song selection

Dear Worship Pastors, Directors, Leaders, and micro-managing lead pastors who tell their worship leaders what songs they can and cannot play,

This may be obvious, but here goes anyways: the same guy who wrote “Facedown” and “Nothing But the Blood” also wrote “Dancing Generation“.

Why do I make this obvious point? Because I see sooooo many worship leaders camp out on one side or the other- either super deep, mellow, and dramatic OR every song is a party with no deeper, dramatic meaning.

The same guy who wrote the song about falling facedown in prostrated submission to God ALSO wrote the song about dancing, celebrating, and shouting!

Worship leaders shouldn’t say that one way is good, bad, or otherwise. Worship leaders should lead their congregation in a balanced selection of songs. If you’re throwing a party from the stage every Sunday, then well… you’re probably not very balanced. There’s a time for falling on our faces, but if that’s the mood you’re setting every week then well, you’re robbing your congregation of some serious party potential. If you’re not comfortable leading on one side of that equation, then well… TOO BAD. Sorry 🙂

This applies to those of us that teach too. Some pastors might have 10 years of preaching under their belts, but… they’ve pretty much just taught the same 4 or 5 messages using different verses. You don’t have the freedom to pick your favorites, or to preach on what’s comfortable and easy. That’s what camps are for. Go take your 5 best talks and wow the junior highers up the mountain. But when you come back to your church, be ready to preach the way Jesus did; good, bad, ugly, funny, sad, honest, mysterious… you get the point.

Amen?

Side note: this isn’t directed at anyone in particular. Seriously.

Unbelievable

I just can’t stop talking about how good things are going at Mission. I’m so floored at how good God has been to the High School Ministry so far.

When I got here we had something like 8 adult volunteers, and now we’ve got over 30. And I’ve been PICKY PICKY PICKY. They just keep coming. I take no credit.

I think we had something like 110 people in the room my first few weeks. Today we had 198. And I’ve been teaching through some difficult/challenging/crowd-shrinking passages! They just keep coming. I take no credit.

I give all the credit to God, and to my friend Kerry who led these kids so well for so long. They were growing and ready to keep growing before I even got here.

I loved Cornerstone, but I wasn’t supposed to be there any more. It ended ugly, but God has shown his grace in how he has redeemed that whole mess. I loved Calvary too, and I miss my Orange County friends, but I wasn’t supposed to be there any more.

I had to come to Mission, and I’m so glad I did.

I wonder if I would feel this way if attendance had plummeted and nobody seemed to care what I was saying. I wonder if I’d feel this contentment and joy if the Mission students were hard-hearted and critical of me. I feel this great sense of confirmation, but it’s easy to feel this way when everything is going so well. It’s easy to trust God when everything is going smooth.

Trouble is coming, it always is… I hope that my joy, contentment, and faith in God remain strong! I hope I continue to take heart and remember that this world has already been overcome. That Love has already won.

And I hope we have 400 kids coming by this time next year… because there are about 10,000 high school students within 15 miles of me. That keeps my 200 in a proper perspective!

woven

Woven is an ugly word. It’s just not fun to say.

But it’s the only word I can think of when I picture what happened this past weekend at Mission.

I taught in the junior high and high school services again this weekend, but this time it was different. I actually don’t really want to talk to much about it. I don’t want to ruin it.

I felt… CONNECTED.

Connected to the gospel.

and to the God that dreamed it up.

and to the students in the room.

and to the Church that I still believe is the hope of the world.

We didn’t have enough seats. Students and staff were everywhere. And everyone was leaning forward as I read from God’s word.

I am in awe.

I don’t like when people say “Good job Ryan!” after I preach.

I don’t want them to miss the point.

I am a mouthpiece. A loud, sweaty, Jesus-loving mouthpiece.

The gospel really is good news 🙂

we made it

We’re here in AZ! Well, I’m here… Lindsay went to Ohio for 5 days already. She seriously needs to get a job with Southwest Airlines.

We’re staying with our friends Brian and Promise until we land somewhere permanently. We’re not moving back into our old house (it’s still for sale). There are houses here in AZ going for like 150k that were TWICE that just a year ago (just like mine that is STILLLL FOR SAAAAAAALE). We’ll be house shopping non-stop once Lindsay gets back in town.

Tonight is my welcome party with the students, and then this weekend I’m being commissioned up front in all five services. Should be fun! Then on Monday I am in the office to hit the ground running! I love driving up and seeing the construction going on!

Lindsay is going to keep her eyes open for a job- let us know if you’ve got a great one for her!

I’m so excited to plug in and start doing life with this community. I’m missing my Calvary students for sure… this new crew has some huge shoes to fill, and so do I!

Do volunteer leaders need to be members?

I’ve almost always said yes to this question, minus a few exceptions, but I’m curious what you guys think.

If someone wants to be a volunteer leader at your church do you think they should also be members of the church? Do they need to come every weekend? Where do you draw the line?

There’s a difference between working the parking lot and mentoring students, so where does that play out?

Maybe a scenario would help: If you were a youth pastor and you had a great leader who led a small group for some of your students every Wednesday night, but went to the church down the street on Sundays, would you be OK with it?

Let me know what you think!

Miss California on Gay Marriage

I’ve haven’t said anything on here about the gay marriage debates going on this year. I’ve always been worried that I would be misunderstood, no matter how articulate I might aim to be. That’ll probably happen, but… here we go anyways.

I read a handful of blogs and articles this morning from some church leaders and other Christians that have been so… unChristian. I’ve already noticed a huge uproar of support from Christian bloggers for Miss California after her response last night in the Miss USA competition. Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet:

I know that Perez Hilton is an openly gay gossip blogger. I only bring that up because he was visibly upset with her answer, which meant there was only one right answer for him.  He asked for her opinion and he got her personal opinion. She didn’t impose her convictions on him- she shared her honest feelings because she was asked to.

But I don’t want to talk too much about that video- I’m more interested in the response from the Church so far. I won’t link to anyone, but I’ll just say that I’ve already read a handful of condemning and unloving responses from people who are supposed to be speaking on behalf of Jesus. I actually agree with what some of them say, I just can’t stand how they say it. I’m a conservative in regards to the gay marriage debate… I just don’t open my mouth unless my words are loving. All I hear is gong gong gong from the people doing most of the talking.

I work for a church that took great strides to protect the traditional definition of marriage in last year’s Prop 8 votes. Our lead pastor has a huge heart, and his motivation for doing so was out of love, and in an effort to protect our church from future legal battles. I say that before I post this so nobody will get mad at what I say next 😉

I emailed Tony Campolo earlier this year and asked for his thoughts on the issue. He gave me permission to post them here.

Dear Ryan,

Concerning Proposition 8, I wish the Church hadn’t come out against it. Whatever our convictions are on this issue, the reality is that we sent a message to the gay community that let them feel that we Christians are their enemies and that we are out to hurt them.  It’s not the message that we wanted to send and I am heartbroken that it has been received that way. There is no doubt that they feel that we are against them.  The marches in LA and in San Francisco over the past week say it all. They are demonstrating not only for their rights, but against the Church; and the fact that the Church came out so strongly against them did not help the cause of Christ. I personally am conservative on the issue, but I don’t see how my beliefs and convictions and lifestyle are in any way endangered by giving gay and lesbian people the rights that heterosexual couples enjoy. I just don’t see it. Maybe I need some spiritual guidance more than you do.

Sincerely,
Tony Campolo

I feel like Miss California did what she needed to do. She answered a question. The response from some people has been sort of like a fist-pumping in the air with a “YOU TELL EM GIRL!” attitude. Like we won a battle. If it’s a battle then… are gay people the enemy?

I’m proud of the way my church handled themselves this past year. I might not have done things the exact same way, but I always knew that our leadership’s motives were pure and loving.

I can’t say the same for MOST of the other churches out there.

I wish they would just be quiet… because they’re making enemies out of people who are being pursued by God. People who Jesus died and rose again for.

They’re proving their points but burning down bridges.

What do you think about what Tony said?

How is YOUR church navigating these waters?

How would you have answered Perez Hilton?

How can we show the love of Jesus to the gay community?

why I am a youth pastor

I was vicious in high school.

I hated school. I hated authority. I might have hated you. I was really good at hate.

But… here’s the thing- I think I had more passion then than I do now.

I was very good at what I did back then.

I was remarkably destructive.

And that’s partly why I am a pastor to high school students.

Because teenagers are capable of causing so much damage.

I want to redirect all of that destructive potential towards the things of G0d.

I want to give them something better to be angry about.

I want to tell every parent that comes to my office to be optimistic, because I know that their child is in God’s hand, no matter how far they run.

—-this concludes my late-night rant