Boring in the Box

High school graduation marks a right of passage for most teenagers. Yesterday our church recognized 23 high school seniors graduating from area high school. After six years of active participation in our youth ministry it is time to give them their wings, and wish them goodbye. You see the harsh reality is that the vast majority of these seniors are likely to leave the church and rarely return. Oh the occasional wedding or funeral may draw them back to a pew. Like good little boys and girls they will take their places with mom and dad for Easter and Christmas, especially when grandkids are in tow, but regular church attendance is probably not in their future.

The Barna research team projects 20% of teenagers who attend church will be active when they are 29 years old. That means 80% of our teenagers will leave the church or were never reached. This does not bode well for the future of the church. Shane Claiborne in his book The Irresistable Revolution recounts a story from his student ministry days. A young man in his youth group professed his faith only to be picked up on drugs charges weeks later. When Shane confronted him asking “What’s up bro?” he shrugged and said, “I got bored”.

In response Shane wrote:

“Bored! God forgive us for all those we have lost because we made the gospel boring. I am convinced that if we lose kids to the culture of drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it’s because we don’t dare them, not because we don’t entertain them. It’s because we make the gospel too easy, not because we make it too difficult. Kids want to do something heroic with their lives….”

Following Jesus was anything but boring. Danger awaited the disciples not potluck dinners. Has God heard all our prayers for safety and put us on the bench so we won’t get hurt!

Those of us in leadership of the church today may need to take a hard look in the mirror. Have we tamed the gospel, and trimmed the claws of the Lion of Judah? Recently I have been reading about the Church Planting Movements that have been sweeping the continents of Asia, Africa, and South America. One common denominator for these movements of God is the boldness and the bravery of those who have taken up the banner of the cross. In the face of persecution and even death, believers are planting churches by the thousands in their homes.

Peter on the day of Pentecost pointed to the words of the prophet Joel who predicted:

17 ‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says,
‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND;
AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY,
AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS,
AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS;
18 EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN,
I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT
And they shall prophesy.
19 ‘AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE
AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW,
BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE.
20 ‘THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS
AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD,
BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME.
21 ‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’ Acts 2:17-21 (NASB)

Not exactly boring stuff I must say. I pray the Lord stir in our hearts dreams and visions that will call your young men and women to give their lives for the sake of the Kingdom.

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7 Comments

Filed under The Box

7 responses to “Boring in the Box

  1. Martin Knox

    David,
    This is a great post that challenges me as a Christian man and as a preacher. Making the gospel boring is a sin and one of which I have repeatedly been guilty. I try not to do so, but I fail. But once again I am challenged to present it in a way that is challenging and engaging. Doing so does not require spicing it up, but simply presenting the gospel in all of its fun and excitement and incredible challenge! If I can do so, it should be incredibly exciting and eternally engaging! Thanks for the reminder and the challenge.
    Martin

  2. John

    David,

    I really appreciate you doing these posts on Shane’s book. I heard Shane a couple weeks ago on a radio program and was trying to figure out whether or not to pick up his book. After reading your posts, I went and grabbed it. I’m really looking forward to it.

    Hope everything is going well.

    John

  3. Could “boring” be a lack of intensity? We speak and hear the gospel message as though we’ve heard it a thousand times. It is like a musician preparing for a performance. He rehearses and rehearses, perfecting his performance. If he doesn’t have intensity (delivery from the heart) in the performance, it is boring. If he sings from his heart with the intensity of the feeling within the message of his song, it is contagious. It is something of which we are all guilty. I think too often the message comes from our head and not from our heart. The difference is tangible.

    By-the-way: I thought your sermon Sunday morning was one of your best.

  4. uncle_squirrel

    Thanks David for your comments…it makes me weep for all the children and young adults in our world here in the US.

    Why is it that we as Americans refuse to take up the Gospel like those in other countries like you speak of? Is it that we as adults/parents have become too busy and lackadaisical about our own faith?…I think so! When we as adults and parents are content to sit on our seats on Sunday and be entertained and call that our “Jesus time” for the week we are not merely part of the problem we are the problem!! This is not a preacher problem …we are simply not willing to take up the cross in a significant way and march forward in the name of Christ. When it comes to commitment to our Christian walks for the most part we as a Church fail our children…and the world around us! When the Lord ask “who will go for us?” we acted like a kid in Sunday school and refused to look up for fear of being asked by the teacher. I say “If not me then who, if not now then when?”

    What does it take to move the average “scaredy-cat” in the pews to get up and commit to Christ? At what point do we as a Church start to move forward with those who are willing and leave the others resting on their haunches? …If we are not the leaders capable of doing this then we need to get out of the way let those come forward who hunger for the things of Christ!

    If it is not us who go forward in the name of Christ and change our teens and the rest of the world then who? If the time is not right now to act then when is it?

  5. Uncle Squirrel,

    Thanks for your pointed and fitting remarks. I feel a bit like a coach is barking at me to get up and get back into the game. Knowing that you have served on the front lines overseas among some of the finest in the Kingdom, I can understand your frustration with the status quo back here in the States.

    Too often when I look at the problems at home I have to take a hard look in the mirror and realize I too am part of the problem. We live in a day when it will be more important to take responsibility than to point fingers of blame. I pray the Lord will use me in the coming years to be part of the solution not the problem.

    David Lowrie

  6. Lee

    I think we have depended so much on ourselves and our own creativity, “leaned on our own understanding” too much, in trying to address spiritual problems with worldly methods. We have left the substance out of our ministry. It is so easy to do, and I am guilty of doing it myself. We need to pray for and seek an outpouring of the Spirit, without limitation.

  7. Lee,

    Well said. It is time we start listening to the Holy Spirit and follow His voice.

    David

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