Four Reasons You Are Probably Going to Hell…

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. I wrote a blog post awhile back that argued the exact opposite conclusion, but just hear me out. There are plenty of reasons why you’re probably in for a brimstone sauna.

1. THE DECLINE OF TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE

Now this first one should come as no surprise. How are the rest of us heathens ever going to stand a chance to avoid Hell if Christians keep breaking their own rules? Which rules am I referring to, you ask? Not “feeding the poor” you say? “Destroying the Earth” is it? No no no no no. They have completely turned their backs on the Bible by ignoring God’s clear Biblical mandate for traditional marriage.

And by traditional marriage of course I mean polygamous arranged marriages to underage girls in exchange for goods and services. (Gen 34:12)

Many Biblical figures had more than one wife, such as Esau (Genesis 26:34; Genesis 28:6-9), Abraham (Genesis 16:3, Genesis 21:1-13, Genesis 25:1, Genesis 25:6), Moses (Exodus 2:21; Exodus 18:1-6, Numbers 12:1), Jacob (Genesis 29:15-28), Gideon (Judges 8:29-32), Elkanah (1 Samuel 1:1-8), David (1 Samuel 25:39-44; 2 Samuel 3:2-5; 2 Samuel 5:13-16) and Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-3).

Christians have given up their God-given rights to barter and negotiate their women-property. Instead, they have actually started condemning others who try to carry out the word of God. Poor Utah. They get all the blame. Oddly enough, Christians give the Old Testament patriarchs a free pass because God still used them for righteous purposes. It was just the culture of the day, some might add. God was never really for it, they said. He just “permitted” it via his “permissive will” or something. We all know that’s not true. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

And we know that if polygamy was a sinful lifestyle, they couldn’t be saved. If that were true, God would have to let the gays into Heaven. And we obviously know they’re not getting in, because gay sex is just icky.

We need better role models, people!

2. THE BIBLE MAGICALLY MAKES EVERYONE A LIAR

To add insult to injury, I recently found out that the Bible is always right, every single time. That means it’s never wrong. Ever. So imagine my dismay when Christian Coalition bulldog Ralph Reed goes and embarrasses the Bible on Bill Maher:

Ralph Reed had a strong opening, declaring the Bible to be literally true (which we know for a fact). But once Bill pressured him on the issues about slavery and killing women (excuse me… property), Ralph caves and says the New Covenant of the New Testament is true, while the Old Testament law was incomplete, or a work-in-progress so to speak. There those Christians go again, lying about their spiritual ancestors. Will their hate speech never end!?

Saying the Bible is literally true, but then admitting slavery and stoning women weren’t condoned by the literal reading of the Bible is being dishonest. It’s either literal or it’s not. So, Mr. Reed was lying.

But what about Bill Maher? He was quoting scripture, and the Bible is always right, every time. So Bill was forcing the Bible to side with an atheist. Since an atheist’s logic is never Godly, this means the Bible had to actually change meanings momentarily as to avoid the awkwardness of the situation. Just for a split second, up was down, left was right, and the word “literal” meant “the complex narrative of the God’s people unfolding over thousands of years”. So, Bill Maher was lying too!

Let that be a lesson to you. We’re all liars. Liars go to Hell. But the Bible is always right. Every time.

 

3. CHRISTIANS ARE DISMANTLING SCIENCE

While gettin’ my Facebook on, I happened upon this brilliant video which deals a resounding deathblow to Evolution. In just three minutes, it was all over. Science had been destroyed, and this… this HERO of reason had rebuilt it from the ground up. You have to see it to believe it. You still might not believe it after you see it though, because it’s just so profound.

I mean, the Universe just means Genesis 1 now? Laws of Thermodynamics are suddenly much less complicated? This makes me rethink the possibility of a Hell. I mean, once I thought science had debunked any notion of such a place, but if Christians keep this up, Creation science will just take back over and the fear of Hell will be back inside every Victoria’s Secret magazine. There will be nowhere to hide!

4. COSMOS HAS ENDED

Neil deGrasse Tyson and his Spaceship of the Imagination gave us something to look forward to on Sunday nights. For a brief moment we thought to ourselves, “Maybe science and reason aren’t all that scary.” But then, it was gone. We’ve been left to fend for ourselves in this cold chaotic western spiral arm of the Milky Way.

How could a God just leave us alone like that? We must have done something terrible. Something unforgivable.

Neil! Come back!

IN CONCLUSION:

Are we all going to Hell? Tough to say. I mean, we could believe the Bible literally. But then we’d have to make sure atheists don’t ever quote it. We could believe science, but then science will just up and bail when its network contract runs out. Who knows. Well, in the meantime, the internet is made of cats.

 

 

Does God Exist? The Debate Comes to a Close.

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Does God exist? I assume you have an opinion on the matter. We may say we hate to talk about it, but for some reason we just can’t escape its sultry allure.  As it would happen, the internet is obsessed with this question. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a comment thread lacking this essential debate.

Suffice it to say, she never finished her homework.

Suffice it to say, she never finished her homework.

Don’t you wish you could wave a magic wand and settle this matter once and for all? But does the fact you don’t even know if magic wands exist complicate the matter even further? Well, today is your lucky day! After many years of searching, I have discovered indisputable truth that will finally put this feud to rest.

Now I know what you’re thinking…

“Brett, you can’t go and ruin it for everyone. Countless pastors and professors and philosophers could be out of work! The fate of Christian music hangs in the balance!”

While I do not discount the legitimacy of said concerns, the time has come.

You see, it is easy to say “God exists” without backing it up. But a few days ago I was given proof of his existence. It was so mind-blowing, so miraculous. My journey was finally over. The logic was so blinding that I had to shield my eyes. I removed my loafers, for the ground on which I stood had become holy.

What is this proof, you ask? I hope you’re sitting down.

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See that little arrow in the bottom right corner? There’s more!

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You see, my atheist friend had been given this divinely-inspired post-it note from another co-worker. Spoiler-alert, the co-worker was a Christian. While normally such note-passing would be considered rude, pointless, arrogant, naive, or “a waste of a perfectly good post-it note” …this was the obvious exception to the rule. I mean, just look at the Einstein-ian rhetoric.

Have you ever read a book that is 100% true…

Perhaps we have all been blinded by our own worldliness to ever notice just how accurate the Bible actually is. I was under the impression that it contained at least a partial degree of “less than perfection”. Maybe 82% true? Engrossed in the illumination of the post-it, I read on…

…and in which every historical event actually occurred?

When I read these words I sat down and gazed into the distance. I couldn’t help but feel a momentary surge of rage flood my veins as I realized my history teachers had been teaching from history books where the events described didn’t actually occur. I mean, what the hell?!

The Bible is the only book that is always true, every time.

The wisdom of this passage of scripture (Yes, I have already declared the post-it to be scripture) was so mysterious that I did not try to interpret it right away. I simply decided to have faith that some books could be true some of the time, but not every time. Only the Bible was always true every single time.

The other side of this relic (Yes, it’s obviously a relic too) stripped away all my earlier notions of what the truth should look like. The truth doesn’t need periods, only commas. The truth goes on, and on, and on, and on…

Having shown you the truth, it would be glorious if you would rid your heart of doubt and ignorance. But many of you are sinners, and sinners hate the truth. In fact, if you reject this revelation, that only proves its authenticity. Also, accepting the message also means it’s true. See how that works? Brilliant. Checkmate, atheists.

Perhaps some could say that proving God’s existence is futile, since God can be defined in countless ways. Maybe some think that the Bible was written by countless people over thousands of years as a narrative about their community’s spiritual journey, an account stooped in Eastern philosophy, myth, poetry, allegory, and metaphor. I’d venture to say that some despise this debate, because it distracts us from what really matters on this planet. What if they prayed (or spoke to the empty godless void) every night that the debate would finally end, that the dogs would stop barking so we could all get some rest.

I even bet some people think it’s impossible to prove or disprove such things, so we should just “love” each other and “watch Life of Pi” already. But we don’t need to think about any of that anymore.

Yes, Jesus loves me. The post-it tells me so.

Confessions of an Ex-Youth Pastor

This coming June 15th, I will have been out of ministry for three full years. This seems unreal to me. What seems even more strange is that this coming Fall will mark ten years since I enrolled in my ministry undergrad program. I can’t help but look back on the past decade and wonder if it was a mistake. “Was it worth the heartache?” I ask myself that question daily. From a vocational standpoint, the answer is crystal clear; I failed. I was unable and unwilling to continue in my line of work. Simply put, I was fired twice, and I did not wish to try for a third assignment.

Now, here comes the trickiest part in writing such a blog post. I am not here to wallow in the sweet, dirty aroma of martyrdom. I am not here to “bash” the churches and staff members who ever so gently placed me underneath the proverbial bus. I am no rockstar because I have suffered at the hands of church committees. I now understand that being on a church committee is its own punishment, so I wish them a smooth journey through their dark and stormy sea. I also understand that my differences of opinion and my failures to satisfy my job expectations are not marks of superiority. I will now and forever admit that being a youth pastor is not what God, Buddha, Vishnu, or Neil DeGrasse Tyson wants for my life. I will respect their wishes.

However, I am not ready to call it all a wash. I learned some very valuable life lessons that I’d like to pass on to the rest of you. If you sense a bit of sarcasm, don’t worry; it’s just what happens when oxygen flows past my vocal chords.

1. THE YOUTH REALLY ARE WORTH IT ALL

We all like each other so much!

I will begin by stating that if I ever had any regrets about tossing my hat into Youth ministry, the Youth were never one of them. I mean, I was 24 when I graduated from college and took my first position in Warner Robins, GA. (I won’t name the church, but it rhymes with “binity phunited smithodist”). I was practically still a kid myself. I immediately fell in love with the Youth, being reminded constantly of my own teen years with every conversation I had with them. I honestly wasn’t the most outgoing youth pastor, but I soon bonded to them with my own brand of dry humor, mind-stretching questions (like was it a sin to kill Jesus, or did Jesus have fleas?), and random mass-texting trivia games with no correct answers.

When you’re that in-love with a group of youth, you immediately become vulnerable to claims that you’re “too buddy-buddy” and not “adult” enough. There is no getting around this conundrum. There’s just not. If you don’t relate enough to the youth, watch out for parents holding secret meetings with your boss. If you relate too well with the youth, you may not be taking your job “seriously” enough. But you know what? All the bullshit was worth it, because I had an awesome time with those kids. I’ll always remember those life-changing conversations where I really knew I had helped someone get through a dark time. One girl even said I saved her life. What’s more rewarding than that?

 

2. YOU’RE A CRIMINAL UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT.

Did you send a mass text to my daughter?!

Let me begin by saying I don’t make light of the very real presence of sexual abuse in Christianity. I’m simply saying that when you are a male, given the task of overseeing a large group of middle and high schoolers, people are going to think/say a lot of things. Try relating to the half of the group that’s female. You’re expected to delegate that wing of your relational ministry through as many female volunteers as possible. Any texts, phone calls, or conversations happening on the far side of the youth room will set off red flags everywhere. And hey… I get it. We all want safety for our kids. But I’ll always think it’s odd that churches hire the “morally upright” and then assume their calling was actually just their excuse to flirt with teenage girls.

If those parents only knew how many of their own kids were doin’ the dance with no pants. Oh man. They’d leave the Youth pastor alone and start investing in chastity belts.

 

3. DON’T GET HUNG UP ON THE WHOLE “JESUS” THING.

John, I won’t ask you again. Where did you hide the kick-ball?!

I once made the mistake of thinking Church was about Jesus. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Brett, you’re getting petty. You’re just upset that you had a bad experience.” But what I mean is… Church is a business. If you haven’t sat through a finance meeting, try it out. It’ll clear up any doubts you may have. It is a numbers game. Managing metrics. Income. Payroll. Attendance. It’s about money.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s ONLY about money. It’s also about power grabs and politics. Are there good things too? Of course! But at the end of the day, just don’t be naive. I’ve been in a staff meeting where we opened with prayer, listened to the Pastor lie about why a staff member “chose” to step down, and looked across the table at that very staff member fight back tears knowing they were being removed against their will. Jesus had nothing to do with that. I knew a brilliant (and blind) associate pastor voted out of his position while he was in the same room. Jesus had nothing to do with that. I was voted out of my position while I was gone on a mission trip. Jesus wasn’t even in the same hemisphere for that one.

I say this to make a point, not to indict anyone. Businesses do what they feel they have to do. But when you are in the “Jesus Business” …your idealism will take a big hit. Your rose-colored glasses must come off, or the shrapnel will hit you when you least expect it. Don’t blame Jesus. When the coast is clear, grab on to him and jump the prison wall. You’ll finally be able to get some real work down once you get out.

Seriously, all joking aside, don’t take things personally. Assholes are everywhere. Sometimes they just live in parsonages.

 

4. EVERYONE THINKS YOUR IDEAS ARE STUPID

I blame the crowd for encouraging this one.

This one shouldn’t be too shocking. I bet you can name five people you work with right now who have stupid ideas. I’d also bet five is a conservative figure. But when you’re a Youth pastor, your grand visions for the future of the program? Crap. All of them. And hey, maybe they are crap. I’m not going to pretend I had it all figured out. I made my share of dumb moves (e.g. Saturday night youth service. Omg. Even Jesus shook his head at that one). But when you’re 24 years old, and the church has filled your position five times in the past six years, no one is honestly expecting you to have any new, ground-breaking ideas.

I still want to try LATE-NIGHT ALIEN LASER TAG PRISON ESCAPE. Maybe in my next life.

5. THE ENTIRE PREMISE OF YOUTH MINISTRY IS FLAWED

Stop me if I’m wrong, but I have always been told Youth ministry exists to…

“Foster and develop the students’ spiritual identities for the purpose of incorporating them into the life of the church”
(i.e. Let’s grow us some tithing church members)

From a business standpoint, there is nothing illogical about this approach. Obviously they need a long-term plan for sustained growth. And don’t misunderstand, I honestly believe they have the best of intentions and hope the Youth do find a healthy spiritual life, whether in their church or another somewhere out there after college. But you see… there’s a problem. If this is the point of Youth ministry, it’s failing. Big time.

If you do some research you’ll find a lot of figures and studies on the topic, but basically 70% of graduating teens leave the church, and maybe half of that 70% return sometime later in life. This is common across the board. It doesn’t matter if the church sets aside millions of dollars for its youth program. It doesn’t matter if normal Wednesday night attendance breaks 50, 500, or 5000 kids. Only 3 out of 10 youth 18-22 will stay in church, any church.

You see, it has nothing to do with the size of the program, or how well we relate to their interests, or how many community outreach programs we coordinate. When kids are done with youth group, they leave. And the reason why isn’t all that bad! They leave for all sorts of reasons, but a major reason is that they simply feel their life is beginning a new chapter. They’ve graduated. They did the Youth group thing, maybe they loved it (maybe they didn’t), but now it’s time to move on to other things. They may look back on their days in church with fondness. Their choice to leave has little to do with the trips to Malaysia, Third Day concerts, or lock-ins featuring LATE-NIGHT ALIEN LASER TAG PRISON ESCAPE.

The point of youth ministry is that those kids need to be cared for while they ARE in church. Now. It has nothing to do with creating church members. Oh, and if you want some stats on general decline of religion in America, click here (if you dare).

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In closing: You may look up there^ and see the ramblings of a guy who still cares very much about the youth of Christianity. You might see a bitter, disenfranchised soul who wants to take cheap shots when he can. You might think I’m even being too easy on the Church. When I strike these keys on my laptop I honestly think to myself “Wow, if so-and-so from x-council ever finds what I’m typing, they’ll feel quite vindicated for their decision to vote me out.” My extensive usage of the phrase “bullshit” is enough to confirm their suspicions I was never Christ-like enough.

But at the end of the day, I guess I am thankful I was put on this path filled with the best and worst examples of Jesus’ legacy. I am thankful I didn’t waste any more time in Christianity than I did. I mean, there’s some fabulous believers out there who need to keep fighting the good fight. So, keep it up! But I had to break up with Jesus, or at least the Jesus I was sold so long ago. I still see him on the street, in my friends’ faces, in children’s laughter, in Life of Pi (great movie, people. Just buy the Blu-Ray), lots of places.

I wouldn’t recommend my old job to anyone in good conscience, but if you’re ever looking for a wild 18 month ride, give youthspecialties.com a spin. I hear those churches are always hiring.

…Kinda like Wal-Mart.