Jeff Iorg Blog
Easter in the Preschool
Apr 21 2014
I hope you had a great Easter! I did. I worked in the preschool area at our church. I was a “Sunday buddy” for a special child who comes to our church and needs one-on-one assistance. We have four of these children participating regularly in our Sunday programs – and they each need some intensive help to have a positive experience at church. I was glad to be a buddy this past Sunday.
I am proud to be part of a church that reaches families with children who have special needs. It’s labor intensive and can be quite challenging to staff, but we somehow find people to do this important work. Many pastors proclaim, “Every life matters” from the pulpit but how many churches actually practice what is preached by accommodating every person who wants to participate in church programming? Not as many as we would hope.
Being in the preschool also gave me the opportunity to observe my wife in action. She has been a children or preschool ministry leader for about three decades. Watching her exercise her gifts, training, skills, and passion for children is amazing. She represents the thousands of behind-the-scenes ministry workers who make healthy churches so effective. Hats off to Ann and her Preschool Team (and all of you out there doing similar work) for a job well done!
Some days, the challenges of being a Christian and living in the San Francisco Bay Area are daunting. Easter is one of those days. While churches are full of worshippers celebrating the resurrection, thousands of San Franciscans gather in Dolores Park to mock our faith. For the past 33 years, the Sisters of the Perpetual Indulgence (a self-described cross-dressing group of nuns-of-fun) have been sponsoring an Easter party in the park, complete with their Hunky Jesus contest.
Yes, you read that right – a Hunky Jesus contest. Their party culminates with a parade of men mocking Jesus. You can find video of past contests on various websites and You Tube. Be warned - these videos are not for the fainthearted. They are, however, a revealing window into what many in the homosexual culture really think of Jesus. He is an idiot to be made fun of, an object of derision, and a homophobic cult leader whose teachings should be rejected.
The news reports about the Dolores Park party are full of happy children, alternative lifestyle families, and good vibes. The hypocrisy of the reporting is astounding. No negative comment is attached to a homosexual group attacking Christianity on its holiest day. Imagine the outcry if San Francisco churches organized a party to do the same thing on Gay Pride Sunday. We would be attacked for our insensitivity, labeled bigots, and shunned for our intolerance and insensitivity. But Jesus being lampooned in a public park by thousands on Easter – well that’s entertainment!
Some of you might respond to these events with dismissive anger. That won’t accomplish anything. Instead, let your response be steely resolve. Commit to pray for pastors and other spiritual leaders in San Francisco. They have the toughest mission field in America. Commit to give to start new churches in the City. We have been helping a new church plant for the past year. It is growing nicely. The gospel can transform lives and churches can be planted in San Francisco. Consider moving to the City – the heart of San Francisco, not just to the region. Strong Christian professionals who relocate, join churches, and support the work are needed in every church.
And, finally, pray for and support Golden Gate Seminary. Our faculty, staff, students, and graduates are working hard to make a difference. Jesus - the real One, not some hunky parody – loves every person and wants a relationship with them. We are determined to share that message.
Where Jesus Shows Up
Mar 17 2008
Palm Sunday found me preaching the gospel in a baseball clubhouse in Arizona. It was an unusual setting – not very churchy, not dressed up, not a very holy setting for the beginning of Holy Week. Like thousands of other preachers in more traditional pulpits, my message was on Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding a donkey walking on palm fronds.
Jesus often showed up in unusual ways and in some interesting places. He went to weddings and funerals (as might be expected) but he also went on fishing boats and to dinner parties. He walked through wheat fields and crowds of hurting people. Jesus apparently thought he belonged everywhere. I agree with Jesus. He does belong everywhere…and so do his people.
I am finding myself more and more interested in bringing Jesus into the conversation in places he is not normally thought to be present. What I mean is bringing Jesus into the awareness of people around me in every setting. People don’t seem to mind talking about Jesus. I spent too much time earlier in my ministry worrying about how to get people to think about Jesus. Now I just start talking about him – or ask a question about him – and I find people more than willing to talk.
Recently, I was the guest at a corporate reception at a five star hotel. As I visited with people and met new friends, they naturally asked me my profession. The answer led to conversations that easily introduced Jesus into the dialogue. Two people told me interesting stories of how Jesus is working in them. Two asked me serious questions about knowing Jesus. I talked with lots of other people about sports, marriage, children, travel, and other trivia. Not every conversation was about Jesus, but Jesus was definitely part of the evening. We had a good time together!
As you move through Holy Week, the temptation is to equate holiness with cloister. Solitude is a vital spiritual discipline; escapism is not. Jesus maintained holiness while living among unholy people in sometimes unholy places. Ask him to help you do the same.