Do you create lifelong disciples who go out and make other disciples?
Think about that for a second. I’m not asking if your kids go to church or wear Christian t-shirts. I’m asking if they get so excited about Jesus that they can’t help but tell others about Him.
I know, I know. That sounds so… 2,000 years ago. (Dare I say… the book of Acts?)
Last Saturday my family and I connected with my good friend Greg Stier at the National Youth Workers Convention and we talked about that very subject—Gospelizing your youth ministry, a spicy “new” philosophy (that’s 2,000 years old) Continue reading “Multiplying Disciples” »
About 25 years ago I volunteered as a small group leader in the high school ministry of my church. It was there I met my friend Lorin, a man in his twenties who was discipling three teenage boys.
We love to throw that word “discipling” around, so let me describe precisely what Lorin did. Lorin met with these three teens once a week, encouraging them, praying with them, and studying the Bible-with these three he chose the books of I and II Timothy. After some time, the boys were so inspired by the teachings of II Timothy that they decided to memorize it… the whole book! So Lorin and the three boys Continue reading “Who’s Your Timothy?” »
The dust (and pink confetti) is slowly settling since the June 26th Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage in all 50 states. The question is, how are Christians responding?
Barna released a fascinating glimpse last week revealing that not only Americans, but different denominations land all over the spectrum on this issue. For example, 53% of Catholics favor the Supreme Court’s decision (strongly or somewhat), where only 2% of Barna’s definition of an Evangelical favor the decision. At the same time, most the country seems to agree this decision was inevitable.
I think I heard it like this. “Do you know that only 5% of Christian students actually keep their faith when they graduate from high school?”
Someone said it once, printed it, and it became “research.” I’ve heard all kinds of numbers, some of them unbelievable, some of them from solid research and really sobering. But numbers aside, anyone who has worked in youth ministry for any length of time can attest to one undeniable truth: too many kids walk away from their faith, stop plugging in with other believers or stop attending church after high school.
Year after year I encounter powerful movie, TV and YouTube clips that provoke meaningful discussions about Easter and Christ’s sacrifice for us (we even saw one last season that we highlighted on our The Gospel According to The Walking Dead blog).
It was the one common denominator on almost everyone’s paper. I just spent two weeks speaking to young people and training youth workers in Uganda… and their kids are just like ours.
The training workshops were particularly revealing. We started each session breaking up into groups, brainstorming ideas on a large piece of paper, listing ministry practices that were working… and also models that, sadly, weren’t working. Then we discussed each item in detail, speculating why, and learning from each others’ successes and failures.
The night I arrived back to the US after two weeks from Uganda, I had a dream.
I was playing soccer (football, if we’re in Uganda) and was the left wing—that’s the forward on the left side. My friend Marko was my goalie and he kicked a beautiful kick up the left side, right in front of me, yelling, “Jonathan, go!” It was a clear opportunity for me to score.
This is one of those moves professional players can do with ease, but you’ve seen amateurs blow a thousand times. It takes the skills of controlling an incoming ball while running, not a simple task, by any means. It’s a skill I remember drilling Continue reading “Missing the Ball” »
Christians led the pack, with 31.5% of the population claiming, “I’m Christian.” Muslims came in second (23.2%)… and then the bronze winner… “Unaffiliated.”
The picture in America isn’t much different. The number of unaffiliated rose from 15% to 19% in the last 5 years. Even more intriguing… when you break it down by age. Pew’s other recent report, “Nones” on the Rise, provides this nice chart showing the recent trends in affiliation, by generation:
As you can see, the younger the American, the greater the chance of being unaffiliated with any religion. My son’s age group (born 1990-1994) leading the pack with 34% unaffiliated.
Interesting enough, unaffiliated shouldn’t be confused with being an atheist or agnostic. While 19% of Americans claim unaffiliated, less than 5% still claim to be either atheist or agnostic. Does this mean they’ve never had doubts? Actually, PEW asked a question about doubting God’s existence. When asked if they’ve never doubted the existence of God, 80% of Americans said, “Yes, I’ve never doubted this,” compared to 88% in 1987.
What does all of this mean for us, especially those of us working with young people?
What is evangelism really supposed to look like today?
Feeding the poor?
Knocking on doors and sharing the Gospel?
I’m amazed how polar Christians become when discussing evangelism methodology. Half the group is passionate about sharing the Gospel with words; the other half has boarded the very popular social justice train.
Which is the correct method to point people towards Jesus? With words… or actions?
In my Real Conversationsworkshop at the National Youth Workers Convention this year I’m asking this question, posting each extreme point of view on opposing walls and asked people to stand in the room where they “stood” on the issue. When I did this in San Diego, people stood all over the room.
One youth worker objected. “The question is misleading!”
Yesterday Todd sent me this and I couldn’t help but share it with you. (I love his honest “skepticism.”)
Many of you might recognize his name… Todd Pearage is a full time youth pastor and father of three, who also moonlights writing movie reviews for us, and music reviews for Interlinc. Todd always is on the lookout for practical Christian resources for youth workers.
Remember, this is from the guy who wasn’t that excited about it when you first told me that you were working on a video-based curriculum on evangelism. Honestly, the first thought I had was, “Another evangelism curriculum?” But, over the next few weeks as you shared more and more about your vision and direction of this DVD, I started to get really excited.
Too often curriculum like this appears to be written in think tanks by people who aren’t in the trenches. Those folks might deliver solid, well-written Bible lessons. Unfortunately, it often lacks realism. The stories are far-fetched and the “problems” are out-dated or not really problems at all.