Retirement

Assuming that I live long enough to retire, I’ve been wondering lately if & when I would actually do it.

The question I keep thinking through is, “When does a pastor retire?”. When do I say “Well, that’s enough.” and stop pastoring?

If I do retire, do I take on a role as a volunteer? I just don’t think I’ll ever be done serving. Maybe I won’t get a check, but I think I’m going to be a “pastor” for the rest of my life. I definitely HOPE that I always feel compelled to shepherd, serve, and teach.

Should I even consider retiring? I keep thinking about a pastor I worked with named George Bedlion. He must have been up in his 80’s, and he was still running the show in one of our family ministries!

I heard that Francis Chan doesn’t even have a savings account!

What do you think? Any kingdom-minded readers out there that are wrestling through what to do when they get to retirement age?

don’t eat that

I talked about stewardship yesterday with my high school students, focusing on the bling bling. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that most teenagers have an unhealthy view of money. Not sure if it comes from mom and dad or those darn gangster rappers, but most kids are ignorant about how spiritual their money is.

I was gonna use the Elf clip to set up this story but I cut it right before I went on stage. A 62-year-old man went to the hospital back in 2002 because he was having stomach pains. Doctors freaked out when they saw this x-ray,

coin eater This guy had been sneaking around his house eating COINS. This lump of money in his stomach had to be removed, and it turned out to be about 350 coins! The whole thing added up to be about 12 pounds (about the size of a bowling ball). You can see how heavy it was by how far down it had pushed his stomach.

We might as well be eating our money if we’re not investing it in lasting things. Have you ever seen a Uhaul trailer attached to the back of a hearse? Probably not.

Ya can’t take it with ya.

Maybe that’s why Jesus talked more about money and possessions than faith, prayer, heaven and hell… combined.

Check out Paul’s approach to encourage generosity in 2 Corinthians 8.

Is this the approach you usually hear pastors use?

Luke 15

I am teaching in our main service at Mission for the first time this weekend. Ironically enough, I’m teaching on the passage that I taught on during my interview weekend at Calvary. Mark and I were talking last month about what message would be a great fit for this weekend (which is a baptism service), and he picked this passage. I couldn’t be more excited! We’ll be wrapping up each of the services with a whole bunch of baptisms that will take place during the final songs. Our worship pastor C.J Bergmen has some amazing songs picked out to complement the message and the baptisms.

I’m sure that most of the people who come this weekend will have heard the story of the Prodigal Son. Maybe all of them. Maybe they’ve heard about the wandering sheep or the lost coin. But this is one of those stories that should never get old. I love what Tim Keller says in “The Prodigal God” about familiar stories like this one:

“One of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do.”

Dallas Willard put it another way in The Divine Conspiracy:

“Presumed familiarity breeds unfamiliarity.”

Just when we think we “get it”, God peels back another layer of this beautiful gospel.

It really is good news… no matter how badly it gets misrepresented by picketers and “pastors” from Tempe.

I’m grateful to be in a place where they trust me to teach from the main stage. Mark has me scheduled to teach once a month for the next 5 or 6 months… but I think he wrote it in pencil HAHA! I’ll try not to be horrible. It’s really hard to mess up Luke 15, but I’ve seen it done.

I will be including some childish (moderately inappropriate) humor in my sermon though, just to maintain my youth pastor’ness. Stay tuned 🙂

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 🙂