The Most Disastrous Thing Christians Do Everyday

We make some of our biggest leadership (and self-leadership) failures sitting still. We blow tremendous ideas by not even beginning them. We waste God-sent visions by allowing dreams to remain dreams.

And in so doing we do the worst thing possible for the waiting world spinning around us… nothing.

[Does any of the following describe your life?]

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The Most Dangerous Idol of the Next Generation

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I’m a Millennial, born sometime between 1980 and Y2K (the day when all the computers and the universe imploded), and my generation has a lot going for them.

Some call us the “Hopeful Generation” because few generations to ever walk the planet were more mission-minded and cause-oriented. I have friends who use vacation-time to serve in third-world countries, who won’t buy coffee from anywhere but direct-trade vendors, who run fundraiser 5Ks every weekend. I even have friends who’ve shaved their heads and cut their beautiful beards because they saw on Facebook a friend of a friend raising money for another friend with cancer (and that’s a big deal, because nothing gives you instant authority in life like a great beard or stache).

Some call us the “Relational Generation” because there’s never been one more connected. Sure, some people (including me) hate on the false-intimacy that social-media provides. Sure, some people need to be given read-only accounts to Twitter and Facebook based on the sheer number of selfies and “look-at-me” posts they publish hourly. But that doesn’t change the fact I communicate with loved ones across the country daily on my iPhone through e-mail, text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Skype, and Facetime (sometimes I even use my phone to make calls too!).

Some call us the “Educated Generation,” as already our rate of receiving undergraduate degrees has surpassed all other generations. My generation thinks college degrees are sweet and a prerequisite to life-advancement. So even if we spend our college days doing everything but college work, we still think it’s important. That’s why we’re there on the 6-year plan.

Are you swooning yet? Because you had yearbooks. We have Facebook! You had K-Mart. We have Target (boom!). You had hula-hoops. We have X-Box. You had mass-media. We have personal media, a social platform where we can talk about how awesome we are (on our blog). And let’s not let the one word that shuts the whole “best generation” conversation down go unmentioned… Netflix. Need I say more? …Pandora! Oops, that slipped out.

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Four Points that Show What the Church Really Valued

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Authentic community is the context in which we are to follow Jesus. The scriptures say it, the characters modeled it, and the early church established it.

Community wasn’t a doctrine for the early church, it was the environment. It wasn’t a part of life for a Christian, it was the way of life. It wasn’t just another thing, it was the reality in which they did everything. And really, the idea of following Jesus was unthinkable outside of authentic cross-shaped relationships.

But community and relationships seem to be an afterthought any more for churches. Today the idea of church has been developed under an entirely different guise. When people hear the word “church” they think buildings, denominations, and 60-minute services we check off our agenda until next time.

My generation, the millennials, are leaving “church” at record rates because they see it as an irrelevant institution that has failed to distinguish between right practices and right principles. They look at the church and see an institution that has placed a tremendous amount of weight on rituals and rules rather than relationships.

And that’s sad to me… because relationships mattered most to the early church. When you study the early church in the scriptures you see more of a dynamic and expanding network of messy but maturing love-relationships, and less of a formalized institution where everyone needed to show-up and get-in-line or get-out.

So here’s four things to ponder about the early church that might change the way you approach church today:

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Just To Be Clear, Women Aren’t Objects

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Since history can remember, women have been treated as less than human.

It wouldn’t take much time skimming ancient and recent history to see this. Today, in countries around the globe women are pushed around as weaker or peddled as property. Even in our “enlightened” nation women have to fight for their place at the proverbial table of honor, respect, and opportunity.

Notably, in the realm of sexual relationships, American men are taught to view women as objects rather than as people: the way women are joked about in cubicles at work, talked about in dorms like dating is a race to third base, sung about in popular music, depicted in mass media, divorced as if it was nothing more than a legal process. It’s all kind of sad really.

Do you know what you do with an object? You objectify it.

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An Old Game Plan for the American Church in 2014

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As some of our more astute readers have noticed, I post new content every two weeks at Cross Shaped Stuff. Lazy, I know, but life is busy. Take this December for example. The Sing Off was crammed into two weeks and you can’t miss that. Plus, it’s the holidays so (in the spirit of cross-shaped husbandship) I’ve watched enough Hallmark movies my man-card will be suspended until June: “Moonlight and Mistletoe,” “Matchmaker Santa,” “Snow Bride,” “A Holiday Engagement,” “Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus.” Yes, these are real movies, but my husband-card is better than my man-card so… All that to say that today is a follow up on a Christmas blog I posted two weeks ago on Jesus’ incarnation.

In as practical terms as possible, incarnation means: I step completely into your mess no matter how messy it is; I offer myself, at the expense of myself; I choose to be fully present in situations I want nothing to do with. All because that’s what love looks like.

God showed love can be no less than personal through Jesus. You can’t love someone from a distance or at arm’s length. You must be close enough to feel their pain before they’re close enough to feel your love. So God did.

And I’m no church historian, but it seems to me that every time a generation of Jesus followers gets this right, the church experiences outrageous success, qualitative and quantitative. Look at the church in Acts. After Jesus left, the early church had only 120 people, but they quickly exploded. And why?

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