anyone with a helicopter view of the american youth ministry scene would know that ron luce and acquire the fire are not exactly on the exact same page as me and youth specialties. i mean, in external ways, we do many similar things, namely, we care about youth workers and teenagers and connecting them with jesus. but i think it’s fair to say we haven’t had a ‘warm’ history — until last may.
prior to last may, ron and i had both assumed and spoken negatively about each other and each other’s ministries, certainly privately, and, to some extent, publicly. we really ticked off ron with a stupid article in youthworker journal a couple years ago, and that set off a chain of events that added fuel to both our fires.
it was clearly not honoring to god.
i’d been sensing for a few months, prior to last may, that this couldn’t continue. i had the distinct impression (in these exact words) that we were “breaking the heart of god”. then came a fateful or god-ordained day last may when ron and i were both speaking at the same youth ministry event. i knew this was the day something would change — but i’ll give him credit here, he took the first step. ron came to my seminar, and sat through the entire thing, even waiting for me while i chatted with people afterward. we didn’t need any small talk — even though we’d never met face-to-face. we both knew. and we both knew we were about to spend a chunk of time together. we tried to go to the green room, but it was full of interns for the event we were attending. but across the street was a large park. so in a very ‘lifetime channel movie of the week’ moment, ron luce and mark oestreicher went for a walk in the park, cried together, asked and received and gave forgiveness, made commitments to each other, and prayed together (holding hands, even!). it was a huge god-moment, at least for me.
fast forward a few months: i get asked by ron’s office to write an endorsement for a book of his. i don’t have time at the moment, and can use that as my excuse (ron and i had, after all, on that day in may, agreed that we would continue to disagree with one another about many things, even though we would not make assumptions, and would support one another in prayer). in early december they came back again and asked if i had time, that they would need the endorsement by the end of december. i said i would consider it, and they sent me a printout of the book: revolution ym (for revolution youth ministry). i had a very heavy sense of conviction that i needed to endorse this, but wasn’t sure how. then i read the book. it was peppered with language i would never use (and language that bugs me) — particularly the expected massive use of war metaphors for youth ministry. however, it was also clearly a book with tons of great stuff in it — practical help and straight-shooting insight. so i sat down and wrote this endorsement:
Ron Luce and I might use different words, but we share the same passionate heart to see youth workers equipped to reach teenagers with the life-changing message of Jesus. Revolution YM is chock-full of practical steps youth workers can take to build a youth ministry instead of merely building a youth group.
but i didn’t have anywhere to send it, and ron’s asst didn’t return my call, and the holidays hit, and it sat on my computer desktop, and was forgotten.
yesterday, ron’s new assistant called asking if i would consider writing an endorsement for ron’s new book. i said, ‘you mean, revolution ym?’ she said, ‘yes.’ i said, ‘if you give me your email address, you’ll have the endorsement in about 30 seconds.’
i don’t know how they’ll use it, or even if they’ll use it. but i feel i have done the right thing, and what i sensed god was asking me to do. i am now an endorser of ron luce!