Keeping our eyes open to The Way Things Are

I have always had an interest in The Way Things Are... in other words, I want to know what the actual truth is, regardless of who agrees with what. This caused me to be terrible for party politics, because I would argue with the higher-ups whenever I felt they were wrong. This is not conducive to moving up the food chain in those circles (though you do get great job recommendations, because they tend to respect you and want to see you do well... somewhere else!)

So, today I just wanted to recommend some good resources for seeing The Way Things Are.

First, here is an interesting article that wrestles with how schools and universities can prevent school shootings. They do in-depth research and observation to try to answer some questions about the way these things happen. It's pretty short, so take a minute to read it! Before the Rampage: What can be done?

Second, for all you aspiring pastors, youth leaders, and educators out there, I highly recommend this book. I used many of the things I learned in some sermons I gave at a youth retreat last year. The authors do exhaustive research on high-school kids in the U.S., and paint a bleak (yet, importantly, truthful) picture of the passionless nature of today's kids. Very quickly, the term moralistic therapeutic deism will come to have great meaning to you. The book is called Soul Searching.

Finally, as I've mentioned before, I have great interest in urban missions. It is important that urban missionaries and church planters have an acute sense of The Way Things Are if they are to be successful in speaking the gospel clearly to the huge varieties of people and backgrounds found in an urban setting. Harvie Conn and Manuel Ortiz do, I think, an excellent job of assessing many of these difficulties without compromising the gospel or the hand of God in outreach. Their book, Urban Ministry, is terrific.

Let me just encourage you to seek out articles and resources of this kind, ESPECIALLY in your area of ministry. If you are a teacher, look for articles and books that are observational, and not just theoretical. If you are in politics, look for case studies that examine actual cases of an issue you are researching, and don't just toe the party line. If you are a pastor or youth leader, UNDERSTAND your people. Don't just assume they will respond to the same things that drove you to Christ. Learn how to make the gospel speak clearly to their situation.

Of course, much has been written about not compromising the gospel, and I strongly agree with that. I am no fan of the Schullers and Hybels of the world. However, that doesn't mean we have license not to know anything about the people in our care.

Have a great day!

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