A video that summarizes our mission trip to the Navajo Nation. We stayed in Ganado with the Ganado Presbyterian Church from Aug. 4th - 10th. It was a tremendous blessing to be used by God to bless the people there and to develop friendships with them.
Recently I read an article in WIRED magazine by Clive Thompson entitled Unsaving the Planet. In it he described what some refer to as the Jevons Paradox:
…in 1865, British economist William Stanley Jevons offered a skeptical take on efficiency. In The Coal Question, he wrote that energy-efficient technology has a backlash effect. By increasing efficiency we make energy cheaper, thus spurring people to use more of it. As Jevons pointed out, when steam engines became more efficient, the consumption of coal (for steam production) didn’t decrease — it expanded, because steam engines became cheaper to run and thus attractive for more and more things. – WIRED March 2012, p.42
That says a lot about human nature, I think. When we gain an efficiency because something becomes easier or cheaper, we don’t capitalize on those savings by becoming more frugal. Instead we take advantage of those efficiencies by increasing our consumption, coming to rely more and more on the cheap and readily available resources.
I think that has implications for ministry as well. Here’s a little parable I’ve been sharing with some fellow pastors lately in conversation. Imagine that a city has a problem with cigarette butts littering the sidewalks. The mayor, seeing this problem, hires a part-time street cleaner to pick up the butts, hoping that the sight of clean sidewalks will encourage his citizens to keep the streets clean. However, his move has the opposite effect. Seeing that someone else has cleaned up their discarded butts, they no longer bother to seek out an ashtray or garbage can and now causally flip their butts onto the ground knowing they’ll be picked up by someone else. Seeing the increased litter on the sidewalks, the mayor decides to bring the street cleaner on full-time. And the vicious cycle continues as people litter even more because it has become a consequence-free transgression.
Too often our first response as ministry leaders is to fill an observed gap by increasing programming or staff. We reason that if we plug the hole with a dedicated person, other stakeholders will join the effort as partners. However, usually the opposite happens. When people see that someone else is willing to do what they bear the primary responsibility for doing, human nature will usually drive them to readily hand off that responsibility.
This is especially visible in the area of children’s and youth ministry. I believe that the primary privilege and responsibility for children’s faith belongs to the parents (if they are Christians). A church’s ministries to children and youth should be seen as partnering with the parents and not the other way around. After all, the church has them for a couple hours while the parents have them all week long. We need to remember that parents come first so that our attempts to enrich our kids’ lives don’t end up weakening them.
Just a thought.
- Pastor David
This is an extremely thought-provoking video. Most people seem to be riddled with contradictions without even realizing it. Ray Comfort does a good job of pointing out those contradictions in people.
Most people value human life. But many also are pro-abortion. Contradiction.
Most people understand that they have lied, stolen, blasphemed, lusted (adultery), and hated others (murder). But they also think they are good enough to get into heaven (if there is one). Contradiction.
How can a 30 minute video cover the holocaust, abortion, and salvation in Jesus? Watch it and find out.
Think about it.
Okay, the video is a bit cheesy, but I really like it. The point it makes is powerful.
How often are we going through our daily lives making ourselves the center of everything? Aren’t we too complaining to ourselves all day? That’s what happens when we’re the center of our focus.
What would happen if we could see the needs of others? What would happen if we turned from only caring about our own needs and looked to how we could help others?
This is what God is calling us to do.
Philippians 2:4 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Think about it.
It’s Christmas time. You know what that means: Christmas lights on houses. Christmas songs on the radio. Christmas decorations just about everywhere. The malls will be packed, and you can see people everywhere rushing to buy all their presents for Christmas. As I look around and see all this emphasis and celebration of Christmas, I notice something ironic:Christ is missing from Christmas!
Think about it, how much time do you normally take to pause and reflect on why we celebrate Christmas? How much focus is there actually on Christ? Christ is the reason for Christmas, but somehow he seems to be missing from Christmas. When I did a search for “Christmas” in google images, there was only one picture that included Jesus in the first 6 pages. Out of the first 100 pictures, only one containing any reference to Jesus. Imagine if someone who had never heard of Christmas in their home country came to America, after observing December in America, what would they think Christmas is all about? They’d probably think: It’s about decorating trees, buying presents, and celebrating an old fat guy in a red suit who delivers gifts to people around the world while riding flying reindeer.
How did Santa Claus become the center of Christmas? Something wrong is happening when a fictional Santa Claus is getting more attention than Jesus. The holiday has now become largely secular, content with leaving Jesus out of Christmas.
This may be so for many Americans, but this is not acceptable for us Christians. We hold Christ not only as the center of Christmas, but the center of our lives and very existence!
This Christmas, make Christ the center of your focus. Not songs. Not lights. Not shopping. And certainly not Santa Claus.