Video of the Week: John Piper, Matt Chandler, and David Platt on Social Justice and Young Evangelicals

Really, really interesting conversation among John Piper, Matt Chandler, and David Platt on social justice and younger evangelical Christians. Definitely worth ten minutes of your time, especially since teenagers (to me, at least) seem geared towards projects and movements that involve social justice.

Some questions to think about as you watch the video:

  • Do you agree that social justice needs to be tied to personal evangelism?
  • How can we help teenagers “be where they are” and serve, love, and share about Jesus where God has planted them?
  • What role do you think social justice issues ought to play in youth ministry teaching and programming?

Social Justice and Young Evangelicals: Encouragements and Concerns from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Video of the Week: Serve Morgan Highlights

Every year or two, people from our church spend a week in a town or community near us to do as much work as possible on some homes (with some other projects thrown in) with no strings attached. This year, we hung out in Morgan, UT for a week, and over 400 people from our church spent their vacation time serving others. It’s definitely one of those times that makes me super proud of The Heights Community. Here’s a recap:

Serve Morgan Impact from The Heights Community on Vimeo.

You can also check out a cool time-lapse of some of the homes here and a 30-minute video on the project here.

Serve Morgan – A Weeklong Church-wide Service Project

Last week things were kind of quiet on the blog and here’s why: Our church spent the week up in Morgan, UT, a town about 20 minutes away from our church. We’ve been doing these projects for a few years now, and every year I’m blown away at the response from our church and the relationships that are built in the communities where we serve. (You can check out posts from previous years’ projects here and here.)

We’ll have a highlight video ready soon, but here’s a news story that a local TV station did on “Serve Morgan” last week (there’s a great video of the news story that I can’t embed if you follow the link):

Hundreds of volunteers from Washington Heights Church in South Ogden are giving their time and energy to bless the city of Morgan for a service project this week.

The volunteers are showing up in the truckloads. They’re working on construction and demolition projects as well as painting, cleaning and helping people move.

Darrell Eddington is a local horse owner who arrived home with a truckload of hay, something that would’ve taken him several days to move into his barn, but with the help of about a dozen volunteers, the work was done in a couple hours. “It’s kinda hard for me to humble myself and ask for help, but I needed it today,” said Eddington.

Pastor Roy Gruber says Washington Heights chooses a community each year to bless, and this year it was Morgan. “Life is good when we realize it’s not just about us,” says Gruber. “It’s about extending a hand with no strings attached and helping people in need.”

Gruber says city officials in Morgan provided them with a list of projects in the town that could use a helping hand, but volunteers have also been out looking for people they can bless.

“If we are looking to add a piece to our life that we feel we are missing, find something to do to serve somebody else,” says Gruber.

You can also check out photos and stories from the week on the Serve Morgan Facebook page. And if you’re curious how to plan this kind of “serve” project for your church, shoot me a message and I’ll be happy to get you some info.

A Very Dangerous Question

If you’re like me, you like questions. And ministry leaders should be great at asking questions. When we stop asking questions–or if we stop letting others ask questions–then we and the ministries and churches we lead will become stagnant. However, there is one question that is very, very dangerous. Chances are, someone has recently asked you this questions in one form or another in the past month. On the surface, it’s an innocent enough question. In fact, it’s usually asked by someone in your church or ministry who has a great heart. However, this question has the ability to quietly but systematically swallow up your impact as an organization.

So, what’s the question I’m talking about? Here it is: “Why don’t we…?”

Yep, that’s it. I bet I can guess what you’re thinking. Benjer, what in the world is wrong with that question? It’s harmless. It’s cute. It’s not even a complete sentence–you left part of it out!

Sure, it seems harmless enough, but let me show you why it’s so dangerous by using an example. Imagine you’re getting ready to plan your summer calendar, and someone asks you, “Why don’t we take our high school students on a trip to Kenya to serve impoverished orphans next summer?” In all likelihood, the person who poses this question to you has a big heart for orphans in Kenya. This person probably even believes that such a trip is the best thing for the high schoolers in your church to do next summer. But unless this is a huge Holy Spirit moment, you probably already can come up with several legitimate answers to this person’s question–reasons why you shouldn’t take your high schoolers to Kenya next summer. We already have a trip in the planning stages. It would be too expensive for all but a few of our high school students. I don’t think your group is ready for such a trip. Of course, the person who really wants your high school students to go to Kenya next summer will have an answer to each of your objections. And if you run out of additional objections, you just might find yourself planning a short-term mission trip to Kenya, even though you don’t think it’s what God is leading your high school students to do.

The reason any “Why don’t we…?” question is so dangerous is that there are endless good trips, programs, initiatives, service projects, retreats, camps, and mission trips you could plan for your church or ministry. And when someone asks “Why don’t we…” in a passionate way, you might feel as though by saying “No,” you’re saying that you don’t care whether your teenagers hear the gospel or not, that there are impoverished orphans who need to be cared for, or if the local food bank is able to stock their shelves next month. What is difficult to remember when someone asks us “Why don’t we…?” is that when we say “Yes” to one opportunity, it necessarily requires us to say “No” to something else. And that something else just might be the thing God is really leading you and the people you serve to do.

Now that you see how dangerous a “Why don’t we…?” question can be, how should you answer it? Just about every leader has felt the tension between wanting to affirm a person who cares enough to bring an idea to you and wanting be discerning about which ideas you say “Yes” to and which ones you say “No” or “Maybe down the road” to. Chances are you’ve given the green light to an idea that began “Why don’t we…?” that you realized later was a mistake. How should you handle it when someone asks, “Why don’t we open a pregnancy care center at our church?” It’s a great cause and an important ministry, and many faithful people and churches engage in caring for women who find themselves in unplanned pregnancies. But how do you answer the question if you’re pretty sure it’s not something God is asking your particular church to do?

When you hear a question that resembles “Why don’t we…?” try not to address the question head-on. As I’ve mentioned, if you’re talking to someone who is very passionate about their idea, they will have an answer to almost any objection you might have to it. Instead, give this person a glimpse into your planning process. Share the vision of your ministry, church, or organization. Put down on paper the direction you believe God is leading you and the people you serve. (Note: This only works if you have actually done the hard work of developing a vision and discerned where you think God is leading. If you haven’t, “Why don’t we…?” questions will eat you and your organization alive until you do.) Explain that while it might be a really good idea, it’s just one of the many roads you believe God is asking you not to take so that you can travel the road he is asking you to take. The person who brought the “Why don’t we…?” question to you will either understand and be on board with where you’re leading and be satisfied with a “no” “not this year, but maybe in the future” answer, or they will continue to be push their idea, no matter the cost.

The bottom line: your church, ministry, or organization can’t do everything. “Why don’t we…?” questions are dangerous because the question itself assumes that if it’s a good idea and a worthy cause, your church has to act on it. But that’s just not true. If you asked everyone in your church to take 60 seconds to write down every cause or initiative your church should be involved in, you would end up with far more ideas than your church could possibly handle. Your job isn’t to chase every good idea that you hear. Your job is to lead the people you serve to do what God is asking them to do.

Video of the Week: END IT Movement Gives Glimpse into Sex Trafficking

This is a raw and difficult-to-watch video about an effort by END IT at the Final Four this year in Atlanta to shine a light on the reality of slavery and sex trafficking. Check it out:

Video of the Week: First World Problems (Spoken by Third World People)

This is a really clever video that reveals that most of the problems we complain about are anything but:

Hat Tip: Allison Martin

Video of the Week: Kenyan Man Uses the Internet for the First Time

Though I’m sure that Google (who produced the video) dramatized the content a bit, I still think it’s a really cool story. This video tells the story of a Kenyan man who discovered how useful and valuable the Internet can be. Not only is it a cool story, but I think it could be used to illustrate two points: 1) That things we use for fun or entertainment, others in the world could use for their livelihood and well-being; and 2) Some things we just take for granted, because it’s always been available at our fingertips. Here it is:

Video of the Week: Carter’s Idea

A Compassion International speaker on our summer “Servant Leadership Experience” showed this video to cast a vision of helping disabled kids through Compassion International. Definitely an amazing kid and an amazing video:

Video of the Week: Dan’s Coffee Run

This is a really cool story of Dan Dewey (done by Starbucks and their “Everylove” campaign), who buys Starbucks for cancer patients getting treatment at a Detroit hospital every Thursday. They call it “Dan’s Coffee Run” and the video is well worth your time:

Hat tip: Chad McDaniel