I don’t know what you expected when you clicked on this link, a blog in tongues and a link to a separate blog with the interpretation perhaps? I jest…. a little.
This post is not a poor, woe is me type blog, but more of one to encourage an understanding among the brethren. I get along fine, for the most part, with the other youth workers in my community. If you are in my area and are reading this, this is not a blight on anything I have been involved in or going to be involved with, just some simple reflections on being, many times, the only pentecostal youth worker in the room.
Your might be asking, “So, what kind of Pentecostal are you?” That’s usually code for, “Are you crazy?’ or “Will you do anything that will make me extremely uncomfortable?” The answer to both those questions might be yes but may having nothing to do with being pentecostal. I grew up in Catholic family for 17 years and went through the whole deal. I spent a year as a Baptist and I finally landed in an Assembly of God church. I did not become pentecostal though until a brief trip to an A/G college.
Although I am a part of a network of youth pastors, and some of them are my dearest friends, I still feel, sometimes, like a pair of brown shoes with a black tuxedo. I have had several conversations with other pentecostal youth workers who feel like the last kid picked for dodgeball because the team thinks their first reaction to being hit with the ball is to cast the devil out it. They feel they are often asked to support programs but are never asked to speak or have too much influence at events, I guess out of fear they may say something heretical or go Acts 2 on the crowd. Other than Catholic priests, I think we are the easiest targets of the media (see The Last Exorcism or the upcoming movie Red State )
If you are not pentecostal, let me offer you some inside tips:
- Pentecostals don’t all dance, because most of us do not know how and if we do it looks like a Jane Fonda work out.
- Pentecostals aren’t al extraverts.
- Pentecostals do not have a secret plan to get all the kids in the world to speak in tongues or a “tongue agenda”. Although, I may have missed that meeting
- Pentecostals don’t all listen to Misty Edwards and Rick Pino.
- Pentecostals do care sometimes that the Baptists are beating them to lunch.
Pentecostal youth workers are like any other youth workers. They want to be involved, participate, and yes, lead. We have ideas, concerns, and even a few solutions.
To my Pentecostal brethren, and pretty much anyone else, here are a few tips to getting invited to your next network meeting:
- Agree where you can agree and disagree respectfully when you can’t. Don’t say stupid things like, “If you do not speak in tongues you are not going to heaven.” Which is first of all is untrue, and second of all has nothing to do with the community wide lock in their planning.
- Don’t act superior. Gift are gifts, You are not more special than the person at the table who has the gift of leadership or hospitality. It’s not like you found a great deal on Ebay. Every gift is by grace.. And stop wearing jackets with more than three buttons, it makes us look like doormen.
- Don’t look down others (see previous point). Don’t make it a practice to villan-ize other churches or youth workers in your community from the pulpit, online, or even in private. This will only continue to build walls.
- Do what is asked of you and do not take liberties and blame it on the Spirit. The Spirit brings freedom, unity, and peace. If you are given the opportunity to lead, don’t take advantage of opportunities afforded to you.
- Show respect for a difference of opinion. We do not have everything right. We all see through a glass darkly. The gospel of Jesus must come first.
So, the next time you pass that strange, little church on the side of the road, there might just be a lonely Pentecostal youth worker in it, waiting for someone to take him or her to lunch. Hey, we like Chick Fila too!