Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The So Far From Hip It Hurts Conference

I'm going to be 50 in January. I'm kind of lumpy in places (in a lot of places). My knees are starting to give out. I have selective hearing. I just started texting and I don't use hair gel. I would be less than honest if I didn't say that some of these Christian type conferences annoy me and seem a bit "too hip for the room". The last Christianese conference I went to was Promise Keepers just before it ran out of steam. Yes, even PK became lame.

Through the Twitternet I see numerous extremely hip conferences being chatted up and about. These conferences even produce hip #hashtags such as #StarBucksInTheLobby10 or #GoateesUnderTheTent2010 or #ItsReallyWineAndNotJuice. Okay, maybe I'm smoking crack but wouldn't it be interesting and maybe entertaining if there was an UnChristian Conference for those of us who are mildly or extremely unhip? A conference so unhip that it didn't have sessions. A conference so unhip that the official hotel was the Holiday Inn. A conference where the unofficial coffee was Folgers and not Starbucks. A conference where hair gel and scarves were discouraged. A conference where looking like you stepped out of a HillSong music video was not mandatory.

Okay, now I'm serious. I was talking to my blogging/social media chum Sarah Salter on the phone this evening (she is now very sorry that I have linked her name to this blog and especially this post) and shared this idea. Seriously, I would like to help organize the very first So Far From Hip That It Hurts conference. It will happen sometime in 2011. It should be held somewhere in the middle of these United States so that both the left and right side of the country can participate. Speaking of left and right, everyone is invited. Not just nutty Christians. Agnostics, Atheists, Straight, Gay, Theists, Liberals, Conservatives, Tea Party Peeps, Sinners, Saints, Black, Brown, Yellow, White and more are warmly welcomed (if I forgot a label, I'm sorry).

I have met so many terrific folks through blogging and social media I can't count them all on my 23 toes and fingers. I want to take this online thing offline. I'd like to meet as many of you as possible in person. Everyone who comes gets a free hug from me but don't let that discourage you from coming.

Wouldn't it be great to spend an entire weekend with me in the same hotel? In separate rooms of course.

I'm serious doggone it. Let's make this happen. The first annual So Far From Hip It Hurts conference coming to a Holiday Inn somewhere sometime in 2011.

Now it's up to you. Thoughts? What do you think? Crazy? Would ya? Could ya?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What if every church was a "Love Shack"?

"The church should be the place where the incompetent, the unfinished, and even the unhealthy are welcome. I believe Jesus agrees."
-- Mike Yaconelli

What would happen if every church was truly a "Love Shack"? A place where broken, messed up people knew that they would come and get loved on. A place without judgment. A place where the dirt of life was truly welcomed and embraced. A place where it's okay to be truly transparent. A place where people with everything sat next to people with absolutely nothing. A place where healing happens. A place for people who have given up hope to find hope again.

There is something amazing about love. It's contagious. People are drawn to love. Love encourages. Love moves mountains. Love removes pain and hurt. Love transforms. Love brings life.

I love going to the Port Orange VFW for karaoke on Friday or Saturday night. The song I always like to sing is "Love Shack" by the B 52's. It's a song that I call a "dance floor filler". All it takes are the first few notes of the song and the dance floor fills to the brim.

Wouldn't it be great if there was so much love in our churches that people filled the dance floor? So contagious that they were drawn to it? So encouraging that people couldn't wait for the first few notes?

I'm not very objective but I've found a church like that. It's the Messy Church. I like going to the Saturday night service at 5pm. I've found my "Love Shack". Thank you God. Thank you Ray and Susan Kelley.

"The mess of our lives and our crippledness -- is what most qualifies us to be chosen by Jesus." -- Mike Yaconelli

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hugging Men In Underwear

My friend and fellow tweep from Twitter @ChristieSays took this photo while she was at First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL. Her photo was the inspiration behind this post.

Hugging people we know is easy. It's easy to hug people that agree with us, look like us and act like us.

In church it's easy to hug the person you see every Sunday. It's safe. It's comfortable. But what about the single mother in the back row who has lost hope and can't pay the bills? What about the man who lost everything and came to church as a last resort? What about the drunk who came to seek comfort from people instead of his bottle? What about the man who is crying and considering suicide? Are you going to hug him? What about the man sitting in the corner by himself? Last night his wife discovered pornography on their computer. Are you going to hug him?

I love it when the church moves outside the walls to hug people that don't come to church on Sunday or any other day of the week. These amazing soldiers of God don't burn books or yell at strippers. Instead they take their hugs to the hurting, the lonely, the marginalized and the poor.

For the second year, various churches and ministries dropped any and all differences and brought hugs to Holly Hill, Florida. It warmed my heart to see the church doing what Jesus has asked us to do. These nutty Christ followers washed feet, cut hair, served food, gave away backpacks, passed out clothes and hugs.


One of my she-roes is Susan Kelley. She was at yesterday's event in Holly Hill. Susan hugs homeless, lost, dirty, stinky, drunk and depressed people everyday at the Daytona Outreach Center. It's easy to go to a homeless shelter and pass out food or free gifts during the holiday season. Susan and her husband Ray actually live with and love the homeless everyday. One of the men that live with them called Susan "mom" yesterday. Susan hugs me all of the time. She does hug like a "mom". In the photo below you'll see Susan doing what she does best: hugging messy people.

Susan and Eugenia

Yesterday while I was hanging out with Ray and Susan one of my homeless friends walked up to me. He looked me in the eye and softly said, "Mike, Jesus loves you and so do I." Then he hugged me. He smelled like urine, body odor and alcohol. It's strange. His hug made the smell go away.

The few, the proud and the brave are courageous enough to take hugs to the most controversial of places. Recently a group of Christ followers went to a Gay Pride parade. One of those zany Christ followers hugged a man in his underwear. See the photo below.

I looked for a quote to close this post. I thought this quote from Princess Diana was perfect.

“HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug : Heaven knows they need it.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Barriers To Suicide

For some weird reason another blogger who is obviously not doing background checks asked me to guest post on his blog. See "Barriers To Suicide" by clicking here.