Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Entertainment or Engagement?

This is a picture of Pioneer Courthouse Square. This place is a popular hangout for downtown Portlandians. I also hear that it is the hangout for homeless/runaway teens. Some have reported that Portland has the highest teen runaway drug rate in the country, and of course, many of the kids are here.

I have been going downtown to meet some of the kids and get to know them. I will take some to lunch and talk about their lives, God, etc. Last week I met 4 young people and had a great visit at Carls Jr. Interesting. They feel safe, are enjoying Portland, and feel church is not for them.

So here we are trying to reach young people. Some tell me young people only want entertainment in church. But is it entertainment or engagement? Is the church trying to entertain or trying to engage others?

I had one of the older men, who hands out God Loves You Cards and preaches at the kids tell me, "When are you going to come down here and preach at them?" I noticed that there is a group of older men who preach "fire and brimstone" to the people. "That's not my way man," I told him. "I would rather go down and visit with the people." "Well," he said, "if you get past the orange throwing and egg throwing, its not so bad." It is interesting that the street preachers preach at the kids who already are beat down. Yet across the street is one of the wealthiest shopping malls in Oregon--no one goes there to preach.

Once again, is the problem that the church has to entertain, or is it that we need to engage?


Chessa said...

Relationship definitely prevails in the end. We should never forget where Jesus was: among the tax-collectors and prostitutes. The sinners. "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." What people really want is relationship and engagement. Anyone can get entertainment at concerts, T.V., internet, Ipods, etc. But to have engagement through relationship is what we live off of. God created us for relationship. I think you are doing your ministry the right way. More people should be doing what you are doing.

Mark said...

We have a warped understanding of "preaching." It should be an extension of a life lived for God. How much more important to live that life in front of these young people, than to preach it!

Great post.