Listening to: Journey

Reading: Some required reading that flies in the face of an important pillar of your faith

Writing about: Black and White thinking, growing faithfully, hanging on!

I hate to admit it:

But Black and white thinking is built into my DNA.
I always default to two solution schemes, where options are limited and one is right
It is what it is, and it is me.

My First Apartment:

I was 21 years old when i got married,
My first “married home” was a second-story apartment, it was small.
Do you know what was in the second bedroom?
If you said a bed, you were wrong.
It was my drum set.

That’s the logic problem:
Non-Negotiable: Drum Set
Situation: Small apartment with wife
Solution: This set up:
my first apartment

The Problem I created as a middle school minister (and I’m not alone):


Adolescents are naturally (chemically, biologically, developmentally)
prone to black and white thinking.
No room for nuance, grey area, change.

Sometimes We (the church) and I (a minister) teach teenagers to tie their faith
to this developmental stage.
this is an effective strategy, it appeals to teens where they are.
However, it doesn’t equip them to take their faith with them past adolescence.

The Glorious 90s

In the 90s youth ministry culture was making a real push
to mirror every part of the wider culture:
You like Skateboards?  What about Christian skateboards?
You like chewing gum?  What about Christian chewing gum?
Black Metal?  White Metal!

Long story short, I felt called by God (in 7th grade)
to get rid of 100ish C.D.s of non-Christian music
and only listen to Christian music.

It was truly a good move for me, music did have a stronger role than it deserved
in my life and development. It was an idol.
I don’t regret it at all.

However, and this is a true story.
I really anguished over what to do with Monty Python Sings
montySee, because I was giving up secular music.  this was a comedy album.
yeah, it had some songs, and no one would call it Chrisitan.
But does it fit in the box I am trying to eliminate?

Non-Negotiable: no secular music
Situation: is this music?
Solution: no, it is comedy.

I know how ridiculous that all sounds, but is real.

So you’re in College, College boy!


Chances are, if you’re a person of  faith, your faith was established in your “black and white” stage.
Chances are, you have a lot of non-negotiables about what you can do and think
Chances are, you will be pushed in a million ways on all of these non-negotiables…
I don’t care what college you are in, how Christian it may be…
as you mature you will have to re-evaluate and re-asses your faith.
It’s about growth.
It’s not bad, it may be scary, but it’s probably necessary.



The problem that arises is that no one can last long living in a way
that fundamentally clashes with their core beliefs.
So they
A: Change Their lifestyle to “hold the line”
B: Change their core beliefs to ease the pressure
C: Are miserable

Christians don’t _____
I just  ______
I am not Chrisitan.
Christians can sometimes _______

Chrisitans believe ______
I don’t believe _____
I am not Christian.
Some Christians believe ______

These are the apparent decisions you will have to make.

Finally, the point:


What I am asking you to consider:
+ In your 20ish years of wisdom, be aware that you are still (*kind of) a black and white thinker
It’s not about your maturity or spirituality, it’s just part of how God designed you to grow.  You may be stuck on things that won’t get you stuck in 5 years..or maybe in 5 years you’ll be able to tolerate a little stickiness.  Don’t Stop Believing!

+ Know your non-negotiables.  When I began buying regular music again, I didn’t decide to not be a Christian. And I still have a moral code that guides what I buy stream.  But it isn’t always Christian.  It may not be your faith that’s the problem, it may be some construct we (your youth ministers) built on top of it.  Before you abandon the faith, take a serious look at what you are calling faith.  It may be moralism, it may be Pharisee stuff, that stuff is shallow and won’t last long.  Don’t Stop Believing!

+ Consider this, maybe you just made a bad decision.  Or a bunch of them.  And maybe it was the first time you’ve really made bad decisions of consequence.  You don’t have to call them good decisions, but you also don’t have to abandon your faith to set the course straight.  Don’t Stop Believing!

+ Maybe you’re surrounded by idiots: Bad company corrupts good character, right?  Christian Community is a non-negotiable.  Every Christian, for all of history, says so…and they’re right. it is!.  And not just a bunch of 20 year olds in your dorm room, you need some people who have escaped puberty.  I know that sounds insulting.  But I don’t care.  Don’t Stop Believing!

I think I am about 500 words past the limit of recreational  college freshmen reading.
And there wasn’t even a list.
And I am posting this on Facbook, not whatever is actually cool.

Whatever, I tried.
Don’t Stop Believing!

Ephesians 3
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your heartsthrough faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.