Wednesday, August 28, 2002
I have realized over the past two months that spirituality/ministry/Christianity is a very messy business. Obviously there are some absolutes (Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, our purpose is to love God and love people) but not everything is as black and white as we would like to make it. What I do know is that I don’t want to be a minister who hides away in a comfortable office all day playing minister. I don’t want to play it safe and get wrapped up in minister’s meetings and breakfasts and all the other things we do to make us think we are actually important. I want to actually live ministry. I don’t want to leave this earth without having scars from where I was burned by the fires of hell. If I go out any other way I will know that I did not do “ministry”. I want to be in the thick of it all just like Jesus was. Jesus hung out with prostitutes and thieves and tax collectors. He didn’t hang out with the Pharisees all the time or at all for that matter. He did not schedule meetings and appointments and arrange breakfasts for all the other people who were playing pastor. He spent time with people. Real people. People who were not afraid to tell Jesus how they felt and share their problems of faith with him. It just makes me sad to think of ministers who sit in their offices all week planning and studying and in all honesty not really doing anything of importance at all but because they are busy they feel like they are doing the work of God. What a bunch of crap. Why aren’t you out in your communities spending time with people? When is the last time that you hung out in a bar and just sat down, had a beer and had a conversation with someone? Oh wait, that might make people talk about you or ruin your reputation. You’re right, no one ever said anything bad about Jesus because of where or who he hung out with. It’s time for pastors and churches to start to disturb the world again and shake things up. It has gotten too boring. Churches used to be controversial because of their love and compassion and their willingness to hang out with people whom normal people wouldn’t ever want to hang out with, especially love. But we will probably just play it safe because we don’t want anyone saying anything bad about us. We want to look like the holy, perfect people that we will never come close to being. Let’s just keep putting on masks and pretending we have all the answers and we can die knowing that we may not have done any ministry but at least we stayed away from all those worldly things and protected ourselves from the flames. If I am not burned by the flames then I will know that I have stopped to be an ambassador of God’s love. It’s time to start disturbing the world with love again and forget about our self image.
Posted by Dustin at 10:08 AM
Thursday, August 22, 2002
Monday night I went back to the same concert venue (Bowery Ballroom) and saw a few Christian bands play. Project 86 and Blindside. Project 86 was okay but the lead singer wasn't very natural. A lot of the show seemed like just that, a show. He didn't seem like much of a rock star and it was pretty forced. On the other hand Blindside was great. They are a solid hard rock band. It's encouraging to know that these guys are strong Christian men focused on the Lord and that they get to share it with that many people every night. They have shared the gospel through their music and witness more than most churches do in five years and I really mean that. They are going to be on Conan O'Brien on September 10 and actually so am I. I will be attending that night just by coincidence. What a great tool music can be. Yesterday Tom Gillespie, Jake Raymer, and Melissa Studnicki came and visited me. We walked all over the place. I actually saw some parts of New York City I have yet to see so that was great. No real thoughts today, just excited to see Christian people in the real world doing something significant.
Posted by Dustin at 9:56 AM
Monday, August 19, 2002
Saturday night was a crazy one. I went to a Ben Kweller concert by myself. I have never been to a concert by myself before but it was kind of fun. I just went in and sat at the bar and talked to a few people. After a few beers I went up to the show room to get ready for the concert. I saw a guy down there standing by himself so I walked over and said hello. We talked a while about the venue (Bowery Ballroom) which is a great place for a show. It is small, probably holds 500 people but the sound is great. They have hosted some pretty big bands such as REM, Soul Asylum, Cranberries, Cracker, Sonic Youth, and Wilco. I will never understand how they had REM perform in such a small place but that would have been an unbelievable show. So anyway, this guy is about 50 years old and from Bedford, Connecticut. He is a custodian in a local high school and his daughter told him that he should check Ben Kweller out. So anyway, Adam Green from the Moldy Peaches came out and opened up with a few songs. It is probably the worst performance I have ever seen. I honestly think I could have done better than that. Then a band called My Morning Jacket came out and they were actually very good. It was a throwback, guitar driven type rock. So during these two bands we were talking and he said, "Man, to tell the truth i liked the city before they cleaned it us, when you could still find drugs and prostitutes on every corner." I didn't have much to add here but he kept talking. "I know a great place over in Chinatown where the prostitute will even give you a bath" At this point he went into detail about what you could get for 175 dollars. I am actually too embarrased to put it on the page which should say something about the graphic nature. But the whole time I was thinking, "Don't ask me what I do, don't ask me what I do". Immediately after the prostitute talk he said, "So, what do you do?" Ahhhhh Crap. So I thought in my head, "Do I sell insurance, work at a bank?" I just didn't want to embarrass this poor guy after all he had just said by telling him that I'm a pastor. I felt terrible for the guy but I said it anyway. "I'm a pastor". He just looked at me and said, "oh". Kind of a conversation stopper. But he kept talking a little and asked what kind of church it was. He grew up in the Catholic Church so I made sure that he knew that it was a church filled with grace and that we were not trying to work our way towards heaven. He asked if we had confession and I told him that we did not have formal confession and then he asked the questions, "So where does redemption come in?" Not what I expected but over the next half an hour I was given the opportunity to share the whole gospel with him and dispell some of the images he had in his head about what he thought church was. He was very interested and there is a good chance that I will see him again because I'm sure this will be a place I spend a lot of time. It is this kind of thing that I have in my mind when I think of ministry. Not clean cut Sunday services and fellowship luncheons but hanging out in dirty bars in a neighborhood filled with prostitutes and drugs because that pretty much describes the lower east side. Getting a chance to share the gospel with people who have really never heard the gospel. I realized Saturday night that I was indeed finally doing real ministry, the very thing God called us to do.
Posted by Dustin at 8:18 AM
Saturday, August 17, 2002
I read an article yesterday from a pastor who said that he thinks it is a tragedy that Christian bands are getting on Secular labels. I think he is insane. Christ is getting more exposure now than he would ever get on some sucky, poor Christian label. Why wouldn't you want the message of Christ to reach as far as possible. This pastor was also putting down how these new bands like POD have tattoos and piercings, calling them the degradation of society. Well, that's great pal. Someone in the Christian community is finally reaching the world for Christ and now you are angry because they have tattoos, a complete non issue. It doesn't mean they are the degradation of society, it just means that they are cool. Can we not be cool, culturally relevant and followers of Jesus Christ at the same time? Leave it to the church. God bless those bands for engaging their culture rather than running and hiding behind Christian concerts and festivals. God bless their hard work for the Kingdom and their willingness to serve people regardless of where they are and who they are. May we all take a lesson from the likes of POD, Blindside, Project 86, Pax 217, Switchfoot, and all the others who have the balls to jump into secular culture and be a light in their society. May God bless their ministry.
Posted by Dustin at 3:53 PM
Sunday, August 11, 2002
Here is the update of a young missionary in the overwhelmingly lonely city of New York. I am just out of Bible college and have moved to Battery Park City on the Lower West Side of Manhattan to plant a new church called Mosaic Manhattan. (www.mosaicmanhattan.com) These will be just my updates and stories of what happens in this city and the people I encounter and the experiences that I have. I'm not sure many people but my direct friends will read this anyway but it will give me something to do because it is not like I have a life yet. So feel free to email me and tell me that I'm a moron or whatever you want to tell me. I'm sure you won't be too far off.
Posted by Dustin at 11:14 AM