Thinking Out Loud

August 22, 2015

Maybe He Should Have Done a Bible Study Instead

Rick Page was too inexperienced in student ministry to realize he was being had.

Short Stories 2After four weeks as their youth pastor, he thought that having a high school group ‘testimony time’ would give the kids more opportunity to participate and help him to get to each one better. They were sitting in a circle and the idea was to go around and share their story.

Twenty-eight kids had showed up that night, and by the seventh one, Rick was already concerned that their testimonies had turned into something more like confessionals, and for a bunch of church kids, they seemed to be more sexually active than he would have expected.

Two thirds of the way around the circle, they got to the youngest kid in the group, Danny, who everyone called D.P.; and somebody said, “Don’t let him go yet, he’ll wreck it.”

Still Rick didn’t catch on.

At that point a couple of kids in the group who had already shared said, “I forgot some things;” and then added to their story. Each seemed to be more sensational than the last, with tales of sex, recreational drug use and petty crime.

Miraculously, they got all the way around the circle, though Rick thought it a bit disrespectful when some of them giggled during a few of the final stories, and told them they shouldn’t laugh at other people’s mistakes.

And then someone said, “Okay, now it’s D.P.’s turn.”

Danny was somewhat new to the group, but had long figured out what was going on, certainly longer than Rick, who still didn’t seem to have a clue. Everyone looked at D.P. to see what he might confess.

He took a deep breath and said, “I robbed a bank once.”

At that, the entire youth group exploded into laughter, and it was a laughter that just kept going and going.

Finally, things crystallized for Rick and he started laughing, too.

When things settled down it was his turn to speak. “Well, if you guys don’t mind;” he said, “I think we’d better do something different next week.”


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July 19, 2009

Random Thoughts on T-Shirts and other items of Clothing

On Saturday, Mrs. W. and I enjoyed a rare shopping day.   We visited four Christian bookstores, four thrift stores, two musical instrument dealerships, and a Hispanic flea-market mall.

Here in west Michigan, they’re ignoring the official government statistic that 16.6% (or one in six people) are unemployed.   They say it’s more like one in four people not working, because the stats don’t reflect the people not seeking or collecting benefits.   Or those who’ve given up hope on getting a job.

Across North America, people who once had one job, now have about three part time jobs, which, if they’re lucky, might come close to what they earning before.    But the bottom line on this is that the part time jobs they’ve taken to balance out the weekly income would normally have been the summer jobs for students.    So a lot of teens are without the summer income they might have received in better times.

The thrift stores — Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. — are doing well, but noticing the slowdown, too.   Tonight at the Army in Grand Rapids, everything with a yellow ticket was 49 cents after 5:00 PM.

The thing I notice in thrift stores when I try to find some Christian shirts for our youngest, is that many church youth groups get an idea to do a shirt for a special project, or to build solidarity among the kids, or to avoid losing kids on the trip to Niagara Falls; and some real creative person comes up with an idea that might have worked if a national T-shirt company had got to it first; and then they totally spoil it by putting the name of their church or youth group on it.

I mean, on one level, it’s a good souvenir of a special time in the lives of these kids, and you want them to invite their friends at the public high school to come out to Youth Group sometime; but if the idea is really good and really creative, and it’s quality artwork; then you have to ask yourself:  Am I trying to promote my church or promote Jesus?   I don’t think you can always do both.

The Hispanic mall — as it was advertised, but it was more like a flea market — contained some religious ‘gangsta’ style clothing.    Oversize T-shirts with busy cross designs; some of which reflected the light differently depending on the angle you viewed from.

But they also had some interesting ‘religious Hispanic cowboy’ dress shirts; with large crosses on the back; that I might have bought just for the novelty value, were they not $30 US apiece.

Also got to play an electric violin today for the first time.   I’m a closet violinist who is very uncomfortable playing that particular instrument in worship bands, because it tends to ‘stick out’ and also your intonation (pitch) needs to be dead on.    But the reverb and other effects on the electric seemed to cover a multitude of sins.   All I need now is $945 for the top of line model from Yamaha.

Or I could put the same money toward one of the new Fantom keyboards from Roland, with six models running around $3200 US.

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