The Adrenaline god

More and more, people in the new millennium are looking for a rush, a thrill, a high-risk adventure that produces a non-stop flow of adrenaline. Think about it — the return of Fear Factor, the Amazing Race, as well as various game shows that promise bigger and better prizes are indications that some people “can’t get no satisfaction.”

Hear me out — I have no problem with legitimate “rushes” and the moments where our stomach jumps into our throat. But without a doubt it is becoming more of the expected norm as opposed to the anticipated anomalies. Excitement is the catchword; thrills are the hot item.

With society pushing the adrenaline surge to an all-time high, some ministries (and families) are asking: Should we follow suit? Is providing repeated thrills and one high after another the next step for those involved in making disciples and/or raising kids?

Just watch the landscape — family calendars are chocked full of endless memberships to clubs, teams, and trips, and church schedules often look like the event list at a civic center or arena. Financially and relationally, we’re going broke at the expense of the thrill. Our addiction to adrenaline is bankrupting us in more ways than one.

So…what’s the answer to the question above? Is it worth it to follow the culture’s model and provide an endless array of spine-tingling “rides” for those under our care? A resounding ‘no’ should be heard across the land! “Big-top” excitement is unable to sustain anyone over the long haul of his or her spiritual journey. Why? Concisely, the Law of Diminishing Returns. It is impossible to maintain the increased necessary level of excitement repeatedly. That detour is a dead end road.

What works? Connecting to deep relationships! Both families and churches need to make more of time together, not just time. True, often doing exciting things together does deepen relationships. But you know you’ve crossed the line from people to programs when, upon realizing that the exciting thing tonight is pizza at home while talking around the table, your kids start a coup to overthrow you. If you suggest that all the gadgets with screens be tuned off for one night so you can all talk and your family — or small group — looks up at you with fire in their eyes, perhaps that’s a sign that some relational redefining needs to take place. All kidding aside, it’s the same old contrast that’s been around for ages, only dressed in 21st century garb: relationships vs. rituals.  And solid, deep relationships are what grounds people best for a lifetime of involvement in God’s body, the church.

One thing is true: We are doing our ministry, our family, and our church a disservice when we create the false illusion that life is one big thrill after another, and people are only there for the in-between times. Quite the contrary! Life is actually somewhat routine, typically a matter of engaging in daily discipline. And deep relationships – with God and others – is the high point of it all!

Here are a few diagnostic questions to ask yourself as you think through your own addiction to adrenaline:

· Do you sense a lot of physical motion but little spiritual progress?
· Does your calendar dictate more than your purpose/mission?
· Do you, your family, and/or friends “hang out” even when there is no official event?
· Do your family or church events allow adequate debriefing and processing?
· Is there a small group emphasis in place among your sphere of relationships?
· Is your overall spiritual growth plan based on events (“I need to go somewhere!”) or relationships (“I get to be with someone – God!”)?

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