Where are we going?

I met early last week with some area youth ministers to discuss our plans for this next year’s coordinated effort to host area wide teen events. I was a little leary about attending, due to the comments I have heard slung from others about certain churches or certain ministers in those churches. I went to the meeting expecting confrontation. There were a few tense moments, but it became increasingly clear that there are some real differences of opinion on certain issues. One of them, un-related to the health or even the topic we were meeting to discuss was whether or not it was okay to listen to instrumental Christian music in your car, and whether or not there was a Scripture mandate to this. I was thinking the whole time, “you have to be kidding me.” Another clearly hotly contested issue for us that day was in the area of clapping at youth events. Last year at this time I recieved a phone call from a gentlemen from another church who wanted to know if my ara wide youth event would sanction clapping in some songs. I though the phone call at first was a joke, again I thought to myself, “you have to be kidding me.” He wasn’t kidding, and because I couldn’t assure him there would be no clapping, which by the way, there wasn’t any, this man and his teens didn’t come to our area wide event.

I bring all of this up, because I am astonished how some things can hinder God’s grace. I know that God is more powerful than the sinful pride of man, but in the reality in our churches is that there are some things that we hold more dear than Jesus himself. We cling to the comfortable, in all in the hopes of playing it safe. A faith with out risks, stifles the the possiblity to grow. I am not advocating change for the sake of change, but faith requires risk. The music in your car, and even handclapping, and a whole host of other issues, I mean come on. Are these the issues we need to be splitting hairs over? If a kid from the outside, listens to Christian music in his car, instead of listening to Ludicrous, I say praise God. Paul cautioned believers to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Where is the renewal if we are listening to music that is sending a message of hedonism, violence, and greed? I know that there are some issues we face in the church that will define us, or divide us as a movement. I do not think the restoration movement and the churches that rose out of this heritage, and particularly the churches of Christ as we know it in the 21st century in the form we see it manifested in our American pluralistic society is quite finished in the process begun by Christ to be the kingdom of God to a sin-soaked world. I believe the restoration movement to be ongoing. If we get so high minded that we understand the Word of God completly, we are actually little minded enough to think we own exclusive rights to “truth.” May we not be so blind to the reality of spritually stagnant churches, and spiritual zombies in our churches. Our faith in Christ Jesus should be risk taking enterprise full of twists, turns and surprises. I don’t want to be dull-minded Christian stuck in the rut of ritual and tradition when the God I read about in the Bible is a God of wonder and awe.

About Jason Retherford

The random musings of a youth minister.
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7 Responses to Where are we going?

  1. All I can say is: I feel your pain.

    As a worship minister who sometimes does outside gigs, I have to constantly remind myself that not everyone is as “loose” as I am.

    What do you mean I have to have sheet music ready to pass out? What do you mean I can’t use my spiffy graphics with my PowerPoint lyrics? What do you mean I can’t clap and sing? What do you mean I can’t sing that song? What do you mean I can’t use a handheld mic? What do you mean I can’t have a woman sing on a microphone? What do you mean I can’t use any instrumented soundtracks in the video clips (like you can find a Hollywood movie clip without at least an orchestra in the background!)? And the list just keeps going on and on…

    Man, sometimes I wonder how churches get anything done for the cause of Christ. They spend so much time worrying about small gray details, that they never do any of the big stuff!

    Dismounting soapbox now.

  2. This post has been removed by the author.

  3. JP,

    Thanks for contributing to the discussion. Hair splitting is alive and well all over the U.S. Take care!

  4. CL says:

    Oh Jason,

    Do I feel your pain… This might be a good topic for YM fourm, but either way, I will throw in my .02.
    Last October (and I’ll keep a very long story as short as possible) my church split and the new leadership at the new congregation asked me to go along. This split had been in the making for many years, but for some reason the leadership in the old church didn’t see it. We immediatley were the outcast, I mean of course. One of the decisions that was made is that we weren’t going to “do church” the way we had always done it just because we had always done it that way. Well, that caused some local tension as well, and about two months after that I went to a local Youth Ministers meeting here in town along with my replacement from the old church, and was told that basically if you have an event at Port City “don’t expect any of us to bring our groups.” Well the light is on. I was kind of dumbfounded.
    One thing that happened is, I was asked to speak at a nearby retreat, there were probably 500 kids there, and two groups boycotted the keynote time. How about that, oh it get’s better. Area-wide devotionals have been a popular staple here in Mobile for years, well this morning I found out there was one last night in town, guess what no one ever told me. Anyway, It makes me extremely sad. I just can’t beleive we can’t all build relationships with each other and be united in our ultimate goal to seek and save the lost, apparently in Mobile, there are more important things.

    My point- I feel your pain brother, trust me, and my prayers are with you there in your area! God bless!

  5. Chris,

    I am sorry to hear of your plight. It is a shame that Christians treat other Christians so poorly. I wish God’s people would open thier eyes to the mess we are making of His church.

    I will be praying for you, as I know you are too. May God increase the patience you and your leadership team as you face many challenges and disappointments, but may your struggles be the futhering of God’s kingdom.

    Thanks for sharing,

  6. Jeff Slater says:


    I also feel your pain! As you probably know, I was fired in 2002 by a church that chose comfort and stagnation over change and growth. I can name congregation after congregation that has closed their doors because they majored in minors and minored in what really counts. I am now with a great congregation that is moving forward slowly. But we are MOVING FORWARD!

    Keep up the good work and Keep The Faith, Bro!


  7. Jeff,

    As always I enjoy hearing from you. I know that sometimes our people just get mule-like, but I am so thankful that God can rebuild broken walls, and restore the “dream.” I will take inch by inch by inch if it means that we are moving forward. May His best be yours!

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