5 Things We Need to Remember


Over the last 48 hours I’ve experienced the full gambit of emotions and have seen inspiring and terrifying responses from people all across the political and religious spectrum. In my attempts to process where I am at, what I believe, and how I move forward, I’ve written down these five things I know to have been true before the election and will continue to be true.

There has never been and will never be an obvious or clear “Christian” vote. Politics, and people in particular, are far too complicated, nuanced and multilayered to propagate the notion of “obvious” or “clear” votes for all Christians. There will always be faithful and thoughtful followers of Jesus who vote differently. The Church has always been built on diverse people. This diversity cannot be avoided. We must remember there has only been one clear embodiment all that we should desire and place our hope in, Jesus, and He allowed himself to be murdered by a mob consisting of all political and religious affiliations. Since Christ, every person with any degree of influence has held (and will hold) unimaginable brokenness as well as potential for good. It is important to recognize this in ourselves and others.

Recognize and call out the humanity in all people. As I said already, people are incredible complex and multilayered. We must not reduce a person’s or group of people’s humanity to an oversimplified caricature based largely on our assumptions of who we think they are or what their motivations might be. We must stay away from broad brush generalizations and keep ourselves from creating false dichotomies (i.e Vote for Hillary or accept that you’re a racist. Vote for Trump or accept you’re a baby-killer.) which do nothing except dehumanize, over-simplify, and further entrench divisions between people. Recognize and call out people’s inherent good as image bearers of God by bestowing honor, dignity, and grace upon while consistently inviting them to join you in a deeper and more faithful pursuit of holiness, righteousness, and justice in our lives.

Do not become what you were afraid of or hate in others. One of my biggest fears if president-elect Trump lost was that he would refuse to accept the results of the election and, even worse, those who support him would refuse to accept the results as well. While we have avoided this scenario, #NotMyPresident has been trending real strong on social media and protests have begun all across the country. As Christ-followers, and really as a nation, regardless of who you voted or why you chose not to vote, we must be self aware enough to not exhibit the qualities we are most repulses us in others. We must not disengage or close ourselves off and/or pridefully gloat and kick others while they are down. President-elect Trump is our president so together we must fervently demand/expect and encourage/call out the best of him while he is in office.

Christ stands in favor and opposition of all of us. Let us not over complicate this matter. The cross, that we as Christians hold central to all we believe and all of who we are, stands as the exclamation point on this statement. I’ve learned this from Mike Erre as I’ve listened to his podcast. We must remember tChrist leads with grace for all people on every issue while simultaneously show us where we are wrong or coming up short on every issue as well. This is what the cross emphasizes. He leads with grace by willingly and voluntarily giving up his life but in that very act places the evil within all of us in the spotlight. We need to approach our views of and conversations with people with the confidence and humility this understanding brings. In this recognition there is room to believe that celebration does not vilify grief and that grief does not shame celebration.

We must seek the Kingdom of God in tangible ways here on earth as it is in Heaven. Taking all four of these thoughts into consideration, we recognize there was never, and will never, be a candidate who expedites the manifestation of the Kingdom of God hear on earth. It will always grow as a seed from the ground through the expressions of love, pursuits of justice, acts of compassion, and expectations for righteousness from those who stand as one in Christ. The kingdom of God, as described in the Bible, has room for ever tribe, nation, and language. We need to create room at our tables for all people so that there can be a recognition of the complexities of life, dignity in all people, the grace and admonition of Christ in our lives, and the Kingdom seeds bearing fruit in all places.

I need your help believing and living into these five thoughts because I know I have failed in many ways and have significant blindspots. Lets we walk forward together in this as we break bread of fellowship, drink the wine of sacrifice, and experience the freshness of Christ’s love, grace, and God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven.

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The Secret Behind Becoming a Radical Christian


Longevity.

There it is. I wish it was something that was deeper and more profound. I wish I had some witty antidote or could break new theological ground in it’s unveiling or even wish that I came to me in a vision that I can now share with the world. But truth be told – I’ve learned the secret behind becoming the Radical Christian that is so hotly talked about and debated these days simply by sticking around.

Why did we start listening to some southern white boy with dreads, dawned in clothes he made himself, living in the ghettos of Philadelphia? Because it was crazy. Why do we keep listening to Shane Claiborne? Because he’s still living there. He’s still making his own clothes. His still championing the poor, the Gospel, the messages he was espousing since day one. He’s still there.

Why did I read some book that challenged everyone’s understanding of God’s crazy love, written by another Southern California mega-church pastor? Because it was a New York Times Bestseller and I like edgy things. Why do I keep listening to Francis Chan for wisdom and council? Because he’s continued to press further and further into the vision that Christ has placed in his heart and the message on placed in his mouth.

Why do I heed every word about faith and church that comes from my 93 year old grandfather who does little by way of today’s “radical faith” definition? Because he’s shown a dedication to his community of faith that is unmatched and unseen any where else in my life. He’s been a bedrock voice, support, challenger, and encourager in his family of faith for more years than I can imagine.

What is it about my grandmother’s life that humbles my greatest theologies, paradigms, programs, and experiences in ministry? Her 50 years of teaching Sunday at the same church. If I’m conservative and say she had 6 kids every year she taught Sunday school, that’s 300 kids the spent an entire year with! Judging by the attendance at her funeral a few years back, she had well more than 6 kids each of those years.

We debate what makes radical faith. We die on hills we call social justice, faith alone, modernity, post-modernity, depth in tradition, life in relevancy, and a thousand more hills with a thousand more names. Here’s the deal: We worship a God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He’s sovereign over that which makes your soul burn deep and bright and hot for the Gospel of Christ and his Kingdom come. Yet, whatever it is that is burning deep in your soul leading you to make great sacrifices, go on great adventures, invest deeply, and submit continually here’s my plea: STAY WITH IT!

In four years, my parents will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. In a country where approximately half of all marriages end in divorce, 40 years of faithful marriage is radical. In a country of church shopping, splitting, and reinventing 50 years of faithful attendance, service, and membership is radical. In a country where everyone wants to be the change in every #trending cause, 20 years of dedication to serving the homeless, advocating the end of human trafficking, or raising generations whose faith sticks past adolescence is radical. If we set out to be a radical Christian today. We can call myself radical today. If we set out to have longevity in our faith, mission, and call in Christ, we’ll be remembered as a Christians who undeniably lived radically.

Complaining About My Gold Medals


Imagine this: Michael Phelps wins his 18th gold medal. He stands on the podium, gets his medal, watches our flag be raised, but has is noticeably frustrated or annoyed. Then in the press conference the reporters ask him how he feels about winning yet another gold medal to which he responds in an outburst, “The whole race was unfair! The swimmer in the lanes next to me kept splashing me and running into my lane! Not to mention I’m pretty sure my touch pad was broken because I swear I got a faster time than it recorded. And another thing, was that water colder than usual? Seriously, I have goosebumps, how do they expect us to swim in these conditions!”

Ludicrous right? Who wants to hear the most decorated winner in the history of the Olympics complain about a race in which no one else in the world could finish before him. Take your medal. Wave to the camera. Move on. You don’t get to complain about being a victim when you keep coming out the winner.

In the past 30 minutes I’ve taken two significant blows to my near social and financial future. A new friend just found out him and his family are going to be moving to San Diego and the tire repair man said he can fix the problem I called about no problem, but he saw a problem I hadn’t called about that he can’t fix. Awesome. So stoked. Is today a Monday?! Why is this all happening to me?!?!

In Luke 6:27-36 Jesus calls us to something greater than just being nice to people who are mean to us. He calls us to love them. Not just in our minds but in our actions. When we are in a position to actually and literally love those who make life most difficult for us something amazing happens, we reject idea that I’m a powerless victim and respond with empowered love and grace.

A few thoughts: Often times we believe we are victimized by people as well as circumstances. Both can be our enemies. I can think of people who I would consider enemies because at my worst I feel like life would be easier without them. The same goes with circumstances. Also, there is a difference between acknowledging and processing the pain of being on the receiving end of hurt and living in the place where we feel hopeless or helpless to be a part of any fruitful life after that experience.

Let’s remember a few things. What was it that Jesus told his disciples about the hatred and hardships that are to face us in this world? “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Also, as children of God we are co-heirs with Christ. What then is our inheritance? Eternal life as sons and daughters in the Kingdom of God!

God has written a new story for those who have placed all their belief, faith, and lives in him. That story ends with Victory. Redemption. So next time I feel like I’m due a little pity party or feel like I am a helpless and hopeless victim of life, I’m going to picture Michael Phelps complaining about all his gold medals. How embarrassing he would feel at the end of his career looking back on that moment. I’m thankful that what I have in Christ is greater than 18 gold medals, and I really don’t want to be the guy who complains when I already have everything.

Delighting with Dad


Last weekend a girl who is going to be a senior in high school asked me what I have learned since becoming a dad. Whew, big question. At least she gave me the courtesy of a whole 45 seconds to think of an answer before I got to my car. I didn’t know how to encapsulate all that I have learned in that moment, but this past Monday God revealed a huge piece of himself to me through the lens of my own role as a father.

While talking about what it means to be child of God with some college students I remembered one of the great moments of my days, the moment when my two year old looks up at me and says, “I DID IT!” For Brylie everything that she does on her own, or perceives to have done on her own, is a moment worth celebrating! Right now these joyous celebrations take place about 25 times a day, each no less worthy of a parade than the last. My greatest moments as a dad are to be there with my daughter in her delight!

Then I began to think of the many friends I have who grew up without an earthly dad. I’ve heard the stories, seen the looks in their eyes, and felt regret in their hearts when they talk about the moments of delight that were not able to be shared with their own dad. It’s heart breaking. I thought, “What if my daughter did something that brought her great delight and she turned to say, ‘I DID IT!’ and Christina or I weren’t there to delight with her?” There have been those moments where she runs from room to room looking for one of us to share the moment with. I cannot imagine not being there.

For the first time in my life I was able to articulate one of the great truths about being a Child of God. Beyond just having our Heavenly Father around to comfort us in the dark days of life, we have a Holy Father who DELIGHTS WITH US IN THE BRIGHTEST MOMENTS OF LIFE! Think about that for a moment! How many times in my day, week, or year, do I do something that I legitimately think is awesome!

Making it down the ski slope with my snowboard still attached to my feet! I DID IT!

Introducing myself to that person I keep seeing at Starbucks, who is clearly hurting, just so that I can call them by name when I say “Hi!”. I DID IT!

Saying no to something that keeps me out one more night so that I can be home with my family on what ends up being an average night just to remind me and them that they are my priority. I DID IT!

Writing two blog posts in a week! I DID IT!

So many of us get lost in our celebrations or find the joys in our life leaving us a bit short because we run from place to place, person to person, addiction to addiction looking for someone or something to delight with us. Our soul is teased and is busting at the seam because there is no truer fulfillment in our delight than with when we celebrate with the one who knows fully the magnitude and process of what was just accomplished. The one who was there from the beginning, who saw potential in you and called it out, and the one who, in that moment, allowed you to be apart of accomplishing something great.

There are so many moments that our Heavenly Father wants to delight in with us, because He is a part of every single one of them! In every moment he is there working with us, standing behind us, sitting next to us, call us forward, and when we do things right, it is worth celebrating!

Be attentive this week in the moments where you can turn to your Heavenly, Ever-Present Father and say, “I DID IT!” so that the two of you may delight together as Father and Child.

For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

– Zephaniah 3:17

I’m Trying To Ask For Too Much


Christina and I were talking with our friends Isaiah and Kat Whelpley when we began talking about the things that we pray for. I was telling them how uncomfortable I was praying for specific healing and for specific movements of the Spirit. Who am I to try to manipulate the will of God? Finally at one point Kat said something I’ve never forgotten.

“Evan, when I get to heaven, I hope that God tells me that I spent my life asking far too much of him. I would rather him say that then have him ask why I asked so little of him.”

My gut reaction to what she said was to tell her how backwards her statement was but then I realized the beauty of what she had said. God would never tell us we were asking too much of him because God filled the whole Bible with commands, encouragements, and stories showing us his great desire to be everything to and for us!

It’s amazing, as I look back on this past summer, how little I actually ask of God. I mean, there’s been some major stuff that has happened this summer and decisions I’ve made that will have lasting influence. On the flip side there are things that I never gave a second thought to whether or not I should be seeking the wisdom, provision, or rebuke of God.  Maybe I have this innate desire to show him how capable I am. Maybe I want to free him up to help all those big prayers from people in dire circumstances. Wouldn’t God get frustrated if I got dibs on his time/provision/power just before an orphan from the Congo prayed for safety, shelter, family, and healing? Whoops, my bad.

I was able to worship with an old community of friends tonight and was reminded the subtle dangers of vague and ambiguous prayer. In my general prayers for health, wealth, and blessing or my ambiguous requests for patience, love, and strength two things tend to happen. I lose my sense of trembling and awe in the presence of God because it becomes increasingly harder for me to see or recognize the answers to these prayers. Also, in the midst of vague or ambiguous prayer I become increasingly self reliant because these prayers are generally a blanket covering for things that I know I can manage if I get in a real bind.

Tonight we read passages out of Luke 8 tonight and saw how boldly specific peoples’ requests, statements, and actions were of and to Jesus.

Keep my daughter from dying.

Heal my bleeding.

We are going to drown!

Even a demon says, “Do not torture me!”.

All statements that leave little room for ambiguity.

Hebrews 12 says that Jesus is the initiator and perfecter of our faith. Within my prayer life lies a very clear barometer of my intimacy and faith with my walk with Jesus. I believe that one of the greatest ways Jesus initiates faith within me is through prayer. As I pray He reciprocates through gifts of visions, knowledge, and calling that speaks to what lays ahead of me. He then perfects my faith when I see that which he revealed to me come to pass. But between the initiating and perfecting lies my work of believing. Jesus gives me the boat, oars, wind, compass, and lays before me my destination, I need to be the one who pulls up the anchor.

I can never set God up for failure through any of my prayers. His reputation is not at stake every time I ask him for specific healing, provision, reconciliation, vision, or wisdom. What is at stake is the depth of faith I am willing to live by and the amount of new creation I’m going to experience by the Creator.

Yeah, this week I’m going to spend all my time trying to ask God for too much. Pray for me. My week may have a few of these moments….

“Where is your faith?” Jesus asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this?” Luke 8:25

Intergenerational Baccalaureate


This past Sunday I was privileged to be a part of and witness one of the clearest pictures of the significance from intergenerational discipleship and investment I have ever seen.

Normally this is a Sunday where ministry directors say their last words of encouragement, challenge, and inspiration to their graduation class. I knew I wanted to speak to our grads about their identity in Christ and in our family of faith. I feel such an urgency to speak of this because of its truthful significance in my own life as well as the clearness of the research Fuller Youth Institute has released in their Sticky Faith material. We have seen and heard stories backed that tells us that within the first two weeks of our seniors’ post-high school ventures they will accept labels, friendships, and social circles that will largely shape the next four years of their life.

As I was preparing for Sunday, in a moment of Spirit-filled creativity, I had this idea. I would read Ephesians one, a passage saturated in truthful description of who we are in Christ, to our seniors. At the same time I would have our church body participate in holding cardboard signs of each word of identity description Paul uses.

It was a beautiful moment to have FOURTY-ONE people from our congregation ranging in ages from my daughter who is 2 to their past Sunday School teachers who are in their 60’s and 70’s. After I was done reading this passage we had our senior’s stand, we prayed for them, then everyone holding a sign walked out and gave it to a graduate with this picture attached to it.

Image

It is a word cloud of Ephesians One on top of our seniors sharing their wisdom to our underclassmen on their last night of high school youth group.

All I had to do that morning was read scripture & remind them who they are in Christ and in Community. The strength of this morning was found in the imagery of the intergenerational connectedness that these kids have with the church and that the church has with our kids.

I’m thankful for Fuller Youth Institute, Kara Powell and Sticky Faith, for allowing us to be blessed by their research and creativity which really has helped our church emphasize and celebrate our intergenerational investments. Also, and ultimately, thankful for our church. Nearly half the people who were holding signs volunteered on their way into the sanctuary.  It was a beautiful picture of who we are as a church, the body of Christ, and a family who walks together in raising and discipling all generations of believers!

A New Type of Creationist


This past weekend I had the great privilege to be a part of an amazing event in the lives of 10 young men. I was asked by a young man in our high school group if I would present him at Eagle Court, the ceremony where he and nine other Boy Scouts receive their Eagle Scout honors. Truth be told, I had no clue that Boy Scouts still existed until two years ago when I moved to this community so this was a whole new world for me to be a part of and I was amazed by what I saw.

For the better part of 4 hours I saw fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and mentors speak affirmation and blessing over the whole body of work that represented each of these 10 Eagle Scouts’ work to get to where they were. Yet there was something more to what was being said of each young man than just listing their accomplishments. With each presentation and affirmation, whether spoken in front of the audience of about 200 people or spoken privately in the courtyard afterwards, these adults were speaking into the future identity of who they believed these young men were going to be from this day forward. It was a time for blessing, but it was also a time of commissioning.

Henri Nouwen wrote this in his book Life of the Beloved:

“To give a blessing is to affirm, to say ‘yes’ to a person’s Belovedness. And more than that: To give a blessing creates the reality of which it speaks.”

Here’s two things that have been revealed or reaffirmed in me after being a part of last weekend’s Eagle Court.

Parenting must be done in community. There were so many adults who invested into each of these young men to help them get to where they were able to receive their Eagle Scout. I heard so many parents publicly thanking troop leaders and other parents of scouts for filling in all the gaps that even the best parents still can’t fill in raising their kids. This is true for Scouts as well as in Christianity. As parents we desire that our kids’ faith sticks with them for a life time and the best way to do that is through the utilization of the “aunts, uncles and grandparents” in our faith communities. Fuller Youth Institute has done some amazing work to help parents and faith communities be more equipped and empowered to build a sticky faith within the kids of our families.

I desire for everyone to be a Creationist. I’ve been working with teenagers for nearly eight years now and the ceremonies of this past weekend reaffirmed the importance of what Nouwen speaks about in terms of blessing. When we speak intentional, sincere, and truthful blessing over teenagers we create a reality for them to believe and live into.

When I was a junior in high school I played half a season of JV football before a back injury sidelined me and ended hopes of play football senior year. Even though I never missed a practice or game I often did so out of a feeling of obligation to a commitment not out of love for my team or situation. At the end of the season I went to the awards banquet knowing I wouldn’t receive anything but what I did received that night was greater than any “Letter” or trophy I’ve ever received. My position coach called me up in front of everyone near the end of the banquet and spoke of my integrity, sportsmanship, and diligence as something that the rest of the team should strive for because even though I couldn’t play I never missed a practice or a game and always supported the efforts of my teammates. Though I had never though of it that way, his words created a belief in me that these things were true about who I was. For the next year and a half of high school I worked hard to be a man of integrity, sportsmanship, and diligence because someone knew that to be true about me.

I see these Creationist attributes in the character of God. When God creates something, he calls it good. When Jesus was beginning his ministry, he spoke a public and audible blessing saying, “This is my son of whom I’m well pleased.” This was before Jesus had even done any “ministry”! I pray that we can all become people who speak blessings over each other on a regular basis knowing that in doing so we are actively creating room for the realities of the Kingdom to take shape in the lives of those who God created as good.

What is one of the greatest blessings you have ever received? Who spoke that blessing over you? What made it so significant?

A Faith Remember, A Faith Foreseen


I’ve heard the story about a hundred times, seen it flannel graphed more times than I can remember, and yet there was something about hearing it from someone who was reading it for the first time that made me pause. She asked questions about this story that I had never slowed to notice.

“Why all the attention to detail?” “That sounds like a lot of rules, why does he make so many rules?” then my favorite question, “Do we have anything like this in our church?” which left me scratching my head thinking, “Well, I sure hope so!”

The story is Passover from the book of Exodus. My wife has been inspiring a Kolding Family Old Testament Revival of sorts with the Jesus Story Bible to thank. It’s been fantastic reading through Genesis and Exodus simply as non-fiction novels with stories to tell rather than textbooks with problems to solve.

When we got to Passover it was the first time my wife had read the whole story within the greater context of the Bible and was fascinated. We had a long and exciting conversation about all that God asks of his people in making sure they remember what he has done. I saw a few key characteristics that God repeatedly emphasizes and want to make sure I’m modeling in my own family.

            God is amazingly specific in all that he asks his people to do in preparation for Passover and then again in how they are to celebrate it. At first it sounds like God is just a super Type-A control freak but remember, he does all things to reflect his glory to all people. One of the great pieces of being so detailed and specific is that older generations naturally get many opportunities to answer the question, “Why?” from young generations.

            What a great way for older generations to remember and declare God’s faithfulness. Also, what a great way for younger generations to start living into their family’s (tribe’s) history and take a role in carrying that story into the future!

This has left me wondering: What are the rituals or rites of passage in my family that allow us to stop and remember what God has done? Along those lines, do these rituals ever provide others the opportunity to ask, “Why?” or allow me a chance to retell God’s story of faithfulness?

I see clearly that God calls his people to be set apart (sanctified) not so that we may be isolated but that we may answer the world’s “Why” with stories for His power, faithfulness, inclusion, and grace.

I truly believe by looking for intentional ways to incorporate the communal remembrance of our place in God’s story we take active steps out of the middle ground of life and into the adventure, favor, and fullness of life that the Kingdom of God has to offer.

The Slow Soak


It’s a common word picture we’ve all heard to describe how something unpleasant sneaks up on us. It’s the idea that a frog jumps out of a boiling pot of water but slowly cooks in water that is heated gradually. Though I have never actually tested this theory, I know its reality all to well in my life.

I, as many others too, work well with hot water. It is easy to see from a distance as the steam rises or sounds through the spout. It doesn’t take much sense to be able to feel the heat when you’re close to the boiling pot or to know to jump right out you have have been tossed into it. There have been many heroic “hot water” moments in my life that I can point to or show scars from. These are great stories of pain and victory.

Problem is, I don’t do well with the slow soak. It’s hard to recognize when you’re in a pot that is slowly heating up. The progress is slow, uneventful, and often has times of comfort as you begin feeling quite warm. It takes a keen eye to know that the bubbles around you are not simply that of a soapy bath but the signs of danger ahead. Often this is the keen eye that I, and many of us, lack. These are often boring stories that leave me sounding weak, nearsighted, and unheroic.

It has been months since I’ve regularly posted on my blog because I was busy soaking in the waters of busyness. One project leads to another. A few successes leads to a desire for more public affirmation. A growing sense of lacking leads to a growing sense of acquisition. One week away from intimacy leads to a whole season of isolation. I recently found myself in a boiling pot where everything I was standing in seemed to be contributing to my inner hurt and I no longer had the energy or strength to jump out. Where was my keen eye?

God’s Word and his People proved this past weekend to be that keen eye. This past weekend the burner my heart was sitting on was finally turned off. I spent a weekend with my church staff and elders on a retreat desiring to hear from God. I heard clearly the voice of God speaking freedom to my heart through the truth of Hebrews 12:19

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,

This is a small portion of a larger Gospel that the writer is trying to convey but here is where Christ frees us, frees me, from the slow soak of sin, desperation, and hopelessness. This is where we find there is a glorious alternative to the hot water we are sitting in. This is where every person slowly boiling pot finds saving when the end seems inevitable. The container that we are sitting in may look different and may have different names but the heat still feels the same. There is an alternative to this hopelessness – it is called the Most High Place, the place where God resides. I for one and ready to be done soaking in lies, defeat because I know this is not the end.

Now That’s a Good Question!


“Why aren’t any kids here?”

I hated the thought of this question. What a loaded question when a supervisor asks this of an intern whose job it was to start the after school drop in center for kids! And this was the situation I found myself in my junior year of college. It was the first day we opened our drop-in center for the high school one block away. This was my project, ministry and program from start to finish. I had a grade, reputation, and pride on the line pending the success or failure of this drop-in center. So when my Young Life supervisor, Dave Kanelos, walked in 30 minutes after we’d opened and asks, “Why aren’t any kids here?” I knew that as quickly as my youth ministry career had started, it had now finished.

Do you want to stay here and wait or go out and get to know kids to invite?”

This question was almost worst than the first! My education, training, and experience were in developing and running programs. I had done just that so now it was the kids’ job to find my strategically placed fliers and drop-in. So yes, I wanted to stay and wait. But intrinsically I knew the right answer was to go out and meet kids to personally invite, but what do I, a junior in college, say to persuade a freshmen in high school to come to my drop in center without sounding like some kind of creeper. Wow, so far this isn’t going well.

Do you want me to go with you?”

The first question that I’ve been relieved to hear. To high school guys Dave might as well of been a life bottle of Mountain Dew with a flat cap made of Flaming Hot Cheetos – they loved him. He has this uncanny ability to strike up conversations with anyone, anywhere at anytime. I thought it was some family secret from 30 years of ministry. The only other logical answer I could think of was an anointing he’d received in a dream one night from an angel. So when he asked to come with me I knew I had a chance of getting A) at least 2 kids to my drop in center and B) Dave’s secret recipe for recruiting kids into his ministry. I was ready to take notes and watch the master work his magic. I was dually let down and blown away by the simplicity of his approach. What I saw him do radically changed my perspective in evangelism.

Hey guys, how’d you get so good at hacky sack?”

Dave asked good questions. Dave asked personal questions without invading personal space. Dave asked questions that validated and affirmed the person he was engaging in conversation. He would find something, anything, about a kid he wanted to talk to and ask them to teach him about that thing. Where could I get a shirt like that? What time of music does that band play? How did you know that pink was a great color for your hair? How hard would it be to teach a guy like me to do that trick on your skateboard? It was amazing. He allowed the kids’ first interaction with him to be one where they were teaching him about themselves. He loved teenagers and it was reflected in the questions he would ask them.

As I look through scripture I see God asking good questions! He begins conversations with the least likely with a disarming question – allowing the hearer of his question freedom in their response. For a God who knows every thought we think before we think it this is such a gracious act, his questions to us. Where are you? Will you give me a drink? Do you love me? What good questions! We see in his questions how important being known and knowing is to him. In a world that’s more connected than ever before in history, teenagers (and adults for that matter) don’t feel like anyone wants to really know them or that they don’t know how to initiate spiritual conversations. Here’s where learning how to ask good questions becomes such a great evangelistic and relational tool. A good question disarms, encourages, and educates everyone within ear shot. So ask a question. Ask a lot of questions. Be ready to listen and wait for God to give you a point of entry in to their story and their life. It may be awkward but the safe and much less exciting alternative is stay and wait for the poor, the widows, and the orphans to read our fliers and come to our programs.