Friday, February 08, 2008

Something New is Something Old With a New Paint Job

When I was 11 or 12 my step dad had a 1968 Camaro SS RS. It had hidden head lights, leather interior and an amazing stereo system. To this day it is my favorite car. It was really loud too. I love loud pipes!! We only took the car out on special occasions and my mom was barely aloud to drive it.

The funny thing is that car was old. Sure it was in perfect condition. It had a new paint job and everything was pristine. Today Chevy is still making Camaros and they are amazing cars. In the end they are still just cars. They are completely new yet they still accomplish the same old purpose of getting you from one place to the next. What does this have to do with youth ministry?

Remember that book in the Old Testament, that one written by Solomon. He said there is nothing new (paraphrase). In ministry we would do well to remember this. It is amazing how relevant the Bible is in todays world. Some of the "new" things are just old things with new paint jobs. I am not against giving old things new paint jobs, especially if it is a Camaro. Some things, however, are not Camaros. My first car was a Ford Fairmont. It was baby blue and went 0-60 in 4.5 hours. The good news is tickets were hard to come by, I still managed. That car didn't need a new paint job, it needed to be driven to the junk yard.

When something new comes along in ministry or anywhere else the first thing we should ask is, "where have I seen this before?" Many of today's churches have been distracted by old things with new paint jobs. Many of those old things might look cool, they might even have flames painted on the side, but in reality they need to be driven straight to the junk yard.

New theology is usually just old, bad theology with a new paint job. The latest trends in ministry are trends, they will fade away. Recently I heard a sermon by a pastor who openly downplayed theology from the pulpit. He was attempting to make the Bible look attractive to a young and hip crowd of mostly college age people (we felt old with our two kids). I must admit I was disappointed. Clearly he had no idea what he was doing. The Bible isn't a book meant for entertainment, although it can be entertaining at times. The Bible is not a reference book with short and simple answers to all of life's little problems either. We should not present it to students in that manner. Instead it is a book filled with life changing truth (theology) about God, man, and how God saves man. It isn't trivial, it isn't an encyclopedia, and it isn't to be taken lightly. It is the WORD OF GOD. I wonder if that is the impression we give to students when we read from it, study it, and communicate it to them?

I left church that day thinking, "if the pastor would just teach the life changing message of scripture he wouldn't have to try so hard to make it sound interesting!"

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