Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Drinking Mirror: The Reflection for JH/MS Ministry

















         Somewhere along the way, in the past couple months you have probably seen an article, news report, or human interest piece on the "Drinking Mirror" App that was released in Scotland for  I-phones or Android phones.  There has been various different perspectives and some shots taken (no pun intended) at the whole thing.   If you don't know it is an app for you to take a picture of yourself and see what the effects that alcohol has on your appearance after 10 years.  It is an interesting idea and unique approach to a growing problem...both in the world but also inside the modern church.

        I am currently working on a new series on addictions and have been thinking a bit about some of this issue. I am not here to be controversial or start a debate, but I would like to simply do something that I don't do often here share an opinion.    I have sat through quite a few conversations, debates and other "confrontations" connected to the whole Christian liberties/ Christians drinking thing.  A variety of voices far bigger and louder than mine have weighed nationally, over the growing idea that alcohol should be accepted in Christian circles. It has become a push in the church as the millennial generation comes to prominence. It is a cultural debate and a spiritual debate for this up and coming generation.  It is not necessarily a discussion that is new, just one that is gaining new traction in the shifting sands of trying to be relevant.

     I will skip my personal background, up bringing, and education for the sake of time and space here.  I will simply state that I choose not to drink.  I am stuck in the middle in many ways with this whole debate both in my church, in my community, and even inside my own ministry. I would like to however here just throw out a couple thoughts and challenges for you as fellow JH/MS youth workers and anyone else that is doing ministry and happens to be reading this...

     We who work with JH/MS students have a high and holy calling, that is why I think we need to step back and take a hard look in our own "drinking mirror".  Think about 10 years from now- not at how we will look but ask "what are our students going to look like because of us?" Most of our students will be just making their way through the college years. This time of life , no matter what statistic you look at is a tough time spiritually. Drinking of course plays a huge part on college campuses, so that will be one more thing that they will have been deciding about.   So what is going on all the way back at the beginning of the transition into adulthood in JH/MS years. What are we choosing to teach or not teach that is going to influence them all the way into college? What are the expectations and standards that we set for ourselves, our family, and our staff that are going to set the expectations and standards for our students personal, spiritual lives for a long time, maybe permanently.  What are the "buzzed" and "social public" moments that we choose will set in motion a ripple that will go far beyond our own personal liberties or theological debates.

   SO... When we look in the mirror and look at what our life, our ministry, and our influence what do we want it to reflect. As a JH/MS Youth Pastor I choose not to drink, publicly or privately because: 

1. It is a BAD REFLECTION of MY WITNESS
2. It is a BAD REFLECTION of MY TIME
3. It is a BAD REFLECTION of MY MONEY
4. It is a BAD REFLECTION of MY BODY
5. It is a BAD REFLECTION of MY MINISTRY
and if even if one of those is true, it is wrong and defined as a "sin" for me as a leader(*James 3:1, Mark 9:42...)

       I am not looking for responses or comments, but if you would like to leave one feel free. I am sure there will be those that get offended or want a debate, that is not what this is about. This is not about YOU or your beliefs, freedom, and being culturally relevant. This is about the little brokenhearted 7th grade girl that goes home to an abused alcoholic dad...the 8th grade boy whose mom was killed by drunk driver...and trying to explain that "that situation is different?" This is about the students we are called to serve and this is about the students that are you called to LOVE.