Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jon Kitna is the MAN!!

This is the best article I've ever read about an athelete who is a Christian! Jon Kitna, bring us to the promised land!! Or atleast the friggin' playoffs! (And please, no Jim Mora "Playoffs?" quotes.)

I'm tired of being relevant!

If you look around the church world today, the new buzz word is "relevant." Christians active in church building, music and leadership are all talking about being "relevant."

First of all, this term carries a different connotation than its true meaning. If you talk to Christians about being "relevant" they'll tell you all of this stuff about using video, how wearing suits are unnecessary, you HAVE to have a website and a blog and some really creative signage, using cool lights and having a great band, etc. So when I leave the conversation or the seminar, I automatically see being "relevant" as being "cool." So quickly, my mind goes to "I need to make stuff cool around here." But, can I really be relevant without all of that stuff?

Here's how the dictionary defines relevant:
rel·e·vant - adj. Having a bearing on or connection with the matter at hand.

So does lighting give me a "connection with the matter at hand?" For the church, is the matter at hand marketing or the hearts of men and women? Don't get me wrong - WE NEED MARKETING! The church has to find a way to cut through the cluttered noise that American culture is today, so I know we need marketing. Not minimizing that one bit. But what I'm not doing is over stating its need. We talk the talk of marketing and get people in the doors with our cool signs and clever marketing campaigns - but then what? People are in the door but have we made a bearing on the matter at hand? We've been seen as "nontraditional" but are we touching their hearts for the cause of Christ?

If to be relevant means to be cool, I don't want any part of it! If I want to be cool, I'd throw parties with half naked women and distribute free alcohol and drugs. I'd be "cool." But I want more than that - I want to influence! I want to encourage and create change!

Usually, when people or movements that are about CHANGE being their journey - they are COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT! For Martin Luther to leave the Catholic church, that was not relevant. When the great evangelists of the world came, they were not relevant. Abraham was in a polythiestic society and he began to believe in a monotheistic God, he was irrelevant. Nehemiah wanted to rebuild the walls of destroyed and hopeless city that was once an enemy to the government he served, he was irrelevant. Jesus came to fulfill the law and offer grace and love and to bring salvation in a time of strict adherance to the law and obedience to the religious leaders. He was irrelevant. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted to use non-violent protests to fight against violence and force used against people of color, he was irrelevant.

People who lead widespread change are not relevant. Relevance doesn't create impact. Relevance gives you market share. Relevance give you publicity. Relevance gives you popularity. Trailblazers aren't relevant. Trailblazers create change. The end result of what they do creates relevance. Relevance is merely the byproduct of a great change. Cheese is a byproduct of milk that comes from cows. If i were to own a farm, I wouldn't want to own cheese or even milk - I would want to own COWS! I wouldn't want to own the byproduct, I would want to own the thing that makes it. My goal isn't relevance, my goal is change. Relevance is just trying to catch up to the change. I'd rather create than catch up.

Agree? Disagree? post a comment.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A journey of Culture

Well, my world has OFFICIALLY been rocked! Not like Wanda from "In Living Color" but my world has been rocked in a different way.

I've recently become a fan of Erwin Raphael McManus. I like his communication style and all that. Plus, anybody chill enough to refer to himself by his FULL name is worthy of some attention. Not his 1st two initials - but his full name - he's a "g." (Retro 90's hip-hop term for those not in the know. To be a "g" is a good thing, just trust me.)

Anywho, I read one of his postings about broken people and he mentioned the concept of our "ethos" in our local churches. So I got to researching the word ethos and found a profound definition of the word.

e·thos [ee-thos, ee-thohs, eth-os, -ohs] –noun
the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period: In the Greek ethos the individual was highly valued.

WOW! The fundamental character or spirit of a culture! That REALLY got me thinking "what is the fundamental character of the culture in my church? What is the culture of my church?" Now, when I say culture, I don't mean color or economic background. In the context of my church and youth ministry, those barriers aren't there. Our church and youth ministry has bypassed the barriers of color and even denominational history to allow people to come together under the banner of Jesus! So when I mean culture I don't mean black or white or even hip-hop or rock. I mean the values, the closely held beliefs that influence the regular decisions. Is the culture of our church inviting for people who are messed up with tons of baggage and want help? Or are closed to just the people who already have it together? Are we a culture of authentic expressions of faith or do we as whole promote the ideas of just going through the motions? Do we genuinely love people or do we just tolerate them until they cross us? Are we a culture of servitude and generosity or are we selfish Christians and the world can suffer for all we care? Can people come in with problems and see people getting free and being whole or are we just a gathering place for hurting people making no progress? What kind of culture do we promote? What kind of culture do we live in and (as leaders) create in our church?

For me, this was earth shaking. So, I have begun to explore my own culture. As a leader, its my job to create the culture that I want see in my setting. If I leave it to the people, I may have a culture that I don't want. A culture that doesn't promote the fullness of God in the lives of people. A culture that doesn't encourage people to "get into the presence of God, to grab hold of His plans, purposes and promises and to go show every race and culture a living picture of God's love."

The next year will for me, my leaders and my youth ministry will be a year of a journey. A journey of culture. A journey to define culture and in many ways defy culture at the same time! This will be exciting!

My blog innitiation

Hello blog world.
It is I Steve Patton, known to the followers of my music as "The Czar." I guess I should start by telling you a little about myself.

- Born and bred on Detroit's West Side
- Rhema graduate (Class of 2002! But DON'T just dismiss me a "faith guy." I'm sssssssoooooooo not.)
- Emcee with SERiOUS mic skills. We'll that's what they tell me.
- Youth Pastor at New Beginnings Praise & Worship Center - The Mix is our name. We WILL be a voice of hope to wherever our light shines!
- Married to the most wonderful woman in the world -Nichole.
- I love all things Detroit (yes, even the Lions) and all things New England. My love is not equal though. I will route for The Sox, Patriots and Celtics UNLESS they are playing Detroit.
- My passions are culture, music, leadership, ministry and God. Ministry and God ARE NOT the same, that's why I list them separately.

Well, I guess you'll discover more about me as time goes on through these posts. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with the world. Enjoy.

By the way, I called this blog "Veracity Chat" for the obvious reasons of the definition - here we will discuss truth (because if I say it - ITS TRUE!!! Just kidding).