Well hello to anyone who manages to stumble upon my blog after I haven't updated it in about 3 months. I really would like to blog more, but there's something about college classes that manages to distract me... maybe it's the work load and all the papers I have to write... but who knows.
In an effort to blog more, I plan on writing shorter, concise blogs that express ideas I've been thinking about. And in that way, if I actually come up with a somewhat intelligent and creative idea then I can actually take credit for it.... but that's not likely. In fact, that won't happen, but if you will humor me and actually read some blogs of mine then maybe you'll start to understand why I am the way I am.
There has been something on my mind recently that was really triggered by a big city-wide youth event that I attended with the youth group I work with. At this event the worship music was good, the testimonies from students were authentic, and overall I sensed that the hearts of the people who put on this event were pure and Christ-centered. However, the main speaker at the end was the "hype-up" type... you know, the kind that comes up and gets everyone screaming "Jesus" in some sort of competitive, yelling frenzy without anyone really knowing why we're doing it. I don't mind this for a little bit, but we went on screaming for about 10 minutes without him preaching from the Word at all.
In fact, the rest of his 5-10 minute sermon afterwards was completely motivational and "attractive," and did not include a single verse from the Bible. This really disappointed me, because the kids that night did not hear the actual words of God except for maybe through the songs that were straight from scripture. Even if he used only 1 scriptural reference, I think that would have been alright, because the kids could remember that one verse. But no, the Bible wasn't even mentioned.
This got me thinking... Why do we (especially in youth ministry) fall into this trap of trying to make everything attractive by human standards, appealing to hype and excitement and emotions? Why do we think that the Jesus Christ and the Bible are not attractive and appealing on their own? Sure, there is room for having fun and sweet lights and technology and all that jazz... But if it is replacing the Bible, then we are far from what I believe is true Christianity. We rob the gospel of its inherent power.
Isaiah 55:11 says, "...so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." God did not give us a boring Bible. He did not curse us with something that we would have to add to and change in order to grab the attention of those who listen. God's word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and will accomplish God's purposes if we don't get in the way! I wonder how often we get in the way of God's plans by adding our own plans and agenda.
Similarly, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power." If we are relying on the Spirit in our teaching and presentation of the Gospel, we have no need to fear that the students won't hear. We feel the need to fancy-up our preaching and events like a car or house to attract people. But the fact of the matter is that God will attract people to Him based on His beauty and glory, and not our own. No more relying on entertainment... let's open up the Word of God and let it speak for itself. I know that students today are yearning for more depth in the Bible, and still we doubt how much they can handle.
Entertainment and hype cannot replace the Word of God. They have their place, but if we are to make real disciples of Christ, the Word of God is not an option; it's an imperative.