Monday, March 23, 2009


The 11th commandment is "Keep it real." The Secret Life of the American Teenager (on ABC's Family Channel) keeps the commandment. Shailene Woodley (who stars as teen Amy) says, "A lot of teens respond to it because it's so true to life in so many ways." In it's first season the show has drawn up to 3.4 million viewers, the highest for viewers age 12 to 34. An example of the realism: Amy gives birth to a boy in the last show of the season, about nine months after the premiere. She got pregnant through a one-time tryst. The show explores the unplanned pregnancy, and all the attendant relational challenges that presents, with parents, friends and extended family. It's a raw take on life, that has opened up avenues for parents to talk with their teens about hot topics like sex, drugs and alcohol.
Can we, as church leaders, get a clue? Reality is where it's at. There is a great opportunity here for leaders and churches who will apply real faith to real life in real ways. And if you stay in reality, there is always material. As I thought back on this past week, here is some of the reality going on for people in my congregation:

- an expectant mom had a miscarriage

- a young man was overwhelmed trying to process the fourth step (getting ready for forgive) of the twelve steps

- an expanding family is finding it difficult to find a bigger home

- a banker was faced with the dilemma of reworking a loan for a friend, even though the loan was processed originally by a different loan officer

- a woman was looking for a $1000 car that would run well

- a man led worship for the first time in a couple years

- a father and grown son had a significant argument about politics

- a couple decided that they needed to get back into marriage counseling

- a military wife was trying to make a decision about divorce

The one charge that has never been leveled against the Bible is that its characters are not real people. Even its greatest heroes, like David, are presented so unvarnished, so “warts and all,” that the Book of Samuel has been called the most honest historical writing of the ancient world. We've got reality in the text, and we've got reality in the world, can we get reality in the church?

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