26 Aug 2021

CGN Episode 5 – Retaining Youth in the Church (with guest Blake Silverstein)


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So I was actually talking to Tim, on the way here, I don’t actually think I know Blake how you got involved with Christian educational ministries?

Yeah, it’s a bit of a weird story. It surprised me as because as any person, right, it was, it was something that I described it as a want. I didn’t know I had, you know, that it was the loved one. And he’s the reason why I’m a baptized Christian. I grew up around the church, and my parents were part of the church church of god International. worldwide. My grandfather was on the board for church of God, international for many years, was responsible for building a facility out in Palestine, you know, heavily both right. And my father died when I was, I was one in a car accident. Yeah, and so that was a car accident, didn’t see that coming in, of course, that through our family to disarrayed mom grew up in the 60s, kind of a flower child at heart, you know, hippie dippie. All that. And, you know, fair enough, was in Vogue, and she, but she wanted to give me the opportunity to choose what I believed. And you know, that sounds really progressive or sounds really interesting sounds like you’re, oh, you’re gonna look this child. But she knows what they know. We’ve read like a force my ideology down your throat, all this stuff. And I’ll say that I think it’s important to express to your children what you believe. And why you believe in that. I don’t think you guys would disagree with them. That there’s but there’s value in that. And there’s value in doing it in a certain kind of way. Maybe that is not as …, right, but you’re more, hey, look, this is the way I look at it. And these are the reasons why I look at it.

I’ve always thought for myself, because my parents did the same thing that the most impactful thing for me was seeing their passion. Like I think I don’t have kids. But I’d imagine the most impactful thing is showing your kids that you’re passionate about things generally. So whether it’s like my dad’s taste in music, and like the seeing your parents compassionate about something and then you loving your parents who want to share their passions and both my parents were passionate about the church and so they gave me that same latitude me my brother both, but then we’re like, mentally and imagine anything better than that. So I’d imagine it’s similar with

that sounds that sounds like the balanced approach I’m talking about, you know, we she went the other day, she you know, she went into the other ditch of just Hey, look, do you want to go to temple Do you want to go to you know, you know, wherever, like, I don’t know. Exactly. It’s like, you know, all right, well, you know, can we get a Chucky cheese

you know, anatomical rat might have something to say about meaningful But no, I think that you’re right it needs to be passion communicates and children are extreme. I have a four I have a four year old. And they can detect they can really, whether they can articulate it or not, is his email in the article but they they are they’ll see if you’re actually passionate about something and they’ll get the they have these mirror neurons that are always going in there kind of handicapping everything. So anyways, I think that’s right. But anyway, so I ended up going to temple My last name is Silverstein for those that don’t know, I don’t know if there’s a more Jewish last name like Silver’s leading Christian educational ministries What’s going on? That is funny but never even the very end. Okay, yeah. So Father was was was Jewish and you know, Mom, you know, marry to Jews actually. Seems like, you know, you know, the Old Testament at least, you know, my father passed away wanted to kind of figure out which one I wanted so I ended up going to temple a lot going on there. She was into, you know, reading tarot cards and all this stuff, right grow up and so she was kind of getting all this weird stuff kind of introduced me to all this stuff. And, and I actually look back on it as something that I appreciate because I can tell you why all those ideologies are hollow. Why all of them kind of the run them to their conclusion, ended up in some form of your drop of water that slips back into the ocean. And you’re like, Well, wait, man, I’m the drop. You know, hold on. I that’s a nice, that’s a nice way of saying annihilation. Right. You know, that’s a nice way of saying you become a part of the one hole. Anyways, there’s a lot of things like I could, because I because I ran them through I ran the gambit through them and I just I said look into this. This doesn’t seem to pass the smell test and so and then I went to all boys Catholic school. Yeah, so you know, here, you have They didn’t know what to do with me either. Right at that point, you know, I’ve been, you know, my mom kind of came back to the church at that point, you know, and I’m now here we are Blake Silverstein and all boy Catholic school and wait. So you are Christian, you’re not Jewish, but you don’t go to church on Sunday, you go on Saturday. And it’s like, they didn’t know what to do with me, though. Except for hazing me and you know that the hazing was real. And the fathers would always roll their eyes in theology class. Yes. Mr. Silverstein raising my hand. Another question for you, for you guys. But so I ended up you know, being very I described it as I saw mass on one side, I saw the the other magical show on the other side, let’s say a temple of Judaism, and it kind of see with, you know, this kind of thing happening, where it seems that there’s something weird going on over here, there’s something weird going on over here. And I’m not really it’s perceived kind of hypocrisy as what’s going on. So I spent a lot of my teenage years trying to figure out why the humanist point of view is real, right? I wanted that to be real, I wanted there to be materialistic explanation. Because of a lot of pain, a lot of a lot of loss. Lost, my grandfather lost my grandmother within quick succession laws, uncles and aunts. My mother, you know, just a couple years ago, my father. And so it was like, up until, like, you know, maybe in my mid 20s, I was still trying to, like find a different explanation. And after the passing of my mother to cancer, I said, Okay, well, let’s, let’s really dig deep here, right, I was kind of doing surface level stuff. And so I really dug deep, but I realized, I kind of came full circle, right? I settle for orthodoxy, you know, sail off this, this, this, this island, and kind of came, you know, circumvented the whole world, I feel like we came back to that we, you know, really did probably have the best take on the oldest story that’s ever been told. And that I hung my hat on that this is the story of my ancestors. This was

this was probably it. And as I started to search to church of God, doctrines that I saw that these people were actually taking scripture and drawing it to themselves, right. They weren’t, they were like, on the border of being fundamentalists, right. But they weren’t, you know, to the point of cutting off their hand, if it made them sick. And upon another, I write Bretton Woods things together, and they’re trying to, like you really, you know, figure out when it’s important to keep the letter and when, and how the spirit has to come through. And so that was like, you know, for me, you know, why I started in that was, and that was also because of rod. My, my dad, if you ask me, this is all from Ron Dart is the reason why I’m a baptized Christian, and so my dad turned me on to Ron Dart, because I was seeing some some problems, even saw the Church of God, you know, explaining some of the things that we were doing the validity of the holy days and these things, and then I read the thread, watched some of one’s seminars, sermons, rather. And then he answered some questions, some hard questions. For me, the idea of of a Hellfire, you know, that that you are loving and caring God would send all these people to hell, that just didn’t did not work for me that would not only send them to hell, but would torture them for eternity. It’s like, this is this is not correct. And if it is correct, then I don’t want anything to do with those kind of statements. And then, you know, broad help to explain some of the nuances there. And then that was when I, you know, I just said, Alright, cool. So late 20s, I became baptized, and started a construction company, you know, got got married, and was doing very well financially, you know, clicking along, my wife and I are, you know, now she’s expecting, you know, and we’re having a wife is just going great. And, and attending a church, Katie Christian Fellowship. And that’s, you know, one of the pastors there is Richard Crowe is on the board for CEM. And it says, Hey, man, we’re, we’re looking in as Ron had just passed away. And so he’s like, hey, look, we’re looking for someone to hit up the helm of a CEO. We think you’d be a good fit. We’ve been like searching for a while now. And we’ve gone through all of the stack, right? And you say, they kept running into this problem where they didn’t want someone coming in. And using this as a platform to push their own agenda. Right. It wasn’t meant to be it’s not meant to be that it’s meant to kind of keep brawn on the air and kind of managing. But there is to a degree that like we’re just like, you have to kind of have some some skin in the game, right? And then some, you know, some direction here, but we don’t want you to start again, pushing your agenda. pushing your ideologies or whatever. And so I came in for a couple of interviews, Larry watkins, you know, so I think, you know, he would be a good fit, they put it forth to the rest of the board members. United was kind of there’s a coalition, right? There’s different people from different churches on the board. For See, I’m trying to be this kind of, again, representations of the different churches of God inside of CEM. And they all said, Yeah, let’s give them a chance. You know, let’s, let’s try it out. And that was, you know, about three years ago. So, here I am in and I, my wife was not happy, right? Not happy at all. You want to do what you want to you know, hang up, you know, six figure Plus, you know, income and, you know, take a huge pay, cut and go where Tyler, where do you spend Texas? Well, our family’s here, well her family. I said. Yeah. So yeah, there’s this whole thing that’s missing in there, which is like I said, I’m gonna pray about it. I told Richard, whenever he came to me to say, look, we’d be interested in hiring you because you’re interviewing him. So I’m like, No, you know, so I appreciate the offer. And it’s really been my thinking. Rod it’s like, there’s this in my head stroking my heartstrings like this Ron darts ministry who’s like, the reason why he’s the man, he’s the reason why I, you know, I’m here and I’m even believing you Lord and all this stuff. And, and so I’m like, Alright, how anyone is gonna pray about how about that? She was like, No, no, no, no, no, no, you know, kind of thing. And so I so I prayed about it. And I’m, like, come to her a couple days later to say, hey, look, I’m pretty sure God wants to tighten up your tenses, and try this thing out. And she’s like, okay, like, What am I supposed to say? Right? Like, how am I supposed to respond to this? Right? Well, I don’t want you to go follow what you think is the Lord’s will for you.

So like, go to her. She’s, like, at least open to the conversation. But she’s letting her displeasure be known, which I think is an important characteristic in a marriage, you need to let your displeasure be known. without fighting, your ability to do that is like, really important. And I said, Okay, I understand that she says, I’m not, I’m not going to go up there unless you go up there and start to work. And it seems to work out. So it makes sense to say, hey, look, at that point, I was like, they haven’t even interviewed me. This is like, so far, they’re probably going to say, no, they’re going to like, realize that I’m like, I have no background. I’ve gone to homiletics or any, you know, any kind of seminary or anything like this, you’re gonna go, oh, gosh, this is this. This is what you mean, you know, my brother, you know, Dr. Tim Weisman, you know, just got out of school and said to me book, 12 years, my senior right. Dad died, he was like, the guy looked up to right, father figure, and are going to school. And I’m like, and I’m working at the same time, because I didn’t get I didn’t have a windfall. I have, you know, any kind of material, you know. And so I’m like, Kevin, like struggle work through all this. This is like, you know, the structure of business. I was doing media metamorphosis, as I still remember that business. And it was basically taking old people’s old records and transferring them to mp3, right? That was like, back when I was like, 17, or 18, or 18 years old, I started it and then 20. So like, that was a cutting edge back then no people at all my gosh, who would do this? And so he’s like, you’re making money. Like, he’s like, I mean, I just got done spending tons of money. You know, going to school for a piece of paper, Blake’s way of spending, you know, people’s money for simplicity, we’re gonna go do some disco do and learn from it. And I’m so happy he did tell me to do that. Because I can see clearly the internet now. And you can go learn whatever you want to go on to the library Museum, go look it up, go read, you know, you’re smart could be fine. In some ways, I’m, I’m happy. He told me that. But in some ways there, there’s now a desire to maybe go back to school for things I actually find interesting.

That’s sort of the way to do at least for me, I worked for a few years and I said, Okay, I want to stay in the nonprofit realm. Let me go back for you know, the degraded so it’s interesting, because we talked about wanting to discuss issues surrounding youth in the church and youth retention are sort of the the issues facing young people in the church. And in your story, and I’d imagine in Tim’s, and I’ll talk about mine a bit. You touch on issues regarding living life, hard questions, struggle, mine involves, you know, failure, coming to terms with your own need for Christ and things like that. And there’s, there’s sort of, there’s no shortcuts. And the idea that answering those hard questions is, is a key factor in lighting a fire under your purse, I guess for you, it seemed like the fire was already lit like this passion or this internal angsty struggle to try to find answers that were gnawing at you. So the fire was there. But having the answer sort of being the, the, the addressing of hard questions that you didn’t find elsewhere. I mean, you know, you

think about it, you know, Carl Jung says this really great thing. He says, you know, no, no tree can reach to heaven without its roots in hell. What does that even mean? Yeah, you know, and it’s like, Well, look, man, you can just go off and say you believe something blindly. Or you can actually like, see, you can experience life, the hell, you know, of life and then go, this is why this is this is real, at least for me. And yeah, I have rapidly thrust through life for a long time trying to figure out like I said, I was, I’ll be honest, I tried to figure out every reason why the Christian story was not real. And I did not want it to be real. I’ll be transparent about that, you know, and God knows my heart. So I, you know, whatever. He knew it. And it was just this idea of really what is true, what is real, and the existential hawks that comes along with that desire of the I was feeling, okay. And I was left alone. My family, I turned around, everyone died. It was like it was it, it was like, Okay, well, then you have this whole quandary of real Why am I just looking for heaven? Because I want to see them, and I missed them. And then I had to, like ruin just kind of handicap it back to No, no, no, this is like, this is I believe these things, because that’s the beginning of a manifesto right for myself. I think that people should sit down and create for themselves. Why but you’ve thought about that. But yeah, but he, but yeah, he still all you got to do this thing. I’m like, I kind of did this thing for me loosely, in my own, you know, my own way, which is to really, you know, around by yourself, why do you believe what you believe in? And you can articulate it to maybe, maybe, maybe you should scrap it? Yeah, and then come back. And then the idea of the product is so in terms of color comes to mind.

And it’s interesting, I’ll give a brief synopsis because I haven’t we originally were going to address it in the opening episode of the podcast and you my brother, but we just like scrap the part of its I’ll tell people a bit about my my upbringing. I’ll let Tim do a brief one as well. Because I think there’s a lot of overlap in terms of I mentioned, sort of before we started recording that a big thing for me was the passion of my parents, I remember being a kid. And my story in the church is being in worldwide for a long time. So you had the the big splits in terms of like 92, and 95. And you know, after CGI and all that. But there was a group of people who stayed in worldwide who kept the Sabbath in the holy days, and all the sort of the core doctrines of the Church of God. But for one reason or another decided that it wasn’t the right thing to do to leave the organization. Yeah. And, and so my family was part of that group. We were in worldwide, our white congregation until like 2006. And at that point, the local minister said, we’re going to Sunday and of course that was not amenable to us, we’re like to know that we’re not in so we want to be on our own. So we’re we have been a small independent Church of, you know, 20 or so people since 2006. But everyone says to me, that must have been so hard if no young guy didn’t meet young people my own age until I was 1617 years old, we had a feast. And so my good friends in the church were always my parents, friends or their peers. And I remember thinking, especially when I was in my 20s, and now in my 30s it was so impactful, and so cool to watch my parents struggle against the apostate ministry for like 16 years. Maybe less than that, because of course, the beginning it wasn’t it wasn’t until early, mid 90s that things really hit the fan. But seeing for the majority of my life that I was cognizant of my parents would listen to a message that was completely wrong in church. And then the whole crew that was like minded would talk about why it was wrong. Everyone was knowledgeable men and women like just the some of the most biblically literate and on fire people I’ve ever met to this day. And the idea of being in battle or in a in a purposeful struggle was so impactful to me that sort of by the time I hit adulthood, and we by a point that had been removed from our life, because we’re now independent. Now Grace Communion international, when went away, to do other things, at least in our area. And it was that passion. Stay with me remember thinking when I was a kid, seven, eight years old, man, that’s the coolest thing in the world. Like being in God’s Church being involved in that dynamic discussion. When I’m an adult, I want that and so I was baptized at eight Tina. And the interesting thing is, when you’re baptized at 18, most of your life struggles come while you’re converted. Yeah. How much? Do you really struggle in your preteen early teen years like life hasn’t hit you. on your own, you haven’t gotten so. So I went through this really tough and interesting really decade of encountering things for the first time struggling failing in a massive way coming to terms of my own need for for Christ in a personal way. And I came out of it sort of telling people, you know, I felt like a second generation Christian growing up, my parents were in the church and everything and I definitely felt that way. And then by my mid 20s, I feel like a first generation Christian and, and I completely identify with that way of thinking I realized I had been engaged in it and it didn’t work out and realizing that I was putting so many things above my relationship with God and my conversion process. And learning to to cope with disappointment or boredom or whatever was with certain things, all these crutches and falling into bad patterns of behavior. And you know, I never had the period that some people do where you know, they leave the church then come back, because like, I did all my struggling firmly in it. But listen, that a quitter. So it’s a weird, I was talking to my dad about this. The other day, it’s actually a weird dynamic to be falling, to be first encountering your need for Christ and falling short in such a massive way. But still, like, I know, this is true. I’m like, I’m learning so much. But I have this failure as a juxtaposition. Yeah. But anyway, that identity crisis almost. Yeah, well, it

wasn’t so much identity crisis. He was like, What is this, like, in addition to coming to terms with that? No, this is the human experience. And my parents are great. At no point did they judge or anything? They said, like the moment I came to them instead of bias, I tell you, so I’m like, I’m struggling with this. And instead of being judgmental, I remember my dad going this is what we’re talking about. It was almost like he reached over and shook my hand said Welcome to the club. He’s now a member affiliate Frederick crowns actually sounds like a great thing to from from the beginning was that, that passion, and I’m trying to reiterate that because I think it’s key to talking about the sort of retention of youth in the struggles young people run into in the in the church. And that is, I feel like you got to have that fire. And I don’t know how it gets lit. And there was at one level of fire for the church growing up because of my parents have seen that. But then my personal failure with that, that real fire in relationship for Christ. So there’s no real, I don’t think administration’s of churches can fast track that for people. I think the best thing they could do is be there to support people when they do encounter failure or tough questions, not not tell them. You shouldn’t be asking that, you know, and then I’ll stop that for the sake of letting Tim talk. But uh, yeah, that’s that’s my story in a nutshell, and worldwide for a long time, and then

independent from there. Thanks for sharing. There’s a lot in the identify with two because I grew up in the church as well, my parents started attending in the 60s. And, you know, when I was when I came along, it was really, my earliest memories, were in the midst of the worldwide split up in the early 90s. And then, you know, you’re 5, 6, 7 years old, you don’t really have any consciousness of what’s going on. Except, you know, this man, church last week was really big. Church this week is a lot smaller. Yeah, I remember I think it was, we started going to global in 95. And I remember our first space there. And from there, we basically I’ve been in global slash living my whole adult life attending there and identify two with I think something you’re uncovering is the criticality of the parents role in trying to foster within their kids. That passion for the truth in that engagement. And looking back, I can see that from my parents. engagement from my dad, like making sure there’s intentional, you know, family Bible studies, stuff like that. And then, you know, it has to land on. I don’t want to say good soil, but like, for lack of a better metaphor, right. It has to land on somebody who’s receptive to it, and serve For whatever reason, I took a lot of interest in it. And so I came to the point of actually to when I was 15 years old, I went to NYC living youth camps. And back then it was directed by Gerald Weston, who’s now the presiding evangelists to living. And that was the first time that I actually started thinking about baptism, like, up to that point, I was interested, but just that environment, and the positive reinforcement of healthy values, they’re really kind of inspired that me so I came back, talk to my dad, he’s, he’s a pastor, so said, Hey, can we talk about baptism? And he was like, well, you’re 15. You know, probably, you know, think about that, give it a couple of years, and then come back. So when I was 18, I came back and we cancelled it. So I got baptized. And then absolutely, when you’re 18, you still know absolutely nothing. You think you do, and then, you know, it hits the fan. And you have, I’ve moved out, had some life experience, you know, had some fun and party in college and all that stuff. So never left the church, but in certain ways, it’s like, my body was there. But the spirit was not in certain ways. And then to like, some of my family, wound up leaving living, and I went through a period there trying to figure out my place in the old church, community. And that’s when I started, my mindset changed a little bit where I was a little bit more open to other people, within the church of god community, attending elsewhere, and just exploring my options, and wound up staying with living eventually, for a number of reasons. But it was, that was my point, really, where I had the breakthrough growth phase into making the faith not just that my parents or people around me, but really my there’s no

that’s to say, we talked about this earlier today. But the conversation around retaining young people, always is sort of just personally, I get the intent, but it’s always sorbs a little bit rubbed me the wrong way, because it implies a degree of control over young people that you don’t have, it’s the

commoditization of the congregation, right. It’s creating consumer Christians. Absolutely. It feels, it feels weird. It feels like using the word revenue, when you talk about church growth, right? Or these kind of, you know, financial terms, which, by the way, just has that feeling I agree with you, man.

It’s sort of like, it’s, it’s the same way the term revenue is a reality. It’s just it does, it connotes something on, but at the same time, you know, I get what’s being discussed, and that is, we are young people aren’t staying. Why is that? Or?

And why should they? You know, I’ll bring up the point, why should they right? I mean, what’s what’s going on with us right now? You know, we would you, you know, I mean, look, look, I and I don’t mean that in kind of a combative way. But like, you’ll truly ask the question, should they? Why should they if they should? Because right now, they, there’s a lot of research to say that the kids don’t, they don’t buy, because you said something earlier, just really great. Your body was there, but the Spirit wasn’t right. And it’s like, maybe that’s what’s going on for them that they’re, they see their parents, you guys both have really good parents. It sounds like that’s not the case for everyone. They’re not putting that passion. And so maybe this falls on the shoulders of the parents more than it does the church. I don’t know. I’m just I’m just cool. There’s that there’s a couple.

There’s a couple of things in there. And one is I’ve been thinking about this a lot that I don’t think it’s a weird expectation we have that we would retain more youth than we’d lose. Like I don’t see that in Scripture. I don’t I also don’t see in Scripture, a real concern with trying to accommodate a specific segment of the congregation. It’s like God is calling people of all ages into his into the body to be part of the bride. And those people need to grow and they need to be assisted in we all have a role to play in being the body and being kings and priests in the world tomorrow. And I don’t know if expecting year over year growth and youth retention is something we should expect. It’s one of those. It’s a very hard life. God’s calling us small group. Now, and it might, that might not even be a reasonable benchmark to have.

And to just be focused on watering and planting, maybe this is the idea may be having meaningful conversations with young people. And just letting it kind of, you know,

I mean, I can tell you like camp program was instrumental to me, freedom attaining and staying in the church right. Now, if it hadn’t been there, maybe some other mechanisms would have would have helped me I would have. But what do you think those about?

It just, I think the environment there captures a taste of what the culture that we were trying to promote, and exercise of the church, which is really a reflection of God’s kingdom for what we want that to be. And I caught that vision. And that spoke to me. And to me, the whole reason, the whole appeal, whether I’m 10 years old, 20 years old, or now, you know, older is that this is where this is where the truth is being taught, explored, exercised and focused on. And

I don’t know if that that’s regardless of demographic or age, or categorization, you either you either want that or you don’t.

Yeah, I wonder if that’s the thing I’ve been thinking I’ve been thinking a lot lately is, like, I don’t think you can, you can’t like Usher someone in through the process of conversion and struggling through like you, people just have to experience it. I think maybe sometimes we try to put a bubble around certain people, I get it, I would imagine, if you’re a parent is a very easy thing to want to do. Like just to protect your child, I don’t obviously don’t have that experience. But like, I can understand, but there’s sort of the we have to let people go through their life, and you give guidance and advice, but you got to let people fail. Like you’re

really attached Mother, you know, that’s not able to cut the purview of the the constraints, right, that causes more problems than it does solve them. That’s that’s an issue, right coach talking about, you’ve got to let them find, find safe ways for them to fail. And then to be there, to give them maybe the the answers to why

worry might it might not even be safe, like I know a lot of people who struggle with, you know, my daughter just left the church. And it’s an interesting phenomenon when they phrase it that way, because you’re taking the human life is a law, it could be a long life, and you’re taking a moment in time snapshot of a person’s development and making a definitive statement about what they’ve done. Whereas maybe what they need is five years away, and to learn this for themselves, and they come back maybe that’s exactly what they need, and how God is going to work with them to come back like you don’t know. And I think that’s the hard part is that we, we want people to follow a certain path of conversion. And I always think it’s that simple. I think I wonder if the thing we can do is as a body is just not the impediments to that process. I feel like at times, maybe we don’t always have the best questions, depending on who your support are. The best answers to the hard questions, depending on your support system is like I was, personally always encouraged to ask tough questions, or if I disagreed to say something. But if you grew up in an environment where that wasn’t the case, it’s very hard to navigate through the hard questions you encounter as you enter adulthood.

Sir, keep coming back to the screen of some of the things I’ve read that people say about the church, and who knows they don’t know anything other kids right there, y’all know, I but you know, this is their experience, right?

the demographics of who’s listening to the podcast? Well, I know honestly, what I know. I’m not listening to you right now.

No, but but, you know, in other words, take this with a grain of salt. But no, they’re, they’re their experiences valid? Absolutely. We shouldn’t we should be, we should be listening to them. And we shouldn’t be asking them some of these questions. You know, the thing we should be doing is a bunch of, you know, greater people sitting around a table talk. It’s like, Well, for starters, it was nice to ask them, you know, that’s, that’s a novel idea. I’ve always asked them what’s going on, right? Listen to them, but some of the things they’ve been saying, from what I read is like, the perceived hypocrisy, which that’s a big one. I don’t know. And that was my, my big hang up where I was like, you know, and so so so what do you do that but what does one do if that’s the idea will you show them where you are failing, you share with them you’re struggling, the best thing I saw my dad do was like fail gracefully, right? To be upset but not taken out. Something like this, right? And there are situations where it’s so tough. And you watch you watch them and how they handle themselves, right? Not what he was saying what he was doing. And that was huge for me. And that’s why I want to be like him. I say, my dad, my stepdad.

You’ll be like, David, when he when situation with murder, adultery. He was told this this kid is is gravely ill he prays to God, like what my lifestyle says here. And he and the answer’s no. He gets up, and he worships God. It’s like, well, what can I do? There’s just is this and I marvel at that I was talking again, I think was to my brother or someone that the two templates for me in terms of when you encounter failure, and not just failure, like, I got fired from a job, but I failed my God’s in my own moral standard. And how do you respond to that, and David’s a template, and I also this is a little bit of a joke, but for me, like the NFL quarterback, this idea that the ideal NFL quarterback has a short memory that whether you throw a touchdown or an interception, it’s just on to the next play, and you just forget about the past thing, because it’s, you realize he was wrong. He’s in the past, you move forward that very practical, but also, in a case, obviously, of David or Paul, very spiritually mature, almost next level, maturity, sort of dealing with failure,

yeah, to be to be informed by your mistakes, but not controlled or determined by it. Right, to not dwell on it to ruminate on it. But yeah, to still focus on. And that’s it. That’s a balancing act. That’s rough, you know, but yeah, I mean, to kind of get back to this all I think, what they’re looking for something authentic. Yeah. Because they’re being told right now at school and at, you know, university and NLP, you know, you know, by their own parents, maybe who knows, and family members that like, it’s not your fault. And that’s not correct, right. It’s like, yeah, you know, what you’re, they know, it’s their fault. You know, everything you know, that’s, that’s not correct. And so it’s like, they’re not even being told what’s what so. And so they’re looking, and I think that is based on what’s being you know, what some of the experiences are, for love of the truth, they will come to the church, I think we have to have faith in that the thing that we got to make no, we need to make sure that we do is is to share our story, share our struggles, be transparent, be vulnerable. It’s like, man, there’s been a culture, do not show them to never let them see you sweating condo. And from the pulpit. You better know the answer. It was interesting. The other day, someone pulled me aside, and I’ve been newly getting messages newly ordained, you know, for instance, like, you know, that’s a terrifying thing. But, but, but I said, you know, hey, I don’t know, there. There’s a couple different ways of looking at this. And like, you might have seen just, everyone’s jaw dropped. I said, I don’t know from up there. It’s like, and I don’t I you know, this is there’s multiple ways of looking at this. There’s me too, though, not only they’re getting the message largely from from the world, predominantly, that is not your fault.

But I sometimes not all the time. I know some really great people with ministers in the church who don’t do this. But I think too often we convey the message in the church, when people fail, and they decide they want to become vulnerable and share their failure. Well, that’s not only is it completely your fault, but Christians don’t do that. Yeah, failure, that kind of failure is not like Christians struggle, but like, they only struggle this much what you just did is beyond that, yeah. And we don’t, we don’t offer very often we aren’t able to offer the perspective to young people. But most of the time, they know what’s wrong already. They’re coming to you. And it’s like, Hey, this is the human experience. The failure like not I mean, this is sort of a similar thing, but like, get used to it man, like you’re going to be struggling against yourself and like that’s what conversion is conversion is Yeah, you were called into the god family. And Christ didn’t plagiarizing this from another person’s message. No, my original when when you’re baptized, Christ doesn’t look at you and go, you know what, this is a good structure. Just need some windows needs a coat of paint, and there’ll be good it’s a gut job, he tears you down and we built CSS. And and so the the idea that people in the church of god would not confront the same kinds of failures people in the world do is ridiculous the differences when we confront them, we try to address it we try to understand what what in me is broken that led to that and how do we how do we move past it? How do I learn how to become more like Christ? Whereas people in the world are you They’re completely blind to it. Or they revel in it. And they say, this is great. This is my struggle with x issue is perfectly fine. And their loss.

Also to you mentioned, you know, it’s a it’s a common thought that kids are upset with, or you know, young people are upset with perceived hypocrisy, right? Also to like, on the other hand, they’re hypocrites as well, like everybody’s hypocritical, and that’s what’s right. Here, yeah, accusing this person or this minister of will, you’re a hypocrite because it’s what is the word? Well, okay, you’re over there doing what you’re doing to so it’s a, what is a given tag to that? You know, certainly Yeah.

And that’s that there’s value in play the insane like, Well, you know, how am I to how am I contributing to this thing to right? And did I just, like sit there at this at this message, and someone asked me if it was a good message to say, Oh, yeah, I was great. It’s good. It was good. You know, he didn’t think it was good. I was like, I

actually mentioned this a while ago to that to someone that I was talking to about this very issue, because I don’t think that’s actually hypocrisy, the idea that, hey, we have a standard or moral standard something and we fall short. But to me, that’s not hypocrisy. That’s right. That’s a struggle. To me, the perceived hypocrisy that young people see, I don’t want to pretend to speak for all young people. But at least the one the kind of hypocrisy that that I react emotionally to, is when you’re the kind that some of my friends who’ve confided in me that they saw growing up left and right, and really damaged them is when their parents have a church face him. And they say all these things, and they show no intention of ever trying to work on it at home. It’s not that, hey, I fell short. Or hey, I yelled at your mother or I’m struggling with this thing. The our inability to perfectly live up to God’s righteousness is like, just par for the course. But, but when we say that we’re a certain way. And then we make what not only do we fall short, but we don’t acknowledge it. And we don’t make any effort to try to be indifferent. We’re just like, either playing church, whatever the phrase you want to use. Yeah, that’s the kind of hypocrisy that I think young people really bothers them. And I think drives people out in droves, because like, this can’t be real, because I’m seeing this and I see no genuine, just in so it gets closer kind of goes back to the parent together, you were saying, you know, this kind of falls on the shoulders of the parents and exacerbated by it. They see it in other people in addition to like, always, everyone, yeah,

it’s all of them, you know, and exactly that. I mean, it’s so it’s, um, there’s an elephant saying, you know, you can’t give away that you don’t got, you know, you know, the enemy will pick up on that. And they’ll they really will, they’ll see, you know, okay. And we all see better than we do. Right? That’s, that’s the thing of it right here, when you’re kind of like, trying to deal with that trying to like, you know, grapple with that. And if you do for kids see you struggling with that. I think that the fear is so funny that the context of fear that does so much damage, it really does, you know, leaders who operate out of fear, because a lot of damage, and I think a lot of times they have these kind of layup sermons and messages, and hey, look, I’ve been giving some of those messages. I think I feel like I was like, Look, it’s interesting. It’s kind of fascinating, but is it really substantive? You know, is it really going to help you with what you’re dealing with right now? Probably not. And that’s, you know, that’s been something I’ve been kind of tracking the struggles myself is how to actually say something that is not gonna set the church back on in 50 years, you know, it can be fired, but but also, you know, be be meaningful and sincere and open and honest and say, Look, you know, these are the things that I deal with, and maybe you can see yourself in here somewhere and get some value. And there’s this great thing that Jordan Peterson says in his in his latest book, he says, you know, don’t hide something, don’t hide, don’t hide it in the fog doesn’t like this, you know, and it’s like, it’s like, be transparent with people be open with them. Don’t Don’t play church, right? Playing church is hiding in the fog, right? It’s like, Oh, no, no, everything’s fine. Everything’s great. But meanwhile, it’s there in the fall, right? It’s there in front of you. And that’s like,

and you don’t need to give explicit detail. Right? What do I think it is good. It

is not your business, there is none of your business. Right? And my parents would say, That’s not and that’s not your business, you know, where you can be you can talk

sort of, in vagaries about struggle, right. Like you don’t have to tell someone that you’re your marriage is struggling about this very specific issue. But you can, you can openly acknowledge, hey, you know, we struggle or I struggle and it’s not just that, like, Hey, I accidentally snapped at my wife like it goes beyond that. Like, it’s absolutely In just generally operating in, under the the, the spaces free open that you do struggle and struggle in big ways, and you don’t have to be crazy opening, but I think if people talk in those with that kind of language enough, people will get the message. Okay, this is not, these are not perfect people because the number of stories I hear about people coming into the church from the world and they all say, My first impression when I came in the congregation was all all these people are perfect, and I can’t. And of course, they all say I learned that they’re not perfect. we all struggle with where it’s you don’t, you don’t want to inadvertently give off that impression.

Yeah, there’s that. Also, what occurs to me the point that this isn’t just unique to the church, or the church environment, everybody, our initial meeting, tries to present a certain face and a certain social media is built on it. Yeah, right social media. So, you know, I won’t be overly negative or say this is a failure of the church, it’s just a failure of humanity is part of that human struggle.

And it’s like you find this balancing act of letting your displeasure be known, but don’t blow up. Right, don’t go into the gritty little details, right. I mean, really, there’s a, there’s a kind of a happy medium between the two. I think that people end up in one ditch or the other, there’s no sense there’s, it’s like law started the sensible center, you know, and there’s, you know, just swinging for the fences, and you’re trying to do this thing where, you know, they’re doing some thing up there, you know, from the pulpit, and it’s like, you know, just, you know, to be sincere to be, you know, kind of direct with people. And I think that’s what I think that’s what the youth is missing, direct conversations about their inability to do the things that they’ve been striving to accomplish. Right. And then here’s some things you can try out.

Because I think we also want to be clear, we’re not trying to, you know, armchair quarterback, leadership in the church. I mean, I think the the people on this episode right here and interesting position, because you’re in a leadership position. Yeah. My dad’s a minister is your dad’s a minister, like we grew up with it, we completely understand the realities and the difficulties of giving messages being a leader in the church, you know, and by extension, because we’ve grown up in that sphere, we know the other leaders, you know, we’ve talked with tons of leaders as part of church, a god network fair, completely sympathetic to the struggle. And it’s, and when we talk about the church having issues, it’s also not just a leadership problem like this. Yeah, this is top to bottom. And it’s more of a rallying cry to Hey, Let’s all try to address this and very good arm again, I’m

pretty strong in here. Right? And kind of, you know, taking this down, right, was great, you know, that’s all their fault. But no, no, I think you’re right, if you know that there are good people in the church, obviously, are struggling with the same issue. And I think there is this because the culture that’s been kind of created, I think we’re all complicit, right? Kind of going along with all this, that we’ve all heard the culture of kind of having it all together. And again, that doesn’t, that doesn’t pull for, with what I call authentic communication from the pulpit, right? And then that breeds authenticity and vulnerability breeds authenticity and vulnerability, right? And then you’re kind of in a, in a safe space food there it is, was a shame, there isn’t a better way. You know, it’s really good. Because it really, there is value in letting the pretense or the context being like, hey, look, you won’t say me, you know, I don’t even know if that’s true. What you what you say to me here, this moment, I will try to figure it out with you. And that was always my, my dad’s, you know, maybe this is like you said earlier, like your parents, your dad, like shake your hand and you’re saying, Hey, I’m struggling with this thing. And same thing with my dad. Like, I was like, Look, he says, Look, if you have something, you don’t lie to me, you know, like, oh, man, okay. He’s, like, always, always be truthful with me always tell me We’ll figure it out together. And I remember thinking, you know, we need that we need that. That person inside, you know, would say, you know, meeting just for people to church slate and say about young people, they need someone to church, they need someone in their life that they can come to tell them what they’re dealing with no matter what in the so we I just recorded a podcast episode with a good friend of mine, Bob UC, who is a retired addiction counselor.

And the and that’s exactly the prevailing wisdom in Alcoholics Anonymous in the in the sort of emergence around for like, 100 years now. But the idea of support groups and recovering from addiction is that you know, we’re not saying our parents or someone who isn’t a supporter, but he was gonna say, whatever you did, it’s not wrong. It’s it’s like yeah, there’s there’s, you know what, when I went to when I went to my dad about about organizing for my dad, but what my parents and said, like, I have failed in this huge way. It’s not like I’m struggling being tempted like I have It failed already at this numerous times. It was one of those. For me speaking as my parents where he already knows it’s wrong. Obviously, he’s obviously distraught. So it’s like, we don’t have to beat him over the head with this, like he knows it. And this is par for the course of being human. Like, if it wasn’t, this would be something else with him. So why would we be shocked like it was anything different? I remember watching I don’t even know what the program was. He was on TV. I got a morbid fascination with it. It was like they were following a Christian family like some Protestant denominations, Christian families reality show. And this woman or girl like intertwines married, married woman, was going to open up to her mother, that day that she didn’t enter into her marriage, a virgin. And her mom broke down. Like her mother lost in like it that she was so disappointed in this, this girl, or this been coined by that her daughter, and I thought is that the

right way to accurately with this was this was this recording was a video? Yeah, so yeah, I wonder how much that was? Like, it could have been stage. Stage, we just kind of did the the, the, the face that we have to give here is that we are we are upset, you know, assuming she went over the top sharing what should have been. But the other thing as well, only if it’s okay to use it alone. That’s not a call. That’s not that’s okay. Like, how do we find this middle ground of like, that’s not good? Or, you know, what do you think? What happened, you know, to get you, and Jordan says, to get curious, when you start to get like triggered or start getting really anxious about something, to get curious about what’s going on over there. Right. And then to also even say that you’re having like to be training you, the parent, be transparent with everything. I’m having a hard time processing this, and I’m not trying to like, you know, make you feel bad. I’m just wondering what took place?

What if I imagine the parents being feeling sort of guilty? Like, oh, man, what do we miss? How about them? Oh, but like, not even necessarily a selfish thing. Just feeling guilty. My, you know, my natural with my parents have opened up about man, it’s just, it’s hard being a parent, your kids get to adulthood, and you think, man, I could have done so many things different. You know, what did I do to pass on thing, it’s to get guys that that we didn’t want to pass on. But it’s the same phenomenon in the support groups that, you know, you go in and you you’re with people who have failed in the same sort of given what you have. And none of them are saying, Oh, it’s fine. Keep doing it. Yes, we’ve all acknowledged wrong, we’ve all acknowledged, you know, we’re sort of, we’re not in control of our lives to a large extent, like it’s hard, we’re, we’re struggling against this, we need to, we need to grab hold of this and try to find a way to fix it or to move forward. And we’re going to do that together, we’re going to do that acknowledge being open with each other, acknowledging that we’re struggling and helping each other find a path forward, we’re not saying it’s okay, come here to feel good. But we’re also not saying what you did is awful, you need to be on the fringes of society. Yeah.

There’s like, there’s a care. And a part of the care is accountability. And that’s that holding each other accountable, as well. But you can’t do that, if you don’t know, if you don’t share. And if you’re not free to have a safe space, to exercise that vulnerability to share with with your brothers and so good.

It’s a structure, it’s a structure and a process. So like, I have a morning call with my buddy, and we talk. And we say, look, you know, alright, so well, what would, what did and what didn’t you do, and like, we’ll call it, we’ll call each other out, but we’ll just, you know, we’ll, we’ll, it’s an accountability partner, right. And it’s just like a balance, great, just things that you’re doing. And there’s just kind of checking in some time, and then this or sometimes it’s like, hey, look, I’ve been resisting this thing. And, and without, you know, getting, you know, too detailed here. So it’s an ability to basically confess our sins, one to another, right? And not with this big build above, it’s gonna be this big dramatic thing. It’s just kind of like, Hey, you know, this is a way to clear, it’s a way to clear it away from me, so I can move forward, like David, right? It’s not about dwelling in this sin, right? It’s about Okay, I’m going to redouble my efforts next time. And, you know, try to take it to try to take a little bit of ground each day, you know, and that’s the hopefully you have some forward momentum, right, you’re going to begin to kind of meander back and forth towards your goal, you’re gonna fail and understand, but as long as you’re constantly moving, you’re taking it forward a little bit. That’s, that’s a good thing. And it’s calling myself that I measured myself. Right. And so that I would, I would say that everyone should have third person.

Yeah, whoever that is in my my dad likes talking about that what God expects when it comes to dealing with sin in struggles with yourself that God looks for willingness, effort and perseverance. Because this idea that we’re going to overcome everything before we die is ridiculous, like we’re going to carry were there certain struggles, yes, that we’re going to carry to our graves and there might be struggles, we have Right now that we will have when we die, but it’s, it’s not that you go, I’m always gonna have it. So I’m just gonna, I’m not gonna address Yes, the balancing act, he wants to see that we’re willing to change that we’re trying to change. And no matter how often we fail, we’re going to continue trying to change the Gary Petty has a great statement in one of his messages that we just can’t leave the job site. Like spray, we just have to say you’re working. Our obligation is to not leave the job site. And I think those two things in conjunction those two sort of sayings are are the right ones that I like the accountability. Part of thing is, you know, I, I don’t have direct experience with a but my understanding is that’s what a sponsor sorta is, if if Tim and I were alcoholics any idea and I knew and Tim’s my sponsor, I call him up. Tim, I fell off the wagon, it’s been over a month and I fell off the wagon. It was okay, man, well, let’s go, let’s go to diner get a cup of coffee, let’s talk about it. Like, how do you need me to pull you out of the situation is

a really effective, it’s a really effective mechanism. It’s a weird kind of fallacy to operate from too, by the way, because like, if we do have the Holy Spirit that’s operating in our life in varying degrees, right. And we are in a lot of ways, kind of, you know, poking around in the dark. Seriously, right? Because that’s a Paul says, like, Look, you’re struggling against things you can’t even see. There are spirits that are emotion, they’re there, they’re moving, there is a vibrant community that’s happening in that unseen realm. And like, you can’t even confess what’s been what you’ve been struggling with, with your earthly brothers here, right? And you’re being, you know, kind of ravaged and maybe who knows what’s going on in the world, right? And you can’t even you can’t even you know, get the help and assistance that we need here. You can even get the basic salad say. And so that seems like that’s just you know, man, how can you even reacted with what you’re experiencing? If you don’t have the support and love of your brother, I mean, that’s, for me, that’s what’s also going on the background that we don’t even, we don’t even give the kids a fighting chance. And so what do they do, they can become numb. And they kind of pleasure seek because you know, they’re so non and they’re so they want to feel something and then they go to these other churches that that’s the primary directive is to make you feel something.

Even when you have that to a certain extent, even if even if you’re you have some people who are supportive, that’s such a human temptation, like there are all these things we carry with. with us. They’re like, I need to know this, or I need to know, john Bradshaw is a writer. I don’t actually know what his official credential is not. He’s not a therapist, but he’s very, he’s very big in the 70s and 80s. He talks about it very big and like the dome, the addiction front and family dynamics, talks about these things that we do that get it get us out of how we feel get us like the mood alter, yeah, to get us out of our consciousness. Yeah, and so whatever the whatever you’re learning to crutches, it could be a million different things could be an activity, it could be an emotion, it could be, you know, so many people just device, it could be it could be relationships, this perpetual need to find someone to be with and marry because you think that fills the hole in you that exists. And that’s the that’s the real tough balance.

This … you get the thief. And then you tell not to do that anymore. And then you give him something to do with his hands is a really interesting bit. And scripts, like why would you do that? Because you’re going to replace it with something I think there’s gonna be this guy’s probably talking about, look, you have an addiction. You can’t just cut it cold turkey, you have to fill it with something else. And I and there’s been this, this message kind of sort of in my head about something about finding your balance, finding your flow, finding your ability to kind of deal with and overcome these, these maybe these unhealthy behaviors, but to but to systematically and slowly carve out new neural, neurological pathways that help us to become successful. And I’ve never because people find if you remove this thing, you need to replace it with something else. Yeah,

that’s that’s James. I mean, that goes back to habit formation, James clear, talks about that extensively in atomic habits. And that’s kind of built on the work of Charles …, who works alone, I have information as well, too. And that’s been a message throughout the years throughout the Church of God is that when you are in the process of conversion, you’re really replacing your carnal nature with the nature of God and teasing that out because you become a person. So it all goes together.

And that’s a that’s a key point. Yeah, it’s because there’s a there’s a part of addiction recovery that’s very functional, that talks about replacing the addiction with a different habit of working out is a very common one. But you also have to get at the root cause and it’s the conversion process is not just about developing better habits. It’s about changing nature. It’s about removing the… The distance to, to the to wanting certain things or the over the course of your life is a process. And so it’s it’s not the end the the the trouble is, and I thought this was a brilliant point to that graduate talks about a bit Carl Jung has talked about it a bit, the hole we’re all trying to fill is a hole that is built into us that it only can be filled by God. That’s the whole world trying to fill with other things, things we think we want more than relationship with God. The problem is that that hole that’s meant to be filled with a relationship with God will never be fully filled in this life is only one more spirit. So there’s a built in yearning in pain that is in us that won’t go away until we’re spirit. That’s the sort of the catalyst that’s meant to drive us and yeah, that’s a good thing.

It’s a kind of counterintuitive, yeah, that’s the constantly striving after something that cannot touch or feel right. But you’re constantly out there that carry, that’s, you know, so yeah, this is this idea of it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle, you see that it’s trite, but it kind of fits the point here, right, that we’re saying, Look, it’s about, you know, really substantive changes your life, that’s a feeling like you’re saying, Oh, it’s working out. And it’s interesting, you know, the, I’ve been talking with this guy who’s developing this program for taking, there’s a couple navy seals, ex Navy SEALs who want to walk through a Christian boot camp. And really going through the processes the what they do is they say, look, the Navy SEALs will bring it down from, you know, just what is your next steps that you have to take to not be so overwhelmed by the mission? Right? Interesting, because we usually get caught up and overwhelmed. And we’re kind of replaying this scenario, if I just can’t do this, you just almost immediately Well, I’m just gonna take that drink, because I just can’t deal with any of this anymore. It’s forever, I’m never gonna drink ever again. It’s like, Oh, well, screw it, or whatever. And so, but there is, but they’ve identified this as a cubicle like your brain. That’s the quote, they call it the quitting chemical, I can’t remember he gave me this perspective, it’s really pretty great. It’s a kind of like a retreat, you know, but to go through and to understand there’s actually chemical right, and then just, you just get in, they have some best practices to quit from having that chemical fire, or whatever it is, you know, to try. And that’s, you know, that there should be some, some practices, there’s the box breathing out, have you heard of this, right, where you breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, hold for four seconds. And there’s this idea that you can kind of control your breathing, to get yourself to do a pattern interrupt for yourself, when you’re in that kind of in that but in any way still, you know, I think that that might be giving people some tools, as opposed to just saying I just go pray about it, or whatever.

The interesting thing is, that’s a very commonly understood thing, again, in addiction recovery. One of the things Bob Ucci and I talk about is that addiction is when the the space between impulse and action is removed. People who are addicts don’t have that. So most of us, right, like, if we get angry, we’re able to take a step back and be like, I’m not going to punch that person. But if someone is a rageaholic, I think it’s the thing people are like a slave to rage addicted to it. They just react or someone’s an alcoholic, there’s no, there’s the impulse that I’m going to do it. And and part of recovery is sort of the practical tools to recoveries, sort of reestablishing that, that spacing time between impulse and action. So you could think through reason through it, and try to get your bearings. And

that’s to realize that that’s a muscle that you won’t be very proficient at it in the very beginning, right? The good In other words, that you will delegate stronger over time, and there’s a process in your brain called myelination, it’s basically mutate, it’s a chemical that codes over you the neurological pathways in your brain, that broadens the bandwidth. And then the more you try something new, the more that the neurons fire down that neurological pathway, the stronger that that, that … will become. And so you get better out of those, your God built it that you will become transformed, the more and more you do this thing. And so and that’s, that’s been encouraging to me to study my hand in moments of you know, okay, it won’t be this difficult, always right. Even with working out especially, you know, that’s, that’s one of those things that you got to push through the pain or whatever. But with anything in life, it’s really just the and I think if you’re able to visualize what’s happening or and kind of pull yourself away from the experience that you’re seeing, increasing the time between impulse and action and action. The more time you have to kind of need to break that pattern.

But I think the the fact that we went down that road, as much as we did, is a testament to the difficulty of conversion, it’s one of those becoming baptized, to being part of the Church of God is is not, you know, you’re not just put in a social club, you’re not just, you know, just all of a sudden get a membership card in this group, because it’s really an arduous process of daily introspection and fighting. And, and it’s, it’s beautiful. But it’s, it’s, it’s tough, and we need each other. And so the church, the people who are already baptized or have been going through the conversion process for a while. I think it’s important, we are there for the young people, to not penalize them when they ask difficult questions or when they want to be vulnerable, not

shaming them. And to give them access to we mirror right Society of mirroring and then leading. And I think that that’s a big part of it. I think that again, it gets back to the culture, you know, if we can just keep bit by bit, piece by piece, right? A little bit at a time. And that’s why it’s just it’s going to take some time, I think, to cultivate a safe space in church. But seriously, though, nearly, you know, to to kind of overtime, to give these, let’s call them little ones taking ons, you know,

he realized that’s what the title of the of the podcast is going to be Blake Silverstein talks about the need for safe spaces in the church.

Great. This podcast is over. But, but no, I think that the other there there is, and you know, a look. Fair enough. Yeah. But the vulnerability, the ability to say I have been struggling with these things. And this is some things that I’ve noticed. And I’ve and I have had some successes here. And again, I’ve been, you know, kind of that’s so successful here. And this is what I get what I’ve noticed, I think now those are, those are interesting sermons, and maybe maybe, maybe there’s there’s a Jewish, you know, Yiddish expression. From New York, so Yeah, exactly. Yeah, some some some gall, you know, to some wherewithal to share such a message. And I’m gonna I’m getting there and people who can share your testimony, that’s, I think, maybe, maybe that’s a that’s what people have been waiting for. He knows, there’s been a lot of great stuff out there not saying that there isn’t someone out there that’s doing this, but let’s keep doing it. Keep helping, not everyone, not just the youth, because I think I think they’ll come along. Right? They’ll be there. As long as we’re focused on some of these things out here. Each and every one of us is looking forward to this is also the thing in the background for me, which is like the, maybe the prosperity, the opulence that we’ve experienced here in the United States and given rise to some of this. CS Lewis says, this great thing is like, you know, we react to evangelism, like a overweight businessman after a large luncheon. You know, it’s kind of like, you know, this kind of lethargy, that’s kind of pervasive in the culture. That’s like, because we don’t have any, any any urgency, right? We have no enemy. And like, there’s that whole thing. So maybe, maybe, maybe a little, a little strife will go a long way, a little bit of persecution, would have us come together real quick. And then Ron says this great thing at the end of his message, he says, you know, big three says, look, you know, as much as the splits have hurt us as much as we’ve been divided. At the end of the day, I think, whenever we’re in prison, all together, you know,

they didn’t ask us which church we’re affiliated with before throwing us in the Gulag, right. How long is it going to take us to have each other’s necks? Man, I just whenever I hear that, like I get it, but it’s me. I don’t want to have to just dangles over here shaking his head.

You know what I do? Get it? It might take that it’s just, I would, I would hope it does. And can we all just have a hug now? Next, Now,

the other thing I’m thinking of doing, he kind of touched on it, but you know, not just not just helping young people but helping everyone in the church. I think there’s this I know even on occasion, I sort of bristle by the, the designation of a certain segment as young people. Because I think stratifying the church based on age or really anything can be harmful. And I think one of the best things about how I grew up is that the aged men like there were no other young people so my, to this day, I’ll go down and visit friends of mine who are you know, in their 60s, okay, let me come spend the weekend with you and we just hang out like this the same relationship that I have with you guys. Yeah. And in that, so that was so powerful to me and I think part maybe quite too big Have a tension to go in to on this podcast. But I think treating young people, like they belong here, like they’re valued members of the Church of God can mean that you’re, you’re an equal here, right? Like if you’re baptized and you’re going through this together, like maybe if you haven’t been baptized, you’re still learning, we’re here to help you. But once you’re in this, once you’re in the body, like you’re, you’re one of us and your opinion matters the same way mine does,

I call out the young people in our church and say, you know, what do you think we’ll have a Bible study, you know, they’re kind of like deer in the headlights, but you know, what, they, they, they then they rise to the occasion they they come to, you know, shake off the, the anxiety or whatever, and they they kind of put together they are kind of articulate, cogent thought, and it’s like, hey, they, that that, that fear turns into elation that gets transformed. And so that’s, I think you’re right, I think you’re absolutely right, that we teach we leave, we don’t treat them any differently than we would you know, an adult in some ways, right? Give them an opportunity to posture. Because the other thing creating structure, not a safe space structure, but structure to, you know, to really posture it, and because I think competition is really good. You know, in a lot of ways good competition is good for forever, for all involved. What is it bad when it becomes toxic? You know, that’s whenever you can get people that are dominating and kind of over and over kind of slapping down people, right? The

Beatles versus the Beach Boys competition, oh, Pet Sounds comes out, man we want to have a sergeant Pepper’s comes out, it’s admiration.

It’s healthy competition. And I think that, you know, how does that apply to the church? Well, you know, you try to find good ways for young people to, to posture and to, to kind of give, you know, an in a social setting, you know, a way to, to continue to struggle, and continue to try to strive to be better. I think that’s a that’s a good thing. You know, we were told that we’re still trying to, we’re still trying to figure out I think that how we create that.

It’s, it’s the The other thing, another impactful moment when I was growing up was, I remember vividly, again, probably being seven or eight years old. And you know that those exciting thing in the world was when brethren would come through in visit us we lived in downstate New York. So if someone was coming through even just flying into you know, LaGuardia or something 45 minutes north, they come stay with us for a weekend. And as we’re passing through, so I remember being in our dining room with a bunch of brethren and they were talking about whatever was going on the church at the time is probably the late 90s. So like complete chaos. You know, I’m enthralled. And my dad turns to me and goes, What do you think?

I’m like, but it’s like, yeah, we carry you think. We’re like, we your opinion matters. And I, you know, what, the 10 years old or something? Yeah, but I remember that moment, a switch flipped on like, Oh, my opinion has has value, that doesn’t mean I’m right. But that I can attribute I can work, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t work there seems like more often than not. But it’s, and that was just another thing that that lit a fire this idea that I can be a contributor now. And that the more I work on this thing, and the more I you know, study or go through life, and the more you know, tread I have on the tires that you get to a certain nation that you’re now you know, I remember when I was in my late 20s, and you know, my early 30s, realizing, man, like I have, I have actual life experience. Now I can talk with, with people who are, who are full blown adults, or you know, even 10, 20, 30 years older than me, and I can talk about life, and maybe they can even learn something from me, which is a novel concept. And you wonder how many young people think, or are told, people can learn from you too, or, you know, you’re you’re going through things that are important and unique. And eventually, you’ll be able to pass it on to other people.

There’s also kind of this this thing in the background, like where you think you know, them, you think you know them as a young person, right. And you discredit them as being anything other than what you’ve young and dumb experiences. So maybe you don’t know them, maybe you can take on the case that they are interesting, and they will say something that might shock you. And you know, I have had that happen a lot with some of the young people, our church that will blow you away with what they what they know, and what they what they’ve thought about. They’re very deep, you know, in their head, they and they, and a lot of times they’re they are struggling with some things that are very similar to what you’re struggling with, you know, I think that maybe taking the case that you don’t know them, that they have something of value, to share to offer. And you know what if you listen to people that way, just people not even young people, more times than not something valuable does get shared by them. They do share something of value and listen to them like they are valuable and listen to them. Like they have something interesting to say. And so maybe there’s some of that going on too. And I’m talking to myself as much as anyone right and it’s like You know, to remind myself that you don’t know that person, or an uncharted territory. And yeah, there might be something else. And there’s just there’s a propensity to continue to look towards the past, you know, we’re doomed to fail, you fail to repeat history, this whole thing, right? So, fair enough, you know, there’s some of that going on. But, but but this moment is unique, this time is unique, you know, and to really bring that to the, to the, to our experience with other people, especially talking to young people, give them some authentic, you know, know, direct attention, and to continue to get curious about what is going on over there in the world, to find out what they’re what they’re up to.

Because the the, the importance of me, obviously, being biased my undergrad degrees in history, and I love history, but it’s the understanding and accurate understanding history is valuable insofar as it informs the path forward. And to, you can’t live in history, you can’t I mean, you passionate about it, but you can’t assume because something happened or was effective at a certain point in this going forward, you can take principles, you can definitely see if something failed a time back in the day, like maybe we shouldn’t keep trying the same thing and expecting something different. That’s great. But it’s I think it’s, I imagine that at some core level, though, the stuff we’re talking about his call it just been effective for, for all of human history, like make some help someone feel valued, show them the time of doing and I used to talk about talking to yourself as much as anyone tell, I was telling him last night in many ways, being in the church now and feeling like I can contribute is very much like I got drafted to the NFL, like, it’s what I’ve wanted in my whole life, and now you’re in it. And so you can easily get caught up in talking, you know, the three of us talking, we’re talking with other people in the church, and you could forget that there’s a whole segment of people coming up that need your time as well. And I’m taking stock of the fact that people like Jonathan reedy, or Isaac Garcia, who’s who’s on our board now for trigger network gave me so much of their time when I was growing up. And now I’m the age they were when they were doing it for me. So it’s my turn to, to give it back to younger people, and it’s our time to make sure that people get the mentorship or the the time of day they need

give it them a and also giving them a purpose giving them a you know, a Lewis says that we should relate to our faith is that we were behind enemy lines, you know, and that we are, you know, at battle. We are you know, and that’s like, Man, that’s a whole different context and like see going on around me and most of churchianity you know, and so like, man, how about that operating context that you are you looked at you are in battle, you know, when it’s serious, and there are, you know, there’s there’s there it’s, you’re as interested in something as to the degree to which something is at stake. And that’s like, so what is that stake? Well, man, we should create, and we’re getting you know, and that’s subjective. So, like, maybe you should build a huge, you know, something’s at risk that’s big for yourself, right? Not that it’s, it will all be fine. It’ll all be okay. You know, that’s, that’s that’s something maybe you do too, particularly to the youth.

It’s an interesting concept to make mystically, the last thing we will posit somebody in the dome I’m sorry, man. Like, maybe I’ll just I’ll mention this because it relates and maybe you guys can respond, we’ll call it but I’ve been thinking about it that this life is a boot camp. It’s a boot camp like it’s because it needs to be hard, intense training and not supposed to be comfortable. And it’s also not the end goal when you when you die the next moment of consciousness is the resurrection. It’s not over like it’s just beginning that’s you’ve now you’re now in the landing crafts landing on Normandy the work starts in the kingdom it doesn’t end there. And so this is this is training for people and I wonder my I would imagine younger people would get energized if that was the prevailing theme is like we’re here to do work we’re here to do intense preparation it’s not okay well we’re baptize we’re going to keep these handful of rules or observances until Christ comes in that said, it’s like you need to work on ourselves we have we’re all struggling with to come together we have to make sure we give back to people.

I love that. That’s that’s exactly how I usually sum up to people what my life quote is, is that it’s really just a train ground preparation for what the next slide offers. So a lot of decision I may make a lot decisions I make a bar under that. Context like, well has this contribute towards my growth and advancement. And it’s not an easy thing, because sometimes I’m like, man, I’d rather just chill and hang out and have a good time. That’s something to resist, you know? Yeah. And earlier you mentioned what what was it? He said it was you are interested to the group degree that to which something is at stake. Yeah. Well, for all of us, the common thing that we all have a stake is eternal life. That is the greatest gift. Is there more, is there a higher state? Is there a higher state than that? You know, yeah. And how do we tap into that together

without blaming a toxic culture that people use to guilt you into doing something right whatever, whatever

is being part of the recreation not only the recreation but it’s it’s being part of the expansion, the god family, the brainy advanced team, where are we are going to be co saviors with Christ in the world tomorrow, like, that’s, that’s such an intensely important thing and learning all we can about ourselves and humanity and having empathy for people in the world and in the church now is so important, because we’re gonna be working with Christ to to save them in the world tomorrow. And yeah,

we get this in the Church of God, you don’t get this in Protestantism or Catholicism that there is it’s mostly something like, you’re going to be on a on a cloud somewhere playing the heart for for eternity, right? It’s like, you know, that might be interesting for like, a million years, right? You know, whatever it is, I get boring after maybe the second million years, just like this. And like, we understand that yet there is going to be work to do. And, you know, keep bringing up Ron, but I do work for Christian education ministry, meaning, God wants to spend you like so much spiritual currency, it’s like, oh, okay, he wants to use you, not just save your miserable hide, so that you can just sit there and play a harp instead of in the face of God, right? It’s like, fair enough, like then. But there’s something that like, you’re saying, there’s work to do. And that should, that should turn you on, that should give you a very, there’s a lot at stake, you know, that there is what you’re doing now, we’ll just, you know, affect you here. Now, it’s going to affect you for eternity. And there’s so this interesting idea that nailed that the last enemy to be defeated will be what death. And so like that, there’s something to that. It’s like, Okay, so now this this thing has been removed. So maybe the only the progress that you’ve made in this life will be tallied up, something like that. The progress that you’ve made here in this life in this battle around this training ground, is what we’ll set that marker, and that could be completely wrong. There might be the ability to progress, and then the world model, but

something about the parable of the talents, there’s, I mean, that principle is there, I don’t pretend to understand the extent of it.

God didn’t. I brought this up in a recent message to say, look, you know, from all the way that we can see there, there’s a lot there’s a couple different encounters in scripture where we say God likes to work inside of a council. The Heavenly Host, right. And there’s this interesting encounter God’s like, I think it’s First Kings 22 we’re josephat they have a get together, you know, they’re talking about going out attacking the city. And, and anyways, there’s this encounter that they want to go to this. This, they wanted to count get the council from the profits and from I’m sorry, the …, and the priests are all telling them. Oh, go go kidding. me. Oh, the victory will be handed over into your hand, you know, and they’re all just giving them lip service. They’re they’re basically on the payroll. Right. And then Josephat’s getting a little nervous. And he said, you know,

don’t you have one of those? there anyone else? Yeah. Is there anything else here? Right, this whole thing? I mean, so we Yeah, there is but I hate that guy.

was kind of what he says he never says anything. You never prophesize anything? Yes or good about me. Right? And he says, I will listen to see what he has to say. And so MCI comes around. What’s going on? Oh, yeah, you’ll be fine. Go Go. You’ll be great. Are you lying to me? Yes. Hold on. Hold on. I know they’re in now. Now that gets up, you’re up to something. You know, how many times have I told you not to lie to me, you know? And he says, All right. So here it is. And it gives us a count when God is in a council room sounds like it seems like and it says some lie and say this and the following. We’re saying that. So he’s in this group with these other beings. And he’s saying, how are we going to attempt they were thought God was all powerful. You know, knows everything. Yeah, he is. But apparently he’s interested in working with us. He wants to create community. He wants to create an opportunity, a structure for us to but he needs free choice on our part. Yeah. Yeah. Free Welcome to this whole thing. Right. And that’s, you know, that’s a beautiful part of any kind of buddy’s ambition, so he knows him and so the spirit he knows he can raise his hand, homie, pick me. Pick me, you know. Did you know I’ll be aligned mouth put into the into the mouth of a prophet says like, you know what that’ll work, go and do it. And so there’s like, you know, yeah, there might be this process of kind of working through this thing. God says the agenda, God says the thing that we’re going to do now how are we going to do it? God wants to work with us. God wants to spend us and use us. Right. And that, and that is something that’s I think, I think that might be similar to the Church of God. I don’t know if there’s any other real forms of Christianity that really understand that God wants to work with us already

occurred to me. I was just gonna say that we’re the only segment that believes that the reward is to become God as God is God.

So yes, yeah. theosis Yeah. And there’s so much in Scripture about seeking a multitude of counsel and working together. Yes, threefold. There’s a broken That’s right. If that wasn’t an attribute of God’s nature personality, why would there be so much emphasis on that? And that’s a whole another episode on the pump the brakes right now before we talk for another full episode, but thanks, guys,

Hey, thanks for having me guys. Thanks.

About the Author

Daniel Russo is a lifelong New Yorker and currently resides in Albany, New York. He currently works as the Manager of Business Operations at Parent to Parent of NYS. He previously worked at the Empire