June 28, 2008

My Looming Future (& the American church)

Hello again BLOG, I'm back for some more personal thoughts.
Tonight I went to the Mill, the college ministry at New Life Church here in Colorado Springs. I love the Mill. I love the fact that 1,200+ college students and 20-somethings give up their Friday nights to go to church and worship God together. I don't know who would ever think a college ministry would be this effective on a Friday night, but God is definitely moving through the Mill. The worship is amazing, the sermon is always challenging, and the presence of God is real.
Tonight Evan Martin talked about the Africa missions trip that the Mill just got back from. He shared some light stories, some heavy stories, and how missions applies to all of our lives. He explained and urged everyone to participate in some form of missions during their lives not only because of the huge effect on the people ministered to, but also the "accelerated spiritual growth" that you yourself will experience. I could go deeper into his message, but that's not what I wanted to write about. Evan simply stimulated a thought process that I've been experiencing for quite a while now.
That is, where am I headed in my life? I've always wondered why I don't feel called into full-time missionary work. I have so many friends that feel this calling strongly in their lives. They are going to give up every comfortable luxury we take for granted here in America to go live in huts, heat, and humidity (okay, maybe not all of them, but you get the point). I admire my good friend Stephen Groves (or Narco, for you Taylor-ites) for his passion and selflessness in his desire to be a missionary. To me, he embodies the call on believers to die to self and pick up our cross daily (Luke 9:23-26). I hope that I can learn more from him about what I can do in my everyday life to emulate his attitude.
But the fact of the matter is that I am drawn to the church. To be more specific, I am drawn to the American church. Let me clarify here: I'm not drawn because of the idea of living in America (although that definitely isn't a point of complaint either). I'm drawn because the American church has one of the largest mission fields it could possibly want. There are millions of lost souls here on our own turf, seeking for answers and redemption in places they won't find it. Many have also had terrible church experiences because of hypocrisy, power abuse, and arrogant traditionalism. I know Christian Ministries majors at Taylor who desire above everything else to work in full-time ministry, but they refuse to work in the church because of problems they have witnessed or experienced. I strongly believe God has called me to the American church to help be part of the solution. We could talk for days or even years about the problems, but what can we actually do to help? I think it all comes down to truly and genuinely loving God and loving others. What does this look like? Well, that's a topic for another day and another blog.

I kind of got off on a tangent there, but I want to explain to anyone reading how much I think about my future. Two years from today I will have a college degree and my life ahead of me. Evan's talk at the Mill really got me thinking about it again. What will I be doing right after graduating? It seems so far away, yet so close at the same time. Here are some of my options/dreams:
-Become a youth pastor
-Go to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup (a month after I graduate) with a group of guys/girls and lead a short term missions team for one of the greatest opportunities for the Gospel the world experiences every 4 years
-Go to seminary for my Masters of Divinity
-Go on a soccer DTS (Discipleship Training School) with YWAM to Argentina for 6 months, using soccer as a ministry tool and serving YWAM in whatever capacity needed

When I look at that list, I am filled with excitement. I have no idea which way God is going to lead me... or even what more options are going to be added to that list... but I am fully confident He is going to lead me in the way that will most glorify Him and His will for my life at that point. For some reason I feel like dreaming tonight and writing about it on my blog. Let me give you insight into my life and how I think by explaining each of those dreams in more detail.
"Become a youth pastor" - This has been a strong calling on my life as long as I can remember. At three or four points in my life before college I knew God wanted me to be a pastor. Even my third grade teacher prophesied this calling over my life! I love the idea of pouring into high school and junior high school students as my full-time job. I honestly can't see myself doing anything else.
"World Cup 2010 - South Africa short term missions" - This is the most recent dream of mine. A couple years ago I had the opportunity to go to the World Cup in Germany on a short term missions team, but decided to go to L.A. on a missions trip instead. Now, I get these glowing feelings about going to South Africa for the next World Cup to spread the Gospel. I mean, think about it... how often do millions of people from all over the world come to one place with no agenda but to watch soccer? What a chance for conversation!! Add that to the fact that I love soccer and would get the chance to play some pick-up games with people to initiate conversation as well. I want to get a group of people together and head to Africa with the sole purpose of spreading the Word at the World Cup. If this sounds like something you'd want to be a part of in 2010, please come talk to me!
"Go to seminary" - I'm just going to say it: I love learning. Call me a nerd. But I do. I want to be trained theologically at a higher level so I can be better prepared for ministry. I've also played around with the thought of being a senior pastor someday. I strongly believe seminary is part of my future someday.
"Soccer DTS to Argentina" - I've always wanted to be able to use soccer as a ministry tool in order to give back to God what He has blessed me with. This would be a great chance to use soccer in evangelism and also to utilize the years of Spanish classes I've taken as well. This would be a 6-month commitment, and I think it would deeply affect the rest of my life and ministry.

So that's where I'm at! I don't know why I felt like explaining my dreams and aspirations to you all in my blog, but there it is. Now you can hold me to it! Haha! Sorry if it felt scatter-brained, but that's honestly how I feel at times too. At some point soon I'd like to explore more about the American church and the idea of genuine love. Soon to come...

June 26, 2008

Welcome to blogging?

After years of confining my thoughts to my own mind, I have finally decided to start my own blog. I'll be honest, I don't really know where to start. I guess I'll give a little background information on where I'm at right now to better explain why I think about the things I do.

Right now I am the High School Ministry Intern at Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs. This is fulfilling some of my education requirements at Taylor, but it's also just great experience for what I want to do the rest of my life. I'm learning on a daily basis what it really means to be in full-time vocational ministry. I say "vocational" ministry because everyone is going into full-time ministry in whatever profession they're called to. Vocational ministry simply means that ministry is my profession or career that God has led me to. I believe we do a disservice to God's intentions for the body of Christ by differentiating between "ministers" and engineers, businessmen, musicians, teachers, etc. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 makes no distinction as to who should "Go, and make disciples..." If we allow ourselves to think, "Oh, I'm just a (fill in the blank), I'll leave the ministry to the church...", then we've been ensnared by an un-biblical mentality. The first disciples of Christ were fishermen, physicians, and tax collectors... These are the people who wrote much of our New Testament and have forever influenced the Christian faith. Jesus said, "Come, follow me," and they did just that. Essentially Jesus is saying this to all of us. It doesn't matter where we are, who we are, or where we're going. Our first focus should be to follow in the steps of Christ and the rest will follow. Paul, one of the most prominent evangelists, church planters, preachers, and disciples in the history of Christianity made tents! As a tent-maker Paul ministered (and still does minister) to trillions of people if you consider his impact through his writing in the New Testament. The body of Christ is unique and diverse for a purpose, but we are all baptized by the blood of Christ. An important passage to consider is 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Paul uses the analogy of the human body to describe the body of Christ. Can the ear say to the nose, "I don't need you"? Can the hand say to the foot, "I don't need you"? Absolutely not! So it should be within the Christian family... The church cannot exist and pastors would not be able to effectively minister without the congregation, the body of Christ, the pinkies, and the big toes of the family.

The question to ask, then, is what is my role in the body of Christ? What is your role? In the Bible study my friends and I started here in the Springs, we talked two weeks ago about the unique giftedness we are all endowed with by our Creator. We've all been given gifts to use to bless other people. Our spiritual gifts are not purposed for ourselves. While they can help us grow at times, that is not their first purpose. If you're reading this and haven't taken a spiritual gifts test, I strongly encourage you to do so right now. It will reveal to you incredible information about yourself that you may not have thought of before. It will encourage you in your strengths as well. Are you the mouth in the body of Christ? The eyes? The hands? The stomach? (I think most guys would like to be the stomach in the body... haha).

It doesn't stop at figuring out your gifts, either. If I could encourage the students at Taylor to do one thing while at school, it would be to get involved in some form of ministry. Ministry looks different for every personality and giftedness, but there is always something that you can be making a difference in. A selfish faith is not a biblical faith. Sacrifice some time to bless others. To bring others closer to Christ is truly fulfilling Jesus' commission.

So those are my thoughts. I might enjoy this blogging thing.