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March 2, 2008

Church "Rules"

   Matt wrote a blog about Christians being the "culture warriors" that you can read by following the links on the right of my page.  It really got me thinking about the issues we face as the Church universal and how that impacts the student ministry I lead.  How many times have you seen some "Christian" guy on a street corner, on television or on a college campus ranting on about the moral downfall of society and everything from clothing to language, abortion and gays.  I truly think these people believe they are doing a good thing and have only the best of intentions, but you know what they say about that. 

   Why is it that the church as a whole is viewed exclusively by the list of rules people need to follow?  We tend to radiate this idea of what we are against, rather than the things that we support and are "for."  People who follow Jesus are supposed to live lives that are set apart, but that doesn't mean we are to separate ourselves from the rest of the world and live as if we are on some sort of holy pedestal shouting about what everyone else is doing wrong.  We should be shaping the culture, but not through yelling and putting all our efforts into telling people why they are wrong and we are right.  People should be drawn into a relationship with Christ by getting little tastes of what it means to follow Him through the Christians surrounding them. 

   This leads to interesting questions of how a student ministry should look because we are attempting to reach kids that have never been to church, as well as kids that have grown up in the church.  There has to be a way to reach them all right?  A couple of years ago, we were taking our youth to Water World and the question came up in our leadership meeting about guidelines for swimsuits.  The question ultimately came down to whether or not we allow girls to wear two piece suits.  The first reaction of all the leaders is, "No way can they wear two piece suits.  They are usually too revealing and our guys could stumble."

   Lucky for us, people were at the meeting smarter than all us 20-somethings.  They brought up the point that we cannot expect the world to understand the guidelines a Christian might use to judge things like swimsuits.  If we were really going to reach out to kids in the community, we could not put any restrictions on what they were to wear.  Instead we took a different approach.  Our female leaders were going to talk with our girls about self-respect and modesty in hopes to teach them to value themselves as more than the sex object the world says they are.  Our guy leaders were going to talk with the guys about how to not stumble by seeing a girl in a skimpy bathing suit and help them learn to hold themselves above that kind of temptation and to see women as a gift that is to be treasured and respected.  In a sense, we are and need to be culture warriors, but just go about it a different way. 

   Jesus never set the example by which the church typically operates today.  He never went around telling people all the things they were doing wrong and making them feel guilty with a laundry list of rules.  He hung out with people that were considered the "untouchables" of His day.  He gently spoke truth to them and they were drawn to Him.  Can't Jesus followers today draw people towards Christ through their own lifestyle?  Sure we can.  We just need to stop expecting people who don't follow Christ to live their life as if they did.  80% of the Christians I know don't set a good example to the world so how can we expect the world to change.  The change has to start within the walls of the church and the first step is to start making it about a relationship with a real God who loves you and wants the best for you instead of a list of rules that are supposed to tell us what a Jesus follower should look like.

2 comments:

Matt C said...

"In a sense, we are and need to be culture warriors, but just go about it a different way."

Hmmmm... well said, I think.

Matt C said...

"In a sense, we are and need to be culture warriors, but just go about it a different way."

Hmmmm... well said, I think.