Archives For Culture


this title is confusing. please read this & let me explain.

i saw Never Say Never tonight. great movie. & i really respect the biebs. but one thing i noticed through the whole movie was these girls that were so emotionally attached to him. how attached i was by the end. there were girls crying their eyes out because they had the chance to be in the same place as him. how moved they were because they got to be a billion feet away from him. 

now i’m not saying i’d do all that for justin, but i would definitely not do it for God. which is so so so wrong. i have this opportunity to spend all of my time in the world with the Creator of life & music itself. but i give Him maybe an hour a day. i’d give justin bieber so much more. i went to the jonas brothers concert a few years ago & sat about 3/4 of the way back & i cried for 3 songs. i get up close & personal with Jesus, who thought my time & love was to die for, & i rarely ever am moved to tears. 

i was so convicted by this movie. God is inexpressibly better & higher & more worthy of worship & praise & adoration than biebs or anyone else of this world. but i don’t treat His Love or His Word or His Time that way. all i’m saying is that i wanna be so much more of a Believer in God than a bielieber of anything in this world.

What is it about things and people in our culture that creates a cult-like following while Christ rarely gets the same adoration…even by believers? Your thoughts?


Great news this week from a study published in the October issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The study of 820 teenagers revealed 69.7% of boys and 68.4% of girls ages 16-17 have never had sex. The percentage of 14-15 year olds is much higher.

Read an article from Baptist Press with insight from True Love Waits founder, Richard Ross here.


Fantastic article for parents.  Find the original article here 

Your Kid’s an All Star? Wow! Someday He’ll Be Average Like the Rest of Us.

The church in America is puzzled. Young adults are leaving in droves. Magazines, books and blogs are wagging the finger of blame to point out who is responsible. Some say it is a failure of youth ministry, some point to church budgets and some nail the blame on outdated, unhip worship services. We parents are shocked that our kids just really aren’t all that into Jesus.

When I look for someone to blame I head into the restroom and look into a mirror. Yupp, there he is. I blame him. That parent looking back at me is where I have to start.

If you’re a parent, I’m might tick you off in this post. But, hear me out. I think that we, as parents are guilty of some things that make it easy for our kids to put faith low on their priority list.

Keys to Making Your Kids Apathetic About Faith

1) Put academic pursuits above faith-building activities. Encourage your child to put everything else aside for academic gain. Afterall, when they are 24 and not interested in faith and following Christ, you’ll still be thrilled that they got an A in pre-calculus, right? Instead of teaching them balance, teach them that all else comes second to academics. Quick … who graduated in the top 5 of your high school class? Unless you were one of them, I bet you have no idea. I don’t.

2) Chase the gold ball first and foremost. Afterall, your child is a star. Drive 400 miles so your child can play hockey but refuse to take them to a home group bible study because it’s 20 minutes away.

2b) Buy into the “select,” “elite,” “premier” titles for leagues that play outside of the school season and take pride in your kid wearing the label. Hey now, he’s an All-Star! No one would pay $1000 for their kid to join, “Bunch-of-kids-paying-to-play Team.” But, “Elite?!?” Boy, howdy! That’s the big time!

2c) Believe the school coach who tells you that your kid won’t play if he doesn’t play in the offseason. The truth is, if your kid really is a star, he could go to Disney for the first week of the season and come back and start for his school team. The determined coach might make him sit a whole game to teach him a lesson. But, trust me, if Julie can shoot the rock for 20 points a game, she’s in the lineup. I remember a stellar soccer athlete who played with my son in high school. Chris missed the entire preseason because of winning a national baseball championship. With no workouts, no double sessions, his first day back with the soccer team, he started and scored two goals. Several hard-working “premier” players sat on the bench and watched him do it. (Chris never played soccer outside the school season but was a perpetual district all-star selection.) The hard reality is, if your kid is not a star, an average of 3 new stars a year will play varsity as freshmen. That means there’s always 12 kids who are the top prospects. Swallow hard and encourage your kid to improve but be careful what you sacrifice to make him a star at little Podunk High here in Maine.

2d) By the way, just because your kid got a letter inviting him to attend a baseball camp in West Virginia does not mean he is being recruited. You’ll know when recruiting happens. Coaches start calling as regularly as telemarketers, they send your kid handwritten notes and they often bypass you to talk to your kid. A letter with a printed label from an athletic department is not recruitment. When a coach shows up to watch your kid play and then talks to you and your kid, that’s recruiting.

3) Teach your kid that the dollar is almighty. I see it all the time. Faith activities fly out the window when students say, “I’d like to, but I have to work.” Parents think jobs teach responsibility when, in reality, most students are merely accumulating wealth to buy the things they want. Our kids learn that faith activities should be put aside for the “responsibility” of holding a job. They will never again get to spend 100% of their paychecks on the stuff they want.

3b) Make them pay outright for faith activities like youth retreats and faith community activities while you support their sports, music, drama and endeavors with checks for camps and “select” groups and expensive equipment. This sends a loud and clear message of what you really want to see them involved in and what you value most. Complain loudly about how expensive a three-day youth event is but then don’t bat an eye when you pay four times that for a three-day sports camp.

4) Refuse to acknowledge that the primary motivating force in kids’ lives is relationship. Connections with others is what drives kids to be involved. It’s the reason that peer pressure is such a big deal in adolescence. Sending kids to bible classes and lectures is almost entirely ineffective apart from relationship and friendships that help them process what they learn. As kids share faith experiences like retreats, mission trips and student ministry fun, they build common bonds with one another that work as a glue to Christian community. In fact, a strong argument can be made that faith is designed to be lived in community with other believers. By doing all you can to keep your kids from experiencing the bonds of love in a Christian community, you help insure that they can easily walk away without feeling like they are missing anything. Kids build friendships with the kids they spend time with.

5) Model apathy in your own life. If following Jesus is only about sitting in a church service once a week and going to meetings, young adults opt out. Teenagers and young adults are looking for things that are worth their time. Authentic, genuine, relevant relationships where people are growing in relationship with Jesus is appealing. Meaningless duty and ritual holds no attraction.

There are no guarantees that your children will follow Christ even if you have a vibrant, purposeful relationship with Him. But, on the other hand, if we, as parents do not do all we can to help our children develop meaningful relationships in Jesus, we miss a major opportunity to lead them and show them the path worth walking.

I want my kids to see that their dad follows Jesus with everything. I want them to know that my greatest hope for them is that they follow Him too.

Mt. 6:33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (The Message)

On a personal note: I know the struggle. My wife and I have lived the struggle firsthand. My son was recruited by a few D1 NCAA schools for baseball and opted instead to attend a small D3 school. My daughter was recruited to play field hockey by a couple D2 programs and ended up playing D3 when the scholarship offer was not enough to make her top school affordable. Both played in “premier” leagues. Both got A’s in high school though we often told them not to stress out too much over it. Both are in honor societies in college and my son now has offers from UNC, Univ. of Wisconsin, Johns Hopkins and Weil Cornell for a Phd in Pharmacology. Neither ever missed a youth group retreat, conference or mission trip because of their sports or academic commitments. Both missed a game or two to attend faith-based activities. Both missed school for family vacations. Both held down part-time jobs in high school and learned to give employers advance notice for upcoming retreats. My son often changed into his baseball uniform at church to arrive in the third inning of Sunday games. Robin and I did all we could to make sure they connected in student ministry even when it meant driving straight from a tournament to a music festival at midnight so that they would not miss out. It was that important to us. My youngest, a culinary student, lost a restaurant job because he went on a mission trip. That’s fine. Thankfully, all 3 have strong faith walks today. That is due only to God’s grace. But, I do believe that our efforts and example helped them long for a community-based faith.

Use this post however you find helpful. Reprint, repost, link to it or whatever. A link back to would be awesome.


This is an excerpt from Al Mohler’s blog on Steve Jobs response to an app maker’s questions about why porn isn’t allowed in the app store. Read the full article here.

Political scientists and sociologists long ago came to the realization that one of the most significant indicators of political behavior is parenthood. Those who bear responsibility to raise children look at the world differently from those who do not. In fact, parenthood may be the most easily identifiable predictor of an individual’s position on an entire range of issues.

Now, along comes Steve Jobs to prove the point. Jobs, the Maestro of Cool at Apple, recently engaged in a most interesting email exchange with Ryan Tate, who writes the “Valleywag” blog for the gossip Web site, Gawker.

Read the full article here

Think About It

Matt Lawson —  February 23, 2010 — 1 Comment

Doing some research today. Came across a few interesting facts from Barna:

Barna has found that a person’s worldview is primarily shaped and firmly in place by age 13
Observation: High school is well too late to be teaching students about doctrine/theology

Less than 1 in 200 adults aged 18 to 23 have a biblical worldview, compared to about 1 in 9 older adults
Observation: If this generation is not reached, then what happens to the next?

Love this Tweet from Rick Warren last week
To serve the Kingdom of God you MUST care about the next generation-young adults,students & children ministries. Matt18:23 10:54 PM Feb 17th via web

Great article from Christian Post.  You can read it here.

Survey: Church, Ministers Not the Friendliest in Town

By Lillian Kwon|Christian Post Reporter

Less than 18 percent of Americans say the church is the friendliest place in town, a recent survey reveals.

Though the church is ranked second behind “my home,” which 35 percent of Americans listed, Group Publishing – which commissioned the survey – says the low number indicates that what is generally considered to be one of the safest havens in the world isn’t seen as that friendly by most Americans.

Even among self-declared Christians, less than a quarter named the church as the friendliest place. Even fewer non-Christians, 7 percent, agreed.

With attendance across churches in the U.S. declining, Christians can’t really afford not to be friendly, said Amy Nappa, who leads Group for Women’s ministry team.

What makes a place friendly?

The some 750 surveyed Americans, 500 of whom were Christian, said the most important factor that makes a place friendly is “making me feel like I belong.” Subsequent factors include “making me feel comfortable” and “at ease,” conversation, smiles and being non-judgmental.

“What the survey revealed for us is that people are really starved for relationship when it comes to what they’re looking for in the church,” Chris Howley, director of research at Group Publishing, the Colorado-based firm specializing in church resources, told The Christian Post.

Simply having a greeter at the church door or performing generic gestures isn’t going to cut it, he indicated.

Meaningful dialogue, getting to know the newcomer or member, listening to and responding to them on a “very real level” are just some ways to raise the friendliness meter in the church and reach more people for Christ, Howley listed.

“If we’re serious about Kingdom work, we’ll do everything we can to create an inviting atmosphere,” he commented.

Other findings

Churches fall behind restaurants, pubs, and sports bars when it comes to favorite places to meet new friends. Only 16 percent named church as their favorite place. Eleven percent chose “Online” as their favorite place to make new friends.

Howley speculates that what leads someone to a restaurant/pub/sports bar over a church can be the sense that no strings are attached.

“They can approach those places without an overwhelming sense of obligation,” he explained. Lots of people go to church because they feel like “they have to.” Whereas, at a restaurant, there’s “nothing clouding over” their intent of just meeting new friends.

In another notable finding, ministers or religious leaders are ranked fifth on the friendliest people in town list. Most surveyed Americans named “a close friend” and “family member” as the friendliest person. Meanwhile, ministers were ranked behind neighbors and co-workers. Hairstylists, barbers and other service attendants weren’t far behind.

In response, Howley recommends that ministers and church staff engage the church body more.

“People look at church as a place where communication is one-way from the pulpit to the pew. We’re saying you’ll gain more by speaking less and listening,” he said.

Results are based on a blind study that did not reveal Group Publishing as the sponsor. No religious affiliation was associated with the effort.

Last year I attended a gathering of youth leaders at Winshape facility in Rome, GA where I met and heard Ron Luce speak to our group. Besides wearing really cool jeans for a relatively old[er] student ministry leader, Ron is wise. Very wise. And a great leader. As well as a great parent.

Below are five questions Ron asks himself as a parent:

1. Are You Parenting By Convenience?
Life is busy and time is limited. Are your sons/daughters an interruption to life? Do you just give them a computer or a video game to watch to distract their attention while you march ahead with life?

2. Do You Have a Cultural Dashboard?
How much of the world am I letting into my house? How much TV, internet, and phone usage do I allow? If you don’t have a standard that you allow, the world does…as much as possible.

3. Who Owns Your Kids Heart?
The answer to question #2 will likely reveal the answer to this question. Parents should own a student’s heart and allegiance. How? Time. Whoever owns their heart is who exerts authority in their life. What if we don’t currently have their heart? When we lean towards them, they will lean back.

4. Are You Going Through the Windows of Their Heart?
Teenagers can sometimes painfully communicate with the ability of a mute. However, when they do is when we should seize the moment. When they open their heart to talk, then is the time to talk. It’s not always a time to rebuke or even to give answers. It’s just time to talk. Don’t let those moments slip.

5. How Are You Communicating Your Values?
Ron has a written statement posted in his house known as the “Luce Family Values.” It communicates what a Luce should be know for, by, and about. Be proactive about communicating your values. Don’t hope they’ll just suck them up.

Parents, do you have a question to add?
Student pastors, what other advice would you give?
Students, what else do your parents need to know?

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The Ministry of Money

Matt Lawson —  December 10, 2009 — 1 Comment

Recently I ran across the websites of several “successful” ministry practitioners. Here’s what I saw:

  • An unapologetic advertisement to hire this church staffer for your conferences and consulting needs and why you need him.
  •  Senior Pastors and other staffers willing to “coach” you to success – for only $1500 or more.
  •  Get mentored like Jesus – $300
  •  Buy advertising on my website – $3000 worth of advertising space.

Ministry is draining. Probably many of us have learned to make it out to be tougher than it actually is. One thing is certain. Ministry presents the opportunity to struggle with the flesh. For many in ministry who have notable success, that struggle often brings with it an opportunity to capitalize on ministry “fame.”

I first received calls in 2002 from churches that had been to the camp where I served as camp pastor and were asking about me coming to speak. They asked questions about money and contracts that I had no clue how to answer. So I sought out advice from an itinerant speaker on how I should handle these opportunities.

His advice? 1. Set a minimum, mandatory amount to charge for a weekend. He insisted on no less than $500 plus travel, meals, and lodging. 2. Get a contract. Take a non-refundable deposit to hold their date. 3. Get some product to sell. 4. Get a website and promote yourself.


First of all, who’s gonna pay me $500 to speak? Second, who am I to have a contract?

I decided against his advice and told the first church I ever spoke for that anything more than travel, lodging, and meals was up to them. They wrote me a check for nearly $2000 for the weekend. They seriously overpaid, but I have used that model since.

That hasn’t always happened. I’ve flown across the country before for $100 cash on the way out the door. I’ve stayed in a double wide trailer and a prostitute motel (literally the only one in town). I’ve slept in a bunk room with 30 middle schoolers who didn’t shower all week at the beach. I know that bothers some, and it honestly wasn’t all that comfortable for me either. But there is something free, genuine, and authentic about doing ministry with pure motives.

I’m tired of ministry capitalists, and it makes me suspicious of every call, email, and brochure for events that someone wants me to support. I fight the urge to capitalize myself. A laborer is worthy of his wages, but I’ve seen too many who think their wage is their ministry. When ministry is consumed by money, money has become your primary ministry.

If you’re looking for some guys who you’ll never be hassled and haggled over in pursuit of money, check out guys like Tony Nolan and Clayton King. Their motives are pure. Their ministry is effective. They’re worth every dime you pay them, and more.

God, remind me of the privilege of ministry that you have given. Help me to remember that the greatest gift I can give the world is my intimacy with you…with no strings attached.

Ok, I’m a little surprised by #3, have never heard of #10, and I’m laughing at #6 because of a roomate in college that recorded and watched Dragon Ball Z everyday without exception and would not talk while it was on.

See Yahoo’s Top 10 of 2009 here.

Because there’s so much hype about New Moon, parents here’s a review from PluggedIn.