The Collateral Damage From A Youth Pastor’s Sexual Sin

Last week, Leadership Journal magazine posted an article penned by a youth pastor who groomed, then sexually abused a girl in his youth group. He is now in prison for his crimes. The anonymous article was saturated with a self-pitying tone,  some horrifying reframing of his sin (statutory rape is not an "affair"), and a stunning lack of concern for the young woman upon whom he preyed. It took a couple of very intense days of social media activity by those infuriated by the platform given to a … [Read more...]

Youth group as “discipleship incubator”?

Parents, if your older teen or young adult child was in a church-based or parachurch youth group during their high school years, I'd value your response to the questions below. If you are a young adult who logged time in your youth group, I'd like to hear from you, too. (And oh yes - I'd love to hear from past and present youth pastors, too.)Two questions: Did the youth group experience help or hinder the process of "owning" your/your child's faith? Why do you say so? Yes, I know there … [Read more...]

Hung over after Holy Week, Church Leader?

Dear Church Leader,Are you hung over today?No matter what your church tradition, you're coming off the most intense worship schedule of your Church calendar. Nothing compares to Holy Week, not even the Christmas season. If you're shepherding a liturgical church, you've had a long run-up to holy week, beginning with Ash Wednesday 47 days ago. But even if your congregation doesn't add additional services during Lent, this past week has probably been packed with anything from … [Read more...]

A Plea: Listen To The Voice Of Grief

Last Friday, Christianity Today's Her.meneutics blog ran my post entitled "Like Valerie Harper, We're All Terminal". In it, I contended that we in the Church talk a lot about eternal life, but we stink at helping each other deal with death. After I wrote the Valerie Harper post, but prior to it being published, I received a series of emails from a young ministry wife I'll call "T". I referenced her story briefly here.Because of her life circumstances, "T" requested that I not share her name. … [Read more...]

When Theology Becomes An Assault Weapon

What appears to be pristine theology, presented in user-friendly form, may in fact be a deadly assault weapon.A young friend was struggling with how to trust God as she faced infertility. She didn't feel as though the Ladies Bible study crew at her church would be the best place for her to process her questions and emotions. I suggested we read a book together - something that could shape our conversation and our prayers. I offered four titles addressing the subject of trust, a couple of … [Read more...]

Pray For The Johns Day

There are many worthy organizations working to end human trafficking and sex slavery. These efforts refract the love of Jesus into dark, difficult  places and carry out his ministry of setting captives free.The thing is, those who sell their bodies for money or drugs are not the only captives here. Their customers - the johns - are captives, too.Anna Broadway, a fellow contributor to Christianity Today's Her.meneutics blog, launched a prayer initiative last year called Pray For The Johns … [Read more...]

O Come, O Come Emmanuel | Lament

O come, o come, Emmanuel,  And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here  Until the Son of God appear.  I am lost; my exile is a homeless home. The brightness of your promise fades, early sundown on a cold, dark winter afternoon. God-with-us, where are you? Oh, come, our Wisdom from on high, Who ordered all things mightily; To us the path of knowledge show, and teach us in her ways to go.  I am lost and this kind of lostness is compassless chaos, borderless prison. Promises of a way … [Read more...]