Tuesday, June 24, 2008


this sunday i began my career as a jr. high sunday school co-leader. i slipped into the role unexpectedly when i was playing foursquare with some neighbor kids at our church’s vbs kick-off block party. the red ball had bounced into the gutter full of street-juice, so after i grabbed it i went to the gatorade cooler to wash the sewage stench off my hands with some ice water. that’s when our church’s christian ed director pulled me aside: “josh, i was just hoping to get a chance to talk to you…” turns out summertime is a break not just for school kids but also for the regular sunday school teachers. i was happy to get a chance to hang out with some of the coolest, if not a little adolescently awkward, people in the church.

but it’s a heavy responsibility. helping anyone follow Jesus is, but all the more so when the people are young and influence-able. but it’s not an accountability i share alone; i have a very cool and like-minded co-conspirator taking on this responsibility with me. i’ve been playing with how best to get the kids to buy-in to the group for the summer, despite all the seasonal distractions (vacations, nice weather, being twelve, etc.). whatever their finished, pithy form, i’ve settled on a few goals for what i’d like to see happen in the group: i want the kids to dig deeper into the spiritual side of following Jesus; i want them to explore their emerging, christian identities; i want them to talk with our church-community about what they’re learning; and i want them to live out what they’re learning in loving service and proclamation. basically, i want us together to become more like Jesus in how we think, feel, and act.

but this is far harder to accomplish in a forty-five minute class than on paper. take this week’s lesson for example: the assigned texts (for the whole church–we’re doing a churchwide curriculum to foster conversation around dinnertables; this summer’s curriculum is built around the theme “things that make for peace”) were leviticus 25.8-55 and luke 4.16-21, the laws instituting the jubilee year and Jesus’ proclamation of jubilee. after a quick walk to our local dunkin donuts (a great way to win the hearts of six pre-teens!), we sat down, me with my coffee, them with their donuts and cool-lattas and croissant, to explore the passage.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Concerning Denominations

Last night i woke up around 3:30 am. I haven’t installed the new-to-us air conditioning unit in the bedroom window as of yet and yesterday was the first day in the chicago summer to feel like it spiked ninety degrees. So i was up in the not-yet-grey hours of the morning, dehydrated and unable to fall back to sleep.

Naturally, i turned to Karl Barth to keep me company while I drank a cup of decaf chocolate-hazelnut tea (good stuff) and sat next to the window. As I struggled through Church Dogmatics‘ thick prose, the distance between Barth’s germanic-reformed meaning of evangelical and my own rocky mountain, non-denominational take on the word kept pushing its way to the fore of my mind.

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