For the Sake of Argument

“Why shouldn’t we quarrel about a word? What is the good of words if they aren’t important enough to quarrel over? Why do we choose one word more than another if there isn’t any difference between them? If you called a woman a chimpanzee instead of an angel, wouldn’t there be a quarrel about a word? If you’re not going to argue about words, what are you going to argue about?”

G.K. Chesterton’s MacIan in The Ball and the Cross

My kids seem to have a great propensity for arguing about really stupid things. Not just my kids at home, though… I have a couple guys in my youth ministry who love each other like brothers. And by “love each other like brothers” I mean they “feel obligated to disagree with anything the other guy says.” Seriously these two are good friends, but they argue incessantly.

For the first few hours of any trip, I usually just laugh at the arguments. I’m a patient guy, but usually the rest of the van is ready to trade them for the next bit of roadkill within the first hour. I’ll often step in just before someone opens the door to push them out with what seems to me should be an end to the argument (it never is).

Usually, it’s like this: “Guys, you both are saying the same thing! Shut up and listen to each other.” I know “shut up” is not proper youth minster etiquette, but sometimes, it’s just the most appropriate phrase. It amazes me how often these guys will escalate an argument where they both are saying THE SAME THING because they’re not really hearing each other. They’re ignoring the words each other are saying with their eyes set on winning some imaginary argument trophy. Sometimes I just throw out something really contradictory to get them to realize they’re on the same side.

Some arguments aren’t worth having. But some are. What is something you’re willing to argue about? What’s something you currently are in the middle of arguing? Is it worth the quarrel?


“It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth… Hence, the complete picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual.”

G.K. Chesterton in The Ball and The Cross
Two things have been rattling around in my head since a couple days ago, when I came across this passage:
1. If we rely solely on media to define our perception of the world around us, we won’t get a very clear picture of that world. Even with the wide array of media choices available to us, we’ll only be getting a few of the most unusual pieces, pieces which someone else has deemed most important. If you want to know what the world is really like, get out there and do something – experience it! Better yet, shape it.
2. Chesterton’s description of man as “that moving tower of terror and mystery” points to the great capacity that each of us has. Our actions have the potential to change the very world we live in. Each breath that fills our lungs carries with it one more opportunity for meaningful action. The fact that our lives may never make headlines should never deter us from doing what we can to make a positive impact wherever we are.
Anybody made any good news, lately? Share your story in the comments – you can even start with the fact that you’re still breathing!

8 Random Reflections After CIYMove

Some summary thoughts and random reflections from last week’s CIY Move in Durango:

1. CIY is awesome. I love what this organization has been doing in the world of youth ministry. It’s not just about a 1 week summer conference, but about building platforms for launching young people into kingdom work as they reframe their lives around His Word and His mission.

I love the crepes in that little wagon!

2. For the first time in my life, I was complimented on my handwriting! I’ve always seen my handwriting as fairly crappy, very tiny, and barely legible. There’s a long and traumatic story about how I held my pencil wrong in 2nd Grade, but I’ll spare you the graphite details… But this week, adult leaders hand wrote brief letters to the students, noting a verse or two of Scripture that we are praying for our students. And despite cramping fingers (I rarely actually write anything anymore) from an afternoon scribe session, at least one of my students gave my penmanship an A. Take that Mr. D. Thanks Jadie!

3. On Friday night, after the girls left group time, I kept the guys behind for a little while and had a moment where I spoke “heart to heart” (and very bluntly) to each of them in an effort to individualize some of what had been going on in our group throughout the week. I want to see these guys be men who passionately honor God, so this was a chance to point out some personal obstacles they each will face and some gifts I can already see in them. They enjoyed the praise, and took the criticism pretty well. This was difficult to do, but I’m praying for those seeds to germinate and grow. I know that’s a little vague, but I have huge expectations for these guys. They’re filled with incredible potential, and we’re kicking out the chocks that keep them parked in the hangar. Time to fly, boys…

4. I love how guys like Kevin Greer and Mark Moore continue to pour themselves into young people – in teaching settings, but even more deeply as mentors for a small handful of guys at a time. The most lasting life change I’ve seen in youth ministry has happened in the context of a committed adult dumping truck loads of love and experience into a young person’s life in a small, discipleship group. (WestWay, this is one of the deficiencies in our youth ministry that we need to improve. Be watching for how you can help.) None of my time in youth ministry could have possibly been productive without teams of people like Jackie and Harriet and Matt and Melissa and Debbie and… many others who loved a few kids enough to disciple them.

5. Lights off laser tag is hazardous. I should have taken the cue when she asked if anyone had a fear of the dark. We’d played a couple rounds already, so the laser tag attendant upped the ante a little bit by going dark. As I was being chased by Michael, I thought I was running full speed down a long corridor. Turns out, I was not. Like the jaws of an alligator, the walls pulled closer and closer, but by the time I realized I was being swallowed by an acute corner, it was too late! Ouch.

6. Our perspective needs broadened continually. Think of the church. What do you picture? Does it include this?

If you’re here at WestWay, you’ll be hearing more about this film. CIY has highlighted these snapshots of the persecuted church, but there is so much more. We are comfortable here, but don’t forget that our family is attacked in much of the world.

7. While I was still in college, I attended a convention CIY used to do for youth leaders. The theme that year was “Standing in the Gap.” It was 1997 & I knew nothing about leading a church in youth ministry, but I felt pulled to become someone who would stand in the gap to help young people connect with the Body of Christ. It’s really hitting me right now that (at least in part) the reason I feel so out of place all the time is because I’ve chosen to live my life in that gap. Duh. Hey, guess what? If you choose to place yourself where no one else wants to go, you’ll feel alone sometimes. I was reminded this year that there are others who live in that gap – we’re not alone there. I was also reminded of some of the strategic thinking I did back then in order to narrow the gap. I’d been given an essentially blank slate and told, “Let’s do what needs done.” As I sat in an elective class with other leaders this year, I was really convicted that I need to return to being more strategic. I have to admit that some of what we do in our youth ministry is only done because that’s what we do. Even worse, some of it may be producing little more than another generation of consumer Christians who whine when we don’t sing their favorite song and do little else than show up a couple times a week. I hate that. I’m not a rinse & repeat kind of guy, but I’ve fallen into that mentality in a couple areas, maybe been lazy with a few things… that has to stop.

8. Sorry about the graphite pun in #2 – I blame sleep deprivation!

Being a Disciple Means Love

Hi guys. I’m leading worship here at WestWay this weekend and want a little help. The theme of Willie’s message is that a disciple loves the church family. I’m looking for ideas to incorporate into the service: specifically stories of how you’ve loved or been loved by the church.

So in the comments section here, tell me your best stories of seeing the church’s love on full display… of loving the church even when it was hard… of being loved by the church even when you were undeserving…