By far the most invigorating, challenging and hopeful main session talks of the 2014 Orange Conference occurred during the first main session. No surprise that Reggie Joiner brought the goods during his first talk of the conference, but the content surprised many of us. He addressed the tension of the the sticky, messy faith of kids and teenagers. Joiner called all of us to think outside the box with creativity and inclusion. Quite honestly, he made all of us think about what it means to love truly and authentically, which for a man of his platform and popularity, took a lot of courage to do, even though churches and Christians need to hear his message nonetheless.
I posted my notes below for you to read - or better said: to wrestle with! Let yourself enter into the tension of the phrases before you either choose sides or disregard Joiner's talk entirely. And as you do so, keep a teenager, family member, new Christian, or non-Christian friend you know in mind. I did this while listening to his talk, and it made this tension all the more real.
Then, think on this question: Which one of these tensions most resonates with you personally? Resonates with the people whom you serve? How do you live into these tensions without alienating yourself or others? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post or tweeting me @ryanreedme
What really matters for the family:
1. You can know God — God is a mystery. We know God through the person of Jesus Christ, yet the infinite love and grace of God still remains a mystery.
2. You can become a Christian in a Moment — It will take forever to figure out what that means. When you surrender your life to God, you can be instantaneously saved and become a follow of Christ. But it takes the rest of your life to figure it out.
3. The Bible is All True — Everything true about life is not in the Bible. The Bible was not written to tell you about how the heavens go; it tells you about how to go to heaven - DT 1:20. There’s a difference between non-biblical and anti-biblical. You are not called to JUST teach the Bible. You are called to lead families into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Sometimes SIMPLY teaching the Bible can work against us.
4. Trust leads to a stronger faith — Doubt leads to a stronger faith. If you do not allow kids in middle school to process their own doubt, then they will never own their own faith.
5. You should enjoy going to church — You should enjoy living in the world. You should enjoy what God has made and created.
6. Your beliefs matter — Say yes to people who matter more. If your beliefs cause people to treat people the wrong way, then something’s wrong with your beliefs.
7. God has an ideal — God uses broken people. Yes, God does have an ideal, but let’s see what God did with those ideals and how God used them.
8. God is good — You should do good. Be responsible for doing something good in the world. Don’t be an irresponsible Christian.
If you don’t say yes to the tension, then you might grow up and become THAT Christian. And you know what that means - that Christian who devalues tension and communicates power and control.
37% doubt the existence of God.
8 out of 10 teens do not think going to church is important.
Some of us do not like tension because we think that it waters down our truth and creates fraction. It does not water down God. Rather, it amplifies love. It is the lack of tension that diminishes the power of truth. Tension does not make truth less true, it makes it more real.
So, in order not to become THAT Christian:
1. Don’t be irresponsible.
2. Don’t get stuck.
3. Don’t be a jerk.
4. Don’t be weird.
5. Don’t be threatened.
6. Don’t be an idiot.
7. Don’t be shallow.
8. Don’t be arrogant.
QUESTION: Which one of these tensions most resonates with you personally? Resonates with the people whom you serve? How do you live into these tensions without alienating yourself or others?