The Gospel is Messy

The following is a walkthrough of “Zombies, Football and the Gospel” by Reggie Joiner If you want to know more about why I’m writing this series or a quick place to check for the previous chapter posts click here.

Ch 1 – The Gospel is Messy – “Never settle for a version of faith that doesn’t take risks.

When Jesus stepped into the world, things got messy. He has a way of shaking things up, and in many ways, that’s what the Gospel is all about. In this chapter, Reggie comments that “this generation believes the Gospel is not messy enough. Today, people want to trade in their carpeted, air-conditioned, Sunday school version of the Gospel for something that compels them to make a risky collision with a hurting work. (p16)”

He goes on to connect the fact that leaders are worried that this generation will “abandon the true meaning of the gospel for something to social.” This generation wants to get into the messiness and play around, and that is scary for leadership.

It is here that the “Game-Changer” comes in, “There’s a growing frustration with churches who do not respond passionately to a broken world. (p17)” Millennials view the church as a “business” and not as a Body of Christ caring for the world around them. The church is has a reputation of being too busy taking care of itself that it misses the needs of the world around them.

“This generation is not walking away from the church because they haven’t heard the story of the Gospel. They’re existing because they were never invited into the mission of the Gospel. (p18)

Reggie spends the rest of the chapter connecting the mission of Jesus and the messiness of the Gospel that it’s not about a theology debate or fancy blog post. The foundation of the Gospel is that Jesus came to save us from our Sin; he came for the hurting and the lost. This generation wants to let a messy gospel compel them to action, and it’s going to get messy.

“This generation just seems ready to embrace a version of faith that is willing to care and love the people around them, regardless of the risks (p22)

My Original Notes and Insights 

Q – “What is one thing you can change in your life or ministry for the sake of the Gospel – even if it gets messy?”

  • Engage students with the conversation. Not just teach them but teach with them. Invite students into their journey in the Gospel.
  • Involve myself and students in the community where we have the most connections.
    • prayer walk
    • youth get outside
    • be willing to adapt and change what we do
  • students programming for students

Looking Back: When I look back, this chapter inspired me to think about life outside of the church walls. How was I going to take the Gospel into our community? Or better yet, how were my students? This chapter (and book) were the start of the belief that student can and should reach students for Jesus. I always knew that to be true, but it was here that some fo that language formed for the first time. But I had to invite them into the mission. I had to learn how to cast a vision that said the Gospel didn’t just exist on Tuesday nights; rather, the Gospel was where ever you were.

In a Covid-19 World

When I think about the world we are living in right now, I realize that this chapter may be more relevant than ever before because what we know as “church” has been stripped away. In some ways, all we have left is just the Gospel. That is 100%, okay, but the process has been messy and continues to create a mess.

However, we still are not inviting the current generation into the process, and I think we’ve been playing it safe. We have allowed programs to trump the Gospel and left the ministry to the professionals. Both the Millennials and Gen Z want and need to get involved because frankly, they know where we are going better than any generation before.

“This generation is not walking away from the church because they haven’t heard the Gospel. They’re existing because they were never invited into the mission of the Gospel.”

We need the emerging generations now more than ever because they are in the best position to help the church navigate what’s to come. The challenge is still the same; however, will leadership get out of the way and help position this generation to become part of the mission of the Gospel.

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If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.

Zombies, Football and the Gospel

Several years ago now (around 2012), I had an opportunity to attend my first Orange Tour just outside of Seattle. I had heard about Orange for a few years and knew a few people using their curriculum material. But I hadn’t had much experience with them. However, I was excited to learn more but had no idea how much my world was going to change because of that one day conference.

That particular Orange Tour was split into two parts. One part talked about a new resource for Small Groups called Lead Small (which was also mind-blowing). The second half of the day jumped into a book called “Zombies, Football and the Gospel” by Reggie Joiner. It was a conversation about culture and the changes that were coming from the emerging Millennial Generation.

I was fascinated all day and knew I had found something that was going to change everything. So I bought the books and began an adventure that would change my life and ministry, and that journey started with this book.

At its core, this “Zombies, Football and the Gospel” is a book about looking back at “Game-Changes” in culture. These moments gave us a look at the past but also a glimpse in the future. Reggie identifies 10 game-changing moments and invites the reader to jump into the journey and wrestle with the outcomes. This is not a book full of answers; instead, it’s a book full of questions, and the reader is invited into the discussion.

I’ve been thinking a lot about ministry, my journey and this book because I believe Covid-19 is a new “Game-Changer.” Reggie himself recognizes that the work he has done is this book is not 100% complete.

So over the next number of weeks, I’m going to read and write my way through “Zombies, Football and the Gospel.” I’m going to talk about my original discoveries, the ideas they sparked and what these game-changers can tell us about how to live in a Covid-19 world.

So join me in the ride, grab a book or just follow along. My hope and prayer is that you will be inspired, challenged and forced to get out of the weeds of ministry and think about the bigger things.



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If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.


You Are Not Alone

Over the last number of weeks I have been watching and listening to pastors, volunteers and churches grapple with the new reality of the world. Some have been excited at the challenge, while for others, it’s been overwhelming and isolating.

So I decided to gather some of my friends and together film a little encouragement video. It turned out to be a bit longer than I had attended, but I love how it all came together. Our prayer has been that this video would encourage you to never forget, you are not alone.

Love you all and praying for you in this season

Jesse, Nathaniel, Sophia, Robyn, Kaylan, Camilli, Brad, Emily, Mikayla and the Twins