I recently came up with this new game that I like to call “Christian Concert BINGO”. As you’ve probably figured out, it’s like BINGO, but with Christians….at concerts… Ideally, it can be played at any venue, but it is definitely most applicable at events with a large number of high school students. The list of items thus far is as follows:
· Guy/Gal in a banana suit
· That one person who is waaaay too old to be there
· A group playing Ninja
· 13 year old girls in that “punk” phase (neon hair, black clothes, spikey bracelets optional)
· Sock hats that look like animals (can be combined with punk girls)
· The homeschool clan
· Kid with ALL the merchandise being sold at the event
· People talking only in year-old internet memes
· Couple with the “Free Hugs” signs (see: Punk kids)
· Moms with young children on leashes
· Those dreadful “Got Jesus” shirts
· The “cool mom” who is up front head banging to Skillet too
· Ironic beards and flannel (for older crowds)
I sometimes get in this mood where I know what an effective ministry tool is, and can identify what is not. Or at least I think I do. The funny thing about my thinking is that it is most usually wrong. But I still cling to this idea of my infallible knowledge, because, you know, I’m right. Right?
From my spiritual high horse, I look down at those shallow salvation messages, the go-to youth ministry jokes, the dime-a-dozen Christian catchphrases and buzzwords that are geared specifically to rile up a group of prepubescent people spending their parents’ money. I look down on them and think, “This is not deep. This is not effective at equipping the saints to go out and live the Gospel.” And I scoff and turn up my nose at their efforts. And in the meantime, I effectively excommunicate myself from the message I am supposedly trying to defend.
As a leader in youth ministry, I have to constantly check myself. I am up on a pedestal, not one of inflated self-importance, but one of model behavior. Not a moment goes by that I don’t have someone watching, at least one pair of eyes and ears fixed on me. By looking down on the efforts that I deem shallow, I not only hinder their ministry by my own behavior, but set a clear example to those entrusted to me. Rather than inspire fire and passion for the Gospel, my example sends a message of indifference, and at worst, opposition.
It’s pride, simply put. I envision my own spiritual journey and standing to be above such “shallow words and simple truths”. I cut myself off from the message, alienate myself from the word, and close my ears to the very thing that God could use to set me straight. And even worse, I’m leading others in my footsteps.
I’m currently walking through Romans 12 with my freshmen guys. This week we were reading through and I got slapped pretty hard by one verse in particular. Verse 3 reads, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you”. While I am called to test every presentation of the Gospel, I am also to understand that what might be my teaching style or presentation type isn’t the vital issue at stake. As long as the Gospel is being preached, I am to remain open and available for God to move in any way, through any medium he chooses. I am to humble myself, step down from my imaginary platform and set the example for those I’ve been blessed to lead.
So while I admit complete arrogance for my internal thoughts at these events and at all times really, I still reserve the right to play Christian Concert BINGO, because, hey, who doesn’t want Free Hugs?
For His Glory,
“3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…” -Romans 12:3-6