Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Should I Wear A Speedo? - Beach Camp Modesty

Recently there's been a lot of conversation around the web concerning swimwear, particularly girl's swimwear.

Here's what people are asking...

What is modesty?

Is a girl responsible for a guy lusting?
What about girls lusting?
Who gets to decide what is modest dress and what isn't?
Should I wear a speedo?

The purpose of this post isn't to argue the specifics of Biblical modesty or make a judgement about swimwear, it's simply to share where our student ministry team has landed on our bathing suit policy.

There's no doubt scripture teaches us we should present ourselves in a way that's modest.  We should praise those who want to be modest and encourage those who aren't but how does modesty relate to what we wear and who gets to decide?

For example, a couple weeks ago I was in Amish country in Pennsylvania.  Their view would be way different from Christians who grew up in south Florida.  How do we find a balance that honors God?

Youth groups all over the country head to the coast for summer camp and have to make decisions about their bathing suite rules. So as youthworkers how do we make decisions that are founded on grace and truth?  How we address the bathing suite issue is important because it teaches our guys and girls about Biblical modesty which goes much deeper than the question of a one piece or two piece at camp.

At my home church we're about to send out the packing list for our beach camp.  This is where we've landed for this year's camp and yes, it could change next year.

A word about your bathing suit…

Ok, it’s time to pack for camp!

As you’re thinking about your 2013 beach wear options I want to share some thoughts.

Modesty is a very subjective thing.  You could ask 10 different people if an outfit or bathing suite is modest and you may get 10 different responses.

We ask you to do your best choosing bathing suite options that are modest.  For example, girls, please no string bikinis and please make sure you have straps on top.  Guys, please make sure your trunks don’t sag and no Speedos.  :)

It may be a good idea to wear your swimsuits in front of your moms and dads for their opinion.

At the end of the day if our staff feels your swimsuit (guys or girls) is not appropriate for beach camp we’ll ask you to change or wear a shirt.

And remember; if you’re not laying out or swimming please wear a cover up.

This isn’t about a one piece or two piece (I’ve seen one pieces far more revealing than two pieces) but about a desire for each of you to present yourselves appropriate to one another.

Thank you so much for hearing our heart on this!  We’re looking forward to an incredible time.

Yes, it would probably be easier to say "no two pieces" or to simply stay away from swimwear all together (go to the mountains).  We decided to embrace the messiness and have conversations with kids if the need arises.  If someone wears a swimsuit (or anything else for that matter) that is inappropriate we want to talk to them about WHAT they're wearing but also WHY they're wearing it.  The WHY questions is what gets to the heart of Biblical modesty.

By the way, this isn't a condemnation on those who have stricter rules, we could be wrong about this.  In fact, I would love to hear push back and advice.  

What do you think about our swimwear "policy"?  How is yours different?

We're all ears.

Oh, and just to ease your mind, I'm leaving my speedo at home this summer.  Next year?  We'll see.

To learn more about what's being said about modesty check out these websites.

The Evolution of the Swimsuit

Modesty - It's Not What You Think

Is Itsy-Bitsy Wrong?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Just Wondering - How Are We Building Church?

I'm just wondering...

What if churches in America were built ONLY on connecting people to Jesus, each other and mission?

This isn't a commentary on any church or pastor (especially my home church) BUT it seems that the "famous" churches or the churches we praise as being successful in America are built around "famous" and gifted leaders.

Maybe if I were one of those leaders I would feel different, but it seems the body of Christ would be stronger and more effective in it's mission if there was less talk about it's church leaders and more talk about it's Head.

Just wondering...


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

4 Reasons this Dad / Pastor is Thankful for our Student Ministry


Over the past few days I've been overwhelmed by the influence student ministry has had on my family.  It's good to stop and reflect.

It's been quite a week.  My 2 oldest sons drove from Georgia to be with the family for my daughter's high school graduation.  Andrew, Austin, Zach and Lauren were all in Dallas as were my in-laws and parents.  What an amazing time.

As a youth pastor my goal has never been to develop relationship with every kid in the youth group, that would be impossible and ineffective.  My deep desire has been to insure every kid has opportunity for meaningful relationship with adults who love Jesus and love them.  

As a father I'm thankful this is the heart of our student ministry.

You see, over the last days I've been reminded of the Godly adults who have shared life with my daughter.  Of course her brothers and grandparents have been there, but then there's Shelly, Brian, Lori, Scott, Alisha, Nat, Dana, Sasha, Mary Ann, Chris, Chelsea, Sylvia, Bryan, Allison, Steve, Jackie, Andrea, Mark, Jade, Javi, Jenn, Susan, Carrie and so many more.  

Some of these relationships have come organically through my friendships but others have come through our student ministry's intentional desire to connect Godly adults with kids.  It seems this is the way the body of Christ is supposed to function.

As I've been reflecting here are areas I'm particularly thankful for...

A safe place for Godly council - 

As a dad I don't know everything nor do I need to know everything going on in the life of my daughter.  I'm so thankful for a safe place for Lauren to share her struggles with Godly adults who love her.  Within these relationships she can doubt, cry, complain and struggle.  I TRUST THEM to provide great Godly wisdom.

A voice of reinforcement -

Obviously I'm not privy to conversations with my daughter and her adult leaders, however, I do know them well enough to know they point her to Biblical truth and wisdom.  You know how it is, as a parent your kids think you no nothing, but when someone else speaks truth it all of a sudden makes sense.  We've needed that over the years.

A foundation of prayer - 

I pray for my kids with frequency and fervency but what an incredible blessing to know other adults who are doing the same.  God has answered those prayers and it makes a difference.

Consistent accountability - 

All of us need to be pursued when we lose our way.  I'm in accountability and need my fanny kicked every once in a while.  (ok, maybe often)  It's so comforting to know you're not the only adult saying hard things to your kids.  God has used these conversations to protect my daughter.

Lauren has had and continues to have a constellation of adults speak into her life.  Some of those adults have influenced a little from a distance and others are close with deep ongoing relationship.  Whether a little or a lot, I'm so thankful for each of those encouraging voices.

If you're a parent, help your kids develop deep relationship with other Godly adults.  Take full advantage of your student ministry's small groups.  Trust that God is in the middle of those relationships.

If you're a youth pastor, work to make sure every student has opportunity for connection with trained / Godly adult leaders.  You can't and shouldn't try to disciple every student in your youth group.  But you should seek to see every student discipled.

If you're a youth pastor and a parent?  Rejoice in the truth that God has designed the Body to function this way.  It truly does take a village.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Come As You Are

Sometimes I feel I need to "fix myself" before I can go to God.

Came across this amazing quote from Spurgeon today.  

Let it sink in and enjoy.  Jesus always accepts the one who will come to Him.

"This man receiveth sinners," but He repulses none.  We come to Him in weakness and sin, with trembling faith, and small knowledge, and slender hope; but He does not cast us out.  We come by prayer, and that prayer broken;  with confession, and that confession faulty; with praise, and that praise far short of His merits; but yet He receives us.  We come diseased, polluted, worn out, and worthless; but He doth in no wise cast us out.  Let us come again today to Him who never casts us out.

Thank you God that we come to you as we are.