What are we chasing?

I read a great quote on Mark Batterson’s blog this morning (the specific post was from last week): “The impact God has planned for us doesn’t occur when we’re pursuing impact. It occurs when we’re pursuing God.”

I don’t think any church sets out to NOT have an impact on the world. No leadership team I know of sits around and says, “Ok, guys, how can we make sure that we’re not making a difference in the community around us?” But I do think that it’s easy to get sidetracked by good strategy and wise thinking – tricked into pursuing impact instead of pursuing God Himself. Just because we can devise a means to an end doesn’t mean it’s the right end. “Seek first the kingdom of God…” Everything else flows out of that.

Our team of leaders have been talking about issues of membership and what it means to belong to the body of Christ here at WestWay. I appreciate the thoughts Batterson shares at the beginning of his post about inviting people into the dreams God has for their congregation, and being a “shareholder in everything we’re called to do” – being part of the church is about God impacting the world.

We are called to pursue Him.

May we do so with abandon.

Deeper Than Teacups

It was really good this morning to hear Kyron (my youth minister in Jr. High) speak. Partially, it was just good to see him and his wife again, but also, what he talked about is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. It’s one thing to pray on behalf of someone who’s filled out a request card – it’s another thing to pray with someone who’s just poured out their need to us (or had them exposed despite their efforts to appear to be well). Kyron talked about the thought of us carrying the light of God to dark places by praying with people who are hurting.

A couple days ago, I finished reading Red Moon Rising, the story of the beginnings of the current 24-7 prayer movement (which is an echo of Celtic and Moravian prayer movements in their own days). The book shares the story of a bunch of people around the world coming into a desire to pray light into dark places. They’ve started prayer rooms that are covering the globe in prayer 24 hours a day, and going out into the world to love people like Jesus does.

I wonder, if the church really is as shallow as pop culture seems to perceive her, is that largely due to being out of rhythm with the heartbeat of God? Can we learn to pray in ways that lead us to rediscover the depth of His love for humanity? What will be the cost – and will we be willing to sacrifice?

I have a ton of questions churning within me about praying. I’m convinced that a lot of what currently passes as prayer is only scratching the surface of what God desires. I’m convicted that I personally have often relegated prayer to something other than my expression of total dependence on God. But I don’t have a lot of answers.

I talked with my small group and with my students and a few other people about the idea of a 24-7 prayer room. What would it look like to do something like that in our valley? I even went and looked at a building that is for rent downtown that would work out pretty well. Is it in the budget? I don’t know… What will the other leaders of the church think about this idea? We’ll see… Will people actually sign on to this idea and come to pray for an hour to ‘staff’ the prayer room? I don’t know that either… But I do know that in the past few weeks God has been fanning a flame within me that has a lot to do with praying creatively and missionally and leading others to deeper streams of prayer than the teacups we’ve settled for.

I’d really appreciate your prayers as I continue to process through all of this and find the way forward.

Worship Resource

I found a cool site called Movie Tools that can be a great resource for people who lead worship. Just thought I’d pass along the link. I used a few of the loops in worship Wed. night. Here’s a sample of what’s on the site to dowload FREE.

Curious Sidenote: The site appears to be run by a guy in Halle, Germany (on the Saale river). This is the same Halle I went to in a 1 month foreign exchange program during high school. I lived with a family (the Kuehne-Laehne family) out in Petersberg, a little community north of the city. I’m not sure what kind of guest I was, but they were great hosts – I’ll never forget Ingolf, Claudia, Georg and their parents. We were a short distance from Wittenberg and I got to visit the place where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Roman Catholic church. Thinking about it now, I really miss Germany. I should go back there sometime.

Why Drive So Far?

I’ve been in the middle of a pretty busy stretch lately. The ski trip two weekends past was supposed to be followed by an annual vision casting banquet, which has now been postponed until later this month (the day after a girls trip I’m driving for). This past weekend I took a small group of guys out to the IA-NE Christian Convention in Omaha – and I have two group trips to Denver in the next month. We’re hosting a concert by VOTA here tonight and planning a student led Sunday service sometime in the not too distant future. In April we’re hosting a couple hundred students for an annual youth event that rotates between a few churches in the region. I’m also trying to get some groundwork done for a pretty intense prayer initiative.

The travel seems to be one of the most often questioned aspects of the youth ministry lately. “Why would you go (with a bunch of kids) to Casper one weekend, turn around the very next weekend and go to Omaha, and throw in two trips to Denver in a span of 7 weeks? You’ll be spending a lot of time driving…”

Actually, for the Omaha trip last weekend there were about 14 hours driving on Friday and Saturday and only about 10 hours of actual programming/event taking place. Why spend so much time in a car to get to a youth event that’s only 1 night and one morning? Here’s an actual comment from Friday night that illustrates why.

“Man this is awesome. I love GORF.” (the name of the Jr. High event we were attending).

Not that big of a deal except one thing: the student making the comment had never been to the event before, and the comment was made before any of the programming had taken place. We showed up at the convention center, got checked in, went to check in at the hotel, then went to Fuddrucker’s for dinner (best greasy burgers in Omaha). The event hadn’t even started yet and he was already loving it!

But the 500 miles covered together on the road were part of the event for my students. This small group of guys spent 500 miles beating on each other, laughing at Cheetos faces and fingers, getting truck drivers to honk, and just hanging out all day. The time spent traveling is sometimes the most sustained contact any of these students have with another human being. It’s a chance for relationship to develop. I want to take advantage of that anytime I can.

The last three youth trips have been the best three trips in my time in ministry here. It’s been exciting to see the students responding to what God’s been impressing on them in these trips – I look forward to seeing how they continue to implement their convictions in their homes and schools and jobs… and to logging a few more miles in a couple weeks.