What a great weekend in Hotlanta! Of course with the exception of a couple delayed flights and not enough sleep (getting up at 4am yesterday to fly home). I really felt what I've been learning/reading over the past month or so kicking in. Airports bring out the worst in everybody and when you start missing or delaying flights it gets even that much more interesting. It's also fun to people watch at airports. So many different kinds of people from so many different places all stuffed together and in a hurry. Makes for some good entertainment. And now trying to see those things through this kind of "new lens" of not classifying people based off of snap judgments. Putting this new philosophy into practice on a very practical level. Traveling is fun!
I was in Atlanta this weekend for the Youth Cartel's Summit. This is an event for church youth leaders and volunteers to come hear other leaders talk about trends in youth ministry through TED style talks. This is the same organization that hosted the Open in Seattle about a month ago when I met Jimmy Spencer Jr. and started reading his book, Love Without Agenda. So just amazing stuff! The Youth Cartel's self definition is, "we are passionate about Instigating a Revolution in Youth Ministry". So since I work in youth ministry (of sorts. . . I work with a lot of youth in this ministry) I really enjoy getting to go to these events and not only talk about what I love (missions and Jamaica) but I get to also learn and grow!
One of the many speakers that impacted me this weekend is a gentleman named Brock Morgan. He actually brings his youth to Jamaica with us and is coming back in December with his group. I've never worked with his group but it was great to meet him and hear what he had to say. He does youth ministry in the northeast in Greenwich, CT and sees trends that a lot of us in the mid-west don't see. . . yet.
Christendom is dead
The basis of Brock's talk was that Christendom is dead and we (Christians) are living as exiles. I think for most Christians this would come as a shock and almost an insult! It's hard for me to define it but for me Christendom in this context means Christianity's authority in the world. So to say that Christendom is dead means that Christianity no longer has an authority over non-believers like it once did. Christians can no longer answer a question with, "because Jesus said so" or "the Bible says so" and it have any authority. Those answers used to be relevant. . . now if I would use that answer I would be laughed at (often). So we, Christians, are living as exiles in this world. If we hold on to the "good ol' days" we are no longer relevant to the world. So what does that mean for Christians who don't want to be irrelevant? What will make us relevant to a world that needs Jesus?
We need to embrace tolerance
"Tolerance" in the Christian world is just as much a dirty word as "Christian" is in the rest of the world. The rest of the world has embraced tolerance. Everyone is accepted (except for Christians. . . cause we're not tolerant). Christians need to start being INclusive and stop being EXclusive. Tolerance doesn't write anyone off and neither did Jesus.
We need to embrace Christian relativism
Relative. . . another dirty word. I personally cringe when I hear the word. My friend likes to say, "perception in reality". That's relativism at its finest to me. I like to argue with him. :) I feel like too often there are so many things we tack to the message of the cross as if Jesus isn't good enough. To be a Christian is it following Jesus + how you dress + which baptism is RIGHT + how you vote + XYZ? The discussion this weekend was Jesus + a belief in a literal hell. There are so many different views/beliefs on what hell is/isn't. You don't have to think just like me (or everything I've added to the message of the cross) to believe in and love Jesus. There are salvation issues and non-salvation issues. Let's strip away the non-salvation issues and get back to Jesus! If you don't like the sound of "Christian relativism" (like me), try "Generous Orthodoxy". Let's focus back on Jesus' life and message and be generous with each other! And then you can have an open (and generous) discussion about what hell is/isn't, baptism, voting, etc.
Spiritual but not Religious
Stop talking about it and do it! Plain and simple. People want to associate with people who have passion. Have a passion in your life and follow through with it! A friend of mine started a missions organization called GOYA. GOYA is an acronym for Get Off Your . . . Do it! I love my job because not only do I get to talk to people about missions and Jamaica, but I get to go do it myself! I get to be a part of this awesome adventure that is so much bigger than me!
Love Jesus? Prove it! Be tolerant, be generous, accept that people are "spiritual but not religious" and that's ok, and then stop talking about it and GOYA and do it!