pushing my buttons
Wednesday November 07th 2007, 5:00 am
Filed under: youth specialties, personal

i received this email today, from which i’ll remove the sender’s name:

I recently attended the conference in St Louis. I can’t help but think Yac must be rolling in his grave. Having attended the event in the past I was troubled about the path this event has taken to the extreme of being the fundemental evangelism at its worse. I was troubled with the
tenor of presentations that claimed as a standard guilting our youth into being members of the body. Disavowing their own worth because they are sinners destined to hell if they don’t mend their ways. And it was all topped off with a slamming of Lesbians in a general session. I suspect I will not be an attender in the future and will be hard pressed to recommend this to any of our denominational youth ministers.

i post it here because i’ve heard quite a few complaints about greg stier’s talk. this email, however, was the strongest, and really offended me. this was my response:

Thanks for writing with your concern.

That said, I need to start by saying what a cheap-shot it is to suggest that the founder of our organization, whom we all knew and loved so dearly, and who died four years ago last week, would be rolling in his grave. Ironic, that you were frustrated with what you saw as manipulation and guilt, yet you try the same thing with us, throwing on the addition of emotional abuse.

Clearly, you are referring to greg stier’s talk. A couple things:

1. we intentionally invite a wide variety of speakers to our convention. We hope our diversity both honors god, challenged homogeneity, and provides everyone present with the opportunity to have their feathers ruffled. There are plenty of other youth ministry events (conservative and liberal, protestant and catholic) that provide a uniform slate of speakers who would all agree with each other. That’s never going to be us.

2. I really like greg. He’s the real deal; honest and pure. His character is impeccable. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says. I did not like much of his talk.

3. I think you either misunderstood what he said in his illustration of the lesbians, or you are over-reacting. His example was of how he engaged a group of people with whom he had a theological difference in a conversation of respect. He mentioned how he sent away the other christian who was there to condemn them. He mentioned how he was a sinner also. The only “joke” was that he said he had something in common with them, as he lusts after women also. If THAT little comment is what caused such great offense for you, then you need to lighten up.

I believe yaconelli was jumping for joy over this convention, relishing in the diversity of the attendees and the speakers, as he always did (yac was the one who brought jerry falwell and ralph reed!).

I can confidently say you are completely wrong about your impressions of any “turn” the convention has taken. Nothing could be further from the truth.

then, this exchange softened things up a bit:

> Mark,
> Thanks so much for the prompt response. You are correct with your
> impression that it was a cheap shot and I beg your forgiveness. That
> certainly was not the intent.
forgiven, of course. thanks.

> I would like to address the points you
> proposed.
> 1) While the perception on your part is that you provide a variety of
> positions, theologies, ideologies, and agendas I found the presentations
> somewhat of the more evangelical bend. Maybe it is just me. I just found
> myself more uncomfortable at this conference than in the past. Perhaps
> this is just a spiritual crisis for me. I known worship is to comfort
> the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. That being said I was
> comforted by Lynn’s talk (but a little long).
This is interesting to me, since lynn is so decidedly evangelical! Did you hear ralph winter (clearly not an evangelical), or me (an ex-evangelical)? Of the three cities this year, the other two are MORE diverse than STL was — but sometimes we get what we get (we ask two or three times as many people as we get!).
> 2) Regarding the ‘talk” by Greg it was much more than the little joke. I
> couldn’t help but sense in a convention of more than 3000 individuals
> that perhaps more than 150 might be going through issues related to
> homosexuality. Did his talk welcome them into the community or push them
> further away? By his own actions of claiming that they would not agree
> on the issue of sin and sexuality wasn’t he condemning them?
Well, that’s greg’s belief, that homosexual practice is a sin. But that wasn’t his point at all! His point was that — EVEN THOUGH he believes the practice is a sin, that’s what binds him to this group of lesbians (that other christians would dismiss), because he is a sinner just like them! Surely, you would not suggest that no speaker should ever express their beliefs, or that YS should filter them. For someone who would believe homosexual practice is a sin (which is a total given, of course, for an obvious conservative like greg), I thought his point was actually the exact OPPOSITE of what you are suggesting it was!
> I really don’t anticipate a response but would welcome one. Thanks again
> for your post, and I will attempt to lighten up, but perhaps that is
> something YS needs to do as well.
Truly — YS does need to lighten up! That message came to me this weekend loud and clear. We’ve been too tame of late.

and, finally, this:

> One more thing. From your response. If I was to decide to return would I
> be welcomed?
First of all — anyone is welcome at our convention. That’s exactly my point!
Second — you even moreso, would be welcome, because you got bothered about something, expressed it poorly, apologized, and had a good discussion with me. Shoot — now we’re friends!

58 Comments so far
Leave a comment


i remember a year or two ago i had issue with a couple things at the convention i was at. some things i was just dead wrong about or made some assumptions. you sent me an email about just as bold like you did here. thanks.

in my community it is easier to dismiss the complaint or apologize for things we know need no apology. but the way you go about it really helps people take a step back and re-evaluate their thoughts and in turn creates dialogue.

so from someone who has been “MARKONIZED”, keep up the good work.

Comment by joe 11.07.07 @ 8:47 am

I am a volunteer studetn worker that attened the convention a few years ago when it was in Nashville. I was told by my Student pastor at the time to take in everything but to filter everything as well. YS is the real deal. I saw many view points that did not agree with mine, but I took it all in. I filtered out what I wanted and could use with my kids. Like I tell my 4 year old: “you don’t have to eat what is on your plate but, it is there just in case.”

Take what you need from convention and leave what you don’t want.


Comment by 11.07.07 @ 8:48 am

Hmmm… My reaction to this interchange is that it seemed pretty condescending. I wonder if you took time to think about how the comment might have felt to the participant who may have a very different experience set.

Comment by lisa c 11.07.07 @ 9:23 am

two things:

* starting any argument with the premise that a beloved figure is rolling in the grave is a certain tip-off that you are using the dead to make a point more alive

* that said, I sense some real resonance in the person’s points. just because someone is perceived as the “real deal” or as “someone who cares” does not make their POV any less demeaning or even oppressive. the way that power and privilege is used & abused is something that people on stages (and those who program that stage) must struggle with in ways that constantly make them uncomfortable.

the evangelical machine can so often grind people on the margins or the edges up - ys (and ym as a whole) is far too often IMHO a captive to that machine. I yearn for the spirit of truth-tellers who will challenge that machine - and all of us - to live the radical life of being a beloved of the slain & risen God

Comment by bob carlton 11.07.07 @ 9:25 am

i do admire the person for emailing you, you for both responding and for making this transparent

sunlight is one hechuva cleanser & can make so much hope grow

Comment by bob carlton 11.07.07 @ 9:29 am

I just want to say that I like how you handled this criticism.

Comment by adam mclane 11.07.07 @ 9:33 am

sorry lisa i would disagree on it being pretty condescending (maybe a little but very little). i thought marko did a great job of holding the guy for his first guiltily comment but still encouraging the conversation. also kudos to the guy for responding back. many a person wouldn’t have done that.

one of the things i have always loved about nywc has been how extreme the conventions have been (i can’t speak to the last two years). i remember ten years ago seeing jerry falwell (whom i am not a fan of) speak at a general session. he was treated with total respect and won repect from me at least from the way he responded to the “i love you man” entrance by a bill clinton look alike. i think it’s a good sign when we can be ticked off by something someone says but still love them and continue to talk through things. that’s what the nywc have always been for me at least.

Comment by robert 11.07.07 @ 9:34 am

Great response, after reading that you refer to yourself as a an ex-evangelical, I would like to know if can share about how do you define your faith?

Comment by Hans 11.07.07 @ 9:35 am

Right on, Marko. I’ve only been coming to the convention for 3 years now, but one of the best things that I appreciate about the NYWC is the invitation to not go to a seminar or leave one. My first year, I remember specifically being told to “turn up my crap-o-meter” to filter things that may not be true. Last year, I left a general session because I thought the speaker was ridiculous. However, how could I hold it against YS? Our group left and went to dinner, which proved to be excellent team-building/relational time. Express a viewpoint, fight about it, forgive and move on. There’s no more “biblical” way than that.

Comment by Andy Kaehr 11.07.07 @ 10:30 am

on my bike ride this morning, I wondered how this would play out if greg steir was replaced on the program with emily saliers, an openly gay woman who has held hope for so many folks on the margins

would ys allow this ? would the ym community allow this ? how would marko handle the complaints ?

Comment by bob carlton 11.07.07 @ 11:11 am

Whats the point of going to a convention if you don’t expand your horizons to other viewpoints. This is why I always hit up a few seminars that I KNOW I’m going to disagree with, it helps my brain grow a little bit when I have to wrestle with something. I always walk away changed and a better person. Heaven save us from the day we all completely agree with each other. What a boring life that would be.

Comment by Dj 11.07.07 @ 12:00 pm

Hi. I didn’t make it to the convention this year due to a wedding on the St. Louis weekend. I have been for the last two years though. I have definently noticed the wide range of speakers and the need for filtering what is good and what is not…what works and what doesn’t.
I guess maybe I’m a little dumb on all of the “church politics” language we use. There seems to be a cry against evangelicalism in the post. I was under the impression that evangelicals were people who try to spread the gospel and see others come to faith in Christ. Hopefully that would include all of us in youth ministry. Isn’t that the core of what our ministry is supposed to be? Doesn’t that make anyone taking the gospel to students an evangelical? I consider myself a very biblically conservative guy but socially liberal with things the Bible is silent on. The Bible is certainly not silent on homosexuality. We should be loving of those struggling in this sin and welcome them in love. However, it is not a bad thing to call it sin. It is. There are ways of being loving and accepting of people while also speaking of sin. Gentleness and respect… I have spent some time talking with Greg Stier and think highly of him. I don’t think that Greg would mean to demean or cause discomfort to anyone in the audience who is struggling with homosexuality, but he would absolutely want them to hear the truth, not condemnation, but the fact that there is hope for them outside of that lifestyle. Anyway, that’s my two cents. Peace and love.

Comment by Cal 11.07.07 @ 12:05 pm

Thanks, Marko. That is a good picture of how we should be handling these touchy issues. I appreciate being stretched by YS, and I continue (after 9 years of attending YS) to be challenged, smacked, and loved by YS. You do a great job. THANKS!

Comment by Jon 11.07.07 @ 12:49 pm

What year was it Jerry Falwell came to NYWC. If I remember correctly Mike introduced him?

Comment by riddle 11.07.07 @ 12:59 pm

I think one of the problems that no one seems to be addressing in these comments are all of the labels that we put on people. Why can’t we just be people who happen to follow Jesus? Why does it always have to be about evangelical, non-evangelical, catholic, protestant, pentecostal, charismatic, etc.? Shouldn’t the only labels be “brother” and “sister?” I don’t understand why we always have to “define our faith.” If someone asked me to define my faith, I have no idea what I would answer. “Um, I try to follow Jesus, so I guess that makes me a Christian” would be about the only answer I could give. Maybe I’m off base, but it just seems like all of these labels inevitably just lead to more division in the body.

Comment by brad 11.07.07 @ 1:37 pm

Marko - Let me second the question brought up in Bob’s most recent comment. I too would be very interested in seeing how the YS community would receive a speaker who is either openly homosexual, or serves in a ministry that openly supports a homosexual community without having as it’s primary purpose the “sexual-conversion” of their ministry base.

I saw that Tony Jones had a heckler/accuser after his super session, and I remember Jay Bakker getting heckled after his general session a couple of years ago. I would fully expect that a similar experience would be found if you were to implement the question Bob has raised. BUT, I really think it could be worth it.

Comment by Jeff Moulton 11.07.07 @ 1:46 pm


I’m so afraid to type the question that I want to ask. I don’t want to seem like an anonymous commenter just trying to open up a can of worms. So, please know that I ask out of a sincere spirit of curiosity and desire to understand the viewpoint of a person who I respect and admire a ton.

I find, in reading your comments under “the talk” by Greg Steir, that I am somewhat confused. It appears to me that you are trying to make a very clear distinction that the issue of Greg believing that the practice of homosexuality is a sin is his own belief, not that of YS or yourself. Statements like, “Well, that’s greg’s belief, that homosexual practice is a sin.” and, “For someone who would believe homosexual practice is a sin (which is a total given, of course, for an obvious conservative like Greg)” seem to indicate that you would disagree with Greg’s opinion.

Was there a reason for this choice of words? Does your belief, or that of YS, differ from Greg’s. And, if so, how?

Thanks so much for any thought you can share here.


Comment by Josh(ua) 11.07.07 @ 1:49 pm

I’m not so sure we are labeling our faith with the titles we put on people as much as we are defining the STYLE in which they live out their faith. It’s no different than labeling a Christian musician as a rocker, a balladeer, a punk-rocker, a pop musician, etc. Those labels are not inherently positive or negative, but merely give a more detailed picture of who someone is.

I think this discussion has been well handled. My attendance at St. Louis was my 5th convention, and I look forward to hearing from the variety of speakers.

In regards to the question about allowing a lesbian to speak, the real question is motive. You don’t just put up a random assortment of speakers for the sake of variety, but becuase each offers a specific slant to help us grow in our Christianity. I believe, and would hope, that that is the primary filter when choosing speakers and if a gay or lesbian speaker could offer a real benefit to us they would have to go through that same filter.

Thanks for a great weekend of renewal. I love all you guys at YS!

Comment by Mike Emerson 11.07.07 @ 2:30 pm

it’s kind of like the fight between the book of james and the book of romans. how do you view them? what do you to reconcile them? you look at the context in which they were written. neither one of them says things that are untrue, but they do seem to occasionally go against one another. but that’s because we view them through our own perspective. when we can step out of our preconceived notions and judgments, we find they are complimentary to one another, not contradictory.
i see the same thing going on here. i appreciate how you responded to this person, calling them out, but extended an olive branch as well.

Comment by Lewis Polziin 11.07.07 @ 2:31 pm

I agree with brad on this. I don’t like the division between Evangelicals, non-evangelical, catholic, protestant, pentecostal, charismatic, etc. We are all the body of Christ and we are all guilty of “Bashing the Bride” of Christ. There is already so much Negativity towards christians already why should we feed into that and be negative towards other Christians. Negativity comes from a lack of knowledge and I think we all struggle with being ingnorant to what others think. I believe there is good in every one of these viewpoints. It’s like the political world. The Republicans couldn’t work if only they were in office and same with the Demacrats. The have to balance each other out. With the ‘catholic’ church. We all have very good and worthy viewpoints. A great thing would be if we could all stop our negative outlooks that we associate with every Christian viewpoint (charismatic, conservative, etc.). If we can’t do this within the church, how are we ever going to convince others of Christ’s love!

Comment by 11.07.07 @ 3:06 pm


Emily Saliers has talked, written and sang about her faith, doubts & struggles to follow God is a Jesus way and live with the rejection she faces in American churchianity. Talk to a group of GLBT teenagers - they will tell you how people like the Indigo Girls (Emily is half of them) and Rufus Wainwright speak to their souls.

Motives is an interesting criteria. I can not speak for what Tic, Marko or YS discern in terms of the motives they seek in their speakers. My sense is that YM as a whole (with YS as a service business) is for the most part captive to the monolith that is American evangelicalism. From my POV, 70 % of the speakers at NYWC & the CORE come from the mainstream of that monolith - it seems like YS works hard to have 20% come from the edges of that monolith.

There is certainly nothing wrong with that mindset - it serves vital needs and pays the bills. But it strikes me as somewhat disingenuous to position the slate of voices & the event as post-evangelical or in any way representative of the breadth of Jesus followers, either those affiliated with faith communities or not.

For me, the issue is not who gets invited to the table or the stage - instead it is who makes those decisions & whose stage it is. I have profound admiration for YS and the prophetic role they have and still play - I just wish they played it more often to disturb the complacency that marks so much of American churchianity.

Comment by bob carlton 11.07.07 @ 3:32 pm

bob carlton: you wrote…
on my bike ride this morning, I wondered how this would play out if greg steir was replaced on the program with emily saliers, an openly gay woman who has held hope for so many folks on the margins. would ys allow this ? would the ym community allow this ? how would marko handle the complaints?
a few responses:
1. i’m really, truly, deeply surprised that you would ask this question, bob. you know me, you know ys. something’s very strange to me — surreal — that you would not know the answer to your question is, “of course the response from ys would be the same.”
2. we have pursued emily in the past (specifically to speak on art and worship), but didn’t get anywhere.
3. greg’s talk (and emily’s, had she come) was not about homosexuality (i don’t think we’d have that as a general session topic at the convention — seminar, yes).
4. i have responded similarly on more occasions that i can count when the criticism has come from “the right” over a speaker who said something that was “left” or was perceived that way. in fact, the direction (me and ys defending a speaker to the left of the median from the criticism of someone to the right is much more common).

Hans: you ask how i would describe myself if i’m an “ex-evangelical”. in a follow-up response to the sender of the above email, who asked the same question, i wrote:
I think I would say I WAS a recovering evanglical for a number of years, and now an ex-evangelical. Thing is: I’m still an evangelical in many of my beliefs. If evangelicalism were still a centered-set (as it originally was), I might be OK with the term. But now that it’s become a bounded-set (circling the wagons and spending effort on defining who’s in and who’s out), I can’t go there. I still have a deep affection for my evangelical roots, and for my many, many friends in that camp.
so, i guess i’m still an evangelical some historic way, but am very uncomfortable self-describing with much of what happens in the name of evangelicalism these days.

Comment by marko 11.07.07 @ 3:33 pm

I think Joshua has a valid question in his earlier response to this post about the belief of YS on this issue. I also think that in my opinion the bigger issue in the original email is the senders problem with Greg’s idea that “we are sinners destined to hell.” I think that’s what the Bible teaches, that without the saving work of Jesus on the cross, that we are destined to spend eternity separated from God…And to me, that seems to be a more foundational issue of belief. Just my opinion….

Comment by nic 11.07.07 @ 3:36 pm

As the token Catholic guy who got pissed last year and had a very peaceful e-mail settlement with you, Marko, I now read this exchange and think: “Man…was I that off base?” Maybe I took things too literally and questioned YS’s motives towards the Catholic crowd. If so, then I should have been the one to buy dinner Sunday night! By the way, that was a darn good steak!

You have to have thick skin to let all this bounce off…though it seems that this one individual really riled you. Maybe he needs to work out some issues for himself and just chose YS as his outlet.

Comment by Mark Seitz 11.07.07 @ 3:54 pm

josh(ua): no need to be afraid! my point is clarifying that it was greg’s position is that we would have people attending the event, and speaking on stage, who hold to a wide variety of theological perspectives on that particular issue; and that ys doesn’t use any particular litmus test on an issue like this for either speakers or attendees. whether greg’s position is alignment with ys is a non-sequiter, as ys doesn’t take an official position on issues like this.

Comment by marko 11.07.07 @ 4:02 pm

Thanks for putting this up. I learned a lot about healthy communication.

Comment by 11.07.07 @ 5:16 pm

As the individual that posted the response to Mark I just wanted to chime in. I have been very impressed with the tenor and dialogue that has been shared. Just as an observation I never felt Mark was being condescending. On the contrary he was extremely pastoral and understanding. I appreciate the remarks that have been shared and the integrity that each of you have used in sharing. I just wanted to share one last observation. I really don’t believe that this is simply an isssue based on the talk that Greg provided but is instead much broader touching on whether one believes the scriptures to be infallable (I do not). That complex issue of scriptural interpretation often times creates the environment where healthy, constructive discourse can occur.

Comment by Kevin 11.07.07 @ 5:19 pm

marko, i don’t know YS or you, but i’ve organised a lot of events in my time, and i appreciate the tightrope you walk in planning it. and the exhaustion afterwards… peace to you in the wind down from this event.

i was surprised that you included the parts of the email correspondence at the top, which you then later expressed forgiveness for. it didn’t feel forgiven when i read it - more like we were still to take those initial comments into account when we were reflecting on the conversation.

i thought as i read the emails that the real issue isn’t that a particular person might or might not have been offensive when they spoke. It’s that someone obviously senses something different in the atmosphere, and is moved / hurt / distressed / angry enough to respond to that.

Perhaps YS needs to hear and acknowledge that intuitive response, and the emotion behind it [which doesn’t require agreeing with it], and to discern [in a process that can’t be done quickly or in the immediate aftermath] what truth is in it.

as is normally the case in things like this, i suspect that truth lies somewhere between you both. go search it out…

as i said, peace to you…

Comment by ellie 11.07.07 @ 5:20 pm

Thanks for the clarification, Marko. I just didn’t want my question to seem like an attack or a rallying cry for other commenters to get together and storm the castle with pitchforks.

Comment by Josh(ua) 11.07.07 @ 5:50 pm

Hello everybody! Greg Stier here. I was surprised to see the little “uproar” over my sermon. What’s interesting to me is that the goal of my sermon was to UNITE us all together around Christ and him crucified. The last thing on my mind was to make some kind of statement about homosexuality. As Marko has already made very clear, the point of my sermon wasn’t to bash gays or needlessly offend anyone. My goal was to call youth leaders to lead their teenagers through the fog of youth ministry uncertainty to the foot of the cross.I emphasized that youth ministry is not fundamentally a philosophy class for the latest ideas or a shopping mall for the latest curriculum or an entertainment center for the latest fads. At its core youth ministry is leading our teens on a journey to Jesus. As the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians “I determined to know nothing among you except Christ and him crucified.” My passage was I Corinthians 1:10-18. My point was that the message of the cross unites our efforts, clarifies our priorities and transforms our ministries. My hope was to recalibrate our youth ministries back to the old rugged cross and he who hung upon it for our sins. Toward the end of my sermon I shared an illustration of communicating the gospel to a group of protesting lesbians outside a Promise Keeper’s event that I was speaking at years ago. This illustration was an important part to my greater point (that we all need Jesus!) I wasn’t trying to bash anyone for anything. Having said that I want to be crystal clear. I DO believe the Scriptures tell us that homosexuality is a sin and, therefore, that homosexuals need a Savior from their sin. But I believe just as vigorously that I am a sinner and that I desperately need someone to save me from my own sin! That’s why my favorite definition of evangelism is “one beggar showing another beggar where to find the bread.” I need the Bread of Life as much as any sinner if not more. I guess I’m an evangelical. But more than anything else I am a Christ follower. I love him. I love his book (they’re all red letters to me) and I love you, whether you are conservative or liberal, evangelical or emergent, gay or straight and whether you agree with me or not. My prayer is that this whole conversation drives us back to the Word of God to seek his mind on these matters. I think too many times we try to attack these big issues with our own puny minds instead of prayerfully, humbly and passionately seeking God’s “opinion” in his divinely inspired love letters to us. I guess that I really agree with Kevin’s assessment of the real issue (Kevin sent the e-mail that Marko was responding to), “I just wanted to share one last observation. I really don’t believe that this is simply an issue based on the talk that Greg provided but is instead much broader touching on whether one believes the scriptures to be infallible (I do not). That complex issue of scriptural interpretation often times creates the environment where healthy, constructive discourse can occur.” I agree with Kevin’s assessment of the core issue, not homosexuality but the infallibility of Scripture. But contrary to Kevin, I DO believe that the Scriptures are inerrant…hence the challenge, not just when it comes to all things gay but when it comes to all things. I got to meet Yaconelli once in Fort Collins, Colorado years ago. I loved the guy. Personally I think he would appreciate this conversation as much (if not more) than anyone. Thanks for letting us have it Marko!

Comment by Greg Stier 11.07.07 @ 7:20 pm

Marko, Just a quick note to let you know that I feel St Louis was in the spirit of all my previous ones (over 20). I agree Yac would have been pleased. I have always know you bring in interesting and challenging speakers. I enjoyed the general session speakers.

As you know I have concerns about the Emergent movement, so I attended one of Tony Jones seminars and really enjoyed it. I still have concerns, but I feel I can truly call Tony a brother. To me this is what YS is about.

Please do not change unless it is to sharpen your edge.

In His Grip, Mike …

Comment by Mike 11.07.07 @ 7:33 pm

Sometimes actions speak louder than words.
And the level of diversity you present at events is all a matter of perspective. To someone who’s not an evangelical, having a broad range of evangelicals would seem homogenous, while to evangelicals it would seem very diverse.
So how much does YS really care about bringing a diverse slate of speakers? Would someone like Carlton Pearson be welcome to speak at YS events?

Comment by Dan 11.07.07 @ 8:40 pm

dan — we would welcome any and all suggestions you might have. i do agree that we don’t have as many mainline speakers as i’d like to have. that’s a regular and ongoing challenge for us!

Comment by marko 11.07.07 @ 9:07 pm

[…] Wow. Little did I know that my Youth Specialties talk would produce such fallout, especially over the issue of homosexuality (I alluded to it in my sermon about getting youth ministry back to Christ and the cross and happened to call homosexuality a “sin” in a closing, sidepoint illustration.) Anyway, you can check out the conversation on https://ysmarko.com/?p=2136. My reply to the whole e-conversation is comment #30. […]

Pingback by gregstier.org » YS fallout continues… 11.07.07 @ 9:29 pm

Oh my goodness Marko, I am quite surprised. Not that you didn’t really take a stand either way but that you consider yourself to be an ex-evangelical. I wondered to myself if I misunderstood the meaning of evangelical so I looked it up on www.dictionary.com and found this…

1. Also, e·van·gel·ic. pertaining to or in keeping with the gospel and its teachings.

2. belonging to or designating the Christian churches that emphasize the teachings and authority of the Scriptures, esp. of the New Testament, in opposition to the institutional authority of the church itself, and that stress as paramount the tenet that salvation is achieved by personal conversion to faith in the atonement of Christ.

3. designating Christians, esp. of the late 1970s, eschewing the designation of fundamentalist but holding to a conservative interpretation of the Bible.

4. pertaining to certain movements in the Protestant churches in the 18th and 19th centuries that stressed the importance of personal experience of guilt for sin, and of reconciliation to God through Christ.

5. marked by ardent or zealous enthusiasm for a cause.

Now, to consider yourself an ex-evangelical, I must ask… which points is it that you disagree with to such a degree that you would consider yourself an ex… all of them? one of them? some of them? Because, unfortunately, when you declare yourself to be an ex - whether you mean to or not, I believe you are denouncing all definitions of the word. Is that what you mean to do? I will be really surprised if you say yes.
Just curious….

Comment by Jonique Will 11.07.07 @ 10:23 pm

I have to ask I know he founded YS and poured his life and heart into it, but does it matter if Yac would be pleased or not? Is YS trying to please Yac or God? I hope the answer to be God and think it is. It pissed me off one time when a person prayed over another person that some dead guy would be pleased by their actions. I don’t give a rattitoulle whether or not I please some dead guy. I think we as YM’s might do well to remember it is only God that must be pleased.

carry on.

Comment by rooster 11.07.07 @ 11:23 pm

wow, i might be rehashing something that has been said. so i apologize, i don’t always have the patience to read long comment strings.

my first thoughts went this way. i’ve heard greg speak before, not my fav person, but i can appreciate & respect his passion. i too might have been upset by some of those comments. but to say that ys is going down a fundamental path now is just insane. i remember attending a ys in st. louis (i think it was 2001 or 02) where i sat through jerry falwell. talk about fundamental. and who introduced him? mike yaconelli, and he had some very generous words for him. at the end people clapped, some stood in ovation, others i am sure held their applause. for me it was a challenge to sit through and not be judgemental but to accept his message as i would hope someone would accept mine.

Comment by gavin 11.08.07 @ 12:10 am

jonique - not to worry. i fully agree with that definition. that’s a classic def of evangelical. like i said in my comment above, i still believe the classical tenants of evangelicalism. but the popular definition of evangelicalism has shifted. it has moved from a centered set of common beliefs to a bounded set, more interested in defining who’s in and who’s out, more interested in creating an alternate parallel culture, more interested in withdrawal and isolation. i’m not interested in self-defining myself with that kind of thinking.

Comment by marko 11.08.07 @ 3:11 am

A question -

Was the talk captured on video or on tape? If so, could it go onto youtube or similar? I’d love to see it, and I’m sure the many people of strong views might like to see it again.

Kind regards,

Lenzie Union Parish Church,

Comment by 11.08.07 @ 8:09 am

The convention sessions are available for purchase here- http://www.ysmp3andcddvd.com/

I appreciate the diversity of the speakers and enjoyed Greg’s talk. His example of loving the lesbians hit home for me as I realize that even though I say I love them and other groups like them that I don’t agree with, I don’t live like I love them.

Comment by Tim Hower 11.08.07 @ 10:15 am

This has been a truly fascinating discussion. I could not attend NYWC last year or this year, but I have been to many, and find the wide range of discussions to be extremely helpful.

I always come away from NYWC and CORE ( which I do make it to often) with many perspectives that my small life does not come in contact with, except rarely. The discussions on homosexuality have helped me to frame my mind in a way that helps me to focus on the cross and redemption from the fall of man, rather than the sin at hand. How many people would I burn at the stake before learning that lesson by practice?

It is tremendous to see Marko and Greg Stier joining this dialogue, it helps us get through misunderstandings.

I don’t agree with everything I get at NYWC, but why would I go to any convention that did not challenge me?

I appreciate reading everyone’s posts here, good discussion. We need to remeber that we are not here to convince anyone of sin, but to let the Holy Spirit convict them of sin. Convincing grows the church, for a while. Conviction grows the Kingdom.

Comment by Bob 11.08.07 @ 10:33 am

Wow, it is amazing how we can let satan, so easily, get us off task. The point of the message was the Cross of Christ. We need to make sharing the message of the cross a priority in our ministry. It was about watching the power of the Gospel at work. So are we talking about how we can more effectively share the message of the Cross, no we sitting here bushing a guy whose heart is seeing lives changed through the power of the gospel. It is sad that we are more concerned whether we feel comfortable at a stupid convention than the lost and hurt youth in our areas. This is just stupid. Why is there not an idea blog about getting the message of the cross out to a hurt and dying world. No we would rather pick apart a challenging message and complain about our “Feelings” being hurt. We allow our feelings to governing us. It is not God’s Word that guides us it is our feelings. I’m just glad Jesus didn’t let His feelings guide him in the Garden. You know, satan allowed his feeling to make decisions for him, and look where that got him.

Comment by Chuck 11.08.07 @ 10:53 am

I’m a bit concerned that some (though definitely not all) posts inquiring about Marko’s view on homosexuality or being an “ex-evangelical” almost seem to be operating under the assumption that his own personal views reflect or represent the official stances/beliefs/views of YS itself. First, as I think Marko mentioned, I don’t believe YS issues or holds “official” stances on such issues. I would imagine that among the total staff of YS (not even to mention all their writers, contributors, etc.), there would be a wide range of beliefs on a diversity of issues, perhaps including homosexuality itself. Personally, this would seem to be the same case as in many churches- I know that in the church I serve, the 4 of us who are full-time staff have some differing views on certain issues. I don’t expect my views, or the pastor’s views, etc., to be equated as being the “official” belief of the church. I don’t know Marko’s views on the subject of homosexuality, and to be honest, I’m not sure them being made public would be all that beneficial to this discussion in the first place.

Comment by Chris 11.08.07 @ 11:26 am

Marko, as always you handle yourself with the grace and conviction a good leader should. Yac would surely be proud of your work. I guess i’m shocked, being both in St. Louis this past weekend and at NYWC Charlotte in ‘06, that Tony Campolo (if i remember correctly and i’m about 80% sure of it) made similiar ‘Homosexuality is a sin but i love them anyway’ comments in a General Session yet there didn’t seem to be near the fallout or controversy and i certainly didn’t hear anyone accuse Tony of ‘conservative’ beliefs. Interesting.

Comment by paul 11.08.07 @ 2:25 pm

If we are not here to preach the gospel of Jesus and point others to Christ, then what was the point of Jesus dying on the Cross? Seems to me this should be central to our ministries, and nothing else should really matter.

Comment by Barb 11.08.07 @ 3:30 pm

I’m expecting a seminar series on how to reach homosexual youth next year!

Comment by Sean 11.08.07 @ 4:08 pm

NOTHING else matters? Definitely central to Youth Ministry, but that cheapens all else Jesus did–His teaching, servant attitude, miracles, entire life, and Resurrection….obviously, the climax being the cross…but there is more than that!

Comment by Mark Seitz 11.08.07 @ 4:14 pm

Thanks again Tim.

Comment by 11.08.07 @ 4:49 pm

When I said nothing else really should matter, I was referring to programming in our youth ministries. Sometimes we get so focused on programs that we forget the importance of the Cross.

Comment by Barb 11.08.07 @ 10:50 pm

Hey Marko. You haven’t happened to have been reading “The Shape of Things to Come” by Frost and Hirsch have you? I’m reading that book for a seminary class and it is rocking my understanding of faith and the future of the Church in the best way possible.

Comment by ben 11.08.07 @ 10:55 pm

Thanks for the clarification…I agree with you now Barb.

Comment by Mark Seitz 11.08.07 @ 11:41 pm

[…] As a side note, I wasn’t the only one who had problems with Greg Stier’s talk. In fact, it’s kind of “blown up” in the blogosphere. If you’re interested, check out Marko’s email conversation with someone who was extremely offended and be sure to read all of the comments, where the speaker himself even gets involved. Greg has a post on his own blog as well called YS fallout continues. […]

Pingback by Reflections on the National Youth Workers Convention » JakeBouma.com 11.09.07 @ 12:51 am

As a small, almost completely unrelated side note: I really wish that purchasing the audio for the seminars would be cheaper. Most of the ones that I want to download are ones that I already attended. I know it is expensive to attain the records, but $5 per? YIKES!

Comment by Luke 11.09.07 @ 3:34 am

Hey MarkO - first it was good to see you. I am the guy who admitted I loved spending a weekend with Jr. High kids. Anyway, I come from a very conservative sect, however I don’t subscribe to all of the opinions we hold. One of the mantra’s that I stuggle with here is that we have taken the great commission to mean go and make others think like me and then they are in. I want teens, and adults to be sold out and converted to Jesus, not my teachings. I love the spectrum of speakers YS has always invited. I was not offended by Greg Stier, didn’t fully agree, however there was some good stuff I took from him. I have been a YS camper for 6 years now and I can truly say, there have been some bad speakers (in my opinion) and there have been some great speakers. But in all of it - there is always something I have gleaned from the general sessions as well as the seminars. Thank you for your example of handling the criticism and I do thank you for the diversity of YS and stretching my thinking.
Keep praying, seeking and serving

Comment by Jerry 11.09.07 @ 1:00 pm

In the Christian circles I’m most connected to, it’d be popular to call yourself an Evangelical. In the secular world around me, its very unpopular to call yourself an Evangelical. For the sake of the Gospel, I think I’d rather not be labeled Evangelical publicly so that “by all possible means I might save some”.

Comment by 11.09.07 @ 1:34 pm

Greetings and hope you have an eventful and blessed weekend. Just want to share a few musings with you. I love the word epiphany it’s one of
those words that is fun to say and expresses so much about our experience with God and his children. Yesterday I had an incredible epiphany coupled with I refer to as the mischievousness of God. I was at my congregation preparing a meal for an experience we call Soup, Salad,
and the Spirit. I turned my IPod on and selected the random option. After numerous songs Yac’s last talk played. The talk helped me to be
more grounded and gain new insights into the events of the past week. I have as others been hampered and paralyzed by my expectations as well as those placed on me by others. I believe that perhaps was the case this past convention. I expected (wrongly) to have my theology affirmed and not the challenged. While Greg and I will not agree on several issues I’m sure we agree that the love of God and the life and message of Jesus
is what we truly want to share with our youth (what an incredible expectation). Additionally Yac shared in his last talk the issue around
routine. I too become a prisoner of routine. I’m hoping to correct that issue. I believe dialogue and conversations that stretch us beyond our
understandings are a great way to do this (as long as we don’t offend others too much). Thanks for the opportunity to share my epiphany. Have
a great weekend.

Comment by Kevin 11.09.07 @ 4:43 pm

My friend pointed me to Greg’s sermon this morning and I was really encouraged by the sermon. He was surprised by the controversy and I was unaware of it until he pointed me here to this page. I didn’t find anything controversial at all. While I don’t identify myself as a fundamentalist, I do, though, fall strongly on the side of conservative evangelicalism. I agreed with Greg—the Gospel is what unites us. But the problem most of the people have who are disagreeing with Greg here is defining what the Gospel is. It seems that they don’t appreciate a Gospel that identifies them as unworthy of God due to their sinfulness. They tend to think that if Jesus did die, he must have done it because of some inherent worth in themselves rather than what the Word of God clearly says—while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. It was precisely because of our unworthiness that Christ died. People don’t like to hear that. It hurts their feelings and damages their psyches. Tough crap. That’s the Gospel. It’s hardcore because we are in desperate circumstances and need a sacrifice of infinite worth to pay the infinite debt we owe against an infinite God.

Comment by Paul Fuller 11.09.07 @ 4:50 pm

Wow. Great dialog. I wish I would have picked up on it earlier. I taught 2 breakouts at YS St. Louie, and had similar “post-conference” conversations with a couple of ruffled feather folks. Ultimately, if YS is committed to Educating folks, diversity (within boundaries) is the only way to succeed. Otherwise it is not education, it is indoctrination. Word up.

Comment by C Brooks 11.09.07 @ 5:42 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: