Friday, September 09, 2011

From Relevant Dude to Spiritual Father

Baby Boomers wanted pastors who were "with it," competent, efficient. A new generation is looking for something very different.

Josh, a twenty-something guy in my church, invited me to play basketball at Triangle Park. "A lot of guys from church will be there," he said. Without much thought, I said yes.

When I showed up in my JCPenney sneakers, I looked around the asphalt court and realized the last time I played 5-on-5, full court, was longer ago than these guys have been alive.

The game started, and I ran the court, filling the lane like my freshman coach had taught back when Dr. J was playing in the ABA. It felt good to go up for a rebound. I've still got it, I thought. Then I threw up an air ball. The next time I got the ball, it was quickly swiped away. In theological terms, my game bore the marks of the Fall.

After my team lost, new teams were formed (the main goal being to divide up the guys from Indiana, where they start dribbling a basketball in preschool), and my team was designated "skins." I'm so white and skinny, I look like the Pillsbury Doughboy after he married Jenny Craig. When I peeled off my t-shirt, some of the young guys hooted.

As I drove my minivan home that night, I thought, I embarrassed myself. I showed how painfully old and uncool I am. Plus, this wasn't doing anything in the way of ministry.

The next week, Josh asked, "You coming out to Triangle?"

"I, uh, no, I'm kind of busy," I said.

"Well, okay, but we'd love to have you."

Well, yeah, I thought. It's nice to have someone to score against. But then Nate stopped me at church and said, "It was great having you play this week. Hope you come again." Scott, one of the Indiana guys, said the same. So did another guy. I got more positive comments from that lame basketball performance than from most sermons I preach.

That led to other discoveries about ministry among twenty-somethings. There are some clear differences between the generation that beat me at basketball and my own. To read more, click here.

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