I don’t think Christians really know what to do with humour. The stereotype that Christians are a bunch of humourless neigh-sayers unfortunately has some truth to it. We can be quick to take offence and slow to laugh at ourselves. And that’s a real shame for two reasons. Firstly, the Bible can be outright hilarious at times (I will never not laugh when read 2 Kings 2:23). Secondly, we may be missing out on learning truths we may otherwise be blind to. And that’s why Telling the Truthiness: The Gospel of Stephen Colbert by Richard Braaksma is worth reading and engaging with.
A few years ago, a friend and I were writing a kids talk for a church service. We wanted my puppet orangutan to tell the kids why the resurrection was so important. And we paused. We both knew that the resurrection was important, but we were struggling to put into words WHY it was important. I’m sure if we had a copy of John Chapman’s book Making The Most of The Cross at hand back then, we wouldn’t have been struggling. Because this is a great resource that clearly explains some big truths.
I grew up Catholic. My parents had me baptised in a Roman Catholic Church when I was a baby. The priest tried to baptise me as “John” because Joel wasn’t Christian enough. I attended a Catholic primary school, where I also served as an altar boy at the church attached to the school. Putting on a robe, carrying a candle, and helping the priest do communion was preferable to sitting through the service. Even back in those days I was easily bored.
By the time I was 15 I was preparing myself to walk away from the Roman Catholic Church. My experience of the church didn’t match with my experience of the world. I began to feel that Jesus was a fictional story and that the church existed as a quaint little throwback that stood in the way of me discovering the truth behind the universe. I started to explore new age beliefs. Until one day, when I was 17, a friend introduced me to the Jesus of the Bible. Not long after this, I welcomed Jesus as my saviour and joined a Protestant church.
I share my story with you because the book I’m reviewing is on a subject that is close to me. The Road Once Travelled by Mark Gilbert (with Cecily Paterson) is written for people within the Roman Catholic Church who are feeling disillusioned. The aim is to address their concerns and point to the real Jesus of the Bible as the answer to their problems. This is the kind of book that is theoretically aimed right at 17-year-old Joel. So in reviewing The Road Once Travelled, both 31-year-old Joel and 17-year-old Joel will weigh in with their views.
There’s a danger in thinking that the only books useful for churches are the ones written by Christians about church. This point of view is incredibly short sighted. There are all kinds of books out there, written by non-Christians, about all kinds of things. Things that at first glance might have nothing to do with how to run a church. But when you think about it, there’s a lot we can learn from these seemingly unrelated books. I’m always keen to check out, for example, books about business. Books that explore how to organise people, how to run an organisation, how to promote yourself. These are things that are incredibly relevant for someone like me who is involved with running a church. I’m especially interested in books that chuck out the conventional wisdom and present an outside-of-the-box way of thinking. Rework is one of those books.
I love being a youth minister. God has used me to influence the lives of many young people over the years. It’s an enormous privilege. And it’s not just because I can justify buying video games as a ministry expense. The big reward is seeing the results of your hard work, when you see a young person growing in godliness and maturity. But before you get to that point, there’s a lot of trials along the way. And a lot of conversations. Some of them you are prepared for. Some of them come out of nowhere and you don’t know how to deal with them.
That’s why Steven Gerali’s new series of books What Do I Do When… is such a valuable resource.
So when is he going to let me in on it? When is he going to present me with a folder full of which decisions I need to make to end up where he wants me? I don’t care if he uses visions, dreams or skywriting, I want God to tell me what to do. Otherwise I’ll end up doing the wrong thing and seriously ruin God’s plan for my life. I just don’t know what to do.
Ever feel like this? Ever feel like you just don’t know what to do with your life? Well Kevin DeYoung wants you to stop over thinking and stop waiting for a sign. He wants you to Just Do Something.
Are teenagers boys and girls or men and women? This is a question that I often contemplate. Do I treat these teenagers as fragile little creatures or do I expect them to step up and take on the same responsibilities as an adult? Is there a middle ground and if so, where on the spectrum does it lie? And most importantly, do my expectations match reality?
Alex and Brett Harris were both teenagers when they wrote Do Hard Things. They argue that teenagers are capable of doing much but expected to do little. That teenagers should break through the barriers of low expectations and attempt great things. And I have to say, they make a compelling argument.