Ever noticed that brouhaha laughs at itself?
It’s a social maelstrom, an uproar, a crisis of sorts.
You could say that is what has happened since Andy Stanley, senior pastor of North Point Community Church, mentioned a gay couple at our church.
Evidently, a man who was married to a woman decided he loved a man. Eventually, his wife also found a boyfriend. The gay couple wanted to volunteer at our church but, since the husband was still a husband, the answer was no. People engaged in extramarital affairs aren’t allowed to lead in family ministry at our church. So, instead, the husband and his boyfriend and the wife and her boyfriend all decided to attend our church with their children to worship together.
What a mess — but our church works very hard to be okay with messy, since most growth occurs there.
You might say it’s a church that unchurched people like to attend.
I mentioned a gay couple, didn’t I?
That means all bets are supposed to be off.
We certainly can’t allow them to come to church, can we?
I mean, we’re Christians.
This is where all theological debate begins. For those who believe that Jesus Christ is God, the son of God and also a holy spirit who resides within us once we’ve asked for that to happen, there is a certain Christian code we’ve agreed to accept.
There’s just one problem — or 80,000, in my case.
I don’t always interpret scripture — and, therefore, the code — the way that you interpret scripture or the way that my mother interprets scripture or the way that Andy Stanley interprets scripture.
In other words, I get to have a mind of my own.
Sometimes, that is not a blessing. I tend to make a mess of things. So I lean on the understanding of those who seem to make better decisions than I do in life — and have fewer consequences.
I want fewer consequences and I want to honor God.
It’s just that what that looks like for me may be different than how it looks for you.
What is important to me is how it looks to God.
He has searched me and knows me. How I feel and what I believe cannot be hidden from him. Like the parent that he is, God looks at me with whole love, discipline, compassion, understanding and, miracle of all miracles — grace.
Maybe that’s because he knows I’m broken. I came into life that way. It is the legacy I was given and the legacy I have passed along.
I seek him, anyway.
I like that the same seems to be true for that family that includes the gay couple. They are broken… and they are seeking him.
And… I hope you can fight to understand this… they are welcome.
That was really the point, as I interpreted it, of Andy’s sermon series. Jesus gave us a secret ingredient to success in our pursuit to be Christ-like:
Love one another.
Love more than you judge. Love more than you reject. Love more than you despise. Love more than you fear. Love more than you demand.
Love more than you don’t.
There are those among us who are broken. Please, Lord, rip the stone from my hand because, if you don’t, I will fling it and damage what you meant to heal.
You never know when life is going to change — or end.
Crisis is just that way, isn’t it?
It’s not much for giving notice.
But, for some, it seems that life never really starts.
You know the people I mean. They trudge along, wishing they could figure out why they’re here, lost in the stupefying sameness of routine.
Something just doesn’t feel complete to them.
Some ache. Others wallow. Some merely fail to thrive.
But all wish they could know they matter.
A few years ago, I was one of them.
And then, from nowhere, someone stepped forward and nudged me toward meaning.
It was subtle, really.
There had been an earthquake in Haiti and I wanted to help.
No, that didn’t make sense. I was a suburban housewife and mom in a nice neighborhood in a big city in what has long been arguably the world’s most awesome nation.
Nonetheless, I felt hungry to know more and so I latched onto Twitter.
That’s where I met someone who steered me toward other people to follow who would change my future.
That’s a story for another day and one you’ve likely heard me tell before.
Today, I want to shine the light on that guy who is so very good at making connections happen — and mattering:
Say hello to Shaun King.
He’s not someone you would notice on the train, necessarily. He’s just a guy. But, if you spend 30 minutes with him, it may take that many years to forget.
He is all about vision and loves to share his:
Shaun wants the world to have hope.
It’s broken, by the way, this world of ours. Think Murphy’s Law — if something can go wrong, it will.
Cancer happens. And earthquakes. And job loss. Tsunamis. Tornados. Debt.
There’s no one who can handle life’s worst alone.
I mean, deep within his soul, he feels the world’s pain and wants to ease it in the only way he knows how — by creating connection.
Tomorrow — in just a few hours, actually — he and a community of other passionate and compassionate people and organizations are launching his brainchild:
He knows he can’t do it alone, any more than the world can, and so he has done what he does best: rallied hundreds of thousands to step up to share stories of need and seek solutions.
That’s right — HopeMob has invited anyone and everyone to tell about that friend next door — or across the world — who needs help.
Tomorrow, you will see the first need that HopeMob will promote.
And promote. And promote.
Until each need is met, the next won’t take center stage.
I’m more than a little excited.
That’s because I’ve seen what happens when people care.
I know what it’s like to discover a need and then see a community meet it. I know, too, how helping changes you.
This week, I launched into an adventure of my own when I joined the staff of All Hands Volunteers. Now, when there is a disaster in our backyard or across the globe, I’ll travel there with a team that rallies volunteers and funds to help.
It’s a mission I feel soulfully.
Sometimes, change is only the beginning.
Time flies, doesn’t it?
We’re in volunteer-recruiting season in our middle-school student ministry. Soon, a host of brand-spankin-new 6th-grade students will arrive – some trembling, some celebrating, all clueless about what’s about to hit them – in our programming or life.
But, as they spill into the room, I won’t see them through the lens of staff. I’ll eye them as a small group leader entering my ninth year of volunteering to lead students. I started out with a group of kindergartners – and now they’re heading into the 8th grade.
So, okay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
Am I – and every otherwise-sane adult who makes this choice – crazy for volunteering to serve as a small group leader during what is surely the most wretched stretch of human development?
That was easy, wasn’t it?
I mean, c’mon. They’re middle schoolers.
Do you REMEMBER middle school?!?
But… would we be nuts not to volunteer to lead middle-school students?
A few years ago, a friend’s daughter knocked on my door. She was 14 – and shared that she needed a pregnancy test.
Imagine how differently that conversation might have gone if someone had been walking alongside her three years sooner, speaking healthy, loving messages into her life.
No, I don’t mean a parent. Because this is the age when students are wrestling confusing emotions and, though they may not understand why, they’re distancing themselves from those who have nurtured them since birth.
They need someone who will show up, week after week – day after day, even – and be available to have the tough conversations that come with life change.
They need someone willing to be real.
Lemme tell you a few things about volunteering.
Some of this won’t surprise you:
Haha, you think that’s a strike against it, don’t you?
Well, you’re wrong.
Think about the things to which you’ve committed. You care about them immeasurably more, don’t you? Investing in something or someone links you in a way that blows away something that merely interests you.
So don’t bother to step toward volunteering if it only interests you – step up and commit. It will make the difference in what you contribute – and receive.
Then do it again the next week.
Picture me grinning right now.
Because I know what happens next. God does, too. This is where he does his thang. You know, that thang where he begins to form relationships where there had only been a vacuum.
Trust me, this is something I know intimately.
When I first felt nudged to serve, it was beyond inconvenient. I was the communications director for a company based in France. I traveled incessantly – to Toronto, Mexico City, Paris, Venice, Las Vegas, NY, LA.
Committing to show up week after week to lead kids in a church I didn’t even attend every Sunday made no sense at all.
I had it all – and that’s what finally convinced me I needed to give. Because “having it all” was falling flat and Christ was whispering in my ear that he had something bigger in store for me.
His plan for something bigger would begin with a group of children who barely reached my waist.
I worried that my absences would shortchange the kids, but discovered very quickly that, when I was away, I missed them like crazy. Instead of the obligation inspiring me to change, the relationships that grew shifted my priorities.
Somehow what had seemed impossible became possible and I missed few Sundays.
… which leads me to my final point…
Yeah, that’s not original. But it’s important to trust when you’re wasting time rationalizing why volunteering simply isn’t an option for you.
No matter what your excuse, there’s a solution if God is whispering for you to step up. Share your life with the few – or many – he has lined up for you to help shape.
Remember that elephant?
It’s time for it to step on your fears!
Someone needs you and life won’t wait.
This week, I commented on Twitter that, though it was surely odd, I was excited about heading to our ministry staff meeting. You asked why. So, this morning, I paid close attention during the meeting to see just what it is that leaves me eager to attend.
I chuckled as I walked toward the theater where we were meeting, because it reminded me of one of those Rapture scenes you used to see in paintings. Everyone was headed in the same direction, with smiles on their faces, and seemed genuinely happy to be together and excited about what’s just ahead. I know that might sound a bit dramatic, but it was the image that popped into my mind.
So, why do we want to go to something that is chronically mundane in other organizations?
I noticed a few appealing elements that our meeting included and, yes, there are several that smaller environments would have a tough time duplicating. Among those are the big screens and fancy technology – but there are simpler ways to achieve the same goal of celebrating employees and keeping them on mission. That bottom line is ultimately a win.
Rich, I hope this helps. Granted, we have smaller, ministry-specific meetings that involve less fanfare. However, even those tend to be fun. I work in our middle-school ministry and it’s not at all uncommon for someone to bat a beach ball around or break out the Nerf blaster. We are hired to think like middle schoolers! No matter what your environment, loosen up and enjoy work.
The bottom line for me, I suppose, is that it doesn’t feel like we’re having a staff meeting when we get our entire staff together – it is more like a staff event… and a FUN, useful one.
Next time you’re in town, I hope you’ll join us as my guest.
Disclaimer: These are just my musings and don’t reflect any official North Point thoughts about staff meetings. Especially the Rapture comment – chalk that up to my quirky, random mind. I’m certain the Rapture will be way more joyous than filing into a room filled with colleagues – no matter how fun and brilliant they are.