Let’s change the discussion

During our recent officer training, I asked those gathered “If I said we were going to go across the street to the shopping center and talk to people about what we believe, could y’all do it?” There was nervous laughter and a great deal of hesitance. Needless to say, I was not surprised in the least.

clamAs I led the discussion about evangelism and why it doesn’t have to be such a bad thing (guided by the notes from lectures led by Union’s visiting professor of evangelism, John Vest), I couldn’t help but think about my own struggle with evangelism outside of the church walls. Put me in a confirmation classroom and I will find excitement I didn’t think anyone could have about our confessions.  Somehow, in that setting, I get lucky enough that at least one kid will play along with that excitement. Give me a list of bible-based trivia questions and I can’t hold back from giving the kids the background information for that question. Ask me what I do professionally while I am “out and about” and I am likely to clam up (not as often as I used to, but it is definitely still a struggle!)

I have spent time thinking about this “clam up” response and have realized that it is merely a response to how I think the other person will respond. It seems that every media outlet tells us that religion is no longer important and “just being good” is enough. I hear that young adults all around the country are running away from churches. In a world of likes, loves, and angry faces, who really wants to put something so personal as their faith out there to be scrutinized?

I think about my friends, and grocery store acquaintances, who have raved about their church experiences and faith. I was jealous of their excitement and freedom to tell anyone and everyone about something so personal, but then I realized that I have no less freedom than they do, and really I have no less excitement.

With all of this rolling around in my head, I left for a much needed vacation. While at a local brewery, my husband and I found ourselves in conversation with two men who just got off work. Somehow, we went at least twenty minutes in the conversation about their work and my husband’s work without anyone asking what I do professionally… and then my husband mentioned it, “… and with her being a pastor…” My heart sank. I thought for sure the conversation was over or I was going to hear the endless apology for why these gentlemen didn’t go to church this week (or any other week).

“Oh, wow! Where are you a pastor?”

The conversation opened in a new way as we talked about the Presbyterian churches in the area that this gentleman could visit (he just so happened to be looking for a church). He asked why it was so important to me to be a pastor and if it was hard to be a pastor at a bar. I didn’t have to change what I was saying or doing, I just shared my own experience – I shared who I am instead of hiding behind who I feared someone would think I am.

sunset-summer-golden-hour-paul-filitchkin.jpgAs I strive to be more comfortable with evangelism and encourage my congregation as well, I am becoming more and more convinced that the first step to evangelism is being comfortable with who you are.   Evangelism is about knowing what you believe, why you believe, and getting excited about that.   Evangelism is finding confidence in that grace we receive from God and sharing it with others.   If we are confident within the church walls, why can’t we take that confidence in God’s grace out into the world?

If you have not yet attended a lecture or discussion led by John Vest, I do highly recommend finding one! If you are unable to, take some time to think about your faith and what about it excites you and find ways to share that in your everyday life. We don’t hesitate to share our thoughts about food, animals, and politics – so why do we hesitate to share our thoughts and beliefs in regards to our faith?   What would happen in this broken and hurting world if we all embraced and shared our faith just a little bit more?

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div. ’14)
Transitional Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

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“Hers some wotor four you”

Screenshot_20180319-175912I was recently reminded of a sign that I once saw at a church I visited. Hanging above the coffee machine, which I assume was set up as a welcoming gesture to all who gathered in this space, I read a hand written note –

“It was turned off. Who turned it on? There is no one to make coffee and look after it Monday through Saturday and it can’t be left on with no one around. There is an elder checking the church every day, many times a day. Sometimes she stays several hours. If not, she checks it several times.”

My heart sank as I read this note and wondered if I should even be making a cup of coffee at all? As a visiting pastor, I began thinking about all that this said about the congregation with the grieving currently filling the space and the healing that needed to take place. As a visitor, I wanted to run far away and never return. If this is the note that is left when a coffee machine is left on, what would happen if I (or someone else) did something worse?

pexels-photo-113734.jpegLater that morning, I preached on the text of Moses drawing water from the rock (Exodus 17: 1-7). In an effort to make a point, I placed bottles of water throughout the sanctuary. The children’s sermon drew attention to a dirty bottle of water that I had in the pulpit with me, and my need for a clean bottle due to a cold. I asked if anyone had any water to share and after several seconds one person held up their bottle. I made the point that everyone had a bottle to share just as we all have gifts to share. Later in the sermon, I expanded on this idea and knowing the story of this congregation’s grief, I encouraged each person in the congregation to take a bottle of water with them and share it with someone else. “We have the water, the life source that we need. We find it in the gifts of each person here… we have the gifts that nourish this congregation and keep it moving forward… by offering up our bottle of water. No one expected to see those in the pews today, you may not know what gifts are in your life today. But you have them and you can offer them… today, let us step out together in faith and take action.”

I was sure that this would work, that this grieving congregation I had formed a relationship with would begin their healing process now (because every pastor is sure that this sermon will be the word that is needed and finally heard by their congregation!)

screenshot_20180319-175918.pngMuch to my own grief and much like the sign un-welcoming any visitor from making coffee, the bottles remained in the pews. With tears in my eyes I collected 39 of the 42 bottles. Confused and heartbroken, I started packing up my stuff and said a prayer that somehow this congregation would find a way to stand together and answer their call to ministry. As I took a deep breath, a six year old came up to me and handed me a note and a bottle of water – “God is grat. You are grat. Hers some wotor four you Jordin.”

The child got it. The adults didn’t, but the child did.

Isn’t that the case in so many situations? The adults are so worried about the best way to do things, we never actually do them. Meanwhile, the children are handing out the bottles of water and showing the visitors the secrets of the church. The children are asking the questions that the adults are afraid to answer in case they say something wrong. The children are seeing the pain and grief, the violence and exclusion, the snowballing effect of one ignored event or action after another and they are the ones leading the way to change.

They are children though and they don’t know any better.

I wonder what the sign over the coffee machine would have said if a child wrote it. I like to think it would have said something like, “The machine is on in case you are thirsty. Just take the little cup of coffee and put it in. Hit the big button and it will do the rest. Then you can come play with me!”

What if we were to think and act more like children?

Grief would last until someone kissed us, everyone would have water (or coffee), we would all be friends and the world would be a much less violent place.

“11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, reason like a child, think like a child. But now that I have become a man, I’ve put an end to childish things. 12 Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face.”
(1 Corinthians 13: 11-12a)

I pray that we all might see the world through a child’s eyes once again and bring back those childish things we have hidden deep within. If we truly believe the claim that the children are the future of our church, let us strive to live and act as they do as we open the doors for them to be the present church…

… it just might be as simple as handing someone a bottle of water.

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div. ’14)
Transitional Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

They Were (are) Heard!

A few weeks ago, I reflected on the need to truly listen to our youth as they struggle with the inevitable changes in life and the increasing amount of drastic, and violent, measures being taken by many youth today. At the time, I was already in the process of trying to open new doors for my own youth to have open conversation about hard-hitting topics. We had begun addressing stereotypes and racism as well as the ways they can be involved in the ministries of our congregation and support those who help to make our world a safer place. The goal was to not only encourage them to think critically, but to create a space where deeper and more difficult conversations can safely occur in the future.

The Sunday following that post, we welcomed Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins from the PC(USA) Office of Global Witness. As Rev. Hawkins explained the work he does in Washington D.C., I saw my youth leaning into every word. He asked them questions about what they were most concerned about in the world and what it was like to go to school in light of recently increasing acts of gun violence. I listened to their responses and watched the faces of those who remained silent. My heart broke, but I was encouraged by their passion for making things different.

28280069_10103626039355111_8791231467917595971_nAt the close of our discussion with Rev. Hawkins, I passed out index cards and asked the youth to take a moment to write one thing they wanted to pray for in this world and explained that these would end up being our “Prayer for God’s Global Vision of Compassion, Peace, and Justice” in the Youth Sunday service the following week. The room was silent as 35 youth bent over their cards and scribbled away. When it came time to compose our prayer, I expected half of the cards to contain something I could actually use in the prayer (you know how teenagers can be!)– I could not have been more wrong. Tears filled my eyes as I read their prayers that filled every single card. “These kids get it,” I thought. “These kids WILL change the world.”

Youth Sunday came way too soon this year, but it came with passion and power. Worship was led by forty-four youth as they prayed and preached, sang and greeted those who came to worship. Their passion filled the sanctuary and their energy fueled the congregation. They talked about using God as a compass to find “true north” and I thanked God for putting them in my life to be my compass.

This past Sunday, the youth at Kirk of Kildaire were heard! I pray that they feel that and felt the love of the congregation embracing them. I pray that they know that they stood before a room of individuals who would do anything for them. I pray that they felt and found their place in the body of Christ, if they had not already done so.

Youth Sunday was only one small step. My one-on-one meetings with youth at the local donut shop are only small step. Our open Sanctuary in the midst of the tragedy and grief in recent weeks is only one small step. The encouragement from our youth advisors and Sunday school teachers is only small step. All of these small steps are leading to something big, though. All of these small steps help each confused, scared, and questioning youth know that they don’t always have to have the strength to step forward because there are those who will take the step toward them when they can’t.

In case there is any question about what youth are thinking about, aside from gun violence (where youth are now leading the way!), here is the “Prayer for God’s Global Vision of Compassion, Peace, and Justice” that the Kirk of Kildaire youth wrote for our 2018 Youth Sunday –

Dear God, We give thanks for the many paths down which you guide each and every one of us. We give thanks for the passions you have helped us to find and the ways we can guide one another. Today, we especially pray for…

Diversity.

Marine life depletion.

Those affected by gun violence, especially those in Florida.

LGBTQIA people who face discrimination and being treated less than human for being themselves.

Those who have lost loved ones to suicide, especially the Green Hope community.

The people, especially the children, in Syria.

The people who are in danger globally or mentally.

The future of America.

Global welfare.

For progress with immigration within this country, and those struggling to                become  American citizens and live in America.

For the safety and well-being of everyone, not just certain races or ages.

The safety of people in public locations like school, concerts, and theaters.

People who don’t say what they believe because of stereotypes made against them and the fear of being ostracized.

That schools will become a safer environment for students.

For the safety of those who participate in the school walk-outs and marches.

Gerrymandering.

Grieving families.

Equality.

That everyone will have food to eat.

For the walls of diversity to be broken down.

For outsiders.

For those who are experiencing homelessness.

God, there is so much on hearts. There is so much pain in your world. We pray that you continue to be our guiding light so that we might always be able to find your way and make it to “True North”. Give us the strength to follow through with our passions and to bring your kingdom to fruition. All of this we seek, pray, and do in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div. ’14)
Transitional Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

 

Let Them Be Heard

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It was different before. I would hear about the shooting, pray for the families, read the articles and thoughts of my friends, debate whether I should say anything or not… I had a routine (which should NOT be routine). This time though, I began to think about my kids- the youth who have worked their way into a special place in my heart; the youth who are spread out at every middle school and high school in the area.

I thought about the many different situations they find themselves in every day. I thought about the struggles I know they are going through. I thought about what must go on, or not go on, in the life of a teenager for something so tragic to be the “next best step”. I thought about their interactions and relationships within our group and wondered, prayed that they were enough. I thought about the ways I have reached out to them, wondering if I was reaching far enough.

This shooting hit me harder than before, harder than I could have expected. What if it had been at one of their schools? What would I do? Where would I go? Would I wait in the sanctuary, doors open, ready to pray with those who came seeking God? Would I rush to the school and stand with parents watching for their children to walk through the door, praying that they would actually walk through the door? Would I go to their homes and sit on the couches with their friends as we watched the news and prayed?

What would I say? Would I have the right words? Would I even be able to speak?

Last week, my youth started a conversation about stereotypes and I didn’t want it to be this relevant. I didn’t want to have a real life example of why we are having these conversations. I wanted it to be a “hypothetical” conversation in which they realized that they can play a positive role in the relationships and dynamics at their school. I didn’t think about saying “you could be the one to prevent a shooting.”

I won’t enter the argument about guns in this post. I WILL enter the discussion about other things we can do to help prevent the next tragedy. I may not be able to stand in the way of someone forcing their way into the building, but I can make sure that every single one of my youth knows they are beautiful, beloved, children of God – and members of our family at the Kirk and because of that they have people to go to and no reason to take such drastic steps.

As I think about what I can do as these tragedies become the norm, I look to the relationships and interactions I have with my youth. What I share today is by no means a complete list of ideas, but I see it as my own starting point and offer it to you as each of us wonders where to begin.

Don’t just talk to them – listen. Our children want to talk, and I am seeing that more and more each week as I listen to the conversations my youth are having. The insight they bring to difficult conversations is astounding and it should be listened to. We should follow up with questions, seeking to understand more about what our youth are seeing and thinking. “That is interesting” is not what we need to say when a youth describes something that is bothering them. “What do you think about that?” or “What makes you say that?” opens conversation – it makes them feel valued and important, like what they are saying means something. BECAUSE IT DOES AND THEY ARE.

Don’t prescribe a solution – listen. I am almost thirty years old, so theoretically high school wasn’t that long ago… right? The problem is that the world is drastically different. The things that my friends and I struggled with in high school are so minute compared to the struggles of today. While I can relate to the youth in my own mind, in their mind I am on the verge of receiving a senior citizen’s discount. What I have to say about my experience in middle school and high school is not what they care about – sharing what they are experiencing NOW is what is important. If we can step back and let our youth talk rather always having our own “cool” story, we just might understand a bit more about them and what is going on in the world. These kids are smart, y’all. And funny. Just let them show you and learn from them instead of thinking they need to learn from you!

Youth don’t just want to play games – they want to talk. I know, I know. They have so much energy and sit in chairs all day. I was surprised to, but when I spent time with my college students and some of my youth one-on-one, I was shocked to hear they want to spend more time having real conversations about how to live a life following God’s word. This doesn’t have to be boring, I promise. There are thousands of ideas floating around about how to incorporate discussion into a fun activity. Just don’t default to solely fellowship. Default to faith development and look at the many ways that can happen. I imagine that the youth who are struggling in relationships, in school , and in work are not growing in faith and community because they got to play basketball on Sunday night. They WILL grow if they can have a real conversation with their peers… and maybe they can play basketball while they do it!

 

Our youth are so insanely smart – we just need to give them a chance to show us. I have absolutely loved grabbing donuts with my youth and letting them talk about whatever is on their mind. It didn’t take long to realize that I was doing everything based on what I thought and nothing based on what they wanted and needed. We don’t know what is best for them and we can’t prescribe solutions that will fix every problem. If that were possible, we would not have struggled as teenagers because our parents and teachers would have fixed every problem for us. The world has changed and our youth are the only ones who can tell us how they see it and what they need to live in it.

I don’t know what I would do or say or where I would go if something happened at one of our local schools. I pray that I never need to figure it out. I do know that I can do everything in my power to make sure my youth know their value and that they are beloved children of God. I do know that I can put any piece of paperwork aside to clear my attention and listen to what they have to say. I do know that every day I work with youth, I will do everything I can to make sure they know they have a place to come if they ever need to talk, cry, or just sit.

It is hard and takes so much more than thoughts and prayers, but we can do our part to make sure our youth know that they don’t need to turn to exclusion, bullying, and violence to be heard. The question is will we put our own ego aside and let their light shine for a minute or two?

Rev. Jordan B. Davis
Transitional Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

Toxicology, Cataracts, and Paul… Oh, My!

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This past Sunday, I had the privilege of tackling a fairly controversial portion of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in worship. I both dreaded and looked forward to this, knowing that there would be some who would not like what I said but also knowing that it is a very pertinent text for today. What I didn’t plan on was that the sermon itself would end up being a perfect example of what I was trying to get at through my current interpretation.

In light of the current climate in our country, I was really drawn to the idea of Paul taking time to be with and get to know individuals of different backgrounds before preaching the Gospel to them; and further that he didn’t worry about those who were not “won” or “saved” but even said that only “some” were. In so many conversations, in so much that I see as I watch people interact (including myself), I fear that this is exactly what we are missing – sitting WITH one another and listening instead of pushing our personal beliefs on others, whether they want to hear them or not.

One struggle that I face as a youth pastor is finding ways to get our youth invested in their faith life, especially through their attendance and attention during worship. I get it – worship can be “so boring” at times and there is “so much” that can be done during that hour. I also get that faith development is drastically stunted without this precious time spent in community, both glorifying and listening to God through our united voices and prayers. My dream is to require all youth to attend worship a minimum of 2 weeks each month, if not 3 weeks, but I realize that is only a dream.

With this struggle at the forefront of my mind as I watched the youth begin to settle into prayer stations during youth group, I decided to let them have a role in the worship planning. I was scheduled to preach and I wanted to be sure they were there AND paying attention, so I let them challenge me. “During these final three stations, in addition to your prayers, work with your group to come up with ONE word – any word – and I will use that in next week’s sermon.”

This was both the best and worst idea I have had in youth ministry. I cringed as I looked at the final list – platypi (which I had to use despite it being grammatically incorrect), naan, cheeseburgers, colloquial, cataract, toxicology, and Jesús.

As I stood up to preach yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of youth faces beaming up at me, each with their checklist in hand (as well as a few adults who knew what was going on!) With the use of the first word, “platypi”, a small group of middle school girls cheered and I struggled to hold back my laughter. At youth group, I asked the kids how each word was used and they might as well have re-preached my sermon as they remembered each key sentence and even summarized the whole thing.

“To the Jew, I became like a Jew”, Paul wrote. To the youth, I became like a youth. And it worked!

I didn’t plan on it working out that way, but in that moment I realized that the youth served as my own personal reminder of the importance of meeting people where they are before bringing them along with you. Something as simple as an absurd list of words brought them into worship and encouraged them to pay attention. They even talked about the sermon when they came in for youth group, comparing notes with each other. My minimal hope was that they would pay enough attention to hear the words before they tuned out and refocused on their phones.

After attending the Association for Presbyterian Christian Educators conference last week, I left both encouraged and full of unanswered questions. I was encouraged through several conversations I had, but I still didn’t know how to solve so many “problems”. In those excited moments with the youth who repreached my sermon, I found my answer. Most problems in ministry are best solved by stepping back from what we know to be proper and allowing the chaos to break through as we meet our people where they are. In those chaotic, unfocused, and improper moments we can begin to take steps forward together.

Sure, there are those who wonder why in the world I would choose to use “toxicology” and “cataract” in the same sermon and they might even reach out to my Head of Staff wondering if I am ok. But there are also those who rarely pay attention, IF they attend worship, who got the point yesterday – and that is worth every question of “has Jordan lost her mind?”

How do you meet your congregants where they are?
How would things change if the chaos was allowed to break in?

                Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M. Div. ’14)
Transitional Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

 

 

Hitting a Moving Target

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAhuAAAAJGZkNDI2ZGZjLTE1ZGYtNDRkYS04NjkxLTc2Mjc3ZmE1ZTQzOQ“This is the first time I have been to a church that actually has something for young adults!”

I wish I was surprised by this comment. I wish I wasn’t as relieved as I was when I heard it.

I currently serve as “transitional associate pastor for youth and young adults” with an incredibly vibrant congregation. We have roughly 1100 members and an active mission field larger than most I have seen (I even wrote about it as a church relations officer in 2015!). The youth program draws 50-60 individuals, grades 6-12, every Sunday between Sunday school and youth group. There are multiple levels of leadership for the youth and someone is always waiting to help in some way. This is a dream call, really.

Very early in this call, however, I noticed something missing. It seemed like everyone I talked to was beyond excited about everything I just mentioned… but never mentioned young adults. I remember asking the personnel committee, after a wonderful conversation about the youth ministry, “but what about the young adults?”

The response was silence, followed by a brief description of a monthly lunch and things that had been tried in the past. I felt a sense of lost hope and my heart broke. It was no different than almost any other church I visited as a church relations officer though, so I wasn’t completely surprised.

Young Adults (sorry, I refuse to call this group “millennials”) are a moving target of sorts. Not only are there so many life situations within this single group (college, graduated, single, married without kids, married with kids, divorced… the list is infinite), this is a group that is constantly on the move and trying to figure out how to make life work. This is a group regularly receiving prescriptions from those who are more experienced and know better; this is a group striving to be the ones who know better. Sometimes this group wants to dig in and have a deep theological discussion, and sometimes it is a group who just needs some fellowship after a long day of work. This group may not be able to show up on Sunday morning because of work, personal exhaustion, or nap time – and they need for others to be ok with that.

21232152_10103257051489751_7598114716916351085_nAs I prepared to start this transitional call, I started asking my friends what they needed. I asked those who are not in church on Sunday. I asked those who somehow managed to go to church more often than I did. I asked those who hate God, and those who are examples for the best of us in how to share God’s Word. I filled trash can after trash can with rough plans, schedules, and descriptions. I sent vision statements and logos (designed by a young adult I already knew!) to people and asked them a simple question, “Would you come?” I dreamed about gatherings – literally. I collected business cards at every “cool” place my husband and I visited. When the time came, I sent out an invitation via snail mail and all over social media, and prayed really hard.

When our group met for the first time, five of us sat around a table big enough for thirty at a local brewery. I left feeling like I had lost and cried over the phone to my husband, wondering what the effort had been for? I knew of at least fifteen who said they wanted to come.

23659359_10103416239859981_5253189002310750987_nA few weeks later, we had a different mix of five at a soccer game – I bought tailgate food for ten. With the encouragement of the husband who crossed out and reworded hundreds of schedules and statements with me, I kept sharing the upcoming events. We had seven, three, ten… fourteen. We continued to gather at the brewery, read and discussed a few books, assembled blessing bags for those experiencing homelessness, and managed to escape “Baker Street” in just under an hour. I cried on the way home in December when I realized we had reached my goal of fifteen. A casual conversation and many inquiring individuals along the way, was the start of a Wednesday morning coffee group for parents of young children that has become a place where, at the very least, eight moms are guaranteed caffeine and adult conversation. Every gathering acting as one in a series – a set number before we can “give up” and say it didn’t work.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity finally to sit in on our brand new Sunday school class – another six week “experiment”. I looked around at eleven faces in addition to the three who saw the need and committed to help teach on a rotation. Following worship, five of us gathered for another book discussion and lunch.

We broke thirty individuals who have been involved in some way.

Young adult ministry might be the hardest out there, and that is why it can be so hard to find. It would be so much easier to call it a bust than give up another evening in hopes that someone, anyone, will show up. It would be so much easier to celebrate the few in the pews than to reach out to those who are not and schedule another coffee or dinner meeting in hopes of finally getting face-to-face with someone. It would be so much easier to provide pastoral care as needed and focus on the other part of the common title “associate pastor for youth and young adults.”

Ministry isn’t supposed to be easy, though. And being a young adult is even harder. (Yes, I said it!)

If you are in a congregation trying to figure out just what to do with our crazy age group, I encourage you not to give up. I encourage you to keep trying, to constantly reach out and ask young adults instead of assuming; to take advantage of the times when only one or two show up, giving thanks for those hard to find opportunities, and try again for the larger group.

Believe me – I have shed more than my fair share of tears as I try to figure this out. However, persistence has led to a five member leadership team to share the planning and fatigue with. A five member leadership team who feel called to help to make this group succeed, so that there is a place for them to safely laugh and collapse as they navigate this crazy season of adulthood.

How does your congregation minister to young adults?
What struggles have you found along the way?
What are your celebrations?

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div. ’14)
Transitional Associate Pastor for Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)

 

Resolutions and Reflections

lionmirror4It has now been a week since the new year began and everyone seems to be asking “what are your resolutions?” After many failed resolutions, I tend to steer away from New Year’s Resolutions nowadays. Something about the guilt of the “failed” diet, missed workout, and consumed beverage just doesn’t make me feel so great during the long and cold winter months. While planning discussion topics for my young adult groups this past week, I kept hearing that “question of the month” in my head but couldn’t bring myself to go there in our discussions, so I began to think about resolutions in a new way.

Typically, we make resolutions in the light of things we “should” do better or differently as way to match some magic mold created by media and society. What if we looked at them, instead, as avenues to reflect our faith in God and to portray more the way that God is working in our lives?

With this thought in mind, I asked some of the parents in my “Parents of Young Children” group (a mouthful, huh?) “What resolutions have you made and how do they reflect your faith and how God works in your life for YOUR CHILDREN?” Since then, I have also asked my general young adult group and my youth advisors a variation of this question.

It was interesting to look at both typical and unique resolutions in this way.

If we are resolving to lose weight so that we look better, are we really portraying the important fact that we are created in God’s image? How can we expect our children to live into this beautiful reassurance if we do not?

If we resolve, instead, to be more active so that we have more energy, feel better, and are healthier and thus able to spend time with and care for our families in a fuller way, we show a care for and appreciation of God’s creation in us as well as for others. We are more able to live into our call.

We also talked about resolutions to both receive and share hospitality more often, to spend more face to face time rather than just computer to computer time, and even to take advantage of more opportunities in life. Jesus didn’t minister or live behind a computer screen or scroll and he didn’t shut the door on guests — he ministered and lived WITH the people, face to face, eating WITH and praying WITH them. I don’t remember reading about Jesus saying, “No thanks, that is out of my comfort zone…”, instead Jesus led others out of their comfort zones.

God created each of us in a beautiful and unique way – why do we so often resolve to find a way to fit the same mold as everyone else? How would our relationship with God change and grow if we shifted our resolutions to reflections of God instead? How would our relationships with one another and with the world change if instead of losing weight, we resolved to share God’s grace more?

This year, I pray that every person who has made a resolution finds a way to follow through – because we all need a little extra encouragement sometimes. I also pray that we each find ways to not only resolve to change the way we live, but also (and more importantly) find ways to reflect God in the way that we already live and seek to live.

What resolutions have you made and how do they reflect your faith and how God works in your life for YOUR families and congregations?

Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div.’14)
Transitional Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)