Why Cliques Don’t Disappear After High School

cluelessI hated high school. Dude, did I hate it. So much,  that the moment I discovered I could drop out, get my GED and go straight to college, I ran as fast as I could to sign up. I was an emotional mess and high school was daunting for me. My school educated approximately 3,600 students, 980 of which were in my future graduating class. I hated  feeling lost, I wasn’t challenged in my studies, and spent most of my time utterly confused.

What was hardest on me was the cliques. I was tall, awkward and to say I lacked confidence is a severe understatement. I constantly compared myself to other girls, tried my hardest to find my place, but I only found myself even more misplaced. The girls were ruthless, and loved only those who loved them. Those girls who were my friends in middle school found other places and spaces and boyfriends and activities. I simply roamed the halls, skipped classes, and felt alone.

Ironically, one of my favorite no-brainer movies is Mean Girls. It’s a story of a girl who moves to public education aftspartaner being homeschooled by her missionary parents in Africa. She discovers the hatred & the treachery of the realities of the clique. Oh and then there is Clueless…and of course our favorite SNL Skit with Will Ferrell….

And then there is the Breakfast Club. The absolute quintessential high school movie about cliques, and how at the end of the day…the end of a day at Saturday detention, we are all pretty much the same. This whole idea of exclusion is a universal struggle among all people. I felt like the poster child.

High school was tough and I thought by escaping the hallways, I would escape what I hated the most about them.  One of my Besties and I have had several conversations in the last few weeks about how our problems follow us no matter which state we attempt to escape to….or which school we try and ditch, or job we quit. I remember my first job in corporate America. I discovered rather quickly that high schoomean girlsl antics don’t go away after high school, they simply follow us. The haunting of the clique just seems to never go away…not even in the church.

It’s interesting to me how the entire ministry of Jesus was centered around abolishing the cliques, destroying the idea of exclusivity and challenging people to open their hearts to the least, the confused, the emotional mess. In the Kingdom of God, everyone has a place and it is one of honor. Yet within the Christian community, I witness these groups of people that sometimes seem impenetrable. The same women attend the same Bible studies, the same recovery people attend their groups. There are those who belong to this small group and those who belong to that volunteer group. And everyone has the same group of people they say hi to every week. We tend to only talk to those select neighbors, and those select friends. Seems we have missed the point completely!

We just don’t have time for everyone.

It’s just so uncomfortable.

We want church to be ours.

We want our evenings to be relaxing.

Three or four friends are enough.

We are afraid.

We are too worried about ourselves.

The reasons, the excuses, the rationale, all of it convince us that the safety of our clique is justified, because we are Christians doing life with other Christians.  It’s convoluted, and it’s not Biblical.

We must love everyone, and we must do it intentionally. We must go out of our way. Jesus went out of His way to love me, to give me a place to belong. After years of feeling alone, and even times now when it seems I have no place, I find a place in Him.  There are so many–lots of people–who need for once to NOT feel as if they are outside of the clique. It has to start with us. When Jesus called us to love others, it wasn’t intended to be from a distance. That command was so that we can love others in a way that make us uncomfortable, that forces us to depend on Him, that requires much of us.

Go to a different Bible Study.

Go outside after dinner and take a walk, and talk to your neighbors.

Invite your co-worker to sit with you at lunch.

Say hello to the lady at the grocery store.

We can never have enough friends.

Have that family over for dinner.

Everyone wants to be included.

Why do we love Facebook? Because anyone and everyone is there. Why do we want our kids to play for the YMCA? Everyone gets to play and everyone gets a trophy, everyone is included.

The cliques won’t disappear, but you can choose to not be a part of them anymore. You can choose to include and accept everyone. You can offer the love of Christ to every. single. person. within your reach. You have absolutely no idea who just might need it…it might be me, it might, in fact, be you.

LG|LP

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Why Baltimore Is Important To Your Ministry & Your Faith.

It started at 6 a.m. I was avoiding my day, and told myself I could scroll through Facebook and Twitter for 9 minutes, until my alarm went off again. Nine minutes turned into twenty as I went from story to story, opinion to opinion, and tweet to tweet about the horrific happenings in Baltimore. It wasn’t simply the reports that made my stomach turn, but I found myself holding my breath and outright angry at people’s perspectives–more precisely those of the Y Generation (people born between early 80’s &  the year 2000.

All day my thoughts simmered as my frustration slowly turned into anger. I knew I needed to write it out, because, that’s what I do. But my ideas were scattered, and the queen knows we don’t need to add another already spoken opinion, except to say this.

Your ministry is important. 

What you do every week when you serve kids or teenagers, or the parents raising kids and teenagers, is the absolute most important thing you can do for our culture, for our community, for our future. No matter the race, ethnicity, social status of where your church is or where you outreach, your calling and obedience to that call is what will begin to spread the only message that can actually redeem us from these situations.

I conversed with myself wondering if we are surrounded by one of the most ignorant generations ever. And I think, no, we are not. Riots aren’t new… lack of understanding, education and empathy…lack of peace…have destroyed corners of our country for centuries. What is different, however, is how wide and quickly anger and hatred is spread. And how people accept all they see at face value. That fire of negative spreads, and we can only change it by quenching it with love, true love.

In order for our world to change, we who have been called must stand in the gap with prayer in fasting. We must pour into teaching love more than creating games. We must grieve over the possibility that the children and teens we teach may never know experience true justice or peace. For the sake of the next generation, we must stand firm in truth, and teach Jesus.

The President is not the answer. 

The Mayor is not the answer. 

Donald Trump is not the answer. 

Some of these people could help provide temporary solutions, but what we see…the looting, the burning, the cursing, the hatred… is not because America had slaves, or really even that a community has been neglected with no government funding….what we see is a heart issue. A heart issue in people who are crying out for answers, who are alone and hurting, who feel purposeless and disconnected, who have been abandoned and need to be redeemed. The black, the white, the poor, the police, the leaders, All of them, as chaotic in their souls as they are creating in the streets.

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We have such a privilege to be able to speak into these broken hearts before they are so shattered all they see is hate. Our purpose is to show the world that there is absolutely, at the end of the day, after all the injustice, a better way. Our purpose  is to speak into the heart of that Police Officer who abuses his power, or the government officials who pad their pockets at the expense of the poverty stricken, or the child who is lost, or the store owner who is victimized, or the mother who is addicted, or the father who is bitter…they are in your church, in your pews, drinking your coffee, shaking your hand. In your hallways, your workplaces, your classrooms.

You living out your faith is important. Wherever you are, whoever you are. If you have a relationship with Jesus, now, now, now is the time. 

The power to raise the dead is in us. We are commissioned. We have our banner, we must wave it high. It is not just unity, or love, or peace. Those are good things. But we have the mystery, the key, they secret. We have the answer.  We have Jesus. Sharing that matters! Never give up. Let the hatred you see not bring fear or discouragement, but rather a charge to press on and press into the only one who can save us.

Jesus.

LG|LP

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Encourage someone, and share!

Church Talk: How to Blow It With Volunteers

If you know me or follow me, you know that my journey to find a new church was a long one…a painful one…an insightful one. There are a few churches where we attended that I actually thought “Hey, we could stay here!” I have served in ministry for almost 15 years, and I’m not one to sit on the sidelines. I jump into the deep end with both feet. I don’t need anyone to say “Hey you’re so awesome! Hey you have experience, please stay here!”  I just want to serve.  I believe in the church, and know the power of God and have dedicated my life to serve Him, with or without a paycheck.  Although my preference is WITH  a paycheck, I don’t muddle around over details such as those.

With the few churches where I truly thought we had a future, I would sign up to volunteer, make meetings with Pastors, offer my services–consulting, teaching, training…whatever was needed.  Including rocking babies or shaking hands. I was an able and willing person ready to give back. Besides, when you are in a new church, serving is one of the absolute best ways to meet people and begin building relationships. With great expectation I filled out forms, signed up online, did whatever I was asked and the most amazing thing happened:

NO ONE EVER CONTACTED ME.

I’m not even kidding. And not just once…several times. So this is a pattern in churches, a dangerous, and ugly road we are building.

I’m a grace-extender. I understand overworked and underpaid. But if you want to completely blow it with volunteers, just never contact them. I know it sounds like a “duh”! But I write this to encourage you to re-prioritize your To Do List, your daily meetings, and even your values.

Ministry is about people, and not just the people you serve. We often think if we are in the ministry of children, kids are our target audience. That couldn’t be further from the truth. ALL people are your target audience regardless of your ministry area. To say we need to group people is a very corporate perspective. As a ministry leader in whichever “department” you lead, people are the most important…this includes volunteers.

Volunteers are the absolute heart of your ministry.

They will stand in the gap, and be raised to lead in their own way. They are the entire reason you exist. As I train or teach or consult one of the greatest struggles is finding and keeping “volunteers.” Volunteers are simply people who are searching for the same exact thing you are: God. And God is in our serving. No matter how busy your day, or how imperative other tasks seem to be, volunteers should always be your number one!

When you don’t contact people back they won’t contact you. And you build a reputation, one that I had once. I was horrible at calling volunteers back, because everything else needed to get done. But volunteers are the “be” part of our ministry not the “do” part of ministry. They are the part of our ministry that builds relationship and draws us all closer together and closer to Jesus!

Pick up the phone, give them a call.

LG|LP

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P.S. For regular ministry encouragement–LIKE my FB Page!!—-> over there some where

If You Are A Human Being, Read This

I am about to give you your job as a Human Being this week. Not just a Christian, or a woman, or a man. This isn't a job for just those in ministry or those who are close to Jesus. This charge is not limited to a day or even every day of the week. This is not about getting paid, or fulfilling your calling, or purpose or living out your giftedness.

If you are a Human Being, your job is to

MOVE GOD'S LOVE INTO THE LIVES OF ANYONE AND EVERYONE WITHIN YOUR REACH.

WHY? WHY?!

Because Christians are getting their heads chopped off for loving Jesus.

Because innocent, unarmed kids are being shot.

Because the homeless population is growing.

Because people are being shipped to countries in freight containers.

Because teenagers are setting themselves on fire for 3 seconds of fame.

Because children are being sold and traded.

And your neighbors marriage is falling apart. The lady you sit next to at work, her daughter ran away this weekend. Your son has tried drugs and you don't even realize it. The lady with all the groceries behind you at the store hasn't been able to buy groceries for her kids for 6 weeks because her ex-husband hasn't paid his child support. The guy who cut in line at Starbuck's isn't thinking straight because his wife was just diagnosed with cancer.

If you are a Human Being, move God's Love.

You are the way it is moved.

You are the life that breathes it.

You are the reason someone will feel God's presence for the first time, or again, or in that exact moment it is needed.

Move.

God's.

Love.

You can inspire others on Instagram with #theglovemovement. Follow us at theglovemovement !!!

I’ve Tricked You

I go on these rollar coaster rides of blogging. For days and days I will post, post, post away with all my brillance and knowledge and wisdom and insight. Then something happens…and it stops. This time, it stopped for an entire month. I just needed to refuel. I am always in need of refueling.

All this time I’ve tricked you into thinking I’m something I’m not. I haven’t done this on purpose. In fact it took me years to figure this out about me. And so here is the BIG secret. The BIG trick…

I am an introvert

Yes it’s true. I actually prefer to be alone, I refuel in my solitude and there are times I just need to sit on my couch. Not because I’m lazy but because I’m an introvert.

For those of you who know me, you are thinking, “NO way!” But see here is the deal, just because I’m not shy, doesn’t mean I’m extroverted. In certain situations, I can shake hands and hug. I can lead groups and speak in front of thousands of people. I like being around people, I love hearing stories, and meeting new faces. But eventually there is a price to pay…and usually the cost is a week or so curled up in bed with a book, or chilin’ on the couch with the remote and a large Coke.

I’ve learned that blogging is a victim of the introverted world I battle with. I can write all day, in fact it’s one of the ways I process things, and refuel. But blogging is a different world. Blogging requires me to connect with the social media universe. If I want anyone to read it, I have to be the colorful bird in the twitter-verse, promoting and marketing. Tweet Tweet. I have to Facebook and connect with people throuh comments and online conversation. I sometimes hold my breath, those days I think I’m super brilliant, every time I look at my stats.

It’s exhausting.

Especially for an introvert.

So I take these breaks, and sometimes these longer sabbaticals. And then after I refuel, I am ready to get back to writing and connecting and sharing my thoughts. And I’ll do great, until I can’t anymore. I’m working through how to fix this. I have so much wisdom to share with the world (sense the sarcasm). Thank you for sticking with me and still reading my snippets on life. And forgive me?for not being such a great friend?

Are you introverted or extroverted? Comment so we can chat–I really want to know…and want to know you better! I’m changing, I’m growing. I need you to help me with that….

How has it affected you most? Can’t wait to know…