disclaimer: copious amounts of hair product were used in creating the videos featured today. no animals were harmed. don’t say i didn’t warn you!
also, note that i’ve changed to calling this the “shuffle challenge.” i know some of you have interesting music to share. what on your playlist?
the door – al denson oh, the coif of one al denson. in the early 90s, which just happened to be when i was barely cutting my teeth in the youth ministry world, al and his music represented everything you wanted in a Christian artist. his m.o. was common – sing and speak at nonsectarian public school assemblies about topics like peer pressure and motivation, invite kids to talk afterwards and to an evening event, and give a full concert complete with aisle-walking and decision cards.
here’s a really bad analog track of me singing the song in the mid 90s (i totally concede that al sang circles around me):
this approach had its place in my life and the life of youth ministry. when i recorded my version (and please watch al’s version below), i was attempting to raise funds to embark on a 2-year intern program with teen mania. my focus would have been (although i never entered the program due to inadequate support) to evangelize in the highly decisionalist mentality, around the u.s. and abroad. i maintained that mindset until after y2k, having moved to kansas city and seeing many youth “make decisions for Christ” in the suburbia of south johnson county.
since then, i’ve evolved drastically in my approach to pointing students to Christ. in fact, i’m currently exploring the notion that perhaps even more than adult youth workers need to point kids to Christ and “be Jesus” to them, we need to flip it around and discern how kids are already experiencing God’s presence. how can we be present with kids in a way that helps them recognize what God is doing in their lives? it doesn’t fit with my old categories of lost, saved, backslidden… you know the rest. but this radically authentic approach is where i’m at, and i think it will ultimately help kids to own what they believe and how they experience God.
good to be alive – geoff moore and the distance i loved and still love this song because it reminds me to see all of life through the eyes of a child. (and yes, teenagers are still children in many important ways.) although i got to see geoff et al numerous times, the performance that stands out in my memory was at worlds of fun. i doubt it was called heartfest back then, but the event has survived in some form until the present. granted, seeing a sweat-drenched lecrae and skillet with their trans-siberian orchestra impression was a very different experience just a few weeks ago. i don’t know why i had to come late that summer in the mid 1990s, but after missing an exit and driving into iowa for a spell, i had an absolute blast with the westview youth group at this show. i think audio adrenaline may have been there too.
like many a good youth-group memory, the real connection wasn’t when the folks were up on stage, or even hanging out at the amusement park (which i had to miss anyway). since i had driven my car and the kids had taken the bus from manhattan, i wound up with a back seat full of 7th grade boys to keep me company. no idea what we talked about, but the rapport initiated that night carried for years. i later had the chance to lead a Bible study and engaged in discipling several of them at a level that probably wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. still today, i look for the ways to connect with kids outside of the formal programs and events. a ball game (watching them play or spectating alongside them), ice cream after school, even grocery shopping with you can all be great ways to peel back the veil of life on both sides of the relationship. kids get to see who you really are, and in the process many will let down their guard.
t-shirts (what we should be known for) – derek webb just before this year’s heartfest, i put up a facebook status reminding parents and youth workers to model and expect positive public behavior from their students, especially at events where non-church groups will see shirts proclaiming the name of Christ as well as the youth group. my crew supervisor at worlds of fun told me the worst-behaved groups all season usually show up that day. she attributed it to living overly sheltered lives the rest of the year and being turned loose with no practical sense of the real world. whatever the reasons, her comments right on the mark.
poll the average non-churched (or “un-churched”) person on the street, and they’ll have a really low opinion of Christians. we’re second only to prostitutes at the bottom of one list! how many hurting, marginalized, voiceless persons have we chased away from Christ’s love because of our ungodly “swagger?”
derek webb, especially in recent years, has never been one to pull punches in his call for Christians to cut the b.s. this song, as well as most of his album stockholm syndrome, can easily be recognized as open letter to fred phelps and his family/church. this cuckoo band of phelpsians and their national attention have long been a blemish on not only my home state of kansas but also christendom. in fact, very early in the life of this blog, i posted that if phelps claimed the name Christian, then i’d pass. i now hear they’re picketing the republican national convention. i pretty much don’t care what they do anymore.
but then again, i do. too long have i sat by and allowed the wacko fringe define who Christians are. too long have i allowed division, schism, denominationalism and anti-denominationalism dictate who i could call my sister and brother. i have been far too worried about the state of other believers’ souls (and doctrine) that i have neglected the state of my own.
God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
so emotional – whitney houston yeah, this is the least profound or thought-provoking of anything else today. i don’t care. “so emotional” isn’t her most stirring (“ain’t it shocking what love can do?”), but i loved this gal from the start. i’m just going to copy my status from february 11:
i wanted to be like michael. even wore a single glove sprayed silver to an all day skate once. but it was seeing whitney in concert one night in upstate n.y. that made my year, whitney who kept me company all those summer days mowing lawns, and whitney who inspired me to find my voice. thanks doesn’t even come close.
can’t say it any better now.