Great List of Questions about Kids’ Sports and Church

I came across a great article filled with good questions for Christian parents to ask themselves about their various commitments to their local faith family (church) and to other entities such as kids’ sports teams (or replace team with “band” or “debate” or whatever…).  You can check out the full list of questions here, but I especially liked this one:

“If your child attended the same percentage of practices as he/she attends worship services, would the coach let your child stay on the team??

Someday in the future, perhaps, I’ll write my own, more opinionated thoughts on the subject.  I try not to harp on this issue too much since I don’t have kids of my own yet, and I recognize the limitations that puts on my opinions.  But then again, you don’t have to own a baseball team to recognize that the Royals don’t win a lot. And you don’t have to be a parent to see that telling your kid that the body of Christ ranks last on the totem pole for 18-plus years probably isn’t the most spiritually beneficial way to disciple them.

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Would you let this person teach your youth? How about your youth leaders?

(Post, in which I “go off”.  there’s not a lot of “logical flow here”, I admit up front.  But sometimes you see something and it just eats at you and you’ve got to say something even if few people read it. But the evangelical corporate church climate is just ridiculous and downright evil at times.)

In my mail today at church, I got a colorful invitation brochure to a popular youth ministry conference.  Now I’ve never actually been to any kind of youth ministry conference designed especially for youth pastors–I’ve just never had the desire to walk around a bunch of 30 year-old men with goatees who look like slightly older, fatter Hollister mannequins.  (ok, cheap shot).

There was the usual cast of authors and pastors, etc.  But I noticed one person really stood out.  I mean, REALLY stood out.  There was the name of a former megachurch pastor who just a few years ago was discovered buying meth from his homosexual prostitute.  It was kind of a big deal, especially since this pastor was a leading spokesperson for the sanctity of marriage.  And the press loves any semblance of religious hypocrisy like my dog loves honey combs cereal.

Not that I was ever planning on going, but cross that conference off my list.  Seriously.  The man was doing hardcore illegal drugs, hiring prostitutes and showing up to preach on Sunday like nothing was wrong.  And now, because a couple years pass, he’s suddenly back on the speaking circuit?   No.  This is just ridiculous.

And yes, I believe in grace.  I believe God’s love can rescue us from the deepest pit and restore us from any sin.  Read 1 Corinthians 6 and the litany of sins there, followed by some of my favorite words in all of Scripture: “And that is what some of you were.”  The Gospel changes things, new creation happens, new hearts are given, and the Holy Spirit of God works in men and women.

But there are still standards for leadership and teachers in the Christian community.  However one takes the “husband of one wife” phrase, I have yet to hear an interpretation that doesn’t see this at minimum including marital faithfulness to a man’s current wife.  And I don’t think Paul would have said a couple months of counseling following infidelity suddenly made someone fit again to stand in front of 1000’s of Christians and teach.

And the public eye certainly makes things worse.  this guy needs to experience authentic, grace-filled community.  He needs to be taught Christ by godly people who know him and ask tough questions.  He doesn’t need to be on stage dispensing advice or new-found revelations he discovered in therapy.  Especially not to those who are training young people.

I can think of countless devoted Christ-followers I’ve met over the years who would never be invited to a conference like this because they don’t have “numbers” to match.  Men and women who have loved people and given their lives for Christ who apparently aren’t seen fit to share the stage with pastors living secret homosexual lives and doing meth in their spare time.  There’s already been one book published out this mess and there will probably be more.  You can find it at your local Christian bookstore next to Jon & Kate’s book of family advice.

(sigh) I wonder if that whip Jesus made is still around.

Update: There is actually a part 2 of this coming (possibly tomorrow) in which I examine whether or not grace ever says no to people.

Francis Chan and “The Blind Side”

On Sunday nights, some of our youth have been working through a video series by Francis Chan called “Crazy Love” based on the book of the same title.   In chapter 4, Chan turns up the heat in the book, going after what he calls “lukewarm” Christianity (other terms like “cheap grace” (per Bonhoeffer) mentality might also work).  He gives a list of many different attitudes and actions that characterize “lukewarmness” along with relevant Scriptures for one to chew on.  For our study, we split into smaller groups and had the youth themselves come up with real-world examples to correspond with the profiles they were given.

To me, one stood out though, because something I had been chewing on for a while illustrated Chan’s point well.

from the book:

“Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act.  They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones.  Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers.”

I immediately thought of the success this past year of the sports film “The Blind Side”, based on the true story of NFL rookie Michael Oher.  (I know there are some criticisms with the type of charity portrayed in the film, but I want to leave that aside for now.) The movie made more than $200 million dollars domestically.  I wonder though how many people watching had that same reaction as Chan describes above.  “Wow. That family really helped out that kid.  What a nice thing to do”, they say, as they put away their $25 popcorn/soda combo box.

I wonder how many Christians would rather spend their time and resources being entertained and emotionally moved by stories of sacrifice on the big screen than creating their own stories of sacrifice.  I wonder what other kids needing adoption or villages needing wells might have benefited more from that $200 million dollars than the movie studio.  (And that doesn’t even include DVD sales.)

Problem with youth today…

Is the problem with today’s youth that they have rejected the professed beliefs of their ancestors…

…or is that they have too readily and passionately embraced the ACTUAL beliefs of their parents and leaders?

or to self-examine…

what things do I love that will destroy the lives of those I influence?

Justification by Child-rearing…

I came across an interesting article in TIME magazine yesterday about the pushback against the so-called “helicopter parenting” that seems to be on the increase.  The article is here and is worth the four pages of reading. Feel free to comment on the article itself here as well.

As a someone who has worked with teenagers and the parents, I think this is a crucial issue for those living in the ‘burbs.  The genuinely good desire to give children opportunities to grow and succeed as human beings has morphed into outright idolatry in some cases.  When Christian parents view their major identity source not as redeemed image-bearers of God but based off the performance of their offspring, they are setting themselves up for drastic disappointment (even if their kid does win the Nobel Prize or gymnastic all-around. ) They are also placing unrealistic burdens upon their children to achieve enough to fill the God-shaped and God-sized desires of the parents.  That’s a burden no one wants to bear.

The other issue this raises is how Christians can operate in a culture where everyone else is living this way.  As sports coaches and tutors continue to push unmitigated devotion to their particular crafts, Christians may have to make the difficult decisions in certain areas of life regarding their priorities.