Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I was a carpenter for a few years. I really enjoy carpentry and it makes me feel closer to Jesus to think that he was a carpenter for years before starting his Earthly ministry. I don't know all that much about what Jesus did; there is a lot of speculation, but nothing absolute. I do know what I did. Pretty much everything. I did cabinetry, new construction, remodeling, repairs, drywall, finish carpentry, flooring, concrete ...

I didn't go to a trade school, and quite frankly I don't think any trade school could have prepared me for all the situations I encountered. I learned everything by doing, but I didn't just start my first day and go do. I worked with other carpenters for pretty much everything we did until I learned about how to do the work. We became friends, but it was always clear that the more experienced person was in charge. Still there came a point where I would be able to offer ideas that worked better than what we were trying to do.

I think our Christian walk is supposed to work like that. Sure I can give you a list of books to read, but I look at Jesus and see something different happening. He sat under Joseph and learned how to work as a carpenter. He didn't go off to school or read books on the subject, he just did. Then he started teaching, and he didn't end his lessons with, "now go to school to learn more," or, "read this book ..." He told people what they needed to know, then expected them to do. He modeled a life for them and expected change in their life. It isn't that Jesus ever condemned sinners. He condemned the "religious" but not the sinners.

I find this interesting because we often do this backwards. We love on the "religious" and then condemn sinners. Anyway, Jesus moved past that and loved on the sinner, but didn't leave them in their sin. He told them to move past their life and live more like Him. I really think this is what discipleship should be.

Sure we need to have programs in place that teach a structured lesson, but we also need relationships in place that model what it is to be a Christian. I'm working on the best way to describe this relationship. The only word I really know is "mentor" but it seems many people are afraid to be a mentor. The problem is Youth are looking for a mentor.

I believe this is why so many leave the church when they go off to college. I remember going to college and looking at certain professors as mentors. They were so smart and even compassionate. One took me under his wings and even went so far as to call me friend. The impact of that on my life cannot be properly explained, but suffice it to say that it has fundamentally changed the way I look at the world.

I was at a Christian campus when I developed these relationships, but when teens go off to public, and even secular private universities they will develop these relationships with men and women of academia who are standing against Christianity and the Bible. Understanding this simple fact makes it perfectly clear to me why so many walk away from their faith. They are fundamentally changed by a relationship that opposes God.

This means we need to find a way to put our Youth in relationships with more experienced Christians. I am currently working to find a way to make this happen. I have 40 students and no way to spend that kind of time with all of them. Even with everyone in my leadership team I can't possibly get everyone matched up. Instead I have to get the entire church on board with this, so I am building a discipleship program for the church that teaches this concept.

My biggest frustration is that I don't want to wait for all of this work to mature. I want everything in place today because I am so concerned about the Youth I lose between now and when I can have everyone in relationship. Anyways, this is part of my overall plan for discipleship. One day God will finish taking me through the process of growing patience and I won't be so frustrated knowing the vision I have is still a couple of years out. Until then I let go and let God as best as I can.