A STRONG word to Parents

Much has been said concerning this generation of students exiting church. So how do we address this issue? For many the answer is bigger programs that strive to capture students’ hearts and direct them to the heart of God, but this tends to lead to “spiritual highs” that quickly fade – has “Acquire the Fire” solved this issued in their years of existence? For others the answer is to teach moral purity, but that hasn’t worked either – new statistics show that only twelve percent of students who pledged “True Love Waits” remained pure until marriage*. Others say teach the word, but if students do not see the word lived out, then why would they follow the teaching?

In twelve years of student ministry, I have observed a consistent pattern – though I must admit this observation remains undocumented and a few exceptions exist – students who are passionately in love with Jesus Christ and live to love others have parents who are passionately in love with Jesus and live to love others. It is also my observation that these students seldom exit the church upon graduation – instead they continue to grow in loving God and loving others as active leaders in the church and community.

This raises the question: can a student, whose parents lack spiritual maturity and leadership, passionately love God and love others? Yes. But not likely. The spiritual maturity and leadership of a student will seldom exceed that of their parents during their adolescent and college years. Though, by the grace of God, they might surpass their parents later in life – yet, this is still unlikely.

As long as parents continue being pathetic spiritual examples of loving God and loving others, our students will continue to walk away from the church. But then again, this is no surprise. Deuteronomy 11:18-20 reads: “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

God gives the primary responsibility of spiritual formation of children to parents – not the church!Now this does not mean that the church cannot have a role in the discipleship process, but the primary source is to be parents. Children learn from watching their parents; they mimic their parents’ attitudes and beliefs. Perhaps if parents started being the church, students would capture a passionate love for God and others – maybe then the church would begin to grow.

For George Barna’s thoughts on this topic click here.

Endnotes:
* The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, by Ron Sider, pg 23. A research study based out of Columbia University and
Yale University.

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The Garden

The story begins in a garden – a garden without weeds – a garden that was created to reproduce, grow, change, and live. When God saw all that he created – he called all of it good.

The garden and all of His creation existed exactly as the artist designed – in harmony, balance, order, and right relationship.

Who was in the garden? A man named Adam, a woman named Eve, and God. The three, in right relationship – God with us.

Then…the choice.

To live God’s way – or – live our way?

To live in harmony with God or disharmony with God. To live in a balanced world or imbalanced world. To live in right relationship or broken relationship. To live or die.

God said to the man… “You may eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of good and evil”.

With one choice – harmony, balance, order, and relationships began to unravel – life began to die.

This story continues to repeat itself today. The choice is still ours – the decision to live God’s way or our way. Unfortunately, each of us has chosen our way. Our decision is called sin. Our decision brings disharmony, imbalance, chaos, dysfunction, and death to our lives and to all the world.

The story begins in a garden.

Now let’s fast forward the story several thousand years to the next garden. God sends His son to earth. His name is Jesus – God with us. His is given the same choice we are given – to live God’s way or His way. The difference – Jesus chooses God’s way. His decision restores and renews what our choices are destroying. His choice, to live God’s way, brings – harmony, balance, order, right relationships, and life.

Jesus comes to restore life. But to restore life, He must destroy death. So Jesus dies, not because He had to, but because he chose to. He died to forgive us, to renew us, to restore us – from our choice to live our way.

But how is death destroyed through Jesus’ death? It isn’t. Death is destroyed through his life – His resurrection – and notice where he is first seen after his resurrection – a garden.

His resurrection destroys death and brings life. Life has come into the world. And in both cases life is found in a garden – in both cases the creator is found in the garden that he created.

His life gives us hope – a hope that offers forgiveness and restores harmony, balance, order, and relationship. But to embrace His life, we must choose to live His way.


Note: The concept of this article came from Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis.

be a REAL man

be a REAL man

What is the picture of the stereotypical man in America? Is he over weight? Is he more consumed with TV than his kids? Does he spend more time with his porn than he does his wife? Does he live for himself? All indicators are yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Where are the real men who will stop watching the news and start making the news? Stop watching sports and get into sports? Stop settling for beautiful images and start pursuing their beautiful bride? Stop seeking adventure in video games and start discovering adventure in life? Stop sacrificing their kids for their personal agenda and start sacrificing their agenda for their kids?

What is it that prevents a man from being a REAL man? Perhaps his own laziness.

It takes courage to live against the culture. Discipline to live healthy. Effort to get in the game. Desire to love your bride. Time to love your kids. Sacrifice to live for others. Passion to embrace life’s adventure. Initiative to be a leader.

Any man can lounge in laziness. REAL men are willing to fight laziness by valuing courage, discipline, effort, desire, time, sacrifice, passion, love, and initiative in all of life. Be a REAL man.

Ministry To An Emerging Postmodern Culture

Characteristics of the Postmodern Culture
The postmodern culture is highly spiritual and views truth as inclusive. They take an eclectic approach to life and faith. They believe that all faiths ultimately converge at a common destination with no faith system being more right or wrong than another. This belief is undergirded by the denial of absolute truth.
In the mind of the postmodernist, the reader determines the meaning of written text. Because the reader, in a postmodern culture, determines the meaning of all written text, no text possesses one meaning or one absolute truth. At this point, text and even words can be manipulated to mean whatever the individual wants them to mean which leads to a variation of truth. This poses a challenge for Evangelical Christianity that believes the Bible is God’s Word completely truthful and authoritative in all matters of Christian life and practice – its truth is absolute and is the only code for living and walking in righteousness before God.Outside of the philosophical realm, this culture is driven by relationships and marked by ideological thinking. It’s not enough for the postmodernist to come to a logical conclusion in matters of faith – they want to know that faith can be real in their life and relationships. They buy into faith systems that make sense and seem real in their world while desiring to serve others and meet the needs of the larger community or world.

Ministry for the Postmodern Culture
To capture the postmodernist, it will take genuine relationships that present absolute truth while demonstrating faith with action – a love for God that can’t be denied. This culture needs to hear an unapologetic presentation of God’s absolute truth in the context of genuine relationships.
Because of the relational nature of the postmodern, it is critical for Christians to place themselves in the postmodernist’s world by building relationships. This generation will not respond to a religion that calls them in; however, they will respond to the true church that goes to them. Once their life has been touched, they will come. This generation is seeking genuine relationship with other people in relevant environments where they are intellectually engaged and challenged by the absolute truth of God and His Word.

For the postmodern Christian, attending church is not enough; they are looking for faith in action; they need to be involved with other Christians who “Believe God, Love God, and Act Like God.” This is radically different from the church that they have been accustom to while growing up – believe in God and live like you want, because God’s grace is sufficient. The Christian of the postmodern generation is less concerned about the form that the church takes and more interested in the function of the church – does it value people; does it act on its beliefs; is it real?

Really, the approach to the postmodern generation is very similar to the ministry approach of Jesus Christ. He stepped beyond the walls of the temple to be with the people he sought to reach. His forum for discipleship was not the higher education offered in the portals of the temple; his discipleship was in the streets, over a meal, in a field, on a lake – while doing life together. The basis of Christ’s ministry was to “go out” and communicate the absolute truth of God in practical ways.

Vision Statement of Ministry in the New Millennium
A united community of believers who believe God, love God, and act like God while communicating in words and deeds the truth of Jesus Christ to the world (others).