money away for savings and feel safe. There is nothing wrong with these thought but us Americans worship this. for some reason we don't think when Jesus was speaking to the rich young ruler or the rich he was talking to us.

I have struggled and will continue to struggle seeing others make more money than I and move up the Christian and the corporate ladder. I am sure they are doing what God wants them to do and that is great.

Unfortunately I personally feel convicted. I feel that I do not live the sacrificial life that God asks of me. I personally believe that the time and effort I have spent recently in obeying God is worth ten times more than if I have to sacrifice cable tv or whatever.

I know our family could live on a whole lot less. We don't want to and Iam still feeling convicted about it.

There is freedom in God leading us here. This is not legalism or something I feel that is burden it is a freedom to realize I am not on this earth to make every last penny I can. Of course there is a balance but if I am to take Jesus at his words. he is a lot more concerned about me following him than making a nice, same decent living.

I was talking yesterday about a conversation Jesus had with his disciples paraphrased:

Disciples: yes we want to follow you.

Jesus: are you really sure?

Disciples: of course we are sure.

Jesus: Think about it for a second, I don't even have a pillow to lay my head down on.

Why don't we think this applies to us?

Instead of two coats and giving one away to someone who need it? Why do we think this doesn't apply to our cars.

I would love to think that the American dream/ladder is parrallel to Jesus' teaching and His ways.

Unfortunately I think they run perpendicular many times.

I wish I could live the American dream but unfortunately I am feeling pretty convinced tht Jesus was talking to me when he was talking to the rich.

Two great books are
Francis Chan's: Crazy Love
Shane Claiborne: Irresistible Revolution

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Our Christian Brothers in Michigan City

As many of you know there was 3 men who escaped Michigan City Prison a few weeks ago. Due to this escape all the inmates have been in lock down since this and they will be in lock down for the forseeable future. (It could be up to six months). What this means is that none of the volunteers, pastors, or families get to come and visit these men. All the programs and visits are canceled.In talking with a friend of mine who has been recieving letters from some of these men there is some dispair and anguish amoung the Christian population.My request of you is two fold: 1. Pray for our brothers in Christ who are in there. 2. We need some people to write encouraging letters to these men.If you are interested in writing a letter: facebook me back and I will give you the name and number for an inmate.We will not use your home address as the return address.Ben

In the sanctuary of outcasts

Over the past month I have been reading "In the sanctuary of outcasts" Neil White. This autobiography of an outstanding man from the south who had an ideal life until he was involved in a white collar crime. He was sentenced to Carville institution in Louisana. Carville was not only a prison but also the last leper colony in America. The events in the book took place in the 1990s.At the end of the book there are a couple of quotes that had an impact on me:Neil the author had been given some advice when leaving this institution. he had been told by one of the lepers to find a church when he got out. Neil had been a church goer before being sentenced. But it was a church much like most of us middle to upper class white people go to. "I would take Ella (the lepers) advice and find a church. Not just any church. A place like the church at Carville (the institution). Were parishioners were broken and chipped and cracked. A place to go when I needed help. A place to ask forgiveness. A sacred place where people were not comsumed with image or money.I don't know if a church like that existed, but if it did I would go. And I would pray. Not the kind of prayers I used to say for miracles or money or advancement. I would pray for something more simple. I would pray for recollection- pray that I would never forget."When we are touched, broken, or realize the depth of pain and suffering what do we do? Do we try and forget the images and scenes that caused this brokeness? Pain and hurt is something we tend to run from. We tend to want to live in our "happy place" away from this. When we do this it is very easy for us to become apathetic, and caught up more in our rituals more than our compassion for others.Recently I taught a class on prison ministry. Prison ministry is tough going inside and helping criminals. It is ten times harder to help once they get out of prison. Very few people want these people as neighbors, friends, employees, or fellow church members. Is there a chance that these men could revert to past behaviors? Absolutely. Is all those that change in prison authentic? No more than those that find religon in the outside world. I much like Neil long for the same type of church. The only way this happens is when we become authentic and remember that we are all in the same boat and realize no matter how rich or poor we are we are all broken,chipped, and cracked.