A refuge from bad religion…

18 02 2011

I meet with A LOT of people. I’ve been meeting with all sorts of different individuals fairly consistently for the last 4 years and I remember a lot of the conversations. Most of the time I don’t remember exactly what is said or discussed but I could give you an overall theme of the meeting.

About 3 months ago I met with someone that said something I will remember for a while. I was interviewing a potential volunteer staff and began to talk to her about her past experiences in a different church. At Cornerstone, we hear a lot about people who are recovering and healing from what someone else on my staff calls “church crap”. Actually, as we discuss our Core Values at Cornerstone I think this may be a huge part of it. Our leaders are constantly explaining that “We (Cornerstone Fellowship) are a refuge of healing for people who have been hurt by bad religion.”

Well this person was definitely recovering from “church crap” and “bad religion”. As she explained her experiences and hurt from a previous church/pastor she made the following statement:

“Some pastors don’t have enough charisma to be cult leaders so they become pastors.”

I was a little taken back by this statement, to say the least. After she said what she did, she quickly pointed out other pastors she has met who are great leaders and are doing exactly what God has called them to. However, the statement she made sat with me for a while and as I reflected on it and thought through it a bit I realized a few thing I am thankful for.

1) I’m thankful to be a part of a healthy church. Cornerstone is definitely a refuge of healing for people who have been hurt by bad religion. Our staff and our congregation are filled with people rehabbing from past church injuries and when you become a part of this family there is a definite sense of peace and restoration.

2) I’m thankful for the pastors and leaders throughout my life that have sought God’s heart and will as they lead. I feel privileged to know extraordinary pastors and leaders that live their lives as humble servants. They have surrendered their lives to God and unceasingly allow God to work through them. I was raised by pastors like this, I was mentored by pastors like this, and I get to work with pastors like this on a daily basis.

3) I’m thankful for the opportunity to change that perception. Everyday I understand more and more the responsibility we have as leaders and pastors. God is doing incredible work in the Church today and it is happening through selfless, humble, and faithful leaders and I hope we continue to allow God to lead through us and move closer and closer to the shepherds described in 1 Peter 5:2-4.

“Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.” John 7:18

“Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.” Psalm 119:36

7 thoughts about JHighers

4 02 2011

Seriously, Junior Highers are crazy. It’s been about two years since I last led a JHigh program and I’d have to say I didn’t miss it a bit… until last Saturday. Jayme Foulk and our Junior High Team took over 200 students and staff to Mt. Hermon for JHM’s annual Winter Camp and they ROCKED it. I took my two interns up for the day to learn how to run a camp, to learn about who Junior Highers are (the future of the High School Ministry), and to spend some quality time investing in them. I didn’t realize how big of an impact the day would have on the three of us. I thought I’d share a few things that Junior Highers taught us just from being themselves.

1. Junior Highers are accepting. One of the first things my interns talked about on the way home was how refreshing it was to be able to walk up to a student and talk to them without having to win them over first. When you want to spend time with them they love you. You have to be very cautious with High Schoolers or else you might ruin your opportunity to say “hi” to them. Acceptance truly is refreshing and all we had to do was be present with the students.

2. Junior Highers are curious. They want to know what’s going on with you, your wife, your parents, and your dog, even though they’ve never met any of them. They have a thirst for life and knowledge and understanding. Yes, this can get annoying, but they genuinely care because they want to get to know you. This leads into our next two:

3. Junior Highers have a GINORMOUS desire for relationships. Junior Highers are curious and accepting because they desperately want to be accepted. They want to be involved in what is going on and want to be connected with someone. With all the change and inconsistencies in their lives a consistent, real relationship means the world to them.  I think this is true for most people, it’s just a lot more noticeable with JHighers.

4. Junior Highers are genuine and sincere. I don’t really think they know anything different. They are authentic and sort of just wear their heart on their sleeve. There is a sort of innocence in a Junior High student that they haven’t figured out how to hide yet. This can be tricky because some of the older ones are getting to the “too cool” High School stage. However, if you have the opportunity to meet a student that hasn’t gotten there yet, they’ll definitely let you into their life. Talk about refreshing. I wish we could all be as open and honest as an 11-14 year old.

5. Junior Highers are awkward. I don’t really know what this taught me. I mean, we all knew this already. I guess I had a little bit of compassion stir up and that led to what I learned. I don’t know how you could feel like you wouldn’t go to war for an awkward Junior Higher. I’m sure Jesus had some of the same emotions when he said in Matthew 19, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

6. Junior Highers know how to have fun. 3 Rockstars, 2 Monsters, 6 Candy Bars, and a bag of Sour Patch Kids. BOOM. This may not be the best description of why or how junior highers know how to have fun, but who doesn’t want to party with a person who calls that their midnight snack? My interns were shocked by how much fun they had and I honestly believe it was because they got to be crazy (and not so intelligent) kids again. Basketball in the rain? Awesome. Full contact steal the bacon? Bring it. Ice cream pie eating contest? Yes sir.

7. Junior Highers know how to worship. This video speaks for itself. (Click the link)


Our team learned a ton from our time at camp and are grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with Junior Highers and Cornerstone’s JHigh staff.