This was originally posted on http://redshoeevangelist.blogspot.com on June 21, 2008.
OK, so here is the story:
Awhile back in the 20th Century, I was leading some workshops in another city. You know, the kind of thing where you stand there all day, say a few wise things, manage a crowd, and try to help people grow a bit in their thinking and practice.
So the hard part was standing there all day because right before I left town I had played softball and ended up covering both shortstop and second base, each just long enough to get cleated hard on the top of each foot. OUCH!
So, after day #1 of workshops I totally hated the dress shoes I was wearing. UGH! I made a quick trip to the nearest mall and the MOST comfortable shoes I could find were some high top sneakers. They just happened to be red.
Fortunately, red actually goes with everything, so it worked out well for me on day #2 of leading those workshops.
And my feet felt so much better! In a prophetic tone at the end of the day, one participant said “Hey, Red Shoe Guy, why do blah, blah, blah……?” Of course everybody laughed. ha ha ha
The next day a friend of mine came up and said I had come up with a really good idea in my workshop that people had been talking about. Right before my ego got too big, he said “Ya know, they couldn’t remember your name but they did know you were the only guy here wearing red shoes!”
So, it stuck. Now, about 15 pairs of red shoes later, they still don’t always remember my name. I have actually had people get angry when I don’t wear red shoes. Can you believe it? When somebody books me for a retreat or something, they always ask “You are going to wear your red shoes, right?” or something of the sort.
I’ve found that red shoes inspire people to strike up a conversation with me in airports, coffee shops, hardware stores, camp, and even in Church. I’ve even had a few de-churched folks say “Hey, if I found a church that would let me wear those shoes to worship, I’d get back in the habit!”
So, I have begun to think of my accidental brilliance as a Spirit thing, post Pentecost of course (hence the red). Imagine people casually talking just because of some shoes? And imagine that conversation moving towards faith talk. Mine. Yours. Ours. Theirs.
So, go ahead, forget my name…..but…..you’ll know it’s me when you see me!
This was originally published on http://uthguychaz.blogspot.com May 1, 2007
Ever wonder what it would be like if John Wesley was the Youth Minister at your Church?
Well a few years ago a few seasoned United Methodist Youth Ministers sat around a table in North Texas and asked that very question.
What would we do differently if we paid attention to Wesley’s Way of following Jesus?
What would old John say about our models of Christian Discipleship?
How could we help stop the rapid turnover in Youth Ministers while preparing Churches for the spike in possible Students to reach with the Gospel in the early 21st century?
How would curriculum, programs, and structures have to change to emphasize the core of Wesley’s theology of Grace?
How could we reach Students at every level of their spiritual journey and then equip them on their journey into full Discipleship?
What if we worried less about how good the t-shirts looked and worried more about praying with and for students?
How do young people form their Identities?
How does Conversion work?
Why is the Christian Community so important for faith formation?
What if we started with a theological foundation for Youth Ministry that didn’t worry about the numbers, helped students spend time on the margins serving others, and empowered them to answer their vocational call to participate in the Reign of God here and now?
What should we teach about Discipleship, Mission, and Evangelism and what is the best way for students to learn?
What if we served food to the homeless in the downtown area more often, spent more time in small groups building houses in Mexico for families who currently live in cardboard homes, empowered students to read their Bibles more (and even carry them!), instead of planning better games, bigger concerts, and frequent trips to the waterpark?
Well, we seemed to ask more questions than we had answers for. So we spent a lot of time in fellowship, Holy conversation, study and reasearch. We came up with a framing image; an image of Grace in motion.
You see, we believe Youth Ministry should start with asking the question “What is God doing in the world today?” and we believe that the best theological concept for God’s work is simply Grace. God’s love working in and through all of creation. We think Grace is like a Chauffer because Grace simply comes and picks you up and takes you where you need to go. It is that simple. You can’t buy a ticket. You can’t earn the ride. You don’t have to jump any hoops to participate. You don’t have to know any secret handsakes or formulas.
So, many workshops and Power Point slides later, yeah, we’re working on a book. But we would like to hear from you. What do you think? Have you been asking any questions about Youth Ministry?
How has Grace been at work in your ministry? How did you learn who you are? What is your conversion story? Where are you now on your journey? How do you participate in God’s Reign here and now? What difference does being a Disciple make in your life and ministry?
Join the conversation. Please. We need you. Or it just won’t be the FULL community of Jesus Christ God intends for us to participate in. I hope to hear from you soon.