How to Move Beyond ‘Youth-Sitting’
Tips for using Social Media for Outreach
Stephen Baldwin It’s Time to Get ‘Old School’!
September // October 2013
Equipping Christian Leaders to Grow
How to awaken teens to their God-given destiny
The Case for Crusades
Why mass-evangelism youth events still work
Half of all teens mark ‘none’ to classify their faith. Ron Luce explains how the church must re-engage emerging generations.
The Gap Year:
Equipping students before they head to college
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c o n t e n t s V o l . 3 1 // N o . 5
S e p t e m b e r // O c t o b e r 2 0 1 3
Reaching Emerging Generations
Half of all teens today mark “none” when asked what religion they’re associated with. With youth more detached from the church than ever and even Christian teens fading into pop-culture theology, Guest Editor Ron Luce offers a challenge—and solution—to church leaders regarding how we can re-engage emerging generations.
14 | Generation-Changing Risks
Why Teen Mania’s Ron Luce is compelled to engage America’s next generation like never before By Lindy Lowry
With more teens succumbing to a culture that questions absolute truth, we must know how to respond to the unique challenges today By Ron Luce
56 | Youth and Missions How to mentor and cheer on a 20-something generation that God has often used to change the world
26 | All Fired Up!
16 | How Will We Reach the ‘Nones’?
Are mass evangelistic youth events still valuable and viable? By Kemtal Glasgow
34 | An Unshakeable Foundation
Half of all Christian students abandon their faith at college. Here’s how to help teens establish a deep faith before stepping on campus. By Jeff Pruett
42 | God Encounters
How mission trips can be an effective tool to awaken teens to their life destiny and purpose in God By Emmie Harper
58 | Staff and Relationships Seven ways senior pastors and youth pastors can model multi-generational unity
60 | Social Media Ideas to turn your church’s social media channels into social outreach
6|M INISTRY OUTSIDE THE BOX Churches giving back to other churches | Communicating how you communicate | Three things you need to share every week
12 | Kingdom Culture Why the church needs to get “old school” in its approach to winning the battle for teens By Stephen Baldwin 64 | Pastor’s Heart Two elements every church needs to move beyond “youth-sitting” By Jack Hayford
48 | How to Stand Out From the Crowd
How to inspire younger people to remain committed to God’s standards of sexual purity—despite the odds against them By John Gray
52 | Feed My Lambs
Four ways to help your church’s youth ministry grow and mature By Ron Luce 4
MinistryToday September // October 2013
Ministry Today (ISSN #0891-5725) is published bi-monthly by Charisma Media, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746. Periodicals postage paid at Lake Mary, FL 32746 and at additional entry offices. Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distributing) Sales Agreement Number 40037127. Subscription rate is $24.97 for six issues and $39.97 for twelve issues. Canadian subscribers add $5 per year for postage, other countries add $10 per year for postage, payable in advance in U.S. currency only. Postmaster: Send address changes to Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 51593-1602. Send undeliverable Canadian mail to: 1415 Janette Avenue, Windsor, ON N8X1Z1. © 2013 by Charisma Media. For advertising information call (407) 333-0600. Nothing that appears in Ministry Today may be reprinted without permission. PRINTED IN THE USA © Lightstock/Forgiven Photography
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Ministry Outside the Box
ideas, insights & inspiration beyond the norm
Churches That Give It Away Recently the Table Project, a private social network for your church, announced that it was being acquired by Gateway Church in Dallas. Now Gateway is a big church—one of the fastest-growing in the country, with more than 25,000 people. But a church acquiring a tech company? That’s different. I love seeing the church do more than Sunday morning. I love seeing the church do more than VBS or neighborhood outreach. I love seeing the church
MinistryToday September // October 2013
do more than missions. All of those things are great, but I especially love seeing churches giving back to other churches. We’re not in competition. We’ve all got the same goal. Why not help each other out? Gateway believes this so strongly they’re financing the Table Project to keep it free for other churches—and not just big megachurches. It’s the same kind of thing LifeChurch.tv has done with the YouVersion Bible app, the Church Online Platform, Church Metrics and free
resource downloads at Open (open.lifechurch.tv). Several churches now share their graphic resources, like Church on the Move with Seeds (seeds .churchonthemove.com), Southeast Christian Church with StuffICanUse.com, Elevation Church and others. I love seeing the church helping the church. It’s especially cool when we’re talking about churches building something new (not just sharing their leftovers). Sharing stuff you’ve already made is great, but when churches do something new and share it? That’s powerful. That’s not the kind of thing any sane company or organization would do, and that’s exactly the point. The church is not a normal organization. We should be extravagant with one another and with the world. —Kevin D. Hendricks
His Solution for Urban Renewal: Love & Good Works. Meet Dr. Antipas Harris, a pioneer in urban renewal and practical theology. Through Regent University’s Youth and Urban Renewal Center (YURC), Harris and his students transform neighborhoods with what he calls “God-framed solutions” of love and good works. They provide training and leadership programs that address challenges like poverty, abuse and addiction to help those who need it the most. Are you being called to inner-city ministry? Let Regent prepare you.
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Ministry Outside the Box “There is nothing more powerful than a well-told story about someone whose life has been changed by Jesus. Fortunately, God’s story can be told with or without money or expensive equipment.”
—Dave Hartland (Dangerous: A Go-to Guide for Church Communication)
Communicate How You Communicate Recently I was visiting a church in the heart of a retirement community. The pastor got up and was astoundingly relevant. “There are five ways we tell you what’s going on here,” he said. He held up his hand and counted on his fingers: “The bulletin, the sign, the website, our mailer and announcements.” He paused and then joked, “If you still don’t know what’s going on, then I have a hunch you’re just not with it!” I don’t know if this was the pastor’s typical practice, but as a guest, it was a huge leg up in knowing where to find the information about how to get involved. Your church may have stellar events, programs and even great communication strategies, but the best-laid plans can get derailed by the simple lack of clearly and concisely communicating how you communicate. There is no better way to complement the work you’ve done in crafting a focused, strategic communications plan for your church than to pair it with a plan to regularly communicate to the congregation where to access information. Tell them how you communicate. Here are some of the best practices for keeping your audience connected: hh Have one channel that communicates everything you need people to know. Websites are ideal main channels. They should be well managed and updated often. All other
MinistryToday September // October 2013
channels should receive their information from this channel to maintain consistency. It should be the first channel you update with new or changed information. hh Plan to communicate your channels once a month from the platform. Promote your main channel every week from the platform and in your program/bulletin. hh Use each channel to make people aware of other avenues your church uses to communicate. For example, a Facebook post can encourage people to sign up for an email newsletter. hh Communicate these avenues to your leaders even more regularly and help them understand what you promote through what channels and why you handle communications the way you do (reasons will be varied for every church). hh Communication is a two-way street; be sure to also define the channels through which the church can communicate back to its leadership and make them known. Communicating how you communicate will ensure everyone has access to your information from your most senior member to your newest guest. Putting a strategy together to communicate how you communicate and where to receive pertinent information will add tremendous value to every other strategy you have in place. —Jon Rogers
Ministry Outside the Box V o l . 3 1 // N o . 5
Publisher/Executive Editor Steve Strang
Effective Church Communicators Must Do Every Week
Church communicators are world changers—or at least they should aspire to be, because that’s the heart of the Great Commission. World changers do three things with regularity. Effective church communicators need to do them too: 1) Build. World changers build things. They build programs, business solutions, and church and nonprofit structures. They build themselves professionally and personally. They’ve learned the difference between building and tweaking. At the heart of building, they’re bringing a new (or borrowed) idea into an existence that can live and breathe in their unique organizational model. Tweaking fixes things. Building creates them. Yes, we need communicators who can tweak and maintain what already exists. But whoever is leading your communications needs to be building. 2) Love. Though building comes naturally to many leaders, loving does not. Yet the cream-of-the-crop world-changing leaders have mastered the ability to communicate love not only for what their team members bring to the organization, but for who they are as humans. Loving the people around them comes in the form of encouraging words (email, text, phone calls, hand-written notes), gifts (a gift card to an employee’s favorite restaurant, iTunes downloads, an unexpected financial bonus, a day off) or quality time (taking an employee out to lunch, a 5-minute pop-in to employees’ offices to check how they’re doing). 3) Communicate. Almost everyone I know thinks they’re a clear and accurate communicator. But just because it makes sense in their mind doesn’t mean it makes sense to everyone else. World changers have learned to clearly express the day-to-day expectations of the people around them. There are three questions world changers are trying to answer every day in their communications with their people: hh Do the people around me know what’s expected of them? hh Do the people around me know (as much as I know) where we’re going? hh Do the people around me know milestones and deadlines on the calendar? Not all church communicators can actually communicate well. We know everything there is to know about marketing, but that doesn’t mean it translates to how we work with our team. If you want to be effective, if you want make a lasting impact, you need to communicate properly with your team. All three of these tasks do not come naturally for anyone. But the implementation of all three is extremely important for everyone. If you don’t build, they won’t feel inspired. If you don’t love, they won’t feel valued. If you don’t communicate, they won’t feel anchored. World changers are doing all three, increasing in all three and forcing all three. Not just once in a while, but every week. It’s part of their job. It’s part of their routine. As church communicators, you’re working to change the world. If you want to be effective, you need to intentionally build, love and communicate every week. —Gary Molander
All articles excerpted and adapted with permission from ChurchMarketingSucks.com.
10 MinistryToday September // October 2013
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by Stephen Baldwin
It’s Time to Get ‘Old School’
Why winning the battle for teens requires timeless elements
n the last few years, I’ve heard folks in ministry say the battle between good and evil is greater than ever. Many say it’s because we are close to the Lord’s return. Sadly, however, it’s my observation that few truly understand or wholeheartedly believe this. If they did, they would do more to fight back! Christians can complain about how bad things are getting in our society, but what are we doing to oppose the forces of Satan, who does whatever it takes to “steal, kill and destroy”? When it comes to our youth in particular, what are we doing to rescue them? The truth is, many believers think they’re doing all they can to reach the lost—especially teens—when in fact they’re simply doing the same things they were doing years ago. We each have a faith and a calling, and mine stems from a covenant I made with God that if He showed me He was real, I’d do whatever He asked—anytime, anywhere, anything. He kept His end of the deal. And since my life-changing encounter with God, I’ve vowed to keep mine. Because of this, I now view life as if I were part of the spiritual equivalent to SEAL Team 6. Every day I live with the excitement of my next mission. When I consider the commitment and sacrifice of those real soldiers, I get pumped up knowing that this is my calling—to push myself harder, go further and do more! By the power of the Holy Spirit, I stand for Jesus in my life, the media and Hollywood. For me, that includes relishing the opportunity to push the limits and go beyond the norm of what I think can be done. In my personal ministry, I often share that a part of my morning prayer is, “Lord, can I punch Satan in the face today and then run?” I share all of this to dare you to do more, to smash the box of your normal thinking that you are doing all you can. Back in the “old school” days, those who carried the torch of the gospel all had a similar zeal to do more—evangelists such as Sam Jones, Billy Sunday, D.L. Moody, Billy Graham. They understood what it meant to give everything for the sake of making Christ known. My philosophy, like theirs, is quite simple: The best way to impact this world for God’s glory is to make more Christians.
There is no greater field for a harvest than today’s youth. But equally as important as their conversion is the continual reminder of the knowledge of God’s Word and direction of their path through prayer. There is no greater satisfaction in this life than the peace that comes with the presence of God’s Spirit. And there is no greater way to acquire this than through God’s Word and prayer, God’s Word and prayer, God’s Word and prayer—developing a lifestyle based on these life-giving elements. Missions work is awesome, but young believers must be continually reminded that it’s only by the Spirit of God leading them that they can know and do His will. They must know that their personal and ongoing relationship with Christ must be their primary focus, surpassing anything else. In America, the spirit of darkness continues to deceive our Christian youth. Why is that? I’d argue that it’s partly because we have them doing all kinds of other things without the rock-solid foundation of being in His Word every day and spending time with Him in prayer. Did that just rub you the wrong way and offend you? Pray about it! Whoever you are, wherever you are in your ministry, I beg you to do more. Take a chance and do more. Create a cool gospel track that turns teens’ heads. Develop an innovative way to minister, or intentionally go after types and groups such as skaters. (A great resource for this is the Livin’ It skate videos.) Get a handful of tickets to a relevant Christian music festival or an Acquire the Fire event. Then go to the mall, skate park or local kid hangout spot and give away these seeds of hope that, God willing, will take root and grow and bless the Lord. Please know that I make these suggestions because they work. Even if you think these kids won’t relate to you, these tools you pass on to them will. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and you can make a difference. It’s time to get “old school” and do more!
“We have teens doing all kinds of other things without building a rock-solid foundation.”
12 MinistryToday September // October 2013
S t e p h e n B a l d w i n is an actor, director, producer, author, talk radio host and motivational speaker. He periodically speaks to youth conferences around the country.
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recently wrote a heartfelt letter to someone very close to me. She’s 18, fresh out of high school and over the years has lost her way. She grew up in a normal home with parents who love her, and she never had any real problems at school. But somehow she faded away, slowly and quietly. Looking back, I realize now that while home was a safe place, it never offered a solid foundation. Values weren’t instilled, and church was more of an occasional event she was forced to attend rather than a community in which she freely participated and found acceptance. Rarely, if ever, was she in a life-giving place that facilitated God conversations or where she built relationships with youth leaders. Our guest editor for this issue, Ron Luce, knows this scenario too well. As co-founder (with wife Katie) and leader of Garden Valley, Texas-based Teen Mania Ministries, Luce spends his time engaging today’s teens with the gospel, partnering with thousands of churches nationwide through the ministry’s Acquire the Fire youth events. For the past 27 years at these weekend events, Luce has stood face to face with more than 2.7 million teens to bring them a relatable and gospel-filled message. As a result, he’s very much aware of the “slow fade” happening among emerging generations, both churched and unchurched. Throughout this issue, Luce offers a prophetic message and challenge to church leaders, reminding us that, “it’s going to take all hands on deck to see a turnaround in this generation.” Luce knows firsthand the power of a church and its leaders focused on youth. Raised by his mother in a broken home, at age 15 he ran away and began using drugs and alcohol. A year later, at rock bottom, he went with a friend to church. The church’s youth pastor reached out to him, and the senior pastor “drew me to the deeper things in Christ,” Luce says. Ultimately, after discovering that Ron had been kicked out 14 MinistryToday September // October 2013
of his house because of his faith, the pastor invited him to live with him and his family during Luce’s senior year of high school. “This man took a risk on behalf of the younger generation,” Luce says. “Since then, Christ has inspired and compelled me to love people the way He loves them, and I’ve realized that the whole point of my life is to point a younger generation toward Him.” However, Luce didn’t start out with a vision to have an international ministry. “I didn’t really want to start a ministry,” he says. “I just wanted to preach and get young people saved and go on mission trips around the world. When God gives a dream and the tools to pull it off, He will bless it.” To date, Teen Mania has sent more than 70,000 teens on mission trips with its Global Expeditions arm (see p. 42), and more than 6,000 have participated in the Honor Academy, a yearlong internship for high school graduates and young adults providing leadership opportunities and opportunities to grow in God (see p. 34). Since its inception, hundreds of thousands of teens have accepted Christ through Teen Mania programs. In his cover story (p. 16), Luce offers practical counsel for real issues, such as equipping teens to speak intelligently and confidently about their beliefs in a culture where absolute truth is mocked and social media offers constant distraction. In light of these issues, Luce identifies two essential questions church leaders should be asking: What are the most poignant challenges to reaching an everchanging group? As leaders of Jesus’ church, how do we confront those challenges? I thought a great deal about my young friend as I read through the articles in this issue, about how potentially life-changing it would have been if a local church leader had taken a risk on her like Ron Luce’s pastor did for him. I pray this issue challenges and inspires you to take similar steps for a fading generation.
Why Teen Mania’s Ron Luce is compelled to engage America’s next generations like never before
You’ve Got Next! Ron Luce (shown here at an Acquire the Fire in Tampa, Fla.) has spent 27 years stirring younger generations to greatness in God
How Will We
[ Reaching Emerging Generations ]
the‘Nones’? As an ever-increasing number of teens “slowly fade” into a culture that challenges absolute truth, Guest Editor Ron Luce offers a prophetic message and challenge to church leaders By ron luce Emma
gr ew u p in a sm a l l tow n h er w hol e li fe .
She dated and had a steady boyfriend for two years, until he succumbed to the ribbing of his football teammates and tried drugs for the first time. After learning of his newfound habit, Emma’s parents forbid her to see him. But after spending most of her time with him and his friends for the previous two years, she never really found a place to belong again. The local churches’ youth groups were
September // October 2013 MinistryToday 17
about our guest editor...
After a six-month mission trip around the world in the mid-1980s, Ron Luce and his wife, Katie, thought hard about becoming full-time missionaries. The young couple had been involved in youth ministry and had a desire to inspire teens to live for God in a deep and authentic way. But they also had seen such physical and spiritual poverty around the world and a need for the gospel to invade unreached places that they wondered if they were to give their lives to serving the nations overseas. After returning to the U.S., it became apparent that their calling involved both aspects through a ministry that would reach out to young people and inspire them to change the world through missions. Since its founding in 1986, Teen Mania has expanded to become one of the most influential ministries within today’s Christian youth culture. Its vision—to provoke a young generation to passionately pursue Jesus and to take His life-giving message to the ends of the earth—is now played out through six major programs: Acquire the Fire youth events, Global Expeditions mission trips, the Honor Academy internship, the Center for Creative Media, Extreme Camps and the School of Worship. The author of 35 books who has made numerous media appearances, Ron continues to be a significant voice not only to emerging generations, but also to parents and pastors, helping them understand the plight of today’s youth and showing them how to be part of the solution. 18 MinistryToday September // October 2013
nonexistent; her sister had her own friends, and failed attempts to make the school’s sports teams left her feeling rejected. At home, she often saw and heard her parents fighting about money and didn’t get the attention she wanted from a distracted mom consumed with trying to keep her marriage together. This May she graduated from high school. One glance at her Twitter account reveals who Emma is today. Years of feeling isolated, unaccepted, directionless and angry now play out in 140-character posts: “I hate my parents. They’re always wondring what I’m doing wrong w my life.” “Everyone I love leaves me or doesn’t care abt me.” “Ugh. My mom is making me go 2 church. It’s so boring. Someone come save me. Now. Help me!” Unfortunately, Emma isn’t the exception. You’ve probably heard repeatedly that the church is losing (or has lost) this generation. It may sound like a worn-out phrase to those not connected with the youth of today, but anyone who works with teens in some capacity knows this is the sad reality. A 2012 Pew Research Center study revealed that one-fifth of the U.S. public—and a third of adults under 30—are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research polling. In the last five years alone, those who marked “none” identifying their religious affiliation have increased from just over 15 percent to almost 20 percent of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6 percent of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14 percent). Motivated by these findings, the Barna Research Group delved deeper with their own study to explore the nation’s emerging postChristian landscape. The study found that the younger the generation, the increasingly post-Christian it is compared with its predecessors. Nearly half (48 percent) of Mosaics (ages 3 to 21) qualified as post-Christian, compared with two-fifths of Busters (40 percent), one-third of Boomers (35 percent) and one-quarter of Seniors (28 percent). Barna Research commented on their findings: “The [generational] differences are striking, and they suggest a less ‘Christianized’ nation in the decades to come. ... These patterns are consistent with other studies that show the increasing percentage of ‘Nones’ among younger generations.” With these findings and statistics in mind, how do we redesign youth ministry to capture the hearts of churched kids and win back the new teen atheists? A Decades-Old Challenge
For the past 70 years, reaching young people has been a daunting challenge for the church. Since the term “teenagers” was conceived as a sociological group in the 1950s, the struggle to authentically pass on faith has met continued resistance. In each season, the church has faced the challenge with diverse tactics in hopes of reconnecting the younger generation with the gospel. During the Billy Graham crusades and Youth for Christ movement of the 1950s, millions of youth were won to Christ. The 1960s gave rise to a number of ministries, such as Young Life, birthed to take the gospel to campuses. Thankfully, many of those ministries have stood the test of time and still exist. We also saw the emergence of a new leadership species: the youth
pastor. Senior pastors seeking to be diligent in their duties to care for the younger generation hired youth pastors who specialized in grounding teens in their faith. I was one of those teens in the 1970s who was reached by a youth pastor in the middle of my party lifestyle. I thank God for his intervention in my life. Each youth generation has faced its challenges. And for the most part, the church has always risen to those challenges, ensuring that the gospel was passed on. Yet today we face a whole new set of truth-obscuring obstacles. The Internet and media pull at the hearts and minds of teens as they seek community (including virtual, pseudo community fueled by social media), acceptance and a place to belong. For the past 25 years at TeenMania’s Acquire the Fire conferences, I have stood face to face with teens every weekend. In each season, I’ve worked hard to bring a message that’s relatable to teens—helping them deal with the most urgent issues they face—while boldly proclaiming the orthodox biblical gospel. Each year, we wrestle with how to present the gospel to the millions of teens who will come to our events, listening to the thousands who after high school have come to our campus for an internship called the Honor Academy (see p. 34). This real-life, consistent experience has given me perspective and insight to ask two essential questions: In light of today’s advancements and “progress,” what are the most poignant challenges to reaching an ever-changing group? As leaders of Jesus’ church, how do we confront these challenges? Our Current Dilemma
Think about the above-mentioned studies, then add to them this report: In a 2007 poll by the Pew Research Center, 83 percent of Millennials said they “never doubted God’s existence.” In 2012, that number decreased to 68 percent—a 15-point drop in five years. These trends are no doubt the result, in part, of the popularity of the “new atheists” and the growing trend of tolerance as the ultimate virtue. These Lightstock/Prixel Creative
“Though we talk about God every week, teens are not necessarily on the same page as us. ... They may be using the same words as us, but the meanings for salvation, commitment to Christ and the concept of ‘God’ are completely different.” fac tors have caused t he you nger generation to regress, believing that even if God exists, Jesus could not be the only way to God. For example, consider the sentiments and comments of popular atheist authors like Christopher Hitchens and TV personalities such as Bill Maher, who regularly serves up one-liners like these: hh “Believing in God is like believing in your invisible friend.” hh “Even if there was a God, believing that His Son, Jesus, is the only way to God is so arrogant. It is so intolerant of you to judge other religions and think that you are the only one who is right.” hh “Believe in Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Jesus Christ: All are fantasy, your parents just forgot to tell you about Jesus.” Hearing these and their derivatives in sitcoms and classrooms thrusts teens—churchgoing and not—into a conflict, especially when they realize they have no response. Because they have been told to “just believe,” regardless of what anyone says, they are both
humiliated and embarrassed. “Just believing” is getting more and more difficult. As a result, today’s teens are literally being mocked—not talked—out of their faith! The strateg y of the mockers is simple: 1) Use ridicule to label people of faith as anti-intellectual or irrational. 2) Set off a false dichotomy between science and faith, asking people to choose one or the other. 3) Keep the debate one-sided by not allowing dissenting opinion in the public arena, ensuring that expressions of faith are only allowed in religious settings.
Add to that the fact that by the time a teen graduates from high school, he has been exposed to 40,000 hours of television and movies and 11,000 hours in the classroom, while getting only 800 hours in church. It’s easy to see, then, as Christian media and film critic Ted Behr writes in his book, The Culture Wise Family, how teens are overcome with prevailing cultural views. » September // October 2013 MinistryToday 19
Hearts Not Heads
Focus on the Third In John 21, Jesus referred to youth “engagement” as “feeding the lambs.” Notice that, of the three different references to taking care of His flock, Jesus told Peter to feed and take care of the sheep two times, but He specifically called out the lambs. It’s as if He was telling Peter, “Don’t forget the young ones!” One-third of his exhortation was aimed at the lambs! What would happen if one-third of all pastors in America focused on the young ones? Think of the potential transformation of a generation and generations to come. Honestly ask yourself these questions: How am I/our church reaching the youth? How are we taking care of the babies in Christ? Is our youth ministry developing leaders? Am I mentoring our youth leader and developing him/her into a great leader for the next generation? Does he have all the tools and resources he needs? What is the plan for the next 12 months in the youth ministry? Is there a plan? How could I help them build a plan? How is each effort in youth ministry helping to accomplish the plan? (See our planning paradigm for local youth ministry (p. 52).
20 MinistryToday September // October 2013
Part of our challenge as we reach out to young people who have grown up in church is that we’ve literally won their hearts to Christ, but not their heads. In other words, they may have a really moving experience at church, youth group or summer camp, but they are not taught how to think deeply about their faith. They are “low information believers.” Here’s what you and I can do: Seek to understand: If we were in another country as a missionary, the first thing we would do is to try to understand life from the viewpoint of those in the culture we were trying to reach—to learn their perspective on life and their concept of God. It’s the same with reaching post-Christian teens. Considering that almost half of this generation is post-Christian—and most have grown up in church—we would be wise to recognize that even though we talk about God every week, teens are not necessarily on the same page as us. The 2005 National Study on Youth and Religion found that even though many teens call themselves Christians and attend church every week, their beliefs are so different from orthodox Christianity that they are now labeled “moral therapeutic deists.” They may be using the same words as us, but the meanings for salvation, commitment to Christ and the concept of “God” are completely different. They may really believe that Jesus is good for them but not the “only way” to heaven, since in their view that would be arrogant and narrow minded. In seeking to understand, we need to know what our teens believe and why they have come to specific conclusions. To communicate with them, we need to understand how they think and the connotations to our spiritual Christianspeak—and then find new metaphors and phrases to connect the truth of Scripture to their present paradigm in a meaningful way. For example, if you’re talking about homosexuality—and addressing the popular belief that people are born this way—start with a point of agreement: “We all know that everyone wants to be loved and to love. The question is: What is an appropriate expression of that love? You might say, ‘Anything is appropriate;
love whomever you want.’ Of course you don’t really believe that, because you wouldn’t accept a romantic relationship between any adult and a 3-year-old, right? So you do have a line. And I have a line (that I found in Scripture). It’s OK to admit you have a line somewhere. So do I; we just have them in different places. So let’s talk about where to put that line and why.” With this example, you’ve leveraged questions for them to ponder. Don’t think you need to (or even can) get them to change their thinking immediately. Give them questions that bother them. Remember, we can no longer simply say, “The Bible says this, so do it.” They may not care what the Bible says, and it may not be a good enough reason for them anyway (since they doubt Scripture’s authority in their life). They want to see we have good reasons for what we believe. Sometimes our version of getting truth through to teens is similar to going overseas and speaking really loudly and slowly so the person who knows no English will understand you. If we use the same words we’ve always used, we’ll get the same results we have now. We may be saying words, but the important thing is how they interpret what we’re saying. Is it changing their perspective? Is it touching their heart? I’ve found that even though I’m in youth ministry and think I’m relatable, if I do not keep asking questions and seeking to understand, my words become limp and lifeless to the ears I want to affect most. Live authentic lives: This should go without saying, but I can’t stress how important living authentically is to the younger generation. They are so used to seeing hypocrisy when it comes to religion. Yet they are looking for traces of authenticity to connect our lives to our message. The adage “more is caught than taught” may be truer now than ever. This doesn’t mean that we need to be perfect. In fact, teens like it better when we’re not perfect, if we talk about our imperfections, wounds and flaws. Somehow, most of us grew up and were trained for ministry in a way that presumed we needed to put out a performance of perfection so others could live up to it. None of us could live perfectly, Lightstock/Damion Hamilton
so many leaders just lived one way but preached another. The time for show is over. Our life is our show. Honestly sharing the issues we have struggled (and are currently struggling) with—and how God helped/ is helping us confront and walk through those issues demonstrates authenticity to the younger generation. They will be more willing to trust what we have to say about Jesus. Senior pastor engagement: We are in a time of potential crisis in the church, and as has happened in past seasons, church leaders have the opportunity to rise to the occasion and focus our attention on getting the truth of the gospel firmly planted into the hearts and heads of the next generation. The senior pastor determines what’s important to the church. As I mentioned earlier, as a teen a youth pastor reached me. But it was the senior pastor of the church who drew me to the deeper things in Christ. Ultimately, he invited me to live with him and his family for my senior year of high school after discovering I’d been kicked out of my house because of my faith. This man took a risk on behalf of the younger generation. Unconventional encounters with God: The undeniable distinctive with
this generation is the amount and frequency of media it consumes. Of course, now it’s not just TV and movies. Every handheld gaming device known to man has somehow been made into a constitutional right of ownership at increasingly younger ages. My concern is about not only the content (I wrote extensively about this in my book Battle Cry for a Generation), but also the frequency of time they’re consistently in front of a screen. I continue to hear of teens (and adults) spending hours, sometimes all night, in front of a screen playing video games. Even if they regularly attend church and youth group, it’s increasingly difficult to connect in a meaningful way. Extracting teens from the noise long enough to engage their hearts and minds can happen in a number of creative ways. Summer camps and retreats have long been known for their great impact on teens. How much more important are events like these to serve as a culture September // October 2013 MinistryToday 21
We must extract teens from the daily noise and confusing voices long enough to engage their hearts and minds
detox of sorts, to pull them away from all the confusing voices long enough to hear God’s voice. This is what we’ve worked so hard for as we carefully plan out the 27 hours that thousands of teens spend at Acquire the Fire each weekend. This phenomenon has been called a “temporary suspension of disbelief,” as a teen will
come to our gathering and think, I don’t really believe all this stuff, but there are thousands of others singing and worshiping, so maybe it’s true. Then after a few hours, the calloused layers begin to peel off. The heart softens. God breaks through. I think of a story about a hardened teen that Jacob Bergui, a veteran youth
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pastor in New Jersey, shared with me. This kid refused to respond to the gospel. His single mother had come to Jacob saying, “I’m going to get my kid here, but I need you to get through to him!” Jacob used every trick in the book to get through. He met with him one on one, used everything he knew to build a relationship with him, but Mom still had to force the teen to come to church. He was still living his worldly lifestyle. Finally when Acquire the Fire came to town, his mom forced him to go. The teen was having a pretty good experience surrounded by more than 10,000 peers worshipping God. Little did Jacob know that the following week the 15-year-old would bring all of his secular CDs to him and say, “I’m through— you can have them all!” Shocked, Jacob stared at the pile of music and asked, “Why now?” The teen described how God had gotten hold of him over the weekend and how he really “got it.” Four years later, this young man is now growing in his maturity in Christ and still on fire for God! Sending teens on a mission trip provides the same effect. Teens are extracted from the culture for a week, maybe two or, even better, a month (the longer, the better in my experience), giving them a chance to see God do some real work in their lives. I think of Jeremy, a 14-year-old pastor’s kid who had heard the gospel preached his entire life. He went on a mission trip with his youth group to get away from his parents and have fun, and after six weeks in Guatemala was revolutionized. Jeremy came back with a passion and zeal for God and began sharing with his friends what he had found. Each summer throughout his teen years, he returned to the mission field, always bringing more friends with him. After graduation, he went on to college and then to live on the mission field for a number of years. As a result of that initial trip, Jeremy is still in active ministry today, often sharing how that trip to Guatemala was when “my faith became my own.” Creative apologetics: Equipping the flock to “give an account for their faith” has taken on a whole new meaning when we examine how this culture demeans people of genuine faith. We live 22 MinistryToday September // October 2013
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in a world full of one-liners and comedic mockery. We can’t teach our people just to approach the “nones” with statistics and data to prove the Bible when they’re wrestling with truth. They aren’t interested in a dialogue about the probability of Jesus actually fulfilling 800 prophecies in His lifetime. To them, using the Bible to prove the Bible just is a lot of ineffective circular reasoning. What if, in addition to Scripture, we were to find ways to talk about God that validates His existence and the truth that Jesus is the only way to Him? Consider this potential dialogue: “When I pick up a phone to call home, is it arrogant of me to believe that only one number will cause that phone to ring? What about a pilot flying an airplane? Is it arrogance for him to insist there is only one way to fly that plane? What about a doctor who insists there is only one medicine for your ailment. Is that arrogance? Throughout life, we’re not offended that there’s only one way. In fact, we’re quick to admit, ‘I dialed the wrong number.’ Why is it so outrageous to think that there is only one way to the Creator?” What if we not only taught teens the arguments for the validity for their faith (which we must do), but we also equipped them with one-liners that provoked doubters to seriously question why they doubt. In this manner we can start to transform “low-information believers” into “high-processing disciples.” When our kids literally have no response to the guy who says, “You’re so arrogant to think you know the only way to God,” their belief begins to wane. No one wants to be seen as judgmental about other religions, so our kids slowly move into the Universalist belief system. Simply telling teens, “The Bible says so,” does not work to validate their faith in today’s culture, nor does it work for those with no faith. This is our moment. History will record what the leaders of the church in the 21st century did when it looked as if the most Christian and wealthy/generous nation in the world’s history tipped towards atheism in mass. We have the opportunity to rise and do what our courageous forefathers have done in the past as we focus on planting the gospel firmly in the hands of the next generation. 24 MinistryToday September // October 2013
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[ Reaching Emerging Generations ]
Are mass evangelistic youth events still valuable and viable? Teen Mania’s Acquire the Fire executive director Kemtal Glasgow says yes—when the local church is part of the overall picture. By kemtal glasgow
26 MinistryToday September // October 2013
n a world that has become so wrapped up in social media like Facebook, Instagram and avatars, has the live event lost it place? Has the “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves” become relegated to a computer screen or a smartphone (Heb. 10:25)? I recently watched a group of young girls sitting at the same table in the food court of a trendy mall and laughing. Though there’s nothing unusual about that, what caught my attention was that they weren’t talking to each other; they were feverishly texting back and forth. Their laughter wasn’t a result of what they were saying to each other, but rather what they were texting to each other. In our digital age, have we lost even our most fundamental art of conversation? I’m supposed to be writing about live events, the gathering of multitudes, people actually showing up and really interacting with other live people. How do we get above the sound of the most recent message notification or the vibration of the phone?
Fire STARTERS: Acquire the Fire uses 27 life-changing hours over a weekend to help teens encounter God for a total revolution of the heart
ÂŠ Lightstock/Damion Hamilton
More importantly, how do we get them to hear and receive from God? How can we “suspend disbelief,” arrest the senses and get people—particularly teens—to that moment where the Holy Spirit can work, where pivotal decisions are made and where they can experience a real encounter with the love of the living God? Can this be achieved at a live event anymore? The truth is that people, teens especially, are starving for connectivity. They’re searching for authenticity. In the absence of something real, people will naturally crawl through the desert with their gaze on a mirage, which often comes in the form of some faux connection. When they find no water, they’re usually so desperate that they’ll actually drink the sand! Likewise, we have a generation dying of thirst that will tr y to fill their void with connectivity even if it’s meaningless.
More than a “show,” large live events can foster connecting with God—and others— in a unique way
“We have to break teens out of their everyday routine and arrest their attention.”
Galvanizing the Masses
Throughout our history, we’ve seen people flock to these gatherings that have served to galvanize a message, agenda or goal. When President John F. Kennedy assembled a special joint session of Congress, he set an audacious goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” by the end of the decade. He could have simply sent a memo or made an announcement via radio or television. Instead, he used that special assembly to set forth a vision that would decisively end the “space-race” years later. Fast forward to July 20, 1969: Lunar Module Pilot Aldrin asked those listening to “give thanks.” He took communion only hours before they opened the module doors for Armstrong’s famous words, “One small step …” But it all began with that gathering in 1961, where the nation tossed doubt aside and reached for the seemingly impossible. Events have served as pivotal and galvanizing moments in our history. In Aug ust 1963, a young, passionate minister with unflinching commitment to making a difference and cha ng ing the world stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memoria l in 28 MinistryToday September // October 2013
Washington, D.C., before a crowd of some 250,000 people and delivered the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. departed from his prepared remarks and began to minister under the anointing. The echoing refrain, “I have a dream …” served as a beacon to shape American histor y—for all of us. Those events mattered. From times of old, large events have created pivotal moments; they have shaped our lives, and there is nothing new about gathering. A Biblical Precedent of Large Events
In Matthew 4:23-25, we see the stage set for one of the most iconic sermons in the New Testament: the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus had been traveling and preaching throughout Galilee, proclaiming the Good News and healing the sick when large crowds from the region of Galilee, Jerusalem and Judea began to follow him. In Matthew 5:1, Jesus saw the crowds and went up on a mountainside. Some people think that Jesus was only speaking to His disciples during that sermon, but in Matthew 7:28 (the conclusion of the message), the crowds were said to be amazed at his teaching.
Jesus seemed to strike a balance and underscore a need for both events and discipleship. Many times in the Word we see Jesus ministering to the crowd and to the disciples. Mark 6:30-34 is one of those times where Jesus tries to peel away to a quiet place to minister only to His disciples. However, the people continued to press in. We see Jesus again moved with compassion as He ministered to that great crowd and later fed 5,000 people. Another great example of Jesus ministering at an event is found in Luke 5:1-9. As He was ministering near the shores of Lake Gennesaret, crowds were crowing around Him. He launched out into a fishing boat to create a platform to allow His voice to carry over the water so that people could hear the Word. It’s interesting to note that all three examples of Jesus’ ministry to the multitudes also included miracles. Both before and immediately after the Sermon on the Mount, there were miracles. In Mark, Jesus fed the 5,000. In Luke, Jesus blessed Simon Peter for the use of his boat with a miracle catch after a night of catching nothing. He then went on to heal a leper and forgive and heal a man who was paralyzed. »
SEVEN. That is the number of villages in Panama we want co reach this hoLiday with the hope of jesus Christ Imagine 100 gutsy and passionate high school and college students Landing in Panama Cit:y on December 28, 2013. Consider the epic adventure they wilL embark on - forsaking the boring routine of hoLiday vacation for a chance to Live off the Land in a jungle or an isLand viLLage sharing their Life and their faith. Would you be wiLLing co Live for a week without running water or electricity? Would you be wiLLing co sleep in a hammock while wrapped up in a mosquito net? Would you be willing co bathe in a river or with a bucket and eat food cooked over an open fire? If the answer is yes, then you have what it takes co be a member of this team! Ministry in Panama is unique, because you~l be coming alongside the tribes co serve in a miLLion different: ways. Whether it is chopping wood, plucking a chicken for dinner, reaching out to kids, or simply visiting someone in their hut, you will be able to share your faith and make a difference in a way that matters most. Since 1986, Teen Mania's Global Expeditions has been taking students on trips safely for 27 years!
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You don’t need a large crowd to see God move. But I wonder if the climate created in large gatherings puts people in a place where the Word of God can take center stage; where faith can rise up in their hearts and they can let go of those things holding them back. After Jesus’ commission to His disciples (and to all of us too) in Mark 16:15, the disciples began to step out and see results. Mark 16:20 says, “And they went out
and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.” The word them is in italics, which means it was not in the original text. Reread it without that word: “The Lord working with ... and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.” When we can create an environment where the Word can take center stage, where we drown out all the distractions
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so the Holy Spirit can speak to hearts, we ma ke room for God’s power— because the Word works! I’m constantly reminding our staff that the lights, videos screens, LED walls and sound system are not to simply create a “show.” They are all tools to “temporarily suspend unbelief” to get teens to a place where God can get through, where the Holy Spirit can work and where the Word can begin to take root. We have to break teens out of their ever yday routine a nd a rrest their attention. Temporary Suspension of Disbelief
On Friday night, the countdown video displayed via large screens on either side of the stage has been rolling down for the last 14 minutes, leaving only one minute until the highly anticipated start of the event. The auditorium is filled with thousands of teenagers screaming and cheering, and the final minute digitally rolls away in front of their eyes. Darkness floods the entire room as the final seconds scroll away, only to vanish as quickly as it came in a flash of pyrotechnics. The color of moving lights cuts through the haze-filled air. The crescendo of cheers is drowned out by the thunderous sound of the guitarist as he strikes that first chord. Worship is about to begin. Make no mistake, this is not a concert or a show. This is an event like no other, and God is about to take center stage all weekend long! As a teenager, that was my first large live event. The event was Acquire the Fire, of which I had no idea that I would grow up and become director. Back then (1991), all I was thinking about was taking my first road trip with my youth group, getting out of the house and hanging with my friends. Little did I know that this event would profoundly impact my life. Even though the event was so many years ago, I still remember it in vivid detail. I had never experienced worship like that before. Perhaps it was being away from home, perhaps it was the first time I had seen so many other young people worshiping God. Or maybe it was the lights and messages that seemed to 30 MinistryToday September // October 2013
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be directed only at me. God took hold of my life that weekend. I had grown up in church and it’s what I had always known, but something was different about that weekend. Ron Luce (who many years later would become one of my mentors and a dear friend) gave an altar call like I had never seen before. Ron said, “If you want to give your life to God, I mean really surrender every part of your life to Him—not just
play church but pursue God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength— then stand to your feet one at a time and shout, ‘I want the cross!’” As other teens stood to make their decla rat ion, t hei r voices echoi ng throughout the auditorium, I stood as my heart pounded and shouted, “I want the cross” and made my way forward. This no longer represented my parents’ faith; it was mine!
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The event did was it was supposed to do; it broke me from my routine and brought me to a place where the Holy Spirit could work and where I could respond in a climate filled with faith. But the story didn’t end there. Looking back, the event served as a tipping point for our youth group. My youth pastor—who obtained a bus, found chaperones, found hotel rooms near the church and worked out what I’m sure were a million other details—didn’t stop once we got back from the event. He followed up, prayed with us, challenged us and called us to go deeper with God. Pastor Anthony’s rigorous and relentless post-event follow-up not only caused our youth group to grow, but it also served as a catalyst for us to grow in the things of God long after the event was over. Acquire the Fire became an annual tradition for our church and youth ministry. As I look back at that youth group “graduating class” (and subsequent classes), it’s amazing to see how many of us are still pursuing God and how many of us are in ministry today. The fruit of that displays the beauty of ministries partnering with the local church. I’m forever grateful for Pastor Anthony and Pastor Bud Williams, our senior pastor, who made youth ministry important and helped to make it possible for me to serve the kingdom. Are People Still Gathering?
Yes, they are. I get to see it most weekends. People are gathering in churches and conferences like the ones I’m privileged to be a part of from coast to coast—and the fruit continues to be evident beyond the event. Jar your teens out of the normal everyday routine. Lead them to rediscover what some would describe as the lost art of getting together.
“This Bible is the first to address the invisible spiritual conflict that all believers face.”
—Ron Phillips, DMin, Senior Pastor of Abba’s House (SBC) Available at your local bookstores www.charismahouse.com |
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K e m t a l G l a s g o w serves as the executive director of Teen Mania’s Acquire the Fire operation. He developed his skills as a business leader working in systems implementation and store operations for one of North America’s leading companies. Kemtal combines his call to ministry and passion for people with an ability to execute operationally to equip, empower and inspire a generation. 32 MinistryToday September // October 2013
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[ Reaching Emerging Generations ]
By jeff pruett
Half of all Christian students will walk away from their faith in college. How can your church confront that statistic and help teens establish a deep faith before stepping on campus?
s yo u n g p e o p l e f ro m
your church graduate high school, how they develop in the years that follow will determine not only their destiny, but also the destiny of the American church. Pastors enjoy a certain delight and privilege in helping to guide the lives of the families that look to their wisdom and spiritual leadership for navigating the tumultuous waters of life. Lightsock/yelo34
This is especially true as many parents enter the minefield of determining a course of direction for their recent high school graduates. Since these early years are so important, we must be very careful to help parents set up their young adults for success, no matter how unconventional the approach may be. Instead of simply “shipping them off to college” and thrusting them into the throes of spiritual carnage, let’s consider another option for that first year to prepare them for life and success. There is an alternative to immediately plunging our kids into the often-hazardous waters of college life that have shipwrecked many youths’ faith: a gap year.
The “gap” referred to here is the space of time that exists immediately after high school and before college. Though the concept may be unfamiliar to you, it’s a long-established practice in many other places around the world. In the United Kingdom, for instance, approximately 11 percent of the 300,000 seniors headed to college embark upon a gap year before enrolling. Countries such as Norway, Denmark and Turkey see more than 50 percent of their students taking a year off before embarking on college, according to the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education in Oslo. In a USA Today article published September // October 2013 MinistryToday 35
earlier this year on the topic of the “gap year,” writer Jens Manuel Krogstad found that guidance counselors and college admissions officers in America say they’re seeing a surge of interest in this. Though the percentage of U.S. students who wait a year to attend college remains relatively small—ranging from less than 2 percent to more than 10 percent, according to Nina Hoe, a University of Pennsylvania doctoral student who is studying the effect of gap years—the numbers are growing. “This has the potential to be a very, very important part of our understanding of college readiness and success,” Hoe said in the USA Today story. Although few American colleges formally encourage teens to defer going to
education. In reality, 90 percent of students who take a gap year return to college within a year. It’s data like this, from studies such as Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson’s The Gap-Year Advantage—a book based on their independent study of 280 gap-year students—that confirm the advantages of students taking a year off. Students in the study believed the gap year benefitted them in three distinct ways: 1) They gained a better sense of their identity and what is important to them. 2) They gained a better understanding of other countries, people, cultures and ways of living. 3) They gained additional skills and knowledge that will directly contribute to their careers or academic majors.
“Perhaps if we change our approach to the current preparation for college by actually preparing our youth to change the world, then the scope of learning is not only broadened but magnified as well.” college for a year, more are beginning to not only acknowledge but even endorse the concept. According to Krogstad, Princeton University is offering full scholarships this year for up to 35 students embarking on a gap-year program, while the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill is giving out $7,500 scholarships to seven students following the same path. The Gap Between Misconception and Truth
Not everyone is as sold on the gapyear idea, however. According to Abby Falik, founder of Global Citizen Year, a nonprofit-based organization in Oakland, Calif., that supports gap-year choices, the uncertainty is because of many common misconceptions regarding gap-year programs. Primary among those is that only students from affluent families can afford to take a year off before beginning college. Another common misconception is that a gap year will derail the completion or even the start of higher 36 MinistryToday September // October 2013
The bottom line is that more colleges and universities are beginning to understanding that students who have completed a gap year will be more invested, better community members and have better employability partially as a result of their gap year. The Spiritual Advantage
As pastors and spiritual leaders, great concern grips our hearts as we survey the landscape of the institutions of higher learning. We are no doubt confronted with the reality that the families we lovingly shepherd will be responsible to navigate a veritable minefield of antiChristian rhetoric and professors. Most of these schools will openly promote a worldview that at best marginalizes their sons’ and daughters’ faith, if not completely mocks their teens to tears. As many as 50 percent of Christian students walk away from their faith by the time they graduate from a secular or liberal Christian colleges, according to research done by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA.
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Did you catch that? Even so-called “Christian schools” can lead teens and young adults to the dismantling and eventual destruction of their faith. The youth in your church will be met with a never-ending opportunity to join the party scene—and with it, the unending pressures of sex and alcohol, which flows freely on the college campus. The tragic and staggering statistics reported by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services regarding drinking and sex on college campuses need little commentary: hh 80 percent of students drink hh 90 percent of st udent s feel that they do not know how to drink responsibly hh 80-90 percent of college students have had sexual intercourse hh Almost 50 percent of unplanned sexual encounters are under the influence of alcohol hh 80 percent of first sexual experiences occur under the inf luence of alcohol hh By their senior year, 81 percent of students have had sex because they were drunk I have wondered how many parents have gone through the exact same thing year after year, thinking that this is how it’s done—this is how we prepare our kids to become productive functioning adults. How many of those kids fresh from the halls of high school were really ready for the all-out onslaught that was about to be unleashed upon them? Is there another way to more adequately prepare our youth in this transition in order to get the most out of college? I remember the CEO of a Fortune 100 company who sent his daughter to Teen Mania’s Honor Academy for a year right after high school. After she experienced an incredible year getting established as a young adult in her faith, I asked him, “You could afford to send your daughter to any school in the country and you have the pull to get her admitted. Why did you send her to the Honor Academy?” His response shocked me as he replied with more passion that anything I’d ever heard anyone express about this topic: “Are you kidding? Do you know what happens the first year of college? 38 MinistryToday September // October 2013
I tell all my friends don’t ever send your kids straight to college. Get them in a year program to prepare them for life, to make wise decisions!” There Is Another Option
Would it be possible for the teens in your church, or even your own children, to take a season of time to purposefully ready themselves with a stronger understanding of their Christian worldview in preparation for the antagonistic halls of academia? Many churches have started such a program to prepare their graduates. A gap-year program can give the needed time and focus that prepares your young people to not only survive these turbulent waters but also to thrive in them— unshaken and victorious. Perhaps if we changed our approach from the current paradigm of college preparation to actually equipping our youth to change the world, then the scope of learning would not only be broadened, but magnified as well. Simply put, the church must adequately prepare our youth for a college environment that deliberately targets their faith and makes them feel that they are a conscience minority surrounded by an arrogant militant paganism. I believe this preparation can happen through a gapyear program that empowers teens with the development and cultivation of their Christian faith. For the past 24 years, Teen Mania Ministries has hosted such a gap-year internship called the Honor Academy. The Honor Academy is a universityaccredited internship that combines unconventional learning experiences that fuel passion for God and develop young people to make maximum impact for God, while orchestrating the largest teen conference in America. This year-long internship affords young people the unique opportunity of independence in a controlled environment while receiving direct guidance and direction from caring staff. One way that our sons and daughters must be prepared is with a foundational understanding of what makes up a Christian worldview. The world is changing all around us and has been for a long time. The average Christian young person
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has embraced Christianity but has not necessarily developed a strong Christian worldview. It is imperative that youth in your church be able to effectively identify the main questions all worldviews attempt to answer—and then understand how Christianity completely answers these. In addition, it’s essential that they examine other major worldviews and be equipped to give practical ways to interact with others while remaining
grounded from an understanding of their Christian worldview. I recall driving my son to college and, specifically, the moment he stepped out of my car and apprehensively walked away onto the hallowed ground of higher education. I knew that the battle for his heart, mind, soul and body was underway. The classroom isn’t the only place where our young students can be
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devastated. When a young person is left standing alone on a college campus, his or her first inclination is to fit in. A well-structured gap-year program can be part of the lifelong education process and profoundly contribute to a student’s personal and spiritual development. Many gap-year programs don’t just employ the intellectual skills of observing, applying, analyzing and evaluating, they also involve studying various world religions, customs, beliefs and concepts, as well as identifying the impact of world religions in our modern-day culture. They also expose the false views and values of modern culture by living a more fulfilling and satisfying life aligned with the way God created us to live. In the immutable words of our Lord Jesus, loving God involves both heart and head (Mark 12:29-30). The apostle Paul echoed this later as he insisted that serving God involves both presenting our bodies as “a living sacrifice” and being transformed by “the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:1-2). The responsibility that falls to pastors in providing sound guidance to parents in your congregation is at times staggering. Indeed, the future of the American church rests on whether the baton of the gospel is firmly planted in the hands of the next generation. In this context, the concept of a gapyear program is one that offers a viable solution and provides a new approach to developing not only cognitive skills, but also non-cognitive skills that current researchers are showing predict success better than IQ. This is the kind of innovation on which a gap-year internship is focused. Students will focus on deepening their walk with the Lord and laying an unshakable foundation in Christ that will launch them into not only a successful college career, but also lifelong success. The director of Honor Academy Internship, J e f f P r u e t t has been in full-time ministry for 26 years. He was mentored by revivalist Leonard Ravenhill and has served in both senior pastor and youth pastor capacities. He served under Keith Green as a staff member in Last Days Ministries and has always been passionate about preaching the gospel and reaching the lost for Jesus Christ. 40 MinistryToday September // October 2013
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[ Reaching Emerging Generations ]
Encounters Mission trips aren’t just another youth activity. They can be an effective tool for teens to discover how God can use them to change lives—and ultimately to awaken them to their life destiny and purpose.
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By emmie harper
hink about the teenagers in your church who you believe love God the most, the ones that would be most likely to serve in your congregation. Can you see them in your mind yet? These are the “good” kids, right? At least these are on the correct path, right? Don’t be too sure. These are the exact type of teens who go on mission trips with my team each year. More than 72,000 of them have shown up over the years ready to explore South American jungles, trek through Himalayan mountains and journey inside cultures unlike their own, all for the chance to tell people about Jesus. At least that’s what I thought, until I made a shocking discovery. One summer, when we were training missionaries on our campus to head out to the ends of the earth, we asked them to write letters to God. We told them to ask Him for what they wanted while on the field. They brought their letters to the front of the room and left them anonymously at the foot of a wooden cross. The collection and reading of those letters was a game-changer for me. I was surprised. I was stunned. I began to rethink everything. Thousands of prayers written down and left for God to read … “Dear God, Lately I’ve been dealing with cutting my wrists every time I screw up. I think I deserve to bleed. I feel worthless, but You already know that. I just want to be loved.” “I’m dealing with porn, tobacco, alcohol, rebelling, cursing … I really need You.” “Dear God, I watched those videos I wasn’t supposed to watch. …
September // October 2013 MinistryToday 43
[Now] I want to feel Your fire, God. I want to feel a passion for You. Please help me, but only if You want.” I wish I could tell you these types of petitions were the exception, but reality is showing us we have a generation of “good Christian kids” desperate to validate their faith. They want to have a powerful encounter with their God, and they’re going on excursions to remote places around the world to get it. The truth is, I believe these hungry students have the right idea. A mission trip is exactly what our kids need to establish their beliefs and grow closer to God in a non-traditional and life-changing way. Even teens who’ve grown up in the church are haunted by the question, “What do I believe?” They have a sense of their faith, but the way to explain it to others eludes them. There is no better way to get them motivated to become knowledgeable about their commitment to Christ than to put them in a place where they know they will need to give a reason for the hope they have.
When a teenager gets extracted from their routine environment, becomes a part of modern-day miracles and has a chance to lead people to put their trust in Christ, something incredible happens! They become bold. They become courageous. They become brave like the apostle Paul, who said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). These adventures become their proof of God as they realize He can use them to ignite fire in others. When a missionary looks into the eyes of a Buddhist, a Muslim, an atheist or anyone else who hasn’t yet understood the Good News, and sees the light of the one true God come on, that teen is never the same. The euphoria of what it feels like to partner with God in ministry is addicting and only one of many benefits teens enjoy on the mission field. A biblical understanding of personal destiny and a more holistic perspective of the world are others.
I remember my own moment of discovery when I first got a glimpse of how God saw the world and what that meant for me. I was 18 years old and on my first overseas mission trip in Botswana, Africa. On our first day, we walked past mud huts and stopped at a home doubling as the community’s brewery, where we shared the gospel with some adults. Our conversations quickly revealed that none of them had ever heard about Christ in a relevant way. I couldn’t believe it! I’d heard more, “come-to-Jesus altar calls” than I could count, yet here was a group of real people who’d never had that opportunity. Every day of that trip, I was pushed to put others first and prioritize people over my own wants and comforts. Slowly, “missions” lost previously existing taboos in my mind and became “normal.” It became the right answer for social injustice and spiritual darkness. It was no longer only a short trip I was on, but the way I wanted to live forever, no matter where I found myself. »
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I had an epiphany on my adventure in Africa that I doubt my high school education could ever have given me. I recognized that the world was truly bigger than the four walls of my own existence, and I began to believe my life could make a difference. That’s what missions did for me and has done and is doing for thousands of others. What happens once a teen has helped rebuild a school in Haiti and served
people who have lost everything? What happens once they’ve experienced the caste systems and poverty in India? What happens once they’ve met hundreds of kids in Zambia orphaned by war, AIDs and abandonment? Compassion happens, that’s what. Teens once focused on having the latest fashions become more thankful, more considerate and more generous to others. Selfishness shrinks back.
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When we encourage our teens to do something to change the life of someone else, often they’re the ones most transformed in the process. As our kids participate in the process of an outreach expedition, they face opportunities to grow into the young men and women for which we’re praying. They’re confronted with the need to become more responsible, as it takes hard work and dedication to fundraise for a mission trip. Teens are required to take ownership over their time management and schedules. Once on the field, they must rise to the challenge of leading peers and following through on commitments. As they meet new people, they must learn how to work together on projects, cooperate with translators and partner with the leadership of other churches. Removed from the technology, social media and messaging that usually surrounds them, they’re able to form a habit of daily time with God. Amid the guidelines and expectations intrinsic to mission trip programs, they can practice making right choices consistently. All these opportunities develop life skills in our kids and form habits of godliness we hope they’ll continue to crave in their lives. As leaders and ministers, we must respond to the needs of our teens in order to secure the legacy of our Christian heritage. I believe missions are an inherent component in doing this. It’s time to get excited about all the possibilities! Getting locked into missions is actually much easier than most people assume. There are more opportunities to take and send our youth on safe, quality mission trips than ever before. If you think your students might not be willing, guess again! Teens love adventure, they thrive on new undertakings and this generation already has a proven track record of engaging in all kinds of social work through volunteerism. The need has never been greater. Our commission is unchanged. Therefore, God will equip us for every good work as we lead His kids on an expedition to change the world. A graduate of Teen Mania, E m m i e H a r p e r joined the minstry’s staff in 2002 and has served as the director of global expeditions for three years. 46 MinistryToday September // October 2013
[ Reaching Emerging Generations ]
Though our culture values individualism, standing up for sexual purity is still a joke. Here’s how to inspire younger people to remain committed to God’s standards, despite the odds against them.
Out How to Stand
From the Crowd T By John Gray
he greatest legacy my mother gave me was a legacy of holiness, of integrity, of a life well-lived and of exemplifying the Word in action. Simply put, Alice Gray stood out among the crowd. Many of the people I grew up around attended church. But looking back, there were very few whom I would classify as true Christ-followers. That’s not to judge them and say that they were bad people. But there’s a difference between those who follow
48 MinistryToday September // October 2013
a religion (which simply involves rote repetition) and those who are committed to growing and developing in their relationship with God. Even at an early age, I was fascinated by the life that my mother lived in front of me. Here was a woman—beautiful, educated and divorced—committed to living a holy, chaste, pure life in a time when society would say, “Do what you want. Live how you want. Sleep with whomever you want.” Because my mother was raising me
to know the Lord, she had already determined that her commitment to God was far more important than the will of society or the whims of a shifting culture. I give God the honor for Alice Gray. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. Committed to Purity
Pa rt of what my mother passed down to me was a deep desire to walk in purity, particularly in the area of sexuality. I was 13 years old when my mother made me promise to be a virgin when I got married. Though that certainly made an impression on me, what mattered more was when I made a personal commitment at 16 to be a
© istockphoto/Imagesbybarbara; londoneye
virgin when I got married. That commitment lasted 21 years. I was 37 years old when I got married, and my wife and I both waited for each other. We are so grateful that we did. As any pastor or ministry leader knows, your title doesn’t make you immune to mistakes—far from it. In fact, God calls many into full-time ministry because of their past and how He’s redeemed them. If that’s your story and you made some missteps early on in your life, I’m here to encourage you. Maybe you made some bad decisions or took some wrong actions. Or maybe things happened that were outside of your control. Whatever the case, God can redeem you. He can redeem the time. He
can restore your heart. He can restore your body. Sadly, many Christians—both ministers and others—get bogged down with guilt and condemnation when it comes to issues of sex and relationships. If there is one regret that I have today in how I grew up, it’s that I did not have a lot of information. I came from a very conservative background, so we didn’t talk a lot about sex. As a result, I only understood certain things, and others I had to find out for myself. But sex is much more than just a physical thing, and it’s crucial that we teach t he emerg i ng generations this in a time when
they’re inundated with other messages. In fact, I encourage young people to understand that purity is not the external commitment to not engage in premarital sexual activity. It’s an internal commitment of your heart to serve God because you love Him. If you approach purity from a rulesbased perspective, it will be cumbersome and you won’t have joy. But when you serve God from a perspective of expectation and trust, then you’ll under-
I believe that at their core most young people are searching for the same thing. Young people can live lives of purity. They can guard themselves from the danger zones of premature relationships, heavy petting and all forms of sexual activity that may not be intercourse but are still regarded as sexual immorality. Sadly, the church doesn’t talk often about these issues, yet the need for godly voices to speak up with biblical truth about sexuality is greater now than
“Purity is not the external commitment to not engage in premarital sexual activity. It’s an internal commitment of your heart to serve God because you love Him.” stand the Scripture that says, “Present your bodies [as] a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). It is perfectly reasonable for us to give God our bodies in return for all that He has done for us. We need a generation of young people who will stand on this truth, who will live holy, who will serve the Lord, and who will honor Him in mind, body and spirit.
ever. We need to have open and honest dialogue with the emerging generations, not from a judgmental perspective, but from one of healing, honor and covering. This allows young people to speak up honestly about the struggles they face, to express heartfelt questions and concerns, and then to realize practical application so they aren’t walking alone through this powerful yet delicate minefield that we call human sexuality.
The Church’s Response
The ultimate expression of sexual intimacy can only be found within the confines of marriage, as God has prescribed it. This is not a popular statement, but I’m not searching for popularity. I’m searching for biblical relevance.
As a man of God, it’s my prayer that God will capture the hearts of this generation and that they will commit themselves fully—not just on Sundays, but on Friday nights, Saturday nights, when Mom and Dad aren’t home,
50 MinistryToday September // October 2013
when there’s no one there to hold them accountable. That can only come from a true encounter with the real Jesus that causes you to commit yourself beyond what temptation can offer. God deserves our very best, and He deserves it right now. I’m committed to celebrating purity. I’m committed to celebrating the body of Christ. I’m committed to seeing young people empowered to make God-honoring decisions in relationships. I encourage young people regularly that if I can do this, anyone can do it. And I don’t say that boastfully but in true humility. By no means have I been perfect; there are times in my life I would love to have changed. But what I did commit to, I was able to hold onto, and I believe God received glory from it. I’m blessed now—married almost three years with two beautiful children. God has been good to me. But I believe in no small part that I am where I am today because of the commitment I made as a teenager. And that commitment was a direct result of the impact my mother had on me. She was both a model for me and a steady source of guidance. As Christian leaders, we must be the same for younger generations, particularly in this area of purity. Whatever our past looks like—whether we’ve walked in purity all our days or only began recently—God has called us as leaders to exemplify Christ to those we lead. We can offer hope to all ages in this area of sexuality, but particularly to those in the emerging generations who face a daily bombardment of sexual temptation. As we guide them, let’s remind them that what you do at 13 affects you at 35, 45 and beyond. In a culture that throws caution to the wind and is all about instant gratification, we—both you and those you lead—can stand out from the crowd, just as my mother did. So let’s make wise decisions now, so God can get glory out of our lives later on. J o h n G r a y serves as an associate pastor at Lakewood Church in Houston. A former youth pastor, Gray has toured with Kirk Franklin as a musician, appeared on TV hit shows as an actor and is an indemand speaker.
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[ Reaching Emerging Generations ]
Four ways to come alongside your church’s youth ministry to see if multiply, mature and magnify Christ By Ron Luce
90 percen t of t hose w ho come to Christ do so before the age of 20. Youth ministries are built upon the premise that the younger years are when the harvest fields are richest. But time and again, I hear senior pastors and church members express the same frustration: “I just don’t know what to do to get through to these kids!” The good news is that “getting through” is easier than you may think. Put simply: Just feed them! (And I don’t mean just feed them pizza, though that may be a good start.) Jesus told Peter in John 21:15, “Feed my lambs.” It was the first of three commands He gave Peter in their exchange in which He mentioned taking care of His sheep, the church. What most people overlook, however, is that Jesus specifically pointed out that at least one-third of Peter’s attention ought to be devoted to the young ones, the lambs, and not just to the sheep. This prompts a question that arises in many senior pastors’ hearts: What can I do? How do I feed the young ones? What is my role, my responsibility? The following are a few points taken from the Double Vision book and DVD seminar that literally thousands of churches have used to double the size of their youth groups. It’s a simple planning process that allows you to “Feed His lambs”—and a lot more of them. »
t ’s n o s e c r e t t h a t a l m o s t
© istockphoto/MikeCherim; © Lightstock/Prixel Creative
September // October 2013 MinistryToday 53
Real impact begins with prayer. Of course, we should always be praying for the young people in our lives, given the unique challenges they face today in a culture opposed to righteousness and godly values. But we need to also pray for the 26 million teenagers at large in America. As you get your church praying for the vices and challenges teens are facing with media, sex, drugs and music, those church members’ hearts will be softened and ready to reach out to the youth they’re praying for. Every time you see a story of somebody being killed by a teen, or a teenager being a victim of someone else’s bullying, it should trigger prayer from you and your congregation. Equally as more important, pray for the young people in your county, in your city, in your community. How many teens are there in your area? How many high schools and junior high schools are there? What is the teen pregnancy rate, the drug use rate, the suicide rate for your area? Remember, however, that no matter how much the culture is trying to steal your young ones, the gospel is stronger than culture. The gospel meets the cry of their hearts like no drug, like no sexual relationship. The gospel fulfills every need of their hearts. Though teens may look happy on the outside, they’re really empty and destitute, looking for hope. As you pray, also remember that the gospel doesn’t need to be watered down for young people to embrace it. As a teenager, when I was reached for Christ in the middle of my partying days, it wasn’t because someone watered it down. It’s because someone laid it out in a way I could understand. Just speak the potency of the truth in a way they can understand it, and you will see real lifechange as teenagers come to Christ.
outreach that doubles, triples, even quadruples the number of young people who are hearing the gospel and having their lives changed? The thing we imagine is the thing we begin to pray about. The thing we begin to pray about is the thing in which we become engaged. As you dare to imagine what it would look like for youth revival to happen in your city, start to pray in that direction. It all starts with picturing it in your mind. Dreaming God’s dream for the youth of your region begins with the senior pastor. One way to begin is to imagine what it would look like after 12 months if Jesus Christ came back to be the youth pastor of your church. What kind of youth group would that be? What would the worship be like? The outreach? The leadership development? How much would it grow in the next year? Double? Triple? What kind of kids would you reach out to? Pregnant teens? Jocks? Write it down. By imagining this from His perspective, it could be the beginning of dreaming God’s dream for the teens in your region! What if God wants to do something great in your region and He’s just waiting for someone to dream great dreams on his or her behalf? That someone could be you.
“What if God wants to do something great in your region and He’s just waiting for someone to dream great dreams on his or her behalf ?”
Ephesians 3:20-21 says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly 54 MinistryToday September // October 2013
than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory” (ESV). God is saying in this Scripture, “If you can imagine it, I can do way more than that.” The imagination is uniquely ours as humans. Animals can’t imagine a better future or ways to make life simpler. It wasn’t a cow that invented the milking machine or a horse that invented the tractor. It’s only us as humans who have that unique God-given ability. Can you picture in your mind having a church filled with young people? Can you imagine a Wednesday youth
We see God’s plan for us fleshed out in Jeremiah 29:11, where He says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Take your dreams, your thoughts, your imagination and ask God, “What will it take to accomplish the dream?” It’s the senior pastor’s job to be the chief strategist of the church. Keep in
» continued on page 62
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Worship Walk calls us into and equips us for a life of divine fellowship and fruitful lives deeply connected to God. -Andrea Hunter. Creative and Publishing Services Director. Worship Leader Magazine. May 2013
Ministry Life: yo u t h
and missions B y D a v i d S h i bl e y
On the Backs of 20-Somethings
How to mentor and cheer on those whom God has often used to change the world
hat do mission legends Mary these mission emphases include The Slessor, Hudson Taylor and Cambridge Seven, who inspired thouCameron Townsend share sands of collegians for missions, and the in common? They were all impacting founding at Cambridge of InterVarsity nations and reshaping mission para- Christian Fellowship. digms before they were 30 years old. David Shibley addresses The gospel’s march has often orphans—and potential worldbeen carried on the backs (and in changers—at a school in the backpacks) of young people. Visakhapatnam, India The golden chain of mission expansion has been forged by teenagers and young adults. And whether or not they realize it, on-fire youth today add to a train of faith centuries long. The average age was 27 at the Moravian gathering in 1727 that birthed a nonstop prayer vigil for world evangelization that would last 100 years. Nikolaus von Zinzendorf, who gave leadership to the Moravians, joined other students at 16 to form a school prayer group that exploded into a prayer movement that swept Europe. As a new era dawned, again it was William Carey, not yet 30, defied a young, innovative thinkers like Cameron complacent church and became the cata- Townsend and Donald McGavran who lyst for the modern mission movement. changed the course of missions. In 1936 Following were a host of young mission college students birthed the Student giants including Hudson Taylor, David Foreign Missions Fellowship. Livingstone and Amy Carmichael. LivIn 1944, Billy Graham, who had ingstone and Taylor were both teenag- recently graduated from Wheaton Colers when they committed their lives to lege, and 26-year-old pastor Torrey Johnmissionary service. son formed Youth for Christ. A young The impromptu Haystack Prayer seminary student named Bill Bright Meeting of students at Williams College launched Campus Crusade for Christ in 1806 launched the American mission seven years later. In 1956, 29-year-old Jim movement. Almost a century later, the Elliot and four other young missionaries Student Volunteer Movement saw some were martyred while attempting to plant 20,000 graduates go as missionaries. the gospel among the Waodoni in EcuaCambridge University has witnessed dor’s jungle. Hundreds of young people waves of mission fervor through the across America volunteered to take their centuries. In different generations the place. As the turbulent 1960s began, preaching of Charles Simeon, David Loren Cunningham founded Youth Livingstone and D.L. Moody lit mis- With a Mission. In the late 1980s ORU sion fires that leaped from that campus students Ron and Katie Luce launched to the world. Significant outcomes of Teen Mania. 56 MinistryToday September // October 2013
T ha n k God for t he u nbr id led evangelistic passion of youth. As Christian leaders today we’re privileged to mentor their zeal, directing youthful fire where it can be most productive. Let’s help propel young world-changers through these simple actions: hh Affirm them. As mentors to young visionaries, we must never be guilty of preventing youthful dreams from launching. We can help guide where those dreams soar, but we should never strap down the wings of vision or creativity. hh Challenge them. Let’s help young firebrands construct a global vision. Entrust them with some weighty assignments. hh Inspire them. They don’t want us to sugarcoat the mission mandate or minimize the hostile challenges against the gospel. They simply need to know that we will join them in the trenches. Too often caustic voices tell young people their hopes are pipe dreams and that “with maturity” they will settle into (and settle for) a mundane faith. Dear God, deliver me from any identification with these dream dousers! Let’s lift young people’s sights to reach the world for Christ! Throug hout histor y, when God wanted a big job done, He often looked to a young person. Teenagers like David and Mary changed history. Youth is when idealism and a sense of justice (and injustice) peak. The venom of unbelief hasn’t poisoned their spiritual bloodstream. Youth doesn’t know what can’t be done! D a v i d S h i b l e y founded Global Advance in 1990 and has equipped church leaders in 62 nations. Now serving as Global Advance’s international representative, he mentors young people called to Christian ministry.
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Ministry Leadership: s ta f f
a n d r e l at i o n s h i p s BY Jacob Burgei
Modeling Multi-Generational Unity How senior pastors and youth pastors can grow together
he final words of Malachi’s prophesy say the hearts of the road your youth pastor is traveling. He needs you to steer the fathers will turn to the children, and the hearts of him from the traps you may have fallen into. There have been the children to their fathers. The church is at its best many times I’ve sat down with my pastor for guidance on when we see that Scripture being lived out among the gen- certain issues. Being able to go to him and not being afraid erations in our local congregations. to share the issues I’m dealing with It isn’t easy with a widening genhas helped. eration gap in a rapidly changing hh Trust: The most important part society. But it can happen when it’s of my relationship with my senior modeled within church leadership. pastor is trust. We developed a trust As a youth pastor, I know I’m from the beginning, allowing our able to lead a younger generation relationship to flourish. He trusts toward God because of the people me even when I’ve failed. who paved the way for me, believed Allow your youth pastors to fail in me and gave me a chance despite forward. As you have made mistakes my failures. I’ve been blessed to in the ministry, your youth pastors have a great relationship with my will make mistakes. My senior passenior pastor, David T. Demola, tor has led me with grace, allowing who taught me the true meaning me to learn from my mistakes. of ministry. hh Communication: Know the vision Working closely with my senior of the youth ministry. Know where pastor has been instrumental in my the ministry is and where it is headgrowth as a leader and the success ing. It’s important for senior pastors of our youth ministry. In order to to have their finger on the pulse of see our churches—composed of J a c o b B u r g e i is the student pastor at Faith their youth church, and that comes older and younger generations— Fellowship Ministries in Sayreville, N.J. through communication. I make thrive, there must be a thriving, sure my pastor knows what’s hapworking relationship between the senior pastor and youth pas- pening with our young people. He doesn’t want to know all the tor. Here are some tips for senior pastors and youth pastors to details, but he wants to know any major happenings. strengthen their bond and support one another. hh Encouragement: Youth pastors want their leader to believe in them. They need encouragement from their pastoral covering to push them toward their vision. There have been times when I was struggling and feeling down, and my pastor would say a word of encouragement or send me an uplifting text message. If youth pastors are not getting encouragement, they tend to feel isolated and as if no one understands what they are going through. Youth ministry is full of ups and downs. My pastor reminds me that the down seasons are a part of ministry. He’s been real and vulnerable with me, sharing about the times he’s felt the same struggle. Knowing that he overcame the same roadblocks I’m facing is encouraging. The enemy wants youth pastors detached from their senior leaders. Pastors, do not let your youth leader be isolated. Your uplifting words will encourage him. hh Accountability: Senior pastors, you have already been down 58 MinistryToday September // October 2013
hh Believe in your pastor’s vision before pursuing yours. You are under the covering of your senior pastor. If you are not submitted to his vision first, how can God bless your vision? Once you take on your leader’s vision and fulfill your role in carrying it out, God will bless your vision. A youth pastor’s vision must align with the corporate vision of the local church. hh Know how to submit even when you disagree. There will be many times when you disagree with your senior pastor, but you must submit to his leadership. Trust his wisdom. He has made mistakes and wants to protect you from repeating them. You must learn to do what’s right, even when you don’t understand. hh Help your pastor understand your vision. You must clearly communicate the vision in your heart to your pastor. Once he knows the direction that you want to go, he’ll be able to correct you when you get off course. Once he sees fruit in what you’re doing, he’s more apt to talk about it before the church and support what you’re doing.
How to Improve Pastoral Relationships What Youth Pastors Need From Senior Pastors
Changing Minds, Changing Lives CINDY TRIMM
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT ABOUT f RUDOM, fAVOR, AND TRUE TRANSFORMATION
GRACE IS NOT A
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socia l media By Andy Murr ay
Turning Social Media Into Social Outreach
ast month was my birthday. Because of social media like Facebook, I got more birthday wishes than I ever got cards in the mail. A few weeks ago a friend of one of my friends was in dire straights. Her husband had been in a motorcycle wreck and lay in a coma in the hospital, yet people instantly began praying for him. Because of Facebook and how connected we are today with smartphones and tablets, we can hear about and respond to the burdens and celebrations of life in real time. Gone are the days of hearing about a prayer request for the first time in the Sunday bulletin.
Everywhere you look, teens are tweeting weekend plans, new parents are posting photos of their babies on Instagram and grandparents are commenting on their grandchildren’s Facebook statuses. There is a stream of conversation happening on social media platforms like Facebook that connect communities and people with each other like never before. Facebook has more than a billion users, and more than 15 million company brands employ a page on the site. It should come as no surprise that churches are hopping on the social media train as well. More than 46 percent of churches say that social media is the most effective method of outreach. Jesus was well aware of the power of word-of-mouth. The gospel was spread across continents using this method. One benefit of social media is that the effectiveness of word-ofmouth is instantaneous. An event, announcement or tweet won’t be seen by only one person but by dozens, or even hundreds of people within minutes. 60 MinistryToday September // October 2013
The challenge for many churches is they simply don’t have a strong understanding of how effective social media can be for outreach, or their employees don’t have the training or tools to execute a sustainable program. I like to think about the challenge in three parts: 1) Educate yourself on what is possible today and ensure your church staff has the right information about what works and what doesn’t work. There are a lot of myths about social media that keep churches out of the space when, in actuality, it is one of the most powerful tools available today for outreach, growth and community engagement. 2) Get your social media presence set up the right way. Many churches are set up as a location or a group, and they don’t have the proper settings for a Facebook page that allows them to take full advantage of the medium. Make sure you have a Facebook page, a compelling cover photo, clear information about the church including service times, and are intentional about how you are using your comment wall. 3) Research and brainstorm ideas to engage the community. There are numerous ways a church can engage a community in order to grow their online impact. Here are a few ideas we have found worth doing: hh Inspirational Messages. Post a daily or weekly message of inspiration on Facebook, or select a meaningful Bible verse and tweet it to your followers. Facebook posts can easily be shared by members on their own personal Facebook walls, and tweets can be re-tweeted to hundreds with a click of the mouse. hh Publish Your Sermon. Set up a video camera and record the service. You can then upload excerpts to YouTube, Vimeo or Facebook and tweet the link to your followers. Or, record the audio and turn it into a podcast. hh Calendar of Events. Use an e-calendar tool (such as Google calendar) and ask members to subscribe. Each time a new event is added to the church calendar, it will automatically update on subscribers’ smartphones. hh Checking In. Most social media sites possess an integrated location function. Ask your members to “check in” to your church using Foursquare or Facebook, or have them enable their location option and post a photo to Instagram or Twitter. The idea is for friends to build a dialogue around the service or festivities taking place at your church. Word spreads quickly in today’s world. It’s time to use social media to share and spread the Word. A n d y M u r r a y is Founder and CEO of Mercury 11, a social media agency specializing in helping organizations leverage the power of social media to grow and make an impact.
How to use today’s real-time connectivity and community to extend your church’s reach
Founders Chester and Betsy Kylstra have over 27 years of effective ministry experience, and have been training others in RTF ministry since 1986. RT RTF impacts hundreds of local churches around the world as well as ministries such as Go To Nations, Cleansing Stream Ministries, YWAM, and many others.
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» continued from page 54 mind that the people who run MTV are not young. They get young people to be on the TV shows, but it’s the older people who look a lot like you and me who are doing the planning and strategizing. The pastor’s job as chief strategist is to rescue a young generation. Since God is a planner, we need to be planners too. Even a bad plan is better than no plan. Start with the dream. Write it down. It could be that you want to have 100 young people in your church every week, with great missions teams, worship teams, outreach teams and drama teams. Begin to put a plan together. Spending one day planning with your youth director and his volunteers—and even inviting your businessmen and leaders from your church—can be revolutionary. Better yet, spending one day together planning to implement the dream could be the launching of a teen revolution for Christ in your city! Just one day. 4) Produce.
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In the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), we see that God expects us to be productive with the talent or talents He’s given us. We already know He’s given us a light in our communities, a well in the desert. There are broken people all around us. Now the task is to utilize the talent we’ve been given and, in our unique environments, produce results. To do this you take the plan and put it into action. It should be broken down into monthly goals in each department and into organization charts. It will likely include job descriptions for each of your volunteers coordinating different parts of the dream. When you’ve reached this stage, now it’s your chance to begin to work the plan, orchestrating the volunteers in the youth ministry, getting the church praying for the vision and monitoring the results. Little by little you’ll see a thriving youth ministry happening at your own church—not just because you begged kids to come, but because you thought deeply, keeping the dream in mind, about how to take strategic steps to get there. This is just a quick overview of a planning process. I encourage you to take an entire day and spend it with your youth pastor and his team. The sky’s the limit. If all of us got engaged at this level, there’s no telling how many multiple thousands of young people could be rescued for the cause of Christ and who could be turned into disciples 3/29/11 that reproduce. This is our moment! With almost three decades of youth ministry experience, R o n L u c e has a heart to partner with senior pastors and youth pastors on the journey to reach young Christians at the most critical stage of their lives—the teenage years. To that degree, he offers strategic monthly insights on the most effective ways to engage the emerging generation with the message of Christ and to prepare them for a life of Christian leadership. To receive these invaluable insights from Ron in your inbox, go to TeenMania.com to sign up. 62 MinistryToday September // October 2013
—2 Corinthians 1:20, Modern English Version
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The Reverence You Expect. The Clarity You Value. 11986
p a s t o r ’ s
h e a r t
by Jack Hayford
How to Move Beyond ‘Youth-Sitting’ Two elements every church needs to release effective youth ministry
magine a church breathing fresh winds of the Holy Spirit’s presence and joy throughout its entire church family—winds generated by God’s grace but rising specifically from His working among the teens and college-agers within that body. For many pastors, this vision of the Spirit igniting a church’s youth to affect the entire congregation is a “prophecy in waiting.” And as with all prophecies, discernment is essential—to receive truth and to reject confusion or error. To do both, let me recommend two things you, the lead pastor, must sign off on. 1) The foundation. What is the perceived relationship between you and the youth pastor regarding job description and expectations? If all I do is hire someone to offload my task as lead pastor while expecting the youth pastor to fit in and do his job—without growing him into the vision, culture, purposes and ministry philosophy of the body I lead—I’ve done nothing more than hire a “youth-sitter.” When that happens, no one wins in the long term. I’ve seen the best and worst of this up close. During my first 10 years of ministry as a youth pastor, I learned the best through men who treated me as a partner. I never expected to be considered an equal, only partnered with as a younger brother who was eager to learn from them. And I did learn from great pastors who modeled and mentored with an open door and ever-welcoming hand to me, and who trusted my vision enough to raise questions that deserved better answers than I had. In one case, however, a lead pastor had a bad taste in his mouth from two former youth pastors-gone-bad. Those experiences made him reticent to empower any youth leader, thereby stifling any cultivation of the two foundational basics key to lead/youth pastor teamwork: trust and partnership. I learned how life-nurturing these two essentials are by experiencing the blessing of growth in a healthy climate and by encountering the disappointment and frustration that is bred in the absence of both. True fruitfulness for all involved requires the growth in and commitment to trust and partnership—led by the lead pastor, who shapes the mindset of the congregation’s leadership to live in these values and affirm
their application to the youth in general, not only to the youth pastor. Trust grows through regular interaction and by creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and patience that honors both the worth of the younger and the wisdom of the older. Partnership develops through a regular pattern of meeting between individuals who are joined to frequent times of agreement and faith in prayer. This is a proven course for threading a bond of unity together. Things work because hearts have been knit together. 2) The funding. Trust begets partnership, and funding flows from each partner bringing what they have to the table. In youth ministry, this boils down to pastoral and elder leadership determining that the youth budget is one of the body’s fiscal priorities. Honesty with reality mandates the decision: contending prayer, a convinced and tithing congregation will assure adequate resources. It can be no other way: Where our heart is, the treasure will be in evidence! As a lead pastor, the church elders and I determined that if our youth leader and his team believed in a program or emphasis, and if additional funds were needed to advance touching and shaping youth, they received the funding. That’s all there was to it! They didn’t have a carte blanche; they had pastoral and corporate support when God stirred vision. The two basics I’ve noted here are proven and will garner fruit—namely, the discipling of youth and effective evangelizing of added teens and collegians. When my wife, Anna, and I began in Van Nuys, Calif., with 18 members, we had one 12-year old. When we concluded, there were 8,000 members and more than 1,000 teens and collegians. It was a “God thing,” with no credit to us. But it was also the case of a church family who loved their young people, grew leadership who trusted and united in ministry, and who funded a ministry to youth because our hearts demanded it of our wallets.
“True fruitfulness for all involved requires the growth in and commitment to trust and partnership—led by the lead pastor.”
64 MinistryToday September // October 2013
A former senior editorial adviser of Ministry Today, J a c k H a y f o r d is the founding pastor of The Church On The Way in Van Nuys, Calif., and founder of The King’s University.
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