Posted by: Aaron Allison | November 21, 2014

The Church Needs Youth Ministry

I am at the National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta with our youth pastor, Matt Malone. It is great to see the vitality of this conference is the same as when I came as a youth pastor. Mark Matlock leads the 44 year-old organization called Youth Specialties that puts this conference on, so he does a lot of thinking about youth ministry. In recent years it has become popular to bash youth ministry, criticizing its effectiveness and even its Biblical mandate to exist. Mark gives some language that helps those of us who love and believe in youth ministry explain its importance.

I have summarized his five points:

Youth ministry is necesary because . . .

1. Youth Ministry assimilates a new generation into an intergenerational community.
2. Youth Ministry helps the church stay relevant.
3. Most people become Christians before they are the age of 18.
4. Unlike most entities, teenagers can fully participate in the church as teenagers.
5. Teenagers keep the church authentic, with fresh eyes to see Jesus’ way.

In August, I slipped into a youth service at CIL, and I was touched to see dozens of our students kneeling in prayer for persecuted Christians at the front of the church.  This picture is why I love youth ministry.

Youth Praying - 2014 - August

 

You can access the Matlock’s blog post, and more of his thoughts on these five points by clicking here.

Here is Matlock’s same five points in the words he has chosen:

1. Youth ministry is vital to helping teens integrate into the larger intergenerational community of the church.
2. Youth ministry resists the status quo, helping a church stay relevant in a changing culture.
3. Youth ministry focuses on inviting those who are not already part of the church into the deeper narrative of God’s plan for humankind.
4. Youth ministry reminds the church that teens are not marginalized members of the body, but are co-creators and conspirators in the divine work of the church, restoring life on earth as it is in heaven.
5. Youth ministry helps the church focus on the way of Jesus, which goes beyond tradition, dogma, and ritual.

Posted by: Aaron Allison | November 9, 2014

25 Years Ago East Germany Fell

Aaron at Berlin Wall - 2014On Nov. 9, 1989, Communist East Germany threw open its borders, allowing citizens to travel freely to the West. Joyous Germans danced atop the Berlin Wall.

I was fourteen, a freshman in high school, and did not fully realize the amazing history that was happening before my eyes on the television.

Yet, in my young life up to that point, I never dreamed that communism would fall.  In my mind, the East Germans were these amazing athletes who dominated the 1984 Olympics, and were ready to take over the world when the Russians unleashed them.

I never dreamed that by my senior year of high school I would be close friends with an east German exchange student who attended my high school, and would visit his home in the former East Germany in 1994. His family was lovely, and the East German people were just like us Americans.  They loved pizza, beer and techno music.

I never dreamed that in 2014 I would visit Berlin as a minister with some of my closest colleagues, touching the Berlin wall, and walking the streets around Brandenburg gate.  We marveled at a city once divided, that was now the cultural leader of Europe.

So what is the impossible that could happen in the rest of our years?

- A united, Christian Korea?
- The emergence of a true democracy in Iran?
- A secession of one or more states in The United States of America?

So what were you doing in November of 1989 when history happened before our eyes?

Posted by: Aaron Allison | November 8, 2014

I am so glad God is patient

hourglass

We are in such a hurry.  I am so glad God is patient.

The patience of the Lord appears many times in Scripture, but I was impacted by this concept recently while reading 2 Peter chapter three.

People were growing impatient with the delay of the Lord’s return, even scoffing at the concept (see 2 Peter 3:3-4).

To impatient people, the Spirit wrote through Peter:

Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:8-9 (HCSB)

God is patient by withholding His judgement.

God is patient when we are rebellious to His will.

God is patient with our slow development into Christ-like character.

God is patient with me.

I am so glad God is patient.

Posted by: Aaron Allison | November 5, 2014

The Next Election – Cynicism or Participation?

Nixon Resigns - NYT

In the 1970′s America discovered that their president had lied about a low-level burglary over an election that was not even competitive.

We have not trusted our politicians since.

From the “Iran-Contra affair”, to “perjury under oath”, to “no weapons of mass destruction”, to “the shame of Benghazi” –  we have plenty of reasons not to trust our political leaders.

VoteSo, it has become expected and socially desirable to be cynical. We don’t trust our leaders, because we are afraid to trust them.

While a dose of reality tempers our tendency to idolize, political cynicism is keeping too many people from participating.

Decisions are going to be made, why not be part of those decisions?

We the People determine the present and future of our nation.  So, if decisions are going to be made, why not be part of the process?

 

 

On this day after a big national election, how can you serve your country?

Will you become an informed voter?

Will you actually go vote?

Will you join a political party, volunteer with the election commission, or advocate for a political issue?

Will you support a future candidate?

Will you be a future candidate?

Will you participate, or play it safe and only criticize?

There has never been a better time than today – on this day after an election – to choose to be politically active.

As American citizens, we get to participate!

Posted by: Aaron Allison | October 31, 2014

History of Halloween and the Christian Response

Aaron Allison:

This blog gives a concise history of Halloween, and calls Christians to be thoughtful in this cultural celebration. As Christians, lets celebrate the Reformation on October 31, and praise God for the access we all have to God’s Word because of this movement!

Originally posted on Aaron's Angle:

Here is a teaching I have done in the past on Halloween.   Unfortunately, I did not reference where I got all this information, so any plagiarism is unattended.   The outline at the end is original:

Halloween’s unsavory beginnings preceded Christ’s birth when the druids, in what is now Britain and France, observed the end of summer with sacrifices to the gods.  The holiday is rooted in the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), which came at summer’s end.

Celts believed that on the night before the New Year (which began on November 1st), the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.

Samhain beckoned to winter and the dark nights ahead . . . pointing to winter as a season of death.  They believed Samhain, the lord of death, sent evil spirits abroad to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and…

View original 302 more words

Posted by: Aaron Allison | October 29, 2014

I am voting “Yes” on Amendment 1

YES ON ONEAmendment 1 to the Tennessee constitution is on Tuesday’s ballot, and I am going to vote “yes” for Amendment 1.  The amendment states that “Nothing secures or protects” an individual’s right to an abortion.

This amendment is a response to judicial activism by The Tennessee Supreme Court in 2000, when the court ruled that abortion access is guaranteed as a right to privacy. In the 2000 ruling, the judges eliminated a two-day waiting period for women, mandatory counseling, and a requirement that all second-trimester abortions take place in a hospital instead of a clinic. These preventitive measures that are not in Tennessee are used in states geographically surrounding the state.

Amendment 1 will take the power of determination out of the hands of the courts, and allow the people of Tennessee to make decisions about abortion access. If the citizens of Tennessee should decide in the future they do not want abortions to occur with ease – or, at all – they should have that voice.

the-new-york-timesEven The New York Times acknowledged last week in an article titled Abortion Capital of Bible Belt? Tennessee Voter Tests That Idea the liberal nature of the 2000 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling. The article states, “Both abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion forces agree that it created a level of protection for abortion higher than that afforded by the federal courts.”  This posture on abortion is not reflective of the conservative values in our state.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart.” – Jeremiah 1:5 

Posted by: Aaron Allison | October 24, 2014

“Dirty Words” This Sunday

What do you consider a dirty word?  There are words from our faith that we no longer want to hear – like sacrifice, authority, sin, holiness – to name a few.   In my new message series, we will look at Scriptures that deal with some of these words.  The next five weeks you will be challenged by the Bible to be the person God has called you to be.

Posted by: Aaron Allison | October 21, 2014

A Relational Life Is Costly

Our deepest desire is for a relational lifestyle. Our lifestyle does not leave room for relationships. This is the dilemma of life in the suburbs in the twenty-first century.

A life shared with meaningful conversation, and a sense of being known for who we really are, takes time. The relational life takes time. In our culture, time is money. It also takes time to develop and maintain a career, and the more productive you are, generally the more affluent you become. Taking time for relationships will cost you money (in the short-term). You will become less productive, which means you will make less money, and you will lose opportunity for advancement in your work.

LWN SelfieYet, once we pay the price for authentic relationships, the pay off is invaluable. The relationships we obtain are priceless. In addition, the benefits of authentic relationships are not just the intangibles. Long-term relationships are the doorways to the blessings of God. God moves through relationships. Almost every answer to prayer and kingdom opportunity that has come to me has occurred because of a relationship developed. I believe the phrase, “Our relationships today, are the answers to our prayers tomorrow.” So pay the price for authentic relationships because it will be the best investment of your time for tangible and intangible benefits.

Each month I meet with two groups of pastors (here is a recent “selfie” of one of those groups). These relationships are not based off of an agenda, an event or an obligation.  We simply meet to laugh, encourage and talk. Some months it seems very inconvenient, and almost unproductive.  Yet, the commitment to these fellow pastors as my personal small groups has contributed to my emotional health, my professional sustainability, and my overall happiness.  These men have made me a better husband, father, and pastor. Relationships matter!

Posted by: Aaron Allison | October 8, 2014

I am an Open-Minded Conservative

One of the great cultural myths in America is that every conservative individual is close-minded. While some conservatives may espouse beliefs without critical thought, many liberals do the same thing. In my case, I believe I have an open mind that listens to various perspectives on a variety of subjects. Yet, I have developed a conservative world-view based off thoughtful conclusions.

So, I believe through deductive reasoning:

- God designed the family, and biological determinations define the ideal family. Families work best with a father and mother, therefore traditional families should be encouraged by all of society.

- An embryo is a person with a unique DNA, the ability to feel pain, and rights that are to be protected. Our judicial systems will punish the harm of an embryo in some situations, and endorse the destruction of the embryo through legalized abortion. Are we to decide if an embryo is valuable based off the situation? No, God values all life.

- If people do not work, complex economies will fail. Our country was built on capitalism. An economy with more “takers” than “producers” will not sustain.

- Humans have abused the earth. Conservation of the planet makes sense, and should be considered a Christian issue. Christians should care about the environment.

- Pro-life Christians should be concerned not only with the unborn, but with the quality of life of the born.

- A pro-life Christian should be concerned with unjustified killing of the innocent through hasty capital punishment. The death penalty should be used rarely, with the greatest of necessity.

Posted by: Aaron Allison | October 4, 2014

Reflections on India

My five days in India was an incredible experience, and a true gift from God. My close friends Balakumar and Yamuna Mannar were incredible hosts, and their hospitality allowed me to experience Indian culture and opened great doors of ministry.

Indian - Thomas & Manar

I spent the entire trip only in Chennai (formerly known as Madras), but there was more than enough to see in this sprawling, exciting city. I enjoyed staying two nights in an Indian home, and experiencing the daily rhythms of life in that neighborhood. The idol worship that occurs through Hinduism was present everywhere. This was a constant reminder that these wonderful people need to know and accept the message of Jesus Christ. Pray for India.

I was thrilled to see that the message of Christ is advancing in the city of Chennai. Local pastors Abraham Thomas, David Mohan (see video below) and Sam Chadwick have built churches of thousands that are turning people to the living God. I was privileged to speak in each of these men’s pulpits, and these churches were thriving and filled with God’s presence. There are many other churches in Chennai, but more are needed to reach the millions who are not saved and discipled in the way of Christ.

The future is bright for India economically, politically and culturally. Yet, the greatest story could be the emergence of Christianity as the predominant religion. Statistically, there is much distance to cover to classify India as a Christian nation, but with the outstanding leadership of the church, and the fervent faith of the young people that already exists; there is great hope for the rapid spread of the gospel in India this century. Pray for India. The best is ahead!

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