Monday, April 27, 2015

How God Rescues [mp3]

I spoke at Pipe Creek Community Church in Pipe Creek, TX on Sunday.  What a great church!  The basis for my message was Exodus 3:7-10.

You can listen to the mp3 by clicking here, or download it to your computer by right clicking and choosing "Download Linked File" or "Save linked file as".

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I Lost A Student Today

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We were told last night that a young man from one of our past youth groups ended his own life last week.  He was a sharp college student in California with a promising basketball career.   When we were his youth pastors he was just beginning high school.

It hit Robin and I quite hard.  Our hearts go out to his family.  His parents were very loving and supportive, as were his siblings.  We have been praying for them a lot since we learned of the tragedy.

While we will never know just what he was truly struggling with, we do know that he was loved everywhere he went.  He was respectful, courteous and kind.  When we knew him he had a deep love for God, even though he was fairly shy.  Apparently he came out of his shell as he grew older.

It got me to thinking... youth pastors only have a few years with the students God sends them.  These students have real hopes and dreams, and have been created by God for a significant purpose.  Unfortunately they also bear all-too-real hurts, disappointments and pain.  Many carry hidden scars.

Sadly we sometimes get too busy to notice that the people around us are hurting.  When I was a youth pastor at a megachurch I was often so busy preparing to minister to students that I missed God-given opportunities to connect with them.  What's really dumb about this is that these same students were the very reason I was there in the first place.  How crazy is it to be too busy getting ready to invest in students, only to miss the face to face opportunity to do so?!?!

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Role of the Arts in the Church

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In my conversations with church leaders I often get the question about the role of media and the arts in the Church. Most of the time you can boil their objections down to trying to “dress up” the message of the Gospel, as if it couldn’t stand on its own. The typical argument is that some churches are trying to repackage the Gospel to make it “seeker-friendly”, and in doing so they are watering down the message.

While I have seen this done more often than I care to admit, I have also seen many churches that are accessible, yet producing both converts and disciples.

A number of years ago we took a road trip Paris. While there we took the kids to see the Notre Dame Cathedral. What a beautiful church! As I was explaining to the girls about the meaning of the different stained glass pictures and the carvings, it hit me: The Early Church (and the Church of the Dark Ages) explained the message of the Gospel to an illiterate people through images and stories. And this is exactly how today’s Church will be able to explain the message of the Gospel to a biblically illiterate, media-saturated culture!

Tweet This: How do you explain the message of the Gospel to a biblically illiterate, media-saturated culture? The arts! #PostChristianity @jonperrin

What do you think?  Add your voice to the discussion!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Becoming a Better Lover

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Like that title? I thought it might pique your interest. I want to take a few moments and consider how growing in your relationship with Jesus can make you a better lover.
I guess maybe I should give you some background. A number of years ago I taught a series called “Redefining Relationships“ to a college group. As usual, we talked about everything from friendships to sexuality. Since this church was made up primarily of singles, this subject hit home with many of the group members. Those that weren’t facing the battles of purity were still surrounded by sexuality from the media and pop culture at every turn.
Anyway, in this series, I made a passing reference to the fact that becoming more intimate with Christ can make you a better lover. I got quite a bit of response from that statement, so I decided to develop the thought further. I thought this would also be a good subject for married couples. A healthy marriage is like a healthy garden… it requires a lot of effort to weed, water, feed and nurture, but the results are well worth it.
So, I want you to drop your religious inhibitions, take off your holier-than-thou glasses and track with me as we delve into the subject of becoming a better lover. Maybe it would be best if we started with a verse or two from the Bible, so you won’t think I’ve gone off the deep end.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Church Lessons from the Camino (part 3)

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Last year Robin and I walked the last 140 miles of the Camino de Santiago in Spain (the medieval Catholic Pilgrimage immortalized in The Way).   We chose the Norte route through the mountains because less "pilgrims" travel it.  It provided us a lot of time to pray and reflect.   The scenery was beautiful, the people were welcoming and the food and coffee were delicious!  It really gave us some time to confirm that God was truly directing us to move back to the US after 13 years of training and coaching leaders, teaching in Bible schools and planting churches in secular Europe.

There were a few lessons we learned on our trip that apply to churches.  If you haven't noticed, our culture is rapidly moving from postmodern to Post-Christian.  Christianity, believers and churches are rapidly losing their influence in society.   But there are some things we can do to create a larger footprint for the Kingdom of God.  In this series of blogposts I'll cover a few of them that are pertinent to North American church leaders.

If North American church leaders want to connect with an unchurched Post-Christian audience they need to:

3.  Choose to be present

Church Lessons from the Camino (Part 1)

Church Lessons from the Camino (Part 2)

One of the guys in our "Camino family" (staying at the same Pilgrim Hostel every night) was often so intent on getting to the next town that he just lowered his head and walked as fast as he could - sort of like a fullback taking the ball up the middle.  It was as if the journey didn't really matter... only the destination was important.  One night he lamented the fact that he often lost his way by missing the signs because he was so determined to get to his destination.  He always ended up in the right place, but he missed a lot of the scenery.

Robin and I, on the other hand, would stop every now and then and allow ourselves to be awed by the amazing scenery.  (For the record, we stopped at almost every coffee shop along the way as well, but that's more about my coffee addiction than anything else.)  I'd love to tell you that this was a continual occurrence for us, but it wasn't.  We did, however, often choose to stay present in our surroundings instead of just focusing on where we had to go.  It would have been much easier to get caught up in the weight of our backpacks, our sore muscles and blisters or the distance to the next hostel.  But we made an intentional decision to be present.  And we enjoyed the benefits.  Some of the sights, sounds and experiences truly took our breath away.  And because we slowed down, we were able to hear God's voice more clearly.

Tweet: Make the intentional decision to be present. #slowdown #relationshipsmatter #enjoythejourney @jonperrin

Too often we are so focused on our goals that we ignore the people around us.  We noticed it when we moved from western to southern Germany.  For the first time in our marriage we were visiting churches as outsiders.  Up to this point, anytime we visited a new church it was as guest speakers.
Now we were just looking for a good church for our family.  Often when we arrived early for the service the people inside were scurrying about trying to get everything ready for visitors.  And they were far too busy to be bothered by the very visitors they were getting ready for.  It was almost like the business owner that wouldn't allow people inside his shop because he wanted to keep the floors clean.

One of our mantras at our church in Freiburg was, "It's all about the journey!"  We wanted to make relationships a priority, rather than just getting our tasks done.  We required all preparation to be done 30 minutes before the service started so we could enjoy each other and truly welcome our visitors.

Actually, we found a sign along the Camino that said the same thing:
"Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar." - Antonio Machado
It means, "Camino traveler, there is no Camino.  You make the Camino as you walk."  Or in other words, the Camino is a journey, not a destination.  We can't afford to take the relationships and situations around to us for granted.  We need to take time to enjoy the scenery.  We need to make time for the important people in our lives.  We need to slow down and savor the sights, smells and sounds all around us.  And most importantly, we need to quiet ourselves enough to hear God's voice as He speaks to us.  We must choose to be present.

How do you stay present?  Join the conversation!

Church Lessons from the Camino (Part 1)

Church Lessons from the Camino (Part 2)