Wow, so much has happened in the past coupld of months...here's the 5-cent summary:
Moved from Anderson IN, a place we loved & lived for over 16 years. Came back to our Alma Mater to assume a staff role and a change in direction from 19 years of local church ministry. Loaded a moving van on New Year's Eve and brought my family to a small Eastern KY town, leaving behind a great place that wasn't exactly what I would call 'cosmoplitan,' but hey, we had a Target - so that's something. Pulled my 3 kids out of their school, away from their friends, and their HS music program that I think probably stacks up to the best there is. Not to mention that its the only town/church/school my kids have ever known since we've been blessed to have such a long stay at one place. Did I mention the 3-bedroom apartment with not so great insulation and a heat pump system that should never have been installed north of Atlanta, GA? I could rant a bit about how it hasn't worked at all (really...completely shut down) the last two nights as it dipped down to single digits...but stuff happens, and we earned our Boy Scout Polar Bear Badges in return!)
Now before you read into this...all 5 of you that regularly read this (you know who you are), I am not complaining at all! Truthfully, not even a hint of regret...just a disclaimer regarding why its been such a drought on this here forum (OK, so I've already lived here too long...)
And now its March 4th, two months later. And from everything I'm sensing, the family is doing well. OK, so we're occasionally cold. And we've given up a convenience or two. Kids are plugging into school (when they have it....a lot was missed due to snow), and we're starting to hone in on youth groups, etc. Wife and I have both hit the ground running with our roles at the school, and we seem to be in the 'sweet spot' of where we should be.
So, as blogs go, I've been a little preoccupied. Truthfully, a friend introduced me to Facebook, which I used to make fun of. Now I'm somewhat addicted, and have found it to be a terrific way to both find old friends and stay in touch with the masses. It has taken more of my time than I ever imagined. The first night I was on, a friend and former youth group kid said keenly "Welcome to Facebook. It will eat your soul." Pretty insightful.
Perhaps its just getting older, or maybe its the role I play in my new job. But the notion of reconnecting with friends and acquaintances from the past is more attractive to me than ever before. Around 16 years or so of my adult life have been spent in youth minsitry at two different churches. I am amazed at the number of kids that I have had in and out of my life, so many that I've even forgotten some (perhaps that's not because of the sheer number, but my increasing age!) But our paths keep crossing, and its enlightening to hear about their journeys.
What on earth does this all mean? Couple of observations. First, this social networking thing is bigger than I imagined, and appears here to stay. How can the Church harness it in a productive way, and not start something lame like "GodBook" or something (I'm guessing its already happened...). Second, we need people. I've said that before, and used it as part of my philosophy for small group ministry. But we really do need people. Yes, FB and other mediums aren't face to face interation, but those are still people typing those words on the other side. And our interactions with one another can be meaningful, helpful, encouraging, supportive....or mean spirited, etc. Is the Church paying attention? Are we learning anything? Are we taking a page from this phenomenon and seeing that somehow, someway, people need to interact, talk, share, joke, debate, encourage & be encouraged, etc? Is that happening in the local church en masse, or are we stuck in some other time? Third, I know a lot of folks who tend to run from culture. I guess its the assumption that it's all evil or something. So they don't go to movies unless they're G, the don't listen to music unless its K-Love or The Fish or something that could only be a Christian station, and they avoid or very much limit any Internet usage to email. I'm all for knowing what our kids are into, and being responsible parents - that's not my point. Rather, shouldn't we be the ones out there "in the mix", being Salt & Light? I know that many are, and I applaud it. We're engaged in meaningful dialogue with all sorts of flavors of people, some who are hostile to Christianity - often because of how Christ has been misrepresented to them somewhere along the way. Regardless, seems like a golden opportunity to be a part of the transformation and perhaps redemption stories that some of these folks might tell to their grandkids one day.
After all, those are real live people out there typing those words.