Photo by Greyson Joralemon

I used to work with Jim Belcher, the author of Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional. Since Jim and I, along with Mark Oestreicher (now at Youth Specialties), helped launch the Warehouse Service at our church, we spent lots—and lots—of time talking about preaching, worship, and community.

In the book, Jim reminds me of a phrase we used to joke about because it’s so often how sermons end up feeling to people in the pews: “You suck, try harder.”

How far that is from the gospel message that reminds us that God’s created us as good— in God’s image. How far that is from the obedience and good works that are only possible through grace, not our effort.

Last week some friends and I got cheap tickets to see Legally Blonde, a musical based on the movie by the same title. One of the songs was boasting in how having a “chip on your shoulder” helps you accomplish great things.

I couldn’t help but think of the gospel, and how God removes the chip on our shoulder and replaces that with God’s grace.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


More from this author

More From Us

Hello, WELCOME TO FYI
Join the community

Sign up for our email today and choose from one of our popular free downloads sent straight to your inbox. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about our sales, offers, and new releases.

Join the community

Sign up for our email today and choose from one of our popular free downloads. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about our sales, offers, and new releases.