Friday, May 8, 2009

Where Does Jesus Fit In?

I was recently at a youth service that left me wondering why the person speaking ever chose to become a pastor to students?  The music was great, the games were the best games I had ever seen (really), and their youth area was amazing.  Everything was so impressive, the greeters, concessions, parent information/waiting lounge, skate area, video games, and, well everything... just about.  There was one area of the night that made me question what was the motive behind everything they were doing.  

As the pastor shared a fifteen-minute message I was taken back at the story he shared and the language he used.  There was no mention of God, the Bible or our very reason to gather, Jesus Christ.  I was confused and concerned.  He approached me after the service and asked me "what did you think?"  I paused and prayed, then slowly and carefully choosing my words (which is sometimes difficult for me) I asked him if every service was like this one.  He confessed that they did "crank it up a notch" because he knew I would be there, but that usually the services were just the way I had seen.

I don't know if it was my hesitation or look, but he knew there was something I was struggling with.  At first I was uneasy bringing up the message, or lack there of.  After all, maybe this was a "no Jesus" night, or maybe something had come up preventing him from preparing a message.  Everything in me was saying just avoid it, change my facial expression and move on.  The next words out of my mouth were "where is Jesus in all of this?"  His response shook me to the core.  He began to tell me that the good response to their ministry was primary because they didn't "push" Jesus and really just wanted students to connect with each other.  He proceeded to share with me, very passionately, how the Bible was not relevant and that they didn't want to spoil a good time by making students feel guilty about decisions they make.

I was at a lost for words, I was angry, frustrated, confused and somewhere deep inside, not totally surprised.  We talked for more than five hours carrying our conversation to the local Denny's Diner and finally disagreed to agree.  Not the way I wanted to leave it, but I felt I had said enough and maybe even too much.  My goal was not to cut or wound a brother, but rather to really ask the question, where does Jesus fit in?

Since the meeting I have been praying daily for that pastor and his ministry.  I have also begun to notice in other ministry websites, promotions, and message the "lack" of Jesus.  Then it hit me between the eyes, where does Jesus fit in my life.  How am I communicating and showing Him? People Magazine wrote about the success of Susan Boyle in their May 4 issue the following, "chalk it up to a weary world eager for uplifting entertainment."  The world we live in is not looking for "uplifting entertainment" they are looking for Jesus, they just don't know it.  They are looking for acceptance, grace, guidance, mercy, hope and love.  Sound familiar?  

In your ministry, in your work, in your life, where does Jesus fit in? 


Larry and Jennifer Darnell said...

Todd, thanks for your post. It does really hit home. I am from the old school I guess and could never imagine student ministry without Jesus. If you ask me where Jesus fits in...I would say Jesus is IT. He is central, He is first...if anything, it is me who fits in...Jesus is the sun and we revolve around Him in ministry. If I have to fit Him in, it will never work. I have noticed this trend, I just did not realize it had swung quite this far. I appreciate your ministry and I pray for you, my brother. Larry

Anonymous said...

I think this is very sad, but unfortunately not surprising. But I do question your wanting to call him brother, as he is obviously not a brother in the Lord. A person who is truly saved and called to the ministry by God would not hesitate to preach Jesus to these kids, wouldn't be able to stop themselves wanting to share with them at every opportunity. I am thankful my kids hear about God and Jesus at every service and youth gathering! Pray for them all, that something will happen to intercede on behalf of these kids who are being neglected by the church that has been charged with their spiritual welfare.