When the saints gather on their own

So yes, I didn’t post over the weekend. I am not exactly sure whether that is common among bloggers or not. I write out of passion, and I don’t get paid for this so I thought it wouldn’t be too horrible. Also, I believe that every creative skill requires a time of rest, recharge, and recovery to continue the task of freshly approaching new ideas, new challenges, and in this case, new thoughts to turn into writing.

But this past weekend was a pretty unique and very satisfying weekend. I went camping with some very good friends from NC State University (our glorious alma mater). While camping, we were the victims of an evil, hungry raccoon who decided to steal our bread over night–so much for PB&J sandwiches the next morning.

But one great blessing of going out to the wilderness for a couple days is the blessing of getting away from everything–if not everyone–and the opportunity give one’s mind and spirit the luxury of being forced into moments of meditation and deep thought. That is one aspect of camping that I have always been very grateful for.

There are few things as satisfying in “man culture” as having a few guys, sitting around a fire, going back and forth between fun and serious conversations about life. The great thing about a situation like this, but all the guys around the fire being Christians and followers of Jesus, is that those moments of serious conversation have the ability to turn into excellent and memorable instances of edification and the sharpening of iron against iron.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with youth groups. Actually, I am very grateful that my church growing up had an excellent youth group and a very dedicated, professionals, and passionate group of youth leaders to lead it. I believe that youth groups, given the specific variables of the local church, can at times become essential ministries to hold on to and build up within the local church. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with men ministries or young adults ministry. I am very supportive of both. However, the one issue I want to emphasize today isn’t the existence of youth groups, sex-specific ministries, or age-specific ministries, but the necessity for the individuals within these ministries to grow beyond them. Let me expand on this.

If  every single young man at your church were involved in a solid network of friendships with other young men where they were all being encouraged, edified, built up, made a disciple of, and equipped for leadership, then your church would most likely not need a men’s or young men’s ministry. That ministry’s work is already taking place on its own–the Christian men at your church are all doing what God wants them to be doing. To use a more extreme example–and in no way realistic–if one-hundred percent of your congregation is between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, you most likely wouldn’t be using church assets wisely by spending tons of money and resources of a full-blown senior citizens/elderly ministry. Does that make sense? So a church should always be willing and open to embracing and starting new ministries when the need becomes apparent. But if the need isn’t there yet, there are other areas where the church can focus on.

Back to the issue of men’s and young men’s ministry: even though the role at many (if not most) churches is essential, what we want to work towards is allowing people to build the type of relationships that will, in one way or another, make the ministry irrelevant. Once again, this doesn’t mean that you are trying to kill the ministry, but we have to be honest with ourselves in our need to work towards every young man, youth, young adult, or church member to grow beyond the ministry itself.

This past weekend, while we were all sitting around the campfire, a couple of us were conversing on this and we realized what we were doing at the precise moment, pure, simple, and honest fellowship between young Christian men, was what men’s or young adult ministry is all about. Whether through campus ministry at NC State, or through young adult ministry at our local church, we had been given the opportunity to meet and from that, set out on a weekend camping trip, which God used to help us grow as friends and as brothers in Christ. What more could we ask from young adult/campus ministry! (except for a few people getting married here and there, haha). Isn’t this the ideal goal–for ministry to take care of itself? Isn’t it a beautiful thing when the saints go beyond the limitations of the local/physical church and have “church” wherever they may be with fellow believers?

I am sure there is room for criticism in this point of view I hold. There are always grounds for criticism. But one thing we should always avoid and fight is the temptation which is to keep a branch or a specific ministry alive just for the ministry’s sake. Just like charities and social justice organizations (even though some of these fall for the very same temptation), we should strive to end the need for the very service and blessing we are attempting to provide.

 

Be blessed.

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