Are Ken Moser and Tim Hawkins similar or opposite?

Recently I attended a training day with Tim Hawkins where he encouraged youth ministry leaders to preach the Gospel, break open the Word with young people and see discipleship as the key.  Then I attended a lecture with Ken Moser where he suggested that we should do Christian things in youth ministry such as preach the Gospel and break open the Word.  Whilst I thought they were similar in their core message it surprised me that at least one training college sees the two as polar opposite models of youth ministry.

From my experience of youth ministry these two “experts” are in the same ball park, they are both focused on preaching the Gospel.  Sure they have had to differentiate their model, either because context or to sell books, but they are very similar.  When you contrast them to a Taize style youth ministry or social justice youth ministry, Ken and Tim are no different.  It is like Ken and Tim are different Rugby League teams with different styles of play but compared to Motor Racing they are the same.

In my opinion Ken and Tim support a “Jesus preaching, bible believing” style of youth ministry that puts them in the same group.  Your style of preaching doesn’t make you polar opposites.  Whether you allow fun at your youth group or you are more serious doesn’t make you polar opposites.  At this point I want to recognise that the two models are not identical, there are differences.  I just don’t think they are opposite models for youth ministry.

Why is this important to write about?  Rather than becoming a fan of the Tim Hawkins model or a fan of the Ken Moser model we should become fans of Jesus.  I know that sounds obvious but when we spent our time comparing and contrasting two models of “Jesus preaching, Bible believing” youth ministry we are no better than the people who spend all their time arguing of the virtues of the football team they support.

So having met Tim and Ken personally I like a bit of both of their youth ministry styles.  I like that they point young people to Jesus and encourage leaders to break open the Word of God.  I will continue to learn from both men as I grow youth ministry in my context, I hope you can too.  Learn from both styles of youth ministry rather than picking one over the other.

Do some contestants on the Voice have the Mark of Faith?

Last night I was watching the television program The Voice.  It is a show that I have been watching since the season started and I have grown to admire many of the contestants as they sing a variety of songs.  One thing that has struck me is how many of the contestants seem to have the mark of faith, something about them makes me think they are Christian.  Other contestants may not be Christian but the Gospel is present in their story even if they don’t know it yet. Consider a few contestants:

  • Two contestants are openly Christian
  • Two contestants were “lost” but have been found
  • One contestant brings hope to street kids in their “day job”
  • One contestant is inspiring because of her blindness
  • One contestant is so Soulful that a judge felt “baptised by the Spirit” after one hit performance.

Just in case you haven’t seen the show, I am talking about Australian singers singing on an Australian show.  This isn’t an American show where almost everyone thanks God.  Perhaps it strikes me as odd because I expect Australian television to be so secular that when faith, hope and joy pop up it stands out.  Perhaps it is just me but some of the elements on the Voice are not just human emotions but real hope and joy that only come from Faith, the mark of faith on someone’s life.

But I am sure that there will be some people out there that think it is not Christian enough, the contestants aren’t out there enough with their Faith.  Not one contestant has openly thanked God and some others haven’t identified themselves as Christians.  Yet when contestants on the TV show Survivor were openly Christian, it wasn’t a very good picture of our Faith.  So I want to suggest three ways that the mark of faith is present in The Voice:

  1. Worship – whilst a few singers have sung songs with a Christian message, many singers have sung in a way that takes you to another place.  This ability to go beyond the words of a song to move people is a gift that comes from God.  When we truly worship we are moved to another place, even if we aren’t singing a “worship” song.  For example when Darren Percival sung “this time love will be for ever” Keith Urban said “all the atheists will be confused now” because the song moved everybody.
  2. Character – some of the contestants have admirable character, you would love to be around them.  Whilst some of the contestants wouldn’t be Christians and others may be loosely Christian, the TV show has shown how important character is.  In most cases I just want the contestants to succeed because I like them so much.
  3. Building up – whilst you don’t have to be Christian to build people up, I believe that seeing the best in others is the way God sees people.  The secular narrative on the other hand is to tear people down to get ahead, to support others as long as they support you and make others look bad to make yourself look better.  Now I haven’t seen everything that goes on whilst the cameras aren’t rolling, but the bits the cameras have picked up are much better than other TV shows on at the moment.

So whilst I am not saying the Voice is a Christian show or that everyone is Christian, I am impressed that the Gospel values of Faith, Hope and Joy are seeping through the elements of the show.  If you want to see how effective a quiet witness is, rather than a bang them over the head with the Gospel approach, then check out some of the video clips online of the Voice.

Pentecost

Did you colour this in Sunday School?

Does anyone remember sunday school or primary school classes about Pentecost where you coloured in tongues of fire resting above the heads of the Disciples?  Pentecost was such an easy passage to draw yet it was a confusing passage to understand as a kid because we read about tongues of fire, a rushing wind and a Holy Spirit as a dove.  Whilst I don’t expect kids to get the full understanding of the Holy Spirit, it would be a shame if adults had this limited understanding of the Holy Spirit and Pentecost.

Pentecost is not a memory of an event 2000 years ago but a reminder that God is still active in the world today through the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost is not just an even for “Pentecostals” but for everyone who calls themself a Christian.

Recently at Bible College we debated whether John 20:22 was St John’s version of the Pentecost event that occurs in Acts 1 written by St Luke.  Whilst the debate leaned towards it being a separate event, the main message of our discussion was that Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples because He was about to leave them.  A better question would be “why did they need the Holy Spirit?”  The answer to this question is that when Jesus ascended into heaven the disciples needed God’s support to carry on the mission of spreading the Good News or Gospel.

The Holy Spirit, or Comforter, is not given to us so that we can be comfortable, but so that we are comforted as we engage in Mission.  If we want to know where the Holy Spirit is working today, take a look at those engaged in Mission.  The Holy Spirit empowers us for mission.  The Holy Spirit equips us for building the Church and equipping the Saints (see Ephesians 4:12).

I have heard it said that the Church doesn’t have a mission, the Mission has a church.  On a day like Pentecost we are reminded that we are empowered to take this Good News out to the world, not keep it to ourselves within the walls of our Church building.  My prayer for you is that the Holy Spirit blesses you with the gifts you need to be bold and courageous in the mission within your community.

Define your Charism not your ministry label

 

You only have a spend a little time in the Church to realise that there are so many labels and stereotypes out there.  If you have been a ministry leader then perhaps you have given other ministries labels or maybe you have been stereotyped yourself.  In the past few weeks I have been bombarded by all the different labels in our Church as people try to describe a particular church or ministry to me.  Here are a few labels people use:

  • Conservative or Liberal
  • Liturgical or Evangelical
  • Pentecostal or Evangelical
  • Charismatic or Doctrinal
  • Social Justice or Missional
  • Seeker Sensitive or Bible Believing

Perhaps you know of a church or ministry that could easily fit into one of these labels.  Whilst we all think that our own ministry is more rounded than just one label we tend to badge others ministries with a narrow label.  What if we were to change our thinking about how we define our ministry and the other ministries in our community?  What if we were to recognise the Mark of Faith in a leader, a ministry or a church instead of how they are different to us?

One way to do this is to define your charism not use the traditional labels that define your style of Church.  A charism is a special “flavour” given to a church, ministry or group of Christians by the Holy Spirit to build up the Body of Christ.  So we start to recognise that the Holy Spirit has given us a particular way of doing ministry to reach a particular group of people in our particular community.  We can then learn from other ministries without having to change them because they are trying to reach their particular community with their particular style.

Here are a few examples:

  1. You may not be a Hillsong Church but you may use Hillsong Music.  The Hillsong church in Sydney has been graced by the Holy Spirit with a particular Charism, their style of worship, to build up the Church.  A church that started in a community hall in North west Sydney has now produced worship music sung by millions of people.
  2. You may not be a Taize community but you may use Taize chants.  The Taize community in France has been graced by the Holy Spirit with a particular Charism, their meditative chants, to build up the Church.  A community that started in a small village has a style of prayer used by millions around the world.
  3. You may not be in a Jesuit church, school or community but you may use the Jesuit method of discernment.  The Jesuit’s, originally from Spain, have been graced by the Holy Spirit with a particular Charism, their method of discernment, to build up the Church.  A community that begin with a few men in Northern Spain has now educated millions of students in colleges and school on every continent.

I could go on but you get the picture.  We can’t try to be a church that does everything; we can’t mix Hillsong music with Taize chants because they suit different people and different styles.  However we can recognise the different parts of the Body of Christ rather than labeling ministries.

In your own leadership, ministry or church what is your Charism?  It is helpful to define your Charism by two things:

  1. What does the Holy Spirit want your ministry to contribute to the Church?
  2. Define what you stand for not what you are against.

It might be a little idealistic of me to think that we could drop the labels in the Church and see each others place in the Body of Christ.  But what we can do is remember that the Holy Spirit does not give labels to a ministry, the Holy Spirit blesses a ministry/churches with a charism for the building up of the entire Church.

How would you define your Charism?  Please leave a comment.