Posted in affirmation, call to action, calling, Campus Ministry, clergy, Discernment, Ministry, United Methodist Church, Young Adults, Young Clergy

Affirmation and Calling

It’s been an interesting process the past couple of days as our search committee at Winthrop Wesley interviews candidates for the Director/Campus Minister job. I have been thankful to not be directly a part of the process and able to spend time at the end of each candidate’s interview times being able to answer questions and affirm them.

What I’ve found from a lot of them as well as from some of my current and former students is that our church is not always in the practice of affirming our young, capable and qualified leaders if their calling is something other than that of the local church.

As a member of a District Committee on Ministry and as someone who was loved and affirmed in my calling and in this process, I’ve seen some of this from both sides. I felt some of this as someone going through trying to articulate something that didn’t necessarily include a steeple or a pulpit. But, call me crazy, I thought that with all of the research talking about young people going into ministry and with it being over 10 years since I went through our process that things had gotten better. That committees and boards were more open to young people seeing church in sometimes different ways and wanting to live out their calling in ways that doesn’t always fit the life-long career path of previous generations.

I have people tell me all the time that they feel called to campus ministry and want to work with young people but that their committees on ministry or their senior pastor or those giving them counsel on how to get larger appointments with higher paying salaries warn against this because of their career or how they’ll be perceived or pigeon holed asking questions like, “Why would you waste your gifts there?” Yes, I have really heard this.

It feels like we just want to lift up people that look like and talk like us…40 years ago and we want them to follow our exact life map. We’re talking about the Call to Action and vital congregations and I’m all about us having that conversation, but changing our general agencies in no way completely solves the problem of our relevance or our connection with the world. If we ask the same questions that we asked 40 years ago and we expect the same answers, leaving no room for change or growth or a flip the script moment, we’re setting ourselves up for great failure. Not as a Church, not as a body of Christ, not as a movement but as a system – a structure that exists to continue its existence.

In contrast to all of this our amazing intern Erica just got back from her interview process with the General Board of Global Ministries for the Mission Intern program, which would train her to be a missionary 16 months internationally and 16 months domestically. She had an awesome experience. She felt affirmed. She felt heard. She felt like it was actually intentional and discerning and open…and she is bubbling from the experience! Hers is not the most traditional road to ministry, but it is such a rich and wondrous thing to witness. It’s exciting. It gives me hope for our church. Hearing about her wanting to share the Good News of Christ makes me excited that the United Methodist Church sends out missionaries all over the world – with all of their quirks, oddities, diversity, and high caliber!

I want to be able to encourage young people into ministry – whether ordained or in great UMVIM or GBHEM or World Race or whatever opportunities. I want to know that yes, they are questioned and people help them discern and give them counsel, but I also want them to be affirmed that God has called them to serve God’s kingdom – not in a particular venue or in specific cookie cutter ways. Not hating on the cookie cutters because I love them and I am related to them, but we’ve got to lift up our young people and listen to them and hear their hopes, dreams, and passion. We’ve got to see and believe, not just say that all of these ministries are not just valid but just as “important” as the other. And this can’t just happen in our campus ministries. Our students can’t just be affirmed here, in the safety of our communities. The larger church has to be willing to affirm this calling as well and there has to be room made at the table.

I’m sitting here listening to Erica tell two of our students about her experience and what she could possibly do and it’s so contagious that we all need to hear it. We all need to hear this joy and passion. We all need to have a chance to sit down with a group of young people and listen to how they see the world and how they view the church.

So a huge thank you to all of those who have affirmed some of us crazy folks that love the local church – absolutely love it – but are called to serve in a variety of ways. A huge thank you to those that see quality, solid people and don’t say things like – you don’t want to serve there, you want to be able to move up our system, why would you waste your gifts with such a transient and changing group. A huge thank you to those that support these crazy ministries that we do and who believe in the work that we are doing. A huge thank you to our advocates who have stepped into the gaps, who have tried to translate for us, and who have journeyed with us.

May each of us experience times of affirmation and calling, as well as time of challenging and questioning. AND may we as a church realize that some of our larger struggles are not just structural, but so much more. Help us Lord to not just break glass ceilings in our particular ministries but may the greater church realize the gifts, graces, and beautiful ministry that is happening throughout our connection as we seek the already and not yet of your kingdom.

Posted in Campus Ministry, Christian, Mission, Questions, united methodist, Young Adults

Maybe They Just Don’t Know???

Yesterday at our weekly free pasta lunch that’s open to the whole community – “no strings attached” – get it, we had a really interesting conversation.  Our intern, Erica was hosting the pasta lunch and there was a guy that came for the first time.  He grew up Baptist but doesn’t attend the Baptist campus ministry here.  She said he had a ton of questions.  He asked what being “Methodist” meant?  Did we believe in one God?  What does it mean to join?  All sorts of questions.

Do we believe in the one true God?  Now that’s one I didn’t see coming.  As we were eating lunch today having a mini-staff meeting of course, she and the other two Wesley students that had been sitting there were talking to me about the questions and how they answered them as best they could.  Several things hit me as we were talking.  You would make the assumption, or at least I would, that in the South most people know about the “Methodist” church.  I would assume that most would think at least something about the flavors of Protestantism like Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopalian….you know?  Guess that assumption would be wrong.  He didn’t have any idea what we believed.  Or if we were even Christian.

Last year, a similar conversation happened with one of our students that lived at The Wesley House but didn’t come to Wesley.  She was from a Holiness tradition and as she was visiting one night for dinner, she asked us if we believed in Jesus at Wesley.  We have crosses everywhere and don’t worry I say “In Jesus’ Name” at the end of my prayers, but somehow she still hesitantly asked if we believed in Jesus.

There’s part of me that is really befuddled by all of this and I want to say – Duh!  Of course we believe in Jesus.  We believe in One God.  Duh.  We’re United Methodist – we’re not just a bunch of heathens – whatever that word means.  Sure we welcome all sorts of people here – all sizes and shapes and colors and belief systems and struggles – but we do that as the body of Christ.  Sure we have a female campus minister that isn’t really looked favorably upon with every Protestant tradition, but it is what it is.  Sure we balance personal piety and Scripture and justice and Bible study and fellowship and fun and everything in between, but you can be as serious as you want to be and follow Christ and as crazy fun as you want to be and follow Christ too.

There’s another part of me that thinks it’s really telling that some people seriously don’t have any idea who we are, what we stand for, or what we believe.  They genuinely don’t know and want to find out.  Are we legit or not?  Who is serving them this free pasta?  What is this place?

If college students don’t know who we are, what makes us think that their parents do?  What does the outside world think of when they hear the word “church”?  What do they know about the greater Christian church not just the one they grew up in?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want our faith to be a secret code just revealed to some.  I don’t want this to be something that only a few know about and the rest question and wonder.  How do we invite in those that are questioning or pondering?  How do we engage in the honest and authentic dialogue while not being defensive or creating an unrealistic polished picture?

What is funny is that the three Wesley leaders that were talking to this guy were one who grew up Baptist, one who is Nazarene, and another whose from a United Methodist church in Maryland.  I would LOVE to have been a fly on the wall.

But that’s what the world is hungry for I think.  They want something real and authentic and it’s not enough for some to just come and eat pasta, but they want to question and discern and engage.  And that’s a neat thing.  Maybe people just don’t know what Methodist means or Presbyterian.  Heck, maybe our people don’t even know what those mean sometimes.  My hope is that whatever people know or not about our denominations or stucture, that they’ll know for sure and certain that there’s a whole host of churches out there trying to live out the Gospel of Jesus and to really love God and love neighbor.

So bring on the questions.  Bring on the dialogue.  Bring on the honest reflections.

Posted in Faith, Fear, Ministry, Priorities, Random, Young Adults


I readily admit that I am a lover of Broadway.  Love it!  Especially musicals.  From the first time I saw Cats in the 6th grade to Wicked to Avenue Q to Phantom to Promises, Promises to In the Heights to most recently The Book of Mormon, there’s something about a story being acted out in the midst of great acting, catchy songs, and neat stages/dancing/the whole atmosphere that I just can’t get enough of.  I know, I know – it’s a long way to Broadway.  But there’s loads of shows that come through even wonderful South Carolina.  And you could see the Legally Blonde musical on MTV or the anniversary special of Les Mis on PBS or even bootlegging from your wonderful youtube.  There’s just something about being transported and watching really great art – singing, dancing, acting, the amazing orchestra – the whole experience.

So that’s the place I’m coming from when Mike won tickets to the Book of Mormon and we could see the whole thing from boxed seats and into the orchestra.  I’m not the hugest fan in the world of South Park.  I think it’s sometimes funny – the episodes about Tom Cruise, Scientology, Mormons, the Christian rock band, those I can find the humor and appreciate it.  I’m not a fan of the overkill of language and violence but I know that is part of what they’re trying to speak to.  I get that.  I had no idea what to expect out of this musical.  I had read about it in Entertainment Weekly and how they described it as “an atheist’s love letter to religion.”

I was pleasantly surprised.  Yes, there’s some awful language.  So much so in parts that I can’t even describe some of the songs.  But how real and open they were to work with real issues and serious situations in the midst of the hilarity and satire, was a unique look about religion, faith, and just how cruddy or overly fake life can appear to be and yet how real and authentic it is.

I think about this how end of the world hoohah right now.  When we were in New York people were wearing signs and handing out brochures in Times Square about our upcoming May 21st big day.  One of the newspapers quoted a retired bus driver who had put in over $40,000 to get the word out to the “unbelievers.”  That’s a whole lot of money to put out there.  It also quoted a bunch of people who had already quit their jobs and sold their houses.  I can’t even imagine that kind of….what’s the word….devotion?  (lots of other adjectives that could be used here)

In the opening song of The Book of Mormon and also as part of the finale there’s a song called “Hello!” and it’s a melody of Mormons doing their somewhat cliched ringing of doorbells and introducing people to the Book of Mormon.  I wouldn’t say the musical is completely anti-Mormon, but it certainly does poke major fun and lots of holes and questions about the legitimacy of Mormonism.  It talks about these missionaries being dropped into these communities and not really caring how the people are actually doing or how they live, but only caring about witnessing.  Now I’d like to get on my high horse and say that the United Methodist Church doesn’t do that – we’re working with communities, handing out bed nets, providing food, clean water, education.  You can’t deny that UMCOR rocks.  Very true.

But do we care enough to give our $40,000 savings to anyone or anything to get out any kind of message?  I’m not saying you should start shelling out money a la to some televangelist – quite the contrary.  I’m just saying, I don’t know how many of us are willing to part with our life savings for anything.  And definitely not to our churches.

What do our missionaries look like?  And not just our missionaries because that’s putting it off on just a few, but what do we look like as we share the Gospel?  Do we share a Gospel with strings attached or just the simple bare basics in our every day lives?  Do we tell people how our scripture could change their lives?  Do we share how Jesus is relevant to our lives today?  Have any of us shared scripture with someone else, much less a Bible?  Do we think that’s too pushy or too “something”?

It’s great that we are doing Change the World weekends as a UMC.  Really great.  That’s what we should be doing.  But all the time and all the churches.  Too much to ask?  Maybe so.  But if we as a church – not just UMC, but all of us – aren’t doing something, living something, breathing something, actually giving a fig about something enough to put our time, hearts, and money where are mouths are, than what are we doing?


Posted in Campus Ministry, Culture, Entertainment, Lent, Life, Music, Young Adults


On the Wesley trip to Washington, DC for spring break, I finally got a chance to listen to the new Taylor Swift CD all the way through.  I know there’s some Taylor haters out there, but I’ve always really liked her and I love this CD.  And all of us – ranging in musical loves – enjoyed listening to it, which is always a good thing.  Who knew you could bond over Taylor Swift singing at the top of your lungs together?

The song that keeps replaying over in my mind is her song, “Mean.”   The lyrics are below.  In talking with students or youth or friends for that matter, there are so many people that have been wounded by “that mean guy” or “that mean girl.”  There’s that person or people that get under our skin and say words that go straight to the heart in amazingly hurtful ways that we can sometimes remember for years.

It’s crazy how much these things can hurt.  And it’s amazing to me how many people are affected by this and they never get a chance to speak up for themselves.  I think about the movie “Mean Girls” and all the hate and power trips and nastiness.  I know, I know, that many a time these mean folks are covering for their own insecurity, but that still doesn’t justify their uber mean behavior.

Here’s the thing.  We’ve got to let go of the mean.  We’ve got to let go of the rude things people have said.  We’ve got to let go of the hurtful things that we remember at our lowest points or times when things feel like they’re falling apart.  We’ve got to step out of the round and round cycle of drama and situations that just hurt us, and say enough!  There are so many students that I see that are in friendships/relationships that are just plain stressful.  Nobody needs the added stress and emotional energy that it takes to deal with unhealthy relationships that just bring you down – especially during the end of semester crunch.  Maybe this Lenten season, letting go of some of those wounds and hurts is something we should think about.  As we look at this season of repentance and renewal, maybe it’s time we open our hearts to the Spirit of Truth and let go of the hurtful crud.

I think about the ending of The Help where Aibeleen tells Mae Mobley, “You kind.  You smart.  You important.”  That’s the part that broke my heart because so many don’t realize this, and it was so evident that Aibeleen wanted badly for Mae Mobley to get and feel this.  I know about the “me” generations and I get that, but I also feel like often my students are reflecting their questions about themselves back to me through their questions, their hurts, their eyes.  The heck with the mean ones that just want to tear you down.  The heck with those that haven’t walked in your shoes and who are just hurling darts because they’re scared themselves.  You are kind.  You are smart.  You are important.

Let’s let go of the mean…and grab hold of the good that God has spoken over our lives.

Taylor Swift – “Mean”

You, with your words like knives
And swords and weapons that you use against me,
You, have knocked me off my feet again,
Got me feeling like I’m nothing.
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard
Calling me out when I’m wounded.
You, pickin’ on the weaker man.

Well you can take me down,
With just one single blow.
But you don’t know, what you don’t know,

Someday, I’ll be living in a big old city,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Someday, I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me,
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean.
Why you gotta be so mean?

You, with your switching sides,
And your walk by lies and your humiliation
You, have pointed out my flaws again,
As if I don’t already see them.
I walk with my head down,
Trying to block you out cause I’ll never impress you
I just wanna feel okay again.

I bet you got pushed around,
Somebody made you cold,
But the cycle ends right now,
You can’t lead me down that road,
You don’t know, what you don’t know

The song –

Taylor Swift talking about the song “Mean.”

Posted in Books, Campus Ministry, Faith, Sermons, Young Adults

Do we care enough to pray?

One of our small groups is reading Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution right now and it has brought about a lot of interesting discussion.  I often feel like I’m defending young adults to the church and the church to young adults.  As someone who was nourished and formed in the United Methodist Church who has seen the good, the bad, the ugly and the awesome as a preacher’s kid, and as someone who has felt called to lead and be apart of this church, there’s part of me that wants to defend it until I’m blue in the face.  At our recent small group talking about the book, it was me and another student who is a PK who were defending the established church in the face of students that don’t necessarily align themselves with a particular denomination or group, but are serious about their spirituality.  And before some of you reading think, that it’s just young people that feel that way, it’s not.  Yesterday we had someone stop by Wesley giving us a donation to help with painting and repairing some of our windows around the building.  Is this guy a United Methodist?  Nope.  Had I ever met him before?  Nope.  Was he young guy?  Nope.  He simply said he didn’t really believe in all the denominations but that he was a Christian and he wanted to help us out by doing the repairs and help the guy doing the work out, by giving him some work in this hard economy.  There’s something about some of our denominational structures that people find intimidating or they’re just mistrusting.  Who can blame them?

In a world where not just young people, but many relate sincerely to the statement, “I’m spiritual, not religious,” what role do we play as the church?  There’s something about living out our faith and actions that speak louder than words that my students and many of us find refreshing in books like Shane Claiborne’s.  Even the biggest of mega churches are starting to realize, you have to have that service and outreach component for people to buy in to what you’re offering.  I’m not at all saying that our older generations aren’t socially conscious and don’t where their faith on their sleeves.  Quite the contrary.  I see the amazing folks of Bethel UMC rocking the soup kitchen week after week.  I see many of our “great generation” as Tom Brokaw calls it, being the ones that give to our churches, to our missions, and to our campus ministries with their time and money.  These folks are our bedrock.  They are our foundation.  We have relied upon them in our attendance, giving, and mission reports for years and years.  I honestly have no idea what our church is going to look like a decade from now.

For years I’ve heard people rally around sayings like, “Our young people aren’t the future of the church but are the church today.”  I also have heard very clearly that in the next ten or twenty years our church is going to change radically.  At a recent District Superintendent gathering of the SEJ, Lovett Weems talked about a “tsunami of death” expected to happen by 2018. A new body is going to have to step up.  Even more than that, a collective body needs to be formed and shaped and nourished as we go into this new territory together.  And it needs to be something new…and thank God we believe in One that makes all things new.  What worked in the 50’s and 60’s in our hayday is not going to work now.

I think most people would agree that we want our churches to have young people.  I can’t imagine anyone actually admitting out loud in front of people that they really don’t want to give up their space or their community or that they want to keep it solely theirs and nobody else’s.  Most people would also probably agree that we don’t really want to see our average age of clergy or congregant creep any higher. We want these young people to join our churches, but how often do we really try to plug them in to the life and leadership of the church?    We think that a college Sunday school class is the answer to everything, like somehow these young adults are going to smell this addition out in the atmosphere or its like batman’s bat light is going to shine forth from that particular church and young adults will automatically flock to it. 

I hear pastors say that campus ministry is a great place for college students and young adults but it’s hard to get them invested back in our local churches.  You’re right about that.  It is hard for young adults that have been fed, nourished, and empowered in campus ministries to go back to local churches where they don’t always feel heard or like they matter except in the “we really want you here because you’re young, but we don’t want to give you any kind of say-so over anything.”  It’s not that you should be pandering to young adults or any one else in this consumerist crowd, but if some of the keys of the kingdom aren’t gently handed over it’s going to be hard to pry them out of the cold dead hands of our churches a decade from now.

So what does this mean for us?  Where can we go from here?  How do we bridge this divide?

A wise beyond words former student of mine posted this on facebook in reaction to some of the assumptions in the Call to Action report.    This quote comes from the top of the page talking about vital congregations ( “The United Methodist Church is called to be a world leader in developing existing churches and starting new vital congregations so that we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Then he writes, “But what if we’re not?  How do we know? How do we know we’re not called to repent of our sin of desiring worldly influence that has resulted in our church functioning to bolster war, imperialism, eugenics, and the like over the past two centuries? How do we know we aren’t called to use all our buildings to feed the hungry and house the homeless? How do we know we’re not meant to shrink and become even more marginal before our comfortable church learns what being the body of Christ is about? I’m unimpressed with the presumed triumphalism.”  I want to give a huge amen and shout a loud PREACH BROTHER!

Yes, things are changing.  And like I said before, I have no idea what the church is going to look like in the next 10 – 15 years, but instead of being sad and angry and depressed and bitter and cynical as is so easily slipped into, why don’t we intentionally pray, discern and vision, call on the Spirit to lead, get totally excited about the possibilities of what can happen if we let the old paradigms fall away and we revision anew.  A “revision” of a paper, isn’t writing the whole thing over again, even though some paragraphs and parts, some sentences and words, sometimes even some of the critical parts are tweaked, corrected, and changed.  We don’t have to throw the whole thing out, but we do have to imagine again what this church is called to do and to be in this world and what that means for us.

This is representative of where we are in campus ministry right now, trying to offer the Good News in the midst of people being pulled in different directions, trying to articulate that “church” isn’t just always those brick and mortar buildings with the steeple but that it can be community and justice and discipleship and nourishment too.  As we stand on the precipice of something that’s going to change and happen whether we like it or not, we need to all be intentional in our prayer, in the Gospel that we share, in the asking of the Spirit to lead and guide us in ways that we can’t even imagine. These aren’t times to be afraid or hold even tighter to our fear and control, but this is an exciting time in the life of our larger faith community.  How are we going to set the tone?  How are we going to shape the conversation through the power of the Spirit?  How are we going to step out in faith?  What do we keep and what needs pruning? 

I don’t know about y’all, but I haven’t decided what I’m adding or giving up to help me draw closer to God during this Lenten season yet.  I still have til tomorrow night so I’m fine.  I’ve heard of pastors intentionally praying for everyone in their congregation – love that idea or adding times of fasting and prayer.  I think though one of the things that I would like to do and I would like my students to do, is to pray for our church.  And not just little c church, but also big c Church.  Instead of watching all of this unfold and getting swept to and fro in the midst, why don’t we actually ask the Spirit to steer the ship and blow and move?  Why don’t we ask for guidance and discernment and illuminating instruction to be given to our church leaders, those lovely people we call the bureaucrats of the church, and not just them but to all of us – lay and clergy alike?  Would you care enough about the present/future of our church to intentionally pray for 40 days?  Do you think it’s inevitable doom and gloom or is there hope in the midst?  I choose hope.  And I choose to pray.  And I choose to believe that God will shock our socks off with all that’s in store.  We’re right on the edge of a powerful movement.  The signs are there.  It could happen.  We can choose to see this as a wonderful opportunity or as the last death nail….let’s choose life.

Evy and Enoch at a recent youth event...what will the Church look like when they're young adults?
Posted in Campus Ministry, Culture, Faith, Television, Young Adults

Oh Christians…

So it’s been pop culture Christian overload lately with Glee last night – Dear Cheezus (one of the main characters praying to a grilled cheese sandwich that happened to be burned with the face of Jesus into it – very random considering that the news was covering a woman who found the face of Jesus in her MRI but neither here nor there…) and watching the movie Easy A a few weeks ago. 

Christianity is so often a parody or stereotype but I’m glad to see television, movies, and media really trying to engage in the conversation even in random ways.  In Easy A Christianity becomes the hate/bashing/judging yuck of quintessential stereotypes, and yet I think that’s how a lot of people associate us.  If I was playing family feud right now (new obsession thanks to my wonderful students who hounded me until I accepted an invite) what would the number 1 answers be for – describe a Christian?  I hope we would not do too terribly, but I have a sinking suspicion that it wouldn’t be all that great.

A recent Pew study just came out in Christian Century and it was saying that one of the challenges for declining worship attendance/church membership is that the group that most self-identifies as having “no religion” are 25-34 year olds  It’s a good article and I like that it is looking at worship attendance instead of typical church membership because it seems that less and less people want to actually “join” even though we are great at “joining” things and “liking” things on facebook.  There’s just something about doing it in real life that seems to freak people out or turn people off or make them think that there’s this big commitment or wapow! sudden change that’s going to suddenly happen.

The study also looked at why people are attending church less frequently.  Is it demands on time?  Is it lack of commitment?  Is it cultural/social/any kind of relevancy?  Is it a time or schedule thing?  Is it inconvenient?  Does it not meet our criteria of being a “good enough” use of our time?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s all of these and a ton more that no one wants to admit or say outloud. 

I had lunch with a student today and we were talking about Wesley.  In case I haven’t told you this is what some would call a rebuilding year for us.  I kind of don’t like that language and am not sure if I even want to type it, but we graduated a huge group of seniors last year and in many ways those were our leaders – the people that showed up consistently and really rocked it out.  That can have a big impact on a group.  Trust me.  We’ve also had a lot more people with night classes and schedule changes and blah, blah, blah.  Bottom line – you can’t please everyone and there’s no good time for everyone to meet.  Maybe we should just move it to Sundays at 11 am – just kidding.  Anyway in our conversation we talked about the balance of wanting Wesley to not be a place of stress or people feeling like they have to come even if they’re swamped with schoolwork, etc. but also the kick back of not wanting Wesley to always be put on the back burner of whatever comes up in the many other activities these students are committed to.  You want to give grace and you want people to not be overwhelmed, but then again do you want to make it so easy for them to pop in and pop out that they miss what it means to be committed to something?

Is that how we treat our congregations or worshipers?  Do we notice when some of them are missing or just randomly show up once every other month?  I’ve never been someone that says we need to bow down to the sticker chart in the sky of how many times we’ve been to church over the past year, but I also think I’m a bit guilty of not taking seriously the commitment of being part of a community of faith or of realizing that worship, community, and the body of Christ matter more than we sometimes give it credit or rationalize away.

We know we can turn to the church when the chips are down and we don’t know where else to go, but where do we go when we’re happy or things are going well or when life just gets too busy?  Is “church” the first thing to get cut from the to do list, when a better offer shows up?  Nope, we’re not getting extra brownie points here, but we’re missing out too.

You don’t just go to church for the numbers or the “memberships.”  You go because there’s something about intentionally sharing and being in community with people you wouldn’t necessarily spend 10 minutes with outside these walls.  There’s something about letting your guard down and being family that is sacred.  There’s something about breaking bread and opening up to someone that can’t be undervalued.  It’s not always easy.  It’s not always convenient.  It will often challenge you.  And maybe sometimes you do feel shut out, unwelcome and frustrated.  But you don’t chuck it all over the little things – or it must not have meant that much to you to begin with.

Watching Glee last night and still actually being within that age range that the Pew study was talking about – I don’t  think it’s that people don’t care about religion and maybe it doesn’t even have to do with commitment level (even though I think this has some to do with it for all ages), but maybe our Christian story is not as clearcut for everyone.  Take for example Donald Miller’s blog post about the Blue Like Jazz movie .  It’s hard to find backers for a “Christian” movie that’s not a typical clear-lined story.  I hear completely what he is saying.  But there are a lot of Christians that don’t have a hallmark movie story.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the hallmark movies or those of us that fit that mold, but there’s also nothing wrong with a little Lifetime thrown in either.  Just kidding.  I’m not advocating the drama, but I’m saying that maybe our Christianity sprinkled with a little pop culture (GleeEasy A – don’t forget Saved – and many more) speaks more to the fact that people are trying to sincerely search, question in deep ways, and claim both a brain and a foundational belief in the Gospel.  It seems like the conversation is changing – but I’m not sure that everyone is realizing that or if it’s changing at all for some folks.

Christianity doesn’t always fit neatly into certain parameters, and I don’t think Jesus did either.  But he did challenge and he did call forth something different – something not always easy and something you had to commit to.  May we not just show up for worship or believe on the inside, but may we also live out, question, challenge and nurture our faith in a variety of ways!  Looking forward to continuing the journey with you!

So if Family Feud asked you to describe “Christians” what would you say?

Posted in Campus Ministry, Faith, Life, Young Adults

So they’re laughing at our clothes..and it’s barely been a decade.

Two of our lovely Wesley girls going through some of my scrapbooks from college as they are sitting in my office right now.  They are laughing at our fashion (which I don’t think was all that different) and our giant computers and the craziness of what they remember of Y2K. 

Times have changed a lot.  Hello facebook, twitter, blogs, and all of the other trends in fashion, entertainment, etc.  But in many ways – things haven’t changed all that much.  College students still have awesomely awesome days when they run in jumping up and down about new friends or finding the right major or studying abroad or joining a sorority or getting that internship or part-time job they’ve been working for or at Winthrop especially finding the right guy or girl.  College students also have craptacular days as well.  Especially with facebook statuses, you can see the low points and even in the midst of our still lack of air conditioner at this point, they’re still choosing to hang out here even on the bad days.

I loved my college experience here.  There were good days and bad….and according to them some bad hair and fashion choices, but it was a time of discovery and growth and awakening like no other.  This time in young adulthood is so critical in this important work of figuring out self and world and community and faith.  There was a quote I saw the other day from Keating saying, “‘Discovery’ is usually about something that is outside us. ‘Awakening’ is about something that is inside us-that is already there.”

I like that.  Isn’t that’s what our journey through life is.  This process of awakening to all that is inside of us and discovering the possibilities that await us in the world.  There is a world of possibilities both for us to discover and awaken to.  Y’all know that famous and oft quoted saying by Harold Whitman, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  Awaken to what is inside you – to the God given passions and gifts and graces inside of you and let the world catch that light!

My parents brought me a box of “memory stuff” as I had written on the box, from my grandparent’s house on Saturday and in looking through it I found some hilarious stuff – a time capsule that some of us made in college – talk about random, a mixed cd, a poem I wrote as an “Ode to Waffle House” in college.  Talk about trip down memory lane.  As I listened to the cd in the car yesterday, circa 1999 – it was back when napster was big and random songs abounded – I thought about this process of awakening and discovery and how it’s not just something for young adults or teenagers or college students.

This awakening and discovery is a lifelong process that is something we all can relate to.  You’re never too old or too young to figure out what your life’s passion is or what this part of your life’s passion is.  We’re never completely lost or boxed in or corralled past the point of being able to open ourselves anew to the possibilities before us.  It’s not always easy work and it’s often dirty and hard-thinking work, but it’s worth it.

So yes these scrapbooks and these boxes of “junk” or “treasure” you make the pick – they’re funny and embarassing and they show someone trying to discover who she is from movie tickets to newspaper articles to pictures to that completely random time capsule.  But I am thankful for the ride.  For the good days and the bad days, for the awakenings and discoveries both challenging and freeing, for the friends and confidantes and family not just by blood but by life, that have traveled through.

My hope for myself, for my students, and for each of us is that we continue to awaken, we continue to discover, we continue to ask the Spirit of God to dwell within in and among us as we see both the absolutely ordinary and the completely radical with possibilities open for each of us.

To show you how random we were…some of the music….Hansen’s MmmmBop of course and Hello World by Belle Perez – very important when Felicity cut off her hair after breaking up with Ben.

You gotta love Des’ree’s You Gotta Be…