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Stephen Lutz | College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture

Photo Essay of Our Work in Myanmar

My friend and colleague Lois Himmelberger recently put together a photo essay of Calvary’s work in Myanmar. She submitted it to a contest with Leadership Network and it won an award! It tells a wonderful story of how God is working among the Burmese people, and how we’ve been able to partner with them through orphanages, theological education, and church planting. Check it out, and well done Lois!

How to Be Lonely

Lately I’ve found myself suggesting a social media sabbath to my students. Sometimes this will be occasioned by depression, loneliness, anxiety, or other ailments they’re describing. Other times, it just seems like a good application of the sabbath/rest principle to something that is increasingly omnipresent and over-demanding, even tyrannical. Nearly always, people come back and tell me the relief and rest they have experienced as a result. I have read somewhere that all this hyper-connectedness can have negative effects on our mental and emotional well-being. Anecdotally, I know many, many folks working with college students and youth are seeing an explosion in mental health issues. Simultaneously, we are becoming completely enmeshed with our technology. Correlation isn’t causation, but this video on “the Innovation of Loneliness,” drawing from MIT social scientist Sherry Turkle’s work, makes a compelling case that they are linked. What do you think? Is social media and connectedness (paradoxically) making us lonelier? I say yes.

Why Our Church Gave Away $25,000

This weekend, our church (Calvary Church in State College) gave away $25,000 in $10s, $20s, and $50s to everyone who worshiped with us–even the kids got some! Dan preached from Matthew 25:14-30 (the parable of the talents) and the importance of stewarding all our “talents” for the Kingdom of God.

We asked people not to use it on themselves, and not to give it back to the church, but to use it to bless somebody else. Already I’m hearing of people taking a few homeless friends out to eat, of taking a friend to coffee, and other simple-yet-powerful ideas. As fun as it was to see people’s reactions as they opened the envelopes, I’m more looking forward to the stories that come in as we seek to be “living proof of a loving God.” This message was part of the kick off to our One By One Initiative and what we believe will start the next chapter of our church’s life together!

Holiness and the King of the Campus

To follow Jesus means we will become like him. To be like Jesus is to be holy.

In this brief video, we explain why holiness isn’t an old-fashioned concept, but an always radical one. We talk about what it looks like today on a college campus, primarily, to be different and set apart.  From the book King of the Campus

The Five Spheres of Collegiate Life (video)

One of the things I hope to do for college students in King of the Campus is to broaden their horizons of what is “spiritual” and what matters to God–namely, everything.

So in the last third of the book, I walk students through a Christian view of five common spheres (or pillars) of collegiate life, to help them think through how they can follow Jesus faithfully in each of those areas.

In this video, I give a brief description of the 5 spheres of college life:

1. Church/Christian Fellowship
2. Relationships
3. Academics & Work
4. Leadership
5. Partying & Pleasure

I’d love to know what you think. Thanks to the House Studio for helping make this video happen!

The Modern University as Babel

One of the core ideas in my book King of the Campus is the assertion that there are striking similarities between the modern university, and the Tower of Babel of Genesis 11.

Watch this video for a fuller explanation of what I mean. I’d love to know what you think. Thanks to House Studio for helping make this video happen!

The Rest Can’t Wait (sermon)

 

CreativeCommons by Oliver Kendal

 

The Rest Can’t Wait (Sermon Audio)

I preached yesterday on the biblical view of rest and Sabbath. Above is the audio.

I didn’t get to all of my points, so here’s a bit more that I would like to add.

I heard a story once about a professor at a Christian college who was at a Saturday night dinner with other professors. All whined about the grading they had to do the next day. Suddenly it struck her that Christians would never tell each other, “I’m planning to commit adultery” or “I think I’ll steal something.” So why do we feel fine about dismissing our Creator’s commandment to keep the Sabbath holy?

The Way to Rest

1. Start with your heart
The way to true rest is not to simply stop working. If you can’t take a break, because of your job, your kids, that happens. Taking a day off tomorrow is not an option for many of us.
Rest is an attitude, a posture of the heart.
So we need to slow down–not just our activities, but our hearts.
In that sense, Sabbath Rest can and should permeate every day.
Start with your heart: In Devotions, Quiet Times–Prayer, turning off, taking a break–these are restful when we take them as opportunities to demonstrate faith and belief, and experience the Gospel. We’re telling ourselves, “Self, find your rest in God alone.” Write out a prayer that helps you to rest in the Gospel.

2. STOP your Labors (enter into that rest—something that takes faith to do)
“If you can’t take time to do nothing, you’re a slave to doing. Doing nothing is a radical, revolutionary act. It frees you from the universal slavery of our age: slavery to the clock. The clock measures doing but not being.” Peter Kreeft

Will you STOP doing something? One day each week in which you don’t work—including not checking email and such—is more important than ever.
Can also take rhythm of rest and Sabbath & apply it to something. Take a social media sabbatical; for me its more than a diversion, it’s part of work. I’ve always said, “I have to be on there, I can’t get off, for work!” That’s exactly the point! I’ll have to trust in God to do that!

3. Cultivate your resting (enter into that rest)
Will you START doing something, something that helps you rest in Jesus?
Adele Calhoun, in her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, talks about several practices that help us Rest—recognize your God-given limits by:
·      building in scheduled unscheduled time.
·      Take a nap. Take your sick days and vacation days—and rest on them.
·      Retreat for an extended time with God, away from productivity and busyness.
·      Offer God 3 cares for the day before your head leaves the pillow

Or, and this is radically counter-cultural, the discipline of “Slowing”—curb your addiction to busyness and inner hurriedness
·      Drive in the slow lane
·      Get enough rest—8 hours
·      Speak more slowly
·      Look people in the eyes
·      Chew slowly
·      Sit longer at the table
·      Schedule buffer time between meetings

4. Go farther and faster with God!
Many people have heard the story of Eric Liddell, the great athlete turned missionary. His story was immortalized in the movie “Chariots of Fire,” and people have been quoting his line, “When I run I feel his pleasure,” ever since.

You may not know that he also knew when NOT to run. The story is told (and I’ve lost the citation for this) that:
The Olympics in 1924 were in Paris. His best event, the 100 meters, was going to be held on Sunday. As someone with convictions about the Sabbath, Liddell refused to run in the heat held on Sunday and was forced to withdraw. The schedule had been published several months earlier, and his decision was made well before the Games. Liddell spent the intervening months training for the 400 meters, though his best time of 49.6 seconds was modest by international standards. When the day of the Olympic 400 meters race came, Liddell went to the starting blocks, where an American Olympic Team coach slipped a piece of paper into his hand with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:30: “Those who honor me I will honor.”
The 400 meters had been considered a middle-distance event in which runners raced round the first bend and coasted through the back leg. Inspired, Liddell raced the whole of the first 200 meters to be well clear of the favored Americans. With little option but to then treat the race as a complete sprint, he continued to race round the final bend. He was challenged all the way down the home straight but held on to take the win. He broke the existing Olympic and world records.
 
“In repentance and rest is your salvation; In quietness and trust is your strength”

Rest is God’s gift. It’s one of the ways we remember the Gospel, and practice it on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. So how are you resting? What are you going to stop doing, and start doing, in order to practice gospel rest? Virtually everything you’re busy doing can wait; but your rest can’t.

Five Reasons Millennials Aren’t Leaving the Church

Photo from HillsongYoungandFree’s Instagram http://instagram.com/p/jHFwjwOSiZ/

I have a post up at Pastors.com (Rick Warren’s ministry resource site) called 5 Reasons Millennials Aren’t Leaving the Church. 

We’ve all heard the statistics about millennials leaving the church. We know that many millennials have left after high school or college, and we don’t know if they’ll return. We know they tend to view the Church as judgmental, too political, too fixated on sex, and generally out of touch with modern science and culture.

Dwelling on trends can leave a pastor disheartened, because they are more than statistics. Each number has a name, and a face, some of whom we know personally. As someone with a burden for college students, my head and heart are frequently weighed down with the stories of those who have walked away.

But these aren’t the only stories. Not all millennials have left the church. Many have stayed. And in many churches, millennials are coming, or returning, in significant numbers. Here are five reasons millennials aren’t leaving the Church (and a bit about the kinds of churches they aren’t leaving).

To read the whole post, head over to Pastors.com

One Legacy (Sermon video)

5 Attributes of Biblical Discipleship

[This is based on a brief talk I gave to our college ministry leadership team yesterday on discipleship. Thought it would be worth sharing.]

Every church and ministry I know talks about discipleship. It’s certainly one of the buzzwords of our day. Most of the people I know in the “missional” conversation from a few years ago have transitioned to talking about discipleship. This is a good shift, because our mission is one of making disciples, and making disciples who make disciples.

I love this brief discussion of discipleship by Alan Hirsch. Watch it, it’s less than 3 minutes long but packed with solid gold nuggets:

I resonate strongly with Alan’s assertion that if we fail at discipleship, we’ve failed everywhere. We must disciple! It’s right there, the command to “make disciples,” in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). It’s Jesus’ parting words, so we should give them special weight. If we’re not making disciples, what are we doing? We may have people, but if they’re not following Christ, if we are not a disciple making movement, we’ve failed.

So now that we’re reminded of why discipleship is important, let’s talk about what it is. Let’s keep it simple:

1) Discipleship is about Jesus. It’s about following Jesus, becoming like Jesus, and knowing Jesus. It is Christ-centered, Christ-focused, Christ-powered.

2) Discipleship is personal and relational. You can’t be discipled or disciple someone you don’t have a relationship with! We see this in Jesus’ life. His strategy, to make sure the Gospel was proclaimed to all the earth, and that God’s people were sustained for thousands of years, was to focus on 12 people, and to further focus on the 3 within the 12. That’s up close and personal!

3) Discipleship is intensive. Because Discipleship is an outflow of relationship, of community, of fellowship (Greek word koinonia), it is intensive. It involves doing life together. It takes time! Jesus spent 3 years with the twelve. He didn’t launch a mass media campaign. He didn’t create an army or take over the government. He poured himself into twelve men.

4) Discipleship involves example. I’m a firm believer that there are many things that must be caught  as well as taught. We have a lot of teachers but not enough mentors. We have a lot of consultants but not enough masters and apprentices. We need disciplers who allow their lives to be seen so that their example can be followed. Can you say with Paul, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”? (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV)

5) Discipleship is intentional. It has a goal, a plan, a purpose, an agenda. Why? Because God has an agenda! Habakkuk 2:14 says that God will “fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of God, as the water covers the sea.” That’s a big plan! On an individual basis, he wants us to be conformed to Christ, so that we are fully like him! That’s the agenda. If God has an agenda, so should you.

So the questions for any Christian, is

1) Who is discipling me?

2) Who am I discipling? and,

3) Is what we’re doing incorporating the five attributes listed above?

This list isn’t exhaustive. What would you add? 

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