|Photo Credit: Katie_photographer (Creative Commons)|
For the first of many end-of-the-year lists, here are the ten blog posts from The Mayward Blog that were published and most-read over 2013. These posts range from a number of topics: movies, theology, youth ministry, sexuality, and Canada. These aren't necessarily my best-written posts of the year--they're simply the posts that were read and shared the most by you, the reader. The most popular post on The Mayward Blog remains Top Youth Ministry Movies Movies You Can Show To Your Youth Group, with over 27,000 views and counting.
Here are the most-read posts from 2013:
"We’re tired of the statistics. By God’s strength, we think our church family can be different. We want to see young people graduate from high school with deep connections and relationships with other members of the body of Christ. We are a church that will not hide the good news of Jesus from our descendants; we will tell the next generation the about glorious deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.
"We want to be a church where every generation is faithfully equipping the next generation. From age 6 to 60, each generation follows Jesus together as the family of God. We recognize and value generational differences, but won’t allow those differences to dissolve our unity. The older pours into the younger on a journey of mutual spiritual maturity."
9. Frances Ha
"Frances Ha is filled with beautiful, cathartic moments which happen in fits and spurts: Frances sitting with the crying college girl in the dorm hallway; Frances' monologue telling the woman at the dinner party about her ideal romantic moment, where two eyes catch across the room and there is a "knowing" of each other that is beyond sexual or emotional longing; Frances running and dancing through the streets of New York with a reckless freedom. It is this last image--Frances running--that sticks in my mind the most. The world around her is a blur as she rushes forward, uncertain about the obstacles or opportunities that lie ahead, yet running at full speed. She is the poster child for the millennial generation's struggles and hopes, rushing with abandon into the future."
"Truth is truth, no matter what age. Pixar films contain some simple-yet-profound truths that connect with both children and adults.Churches often separate children, youth, and adults into isolated programs, usually with good intentions. The kids can't handle the adults' service; they'd get bored. Adults wouldn't find the kids' stuff interesting, it's too simplistic and childish. So the thinking goes. What if the church focused on simple-yet-profound truths that spanned generational differences? Every person needs reminders about pride, envy, forgiveness, grace, thankfulness, truth, and love. Every person needs to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. If it's true, then it's always true, and always worth hearing."
"'Gravitas' means weightiness, seriousness, profundity. This is more than a survival story, more than a space thriller. Gravity is a meditation on the very essence of life, i.e. what keeps us breathing and moving and continually taking steps into the future. Stone has lost someone dear to her, and the thought that no one is looking up into the sky and praying for her seems to give a sense of hopelessness. In the weightlessness of space, it is quiet. Peaceful. Restful. Yet space also reminds us of this: we as human beings can feel terrifyingly alone and small. Staring into the abyss of infinite stars, one begins to wonder: why do I matter? What difference do I even make? When amazing technology like telescopes, shuttles, and space stations can be destroyed in the blink of an eye--a life's opus, brushed away by debris--what then? When our child dies, our marriage falls apart, our job is lost, our security is taken or abused, what keeps us going? How do we know that we're not alone?"
"I've now lived in the beautiful province of British Columbia for over a year, and I've made a few observations about the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between Canada and America. I've tried to avoid common stereotypes and generalizations (i.e. all Canadians love hockey and maple syrup, or all Americans are loud and ignorant) and just stick with the observations I've personally made. I tell people this: Canada and America are about 80% the same, but the 20% difference is incredibly subtle and significant."
"Allow me to introduce you to the greatest youth ministry game ever:
It was first introduced to me by my friend and mentor, Mark Staples. I've played it in at least three different countries, and its appeal certainly transcends cultural boundaries. Basically, it's awesome."
4. Why Saying "Just Wait" Isn't Enough for Sexual Purity
"Instead of sharing the negative message of 'don’t have sex or else you’re sinning,' the message needs to become 'chastity is a discipline of the gospel life.'
"Spiritual disciplines are actions that we do in order to orient our heart, soul, mind, and strength in the ways of Jesus and his gospel. This isn’t salvation by works; it’s a disciplined response to align our thoughts, emotions, and actions within the will of God. Chastity is one of these spiritual disciplines. Lauren Winner writes, 'It is not the mere absence of sex but an active conforming of one’s body to the arc of the gospel.' Chastity is not only for single people prior to marriage; it encompasses both abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage."
"(500) Days of Summer--and, arguably, Garden State before it, in 2004--changed the game for romantic comedies in films. No longer was the younger generation satisfied with the happy ending between Julia Roberts or Hugh Grant and whomever they were romantically pursuing. Real life romances don't end in a nice and neat package, topped with a bow at the wedding altar, where the couple lives happily ever after. We see too much angst, too much heartache, too many failed marriages, and too much saccharine sentimentality. The emerging generation demanded something more authentic, more real, and certainly more cool."
"I have friends and family who are gay. I love them in the name of Jesus. I hope they know it. I hope they see it in me and my family. I hope to always maintain a posture of both grace and truth, embracing both and allowing Jesus to pour His grace/truth through me and spill out onto my gay and lesbian companions. I'm not perfect at this, but I hope to grow in grace.
"Maybe this issue doesn't have to be such a battlefield. Perhaps one day we'll beat our swords into plowshares and our Facebook comments into words of encouragement. Maybe one day we can hold hands in solidarity by the reaches of grace, recognizing that Christ is in the process of renewing and redeeming all things."
1. Should We Always Preach Jesus in Sermons?
"The good news should never get old. Christians who have been followers of Jesus for decades still need the gracious reminder of the beauty of the gospel of the kingdom. Preaching the gospel is not simply an evangelistic task to be used for outreach to non-Christians; it's good news for everybody. After being a Christian for more than twenty years, I still need to hear the gospel, to be sanctified and transformed and refreshed and renewed."
Thanks for reading and sharing and commenting this past year! It means so much to me that you read The Mayward Blog, thanks for being an encouragement to me, and I hope to be an encouragement to you!