If You’re Single and You Know It Clap Your Hands

I’m writing this post because I know that I’m not the only Christian who is in their early/mid/late twenties and hopelessly single. Is this a bad thing? Not always, but is it a difficult thing? Absolutely. Why? Because not only were humans not really designed to be single abstinent people at this age, but both our church culture and the culture of our society both throw two options out that in many ways just are not viable. This post isn’t a rant or about getting attention. I don’t sit in my bed at night crying to Dashboard Confessional, I don’t walk around with jet black hair in my face with a frown about how sad I am that I don’t have a girlfriend. No it’s not about that. It’s about sharing my honest thoughts on being single in my mid 20’s.

Is it frustrating at times being single and in your mid 20’s or older? Absolutely. Who in that situation doesn’t have these thoughts “Maybe I’m just really weird”? We all have those thoughts, especially when we are going to weddings monthly of our piers tying the knot. And congratulations to them by the way, weddings make me extremely happy.

So what are we single people to do? Well let me start by telling you that our American culture’s answer is a horrible one. The train of thought for people our age is usually something along the lines of date as much as you can and sleeping with your date is perfectly fine, after all you have to test drive the car before you buy it right? What a horrible analogy.

But I digress.

What culture fails to tell you is that statistically people my age are more emotionally miserable and often feel empty when they live such reckless sexual and emotional lives.

Sometimes the Church’s answer isn’t much better. Usually the answer is something like “hey you’re single? We better get you married ASAP!”. One time I heard a pastor say from the pulpit “Hey if you’re single, go get married”. As if all I had to do was put a dollar in the crane game and pick out my wife. Sometimes it’s just not that simple. Plus, sometimes we need to be supported in being single. And if I hear one more time from a married guy or girl tell me to let Jesus fill the void I’m going to run my car off a cliff. Isn’t that ironic? I’ve never had a single person tell me that. Why? Because we single people know that we were designed for relationship with someone of the opposite sex. So does God, that’s why He says in Genesis that it’s not good for man to be alone.

Think about that statement for a minute. God said that BEFORE sin entered the world. Even when God declared his creation good it still wasn’t complete. God and Adam had perfect unity, they was no sin in between them and God still says that Adam is alone? According to many of the songs we sing on Sunday morning that tell us God is all we need, God must be wrong. Nevertheless, He sees man so He creates Eve and this beautiful thing called marriage. There is a void in the heart of most people that God does not fill because he designed that void to be filled by a human companion. Don’t misunderstand, without a relationship with God how can we live fully? How can we love someone wholly? God is the source, but God designed us for more than solely a relationship with Him. We were designed for marriage, and God delights when His children commit to life with each other.

What am I saying? That’s actually a great question, I feel more like I’m rambling to be honest. Here’s what I’m trying to say, yeah being abstinent and single is difficult, but it’s ok. It’s ok to admit that sometimes it’s tough and it’s ok to admit that there are times where you struggle with being lonely in that area of your life. I used to BS to people and tell them that God has filled that void, but one day when I was having a conversation with God, the Holy Spirit gently told me “It’s ok to admit you’re lonely with this, now trust me with it and walk through it”. It changed me forever. Yeah, I’m single, no I really don’t want to be single, but you know what? I’m not compromising for the sake of companionship and my God can sustain me through it. Admitting that you don’t want to be single, while still being single is not a pity party, it’s not depressing, it’s truth, and it’s truth that I’m comfortable sharing.

To you single people out there, continue to pursue your relationship with Jesus, let Him write the love story to your life, and don’t compromise for the sake of companionship.

If you like this post then share it!

-TW

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The Boston Bombings: A Sobering Reminder

I was removing wallpaper when I got the news. My brother tells me “Boston just got bombed!”. At first I thought it was a hoax circulating the internet so I checked CNN and read for myself that two bombs did indeed go off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing at least three people including an 8 year old child. Although there has been no definite answers, the bombs do appear to be home made and there’s no doubt that the attacks were well planned out.

People’s lives in that second were changed forever. People lost limbs, average citizens had to become paramedics until first responders were on sight, and for some time after the second explosion, we all were wondering if there were more than two bombs planted in the city. Thankfully this wasn’t the case.

I want to be clear right up front, these attacks were acts of terrorism. It doesn’t matter who did it, if it was from domestic terrorist, political terrorist, left-wing, right wing, Islamic, Christian, it’s an act of terror. A child lost his life, the bombs were constructed to inflict a lot of damage, and it is indeed a sad day for America. But there’s something that we often fail to forget that this is a sobering reminder of. People all over the world experience things like this everyday.

Sometimes, it takes a tragedy to pop our bubble. In America, we are fortunate enough to live relatively safe. Most Americans don’t have to worry about being gunned down, bombs are not common, and we have a fantastic government when it comes to national security. Police, bomb squads, state of the art technology, we are fortunate. Yes, yes, we gripe about government waste and over reach, but we forget that most people don’t even get an opportunity to voice their opinion. Be grateful that you can be a loud outspoken activist for your cause and not get imprisoned by your government.

Anyway, back to my point. There are children every day who deal with the tragedy of bombings. For instance, on April 15thInsurgents in Iraq deployed a series of car bombs as part of highly co-ordinated attacks that cut across a wide swath of the country today, killing at least 55 on the deadliest day in nearly a month.” (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/04/15/iraq-bombings-wave-attacks.html). Think about that, in one day 55 people were dead. And let’s not forget, these people are just as much people as Americans are. Now, I’m not diminishing the Boston attacks, or trying to make the Boston bombing less real, it is indeed very real for not only the families of the victims, but for the nation. But what I am saying is to take this moment to feel how many people feel everyday.


See here is the problem. Sometimes, in all of our hustle and bustle we kind of forget that there is a world outside of America that is starkly different from ours. We forget that all over the world there is terrorism happening everyday, that children are being sold, slavery is still a big problem, and bombings are a daily routine. Things like the Boston bombing, as heinous as they are, remind us that there is a reality out there that we are rarely used to seeing. A tragic reality for many people.


As Christians, it is our job as followers of Christ to be aware of the whole world around us. In a ever connected world, it is easier than every to hear of stories happening all over the place. Sometimes it can be so overwhelming we don’t know what to do with it, but it is in these moments that the Holy Spirit reminds us that He has us where we are for a reason. I’ve am being reminded even as type this, that prayer is an incredibly powerful tool that we sometimes underestimate because we either don’t see, or miss, the fruit of it. But sometimes, prayer is all we can do. I can’t drive up to Boston and help out there. Not only will the FBI stop me from being on the scene, I literally have no knowledge in such areas. But what I can do is ask my heavenly Father to bring his spirit of comfort to those people. What I can do is ask the God who spoke us in to existence, who holds all of eternity in His hands, who is the great I Am, the first and the last, to comfort those people, to bring those evil doers to justice, and to make His kingdom come. Prayer is a powerful thing, one of the greatest tools in our arsenal, we (I) should be using it a lot more.

In closing, here are two action steps we as followers of Christ can start taking.

  1. Be more aware of the world outside of your comfort zone. God cares about every person, not just the ones that have certain nationalities. God knows every person personally and they were wonderfully and fearfully made.
  2. Pray more. Let’s face it, most of us can’t fly over to Iraq and start diffusing bombs, but we know a God who can. We know a God who can bring his Kingdom to earth, let’s start to pray for that everywhere.

Whose Idea Was This Anyway? Youth Groups, Where are the Parents?! (Part 2)

In my last post, I brought up the idea of youth groups. Some of my thoughts regarding what seems to not be working and an alternative solution to our current youth group models. I realized as I started writing that my thoughts could not be contained in one post. So I wanted to wrap up this two part writing and talk about another angle of youth groups. The lack of the parents being involved.

I don’t hold the youth group model solely responsible for the (alarming) lack of parents being involved with their youth, especially at youth groups. It seems like parents are too happy to drop their teens off and peel out of the parking lot faster than you can say pizza. When parents view youth group like a day care for their 15 year old, it takes the responsibility off of the parent and on to the youth pastor. When 40 parents do this, it’s overwhelming for one guy (or even a small team) to address the hearts of teens effectively. When parents view their teen’s spiritual health as something for a pastor to mainly take care of, and their teen doesn’t begin to change to the ways of Christ, the parents often lash out on the pastor, or church as not doing their job. The parent fails to realize that it is their job to raise their teens and not the Church, or anyone else for that matter. This isn’t to say the church should not be helping out in the process. I fully believe that the Church should be a living community coming along side and helping each other out, and this includes pouring in to the upcoming generation. But it is extremely important for parents to see that they have the biggest influence in their teenager’s life. Regardless of how that may appear, it’s the truth.

The other problem I see is that our current youth group model doesn’t really allow for parents to be involved a whole lot. Often youth groups try and appear more relevant to the life of a teenager by accidentally aiding in making the parent the uncool person, or the out of touch adult. This does not help more than it hinders the parent/teenager relationship. I’ve seen it happen, and I’ve been a part of that problem as well. Failing to see that in order to raise teenagers who are more devoted to Christ, it takes parents fully involved, partnering with the Church to close the youth/adult gap. Unlike culture, which thrives in the separation of the two, the Church can thrive by bringing these two groups closer, working together, learning from each other with the older mentoring the younger.

What’s my solution? Start getting the parents involved with their youth. Plan parent/youth retreats, have the youth realize the importance of learning from the generation above them, have the older generation realize how it essential it is to be pouring themselves in to the upcoming generation. Do teens need their time apart from their parents? Absolutely. Teens need a place they can be honest, and sometimes that’s difficult with parents around. But we’ve been so segregated in the Church that we would benefit much to start closing the gap.

Youth Group: Who’s Idea Was This? (Part 1)

I have many good friends who are youth pastors. This post is not about bashing them, or anyone else who has been called to work with youth. This post is about looking at what’s happening in our youth groups in churches and how we need to adjust quickly to save the next generation coming up behind me. I want to make this clear because we should be looking for solutions, not pointing fingers. But before we get to solutions, we need to address the problems. So, here we go.

Most (not all) youth groups are run the same way. Usually, the youth group meets once a week outside of the Sunday morning service. They meet in a room that is designed to be visually attractive to youth. Video games, tv’s, ping pong, music, couches, posters, things like this usually adorn the room in an attempt to make the youth feel like the Church understands them, that the Church is reaching out to them on their terms. For the first half hour to hour, everyone just hangs out. Sometimes music is blaring in the background and the place takes on more of a party atmosphere. After that, the worship band usually comes on and plays a bunch of high energy songs (sometimes accompanied by a full blown light show), with kids jumping around and singing as loud as they can. The band will end with a slower song, one that is more emotionally gripping while the speaker makes his way to the stage, after a half hour sermon about something “relevant to them” (Usually a topical, watered down message), the pastor dismisses the group and it’s back to loud music and video games, occasionally they throw in pizza. Parents then come by and pick up their kids, and repeat the process the following week.

Clearly, there are more aspects to a youth group than just the once a week meeting. Missions trips, events to theme parks or big Christian youth rallies are also part of the youth group. But for the sake of this post I’ll be focusing my energy on the youth group service. Also, I most definitely generalized my take on what happens in youth groups. Not all youth groups run this way, but most do. Most run with a format similar to what I just described.

I bring this up because we are doing something wrong. How do I know this? Because according to the Voddie Bauchman author of Family Driven Faith, 80% of youth walk away from the church by the second year of college. Here are some other statistics courtesy of the Barna Group

A Barna survey focused on finding out how teens beliefs differ from their parents found that:

63% don’t believe Jesus is the Son of the one true God
58% believe all faiths teach equally valid truths.
51% don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead.
65% don’t believe Satan is a real entity.

Let those numbers sink in. They should be cold water on your face (especially if you work with youth in the Church). What we are doing, is not working.

And why would it? Let’s face it, a lot of times our youth groups look like glorified baby sitting clubs. Devoid of parents (in fact a lot of times parents are encouraged to let their teens participate in church functions separately), devoid of solid Biblical training, devoid of intimate discipleship and mentorship. It’s no wonder our youth groups are failing.

Look, I’ll be blunt. The Church in this regard decided to compete with the world for the hearts of the youth. We decided to make our youth meetings full of fluff, emotional feelings, and games. We traded that for sound teaching, discipleship, mentorship, and training on how to defend their faith. So many youth really don’t even understand what they believe (See above statistics) and it’s a major problem.

We must rethink how we approach youth ministry. Because we are missing them. They are coming out mostly unchanged, and no different from the culture around them. And how can we expect them to be different when we take cultures approach to youth and apply it in our churches? I think we really misunderstand teenagers. We think that they want to be fed light hearted things. We assume that they don’t have questions that are tough, and we think that if we get too theological that we will lose their ear. This can’t be further from the truth, if done in a relational way. We live in a culture where many, many teens are growing up without a mom or a dad. Teens are hurting, they are looking for someone older to reach out to them and just listen to them. Contrary to popular belief, teens do look up to their parents, and teens do desire mentorship from not only their piers but also from people older than them (I’m talking to you people in your mid 20’s).

So what’s the solution? Well there is no one solution, depending on your local church it will look different. I do have one particular example in mind for a solution however, and I’ll share it with you.

I had a great opportunity to work with an amazing youth group last year. Contrary to the popular way of doing youth group, this youth pastor was much more interested in getting his teenagers to open up and discuss hard things that they are going through. Essentially, he wanted them to feel safe during youth group. So he ditched the typical youth format. Instead of meeting in a youth room they met in his apartment, instead of leading the youth by himself, he recruited 10 people in their 20’s and early 30’s, instead of flashy services, they met in a small living room with some snacks. Instead of video games there was conversation. Instead of people pairing off, there was one group, functioning together. I think we were all a little worried about how the teens would react to this change. I’m happy to say that not only were the youth more than thrilled, often begging us to not end the discussion time, our youth group exploded in a matter of weeks. Soon they were bringing their friends and we were cramming 50 people in to a tiny living room. What was our secret? Relational mentorship. You know, how Jesus modeled His life for us. I was blown away at how open these teens were, and how honest they were. They had genuine questions that often lead us in to deep water. The trinity, how to love their friends who lived lifestyles they disagreed with, how to love people who were bullying them, how to respect their parents, how do we know the Bible is true. These weren’t things that the leaders were bringing up, these were things the teens were bringing up! By the way, let me also mention that the ratio to leaders and students was roughly 1 leader to every 3 students. This was key in building solid relationships with the youth. One guy can’t handle an entire youth group, it takes a team that devotes their time to relationally engaging them.

Ravi Zacharias said “In our modern day philosophies of church growth we are unhealthily preoccupied with programs and I suggest to you programs are always a secondary to people. God prepared a person before he implemented a program, we create a program and then find a person”. We have done this to youth groups and we are reaping the consequences. We have taken reaching youth and turned it in to a formula, we have turned it in to a program, and we missed the youth in the process. We are sometimes so concerned with making sure that our program runs smooth that we haven’t taken the time to even examine if the program works! It doesn’t.

I can’t tell you how many people I know that I’ve met recently or that I’ve grown up with that were at one time, active youth group participants and have walked away from the faith. Our common way of having youth group is mostly not working, and anyone who I have met that loved their youth group always tells me that it was because of a deep relationship that got them through. I have yet to hear someone tell me that because of the youth group program, their life was changed. I hear instead, that because of someone reaching out to them, being their friend and mentor on a personal level, that they came to know Jesus in a more relational and intimate way.

Jesus discipled not by going through a curriculum, or by teaching his disciples the 3 steps to a better life. But by living life with them, and teaching them in life, having discussions with them, eating a meal with them, and physically teaching them the ways of the Kingdom. If we want to reclaim the next generation we have to take the time to invest in to them. One hour, once a week, with a static format, is not going to cut it.

In part 2, I’m going to be addressing the parents role in this. Thanks for reading!
-TW