I don’t know very much about super heroes.
I don’t know which ones go with what comic company, I can’t name every face on everyone’s T-shirts, and I can’t hang with a conversation about which super hero is the best. I realize this admission might make me the most irrelevant youth worker on the planet right now, but the truth is still the truth.
This last weekend I went and saw the Avengers with my small group guys. They all wanted to see it, or see it again (for one it was their 3rd time), and I knew my wife would never go so we went to the movie instead of doing a Bible lesson. Not only did I gain a few “cool youth leader points”, I also experienced something in that theater I have not felt in a while. I was an outsider.
That’s right, I am an Avenger outsider. Most of my world revolves around me being an insider, my family, friends, and my church make up most of my time and energy. I am used to being on the inside, but for those few hours I was most definitely on the outside. Here are a few things I observed and felt during the movie that can help us tremendously in our churches and ministries.
There were cues I didn’t catch
Throughout the movie there were a ton of different characters, symbols, uniforms, and other things that any insider knows instantly. It took me nearly half the movie to realize one of the characters was The Hulk, I know…lame huh. How many times have you stepped on stage in your church and assumed that everyone knew who you were? Have you ever done communion or another Spiritual discipline or ritual without fully explaining its meaning? How many people were left out or left behind because of those assumptions?
There was stuff that I simply didn’t get
There were two or three times in the movie when the entire theater broke out laughing about an inside joke between the superheroes, I had no clue why it was funny. I could tell there was some back story to the plot that never got filled in, and so I was left in the dark. I have heard many sermons (and delivered a few) and testimonies that were so full of inside jokes and personal stories that instead of helping me learn they left me knowing I was on the outside looking in.
Some things came through loud and clear
Despite there being a lot I didn’t get the movie was well made, the graphics were amazing, and there were messages that came through loud and clear. Team work, loyalty, how your heart and motives really count, how there is only one God and he doesn’t dress like Thor. All of these things came from the movie loud and clear. Even when a Christian outsider comes to church or youth group there will be things that are clearly communicated, they don’t have to leave empty handed.
Everyone wants to belong
Among the millions of people that have seen this movie I know I am not the only Avengers outsider, yet not many people openly admit their shortfall. We were created to belong, to be in relationship with those around us, and we crave it so much that we will fake what we really know and like to fit in. People are starving for true fellowship and God’s love in their lives. Are we doing our part as youth workers and Christian leaders to help them find it?
I don’t believe we need to change our message or our culture to better include outsiders. I do believe that we need to be welcoming Spiritual outsiders into God’s family and helping them to understand God’s way of doing life. Help people transform from outsider to God’s child. Are you doing that?
Posted on May 8, 2012, in Youth Ministry and tagged avengers, avengers movie, church outsider, inside jokes, insider, insider language, outsider, youth ministry insider. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.