Yes/No

I feel I may have been too critical yesterday of the youth ministry session at C3, so today I offer some more positive thoughts about the conference.

Ed Young’s Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas is quite an experience. In this truly mega-church, everything is bigger.

There is a waterfall in the children’s ministry wing.

Among the speakers yesterday were Steven Furtick of Elevation Church and apologist Lee Strobel. The best message I heard, though, was from Seattle area pastor Kevin Gerald .

Gerald gave a simple reminder of the “dumb dichotomies” that tend to force us into unhelpful corners. Calling attention to the classic dichotomies dispelled by the Scripture (law/gospel, Paul/Apollos, etc.), he invited the assembled pastors to stop feeling as if they needed to choose an either/or in favor of the both/and. It is not about professionalism or charismatic expression; it is about faithfulness. It is not a manly church versus a feminine church; it is a human church. It is not about the sovereignty of God versus man’s free will; it is both.

Not letting go of a good because we feel we need to grasp another good: a challenging word and helpful reminder to a world caught in binaries. Especially, it would seem, in this year of elections fraught with politics and divisive social issues that seem designed to push the United States in two vastly disparate corners.

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9 comments on “Yes/No

  1. Will says:

    I was also wondering after I responded yesterday about who the attendees are at that conference. If they are mainly Youth Ministry professors like yourself, or even practical theology students then yes, the comments made at the panel were very basic. But if, like the Princeton YMF some of the attendees were average church members who simply agreed to run their small church youth group and have no idea what they are doing, then I can see that forum being very helpful to them.

  2. Andy Wong says:

    i would argue that if that’s the audience, it’s even more important to get beyond the nuts and bolts. It’s way too easy for “average church members who simply agreed to run their small church youth group and have no idea what they are doing” to fall into the trap of emulating the nuts and bolts without the theological underpinnings and the nuts and bolts are the only important thing.

  3. Viletta says:

    I find it interesting that Rev (?) Gerald is a Seattle-based pastor. His point about the church being human, not either manly or feminine is a good one. I wonder, however, if just the culture of Texas and the South in general affects the way many of the pastors speaking “do church.” Even the registration form has sessions for “pastors’ wives” which makes me wonder what the women pastors (or female ministry students) feel about that. There were no women pastors on the advertised list who were scheduled to speak. I don’t remember seeing any Black pastors on the line up either. Definitely ‘doing church’ in the South is likely very different than ‘doing church’ in the Northwest.

    • Will says:

      It always amuses me to think that when they say “pastors wives”, they are intentionally trying to convey that they are welcoming of female pastors that have wives….

      On a more serious note, a lot of my experience has shown me that theology is often more influenced by the area of the country someone is from rather than their denomination.

    • Viletta,

      I hear what you are saying. I really want to encourage our female ministry students, even while the honest truth is that there are still a lot of prejudices in this area.

  4. Viletta says:

    Good one Will =)

    The area of the country does play a big part. I am happy that Assemblies of God does not put restrictions on women in ministry (at least no ‘official’ ones). It is just assumptions that people make and will continue to make. A woman in ministry definitely needs to be assured of her calling because there will always be something (or someone) there to discourage her. Thankfully the professors that my daughter has had at Northwest University have been nothing but encouraging.

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