Tag Archives: Millenial Generation

This Generation Needs the Truth

The longer I am in youth ministry, the more I realize how much this generation needs to be reminded of the truth of the Gospel.Picture3The Gospel…

A Gospel that tells them they are loved.  Not just a little bit of love – but love that would send an innocent man to His death…for them!  That they are worth dying for!  A love that does not change – nothing they can do can lose any of God’s love and earn any more…it is perfect!

A Gospel that tells them they have hope.  Even with the bullying, with the feelings of loneliness, the difficulties in their academics…there is hope.  Philippians 3:20 says our citizenship is in heaven…we are just visiting this world that is full of sin & destruction…there is so much hope that awaits you.

A Gospel that tells them they have a purpose.  Their purpose is to spread this GREAT NEWS.  They have a voice, they have something to share, they have the key to LIFE…which leads us to our passage.  Read I Timothy 6:19-21.

Remember these two verbs from this passage:  Pursue & Avoid

Pursue:  Check out the end of verse 19 – “TRULY LIFE”

First, little background/context here – this is a the end of a message Paul was giving to the rich – not to care so much about earthly treasures…but to care about the eternal.  Live for what truly matters – “take hold of that which is truly life” – How?  Pursue the eternal.  There is so much out there for this generation to hold onto…just hoping it will bring them LIFE.

They are out there searching – hoping life has so much more.  Thinking…this can’t be all there is…emptiness just filling their souls.  Like they are hanging on the edge of a cliff and reaching for something…anything to save them.  But they keep grabbing for things that don’t hold up, sending them further down the cliff.

Pursue LIFE.  Eternal life.  Let me ask you this:  Do we give this example to this coming generation?  When we show them – the Christian life – it’s where it’s at!  This is THE life!  According to Pew Research – Rise of the Nones (those with NO religious affiliation) that is growing in this country – Most given reason for breaking off w/ religion they were raised in because…they become disenchanted.  They were disappointed in Christianity!  Why?  Could it be we aren’t living like this is the ONLY way?  We live like there are other options.  Is it worth it to us?  Worth dying for?  Is it THE LIFE?  OR Do we live boring, risk-free, non-committal Christian lives?  Is it any wonder this generation is saying no thanks?

The Christian life is HARD, takes sacrifice, will produce persecution…it better be WORTH IT!  Does our life, our passions, our speech, our actions…do they prove to our children that the Christian life is worth it?

This is how we pursue – 5 steps

  1. We talk about God in our home – According to the College Transition Project – 1in 8 teens talk to their moms and 1 in 20 to their dads about faith in their lives.
  2. Serve Together – Let’s drop off cookies at the neighbors together, come paint VBS sets together, and visit the elderly together…and then get ice cream after. Ok?
  3. Church is a priority – Not in a legalistic way…but in a “We love the Bride of Christ” kind of way…and we WANT to be there to learn, serve, and worship.
  4. Share your faith – Not just daddy or mommy…but all of us share. In our schools, our jobs, our ball teams, our band concerts our neighborhoods…LIFE of faith.
  5. Love Others – Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love others, love the lost…and prove it by your actions.

Avoid

End of verse 20 reminds me of:

  1. The philosophy professor at the secular college that wishes to disprove religion
  2. The rants of the atheists in our media aimed to humiliate anyone that believes in a higher power
  3. The theory that many call “science” claims the world was formed by a big bang & the existence of the universe was result of millions of years of chance

The world will call this knowledge – it is false – and our children need to hear the truth from us.  Avoid pointless arguments that get you nowhere…instead live by faith, share about what faith has done in your life, and love others – these are hard to argue.  We fight on FB – when we should offer a conversation at a coffee shopWe badmouth a child’s friend – when we should invite their parents out to breakfastWe get worked up in politics when we should be on our knees in prayer

What we want for our kids – verse 20…so we can do all we can to avoid verse 21.  The minute we water down the Gospel at our church or in our home – is the moment we fail.  We fail our Savior, we fail our responsibility, & we fail our children.  We guard the Gospel and avoid false teaching in our homes – with the hope of them staying firm in their faith.  Is this full-proof, money back guaranteed?  Not in this fallen world…but…  The more you talk about God in your home, protect the truth, and live it out…the greater the chance this coming generation will follow and stay firm in their faith.Picture2

Listen to the entire sermon here (9/4/2016)

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What Happens When Senior Citizens Come to Youth Group?

Bridging the generation gap in our church has always been a goal of mine.  I’m a proponent of inter-generational youth ministry.  If you don’t know what that is, then go here and read this book.  Many churches are going to the model of separation and segregation of age groups so much that the generations never interact with each other.  Do I see value in age-segregated ministries?  Absolutely.  Hello, I’m a youth pastor!  But there is real value in generations coming together, getting to know each other, and truly becoming ONE church.  But it just does not happen over night.  You need to be intentional.  Sure, there are select few older generation that will take time to get to know younger generations.  But, for many, you must have a “Field of Dreams” model of ministry –  if you build it they will come.  if_you_build_it_-_olv_mens_cu_4_1

How does this happen?  Here are few ideas:

Serve Them.  Every year, our teen ministry hosts a lunch for the senior citizens.  The sky is the limit for the theme of the lunch, and thankfully I have very creative and talented youth lady leaders (because I could only host a grilled cheese or hot dog lunch).  We have done Valentine’s Day lunches, Brunches, Tour of Italy…the themes are endless.  And so is the value of teens serving the older generation.  The teens dress up, take the seniors to their seats, take their orders, and serve them lunch.  After everyone is served, the teens then find seats next to them and have genuine conversation.  Sometimes, the conversation is guided, other times it is just natural.  Another idea:  Form a team of teens and adults to serve the elderly through the year – yard work, general house issues, etc.

Have Fun Together.  Typically, either following lunch or another time during the year, we will have an informal time of generations coming together.  I’ve hosted a “Man Day” which includes a Bible study, hearty breakfast, and man games like “Name That Tool” and “Power Drill Relay.  Other ideas include:  speed dating & board game night.

Serve Together.  Our youth group has a service project every month, and we often invite adult small groups to participate with us.  This is a great way to bring generations together, by serving together.  Often, they see how teens can be hard-working, caring, and approachable.  It breaks down walls when you are serving Christ together.

Worship Together.  Please do not make the mistake of never allowing generations to worship together.  I’m a proponent of children’s and youth ministries as much as the next guy, but it is important that the generations have opportunities to worship and hear God’s Word together over the course of the year.  Maybe consider trimming down the age of children’s church, save holidays for all-church gatherings, and do not host a youth service during main worship times.

Pray for One Another.  Before I arrived at my current church, they already had this wonderful practice in place.  The senior citizen group had a prayer sign up list of all the teens and college/young adults.  What better way to bring generations together than to pray for them.  Our teens often pray for our seniors as well.

Invite Them to Youth Group.  Last but not least, invite them to your youth group!  Sure, many youth groups have a parent night which is a great idea.  But let’s take it a step further and invite the senior citizen group to your youth group.  A friend of mine in ministry gave me this idea, and we tried it yesterday.  Judging by the picture below, how do you think it went?  Seeing the elder generation, singing, playing games, and praying with the younger generation…it was incredible.  IMG_1376[1]

Sure, we are not there yet.  But we are intentionally trying to bridge the generations together.  Praying, serving, having fun,  and worshiping together as ONE church.

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Generation “Me”…Just how bad is it?

The generation of baby boomers, because of its narcissistic nature, has become known as the “Me Generation”.  Well, the millennial generation that has followed them has followed suit.  As Time Magazine puts it, this generation is more like the “Me Me Me Generation”.  Sure, they are more cause focused and seek out relationships over real estate.  But the “me” is definitely growing.  For those that work with this generation (technically I am part of this generation as well) know how true this can be.  Listen to this secular presentation as proof to this claim.  The statistics and measurables are worth the price of admission (High School Seniors mentioned at the 8:40 mark).

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10 Things Teens Won’t Tell You

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, youth worker, youth pastor, or just a curious observer of the cultural shifts in America, this article provides incredible insight into the mind of the teenager, or more importantly the next generation in America. It is interesting the article comes from a financial mindset (www.marketwatch.com), thus it uses the numbers to explain behavior. Tough to argue with that logic. Take a look at the article, and feel free to comment about it below.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-teens-wont-tell-you-2014-08-08?page=1

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Book Review: Inter-Generational Youth Ministry

Book Review:  Inter-Generational Youth Ministry by Mel Walker

The Good: 

Intergenerational Cover FinalThose in youth ministry are up to our ears in statistics of high school and young adults leaving the church. True, statistics tell a story, and are valuable in evaluating cultural trends. However, statistics are like a home run hitter that only hits home runs when no one is on base. It is helpful, but it will rarely give your team the win. Statistics are helpful, but they rarely get results. That is, unless you couple those statistics with solutions. When you provide solutions, you have a book worth reading.

This book begins with a youth culture history lesson. It was fascinating, and set up the rest of the book perfectly. In fact, I found it so helpful, I used much of the material in my message at the teen/senior citizen luncheon. It was a perfect tie in of generations. Basically, I gave the history of youth ministry, the current state of youth ministry, and what you as the elder generation can do to help.

In the following chapters, each ministry of the church is dissected and examined. From children’s ministry to the senior saints, the evaluation of the current church models were scrutinized respectfully, and given helpful solutions to issues that exist in churches across the nation.

As a reader of scores of youth ministry books, what separates the good from the bad is the “how”. Sure, anyone can observe and articulate the problems that exist in youth ministry. Anyone can verbalize problems like a popular news network. But what makes this a good youth ministry book, is it provides the “how”. Each chapter includes multiple, practical steps to implement the solution to the existing issues. In addition to the how, each solution is accompanied with Biblical support. What a combo! So, when you as a youth worker, youth pastor, church staff member, parent, or church member begin to employ some of these solutions in your church and inevitably get the “why” question. You now have practical reasons and Biblical reasons for the changes and new ministry practices you are implementing in your church. That’s what I call armed and dangerous…OK, maybe I should stick with practical and Biblical.

The Bad:

Frankly, it was difficult to find the bad in this book (you will see why when I give out the grade), but there was one thing. On occasion, there is a repetition of illustrations or concepts. Some of this, I realize, was done for emphasis of certain points. However, there were other idioms or illustrations that were repeated, and could have used some more originality.

The Grade: A

This book is a MUST READ for all those involved in the church. Notice I did not just say those involved in youth ministry. This is an all-hands-on-deck experience. This is a total church makeover that is worth a look. These concepts and ideas have been part of my ministry philosophy for years, and for someone to write down specific ways to implement them, it is like long-lost friends being reunited.

Not only is this book immensely practical and useful, but as was mentioned before, it is Biblical. Without the Biblical support, you could get excited about new ministry ideals, but they would have no weight, no substance, and fade away like a passing fad. The Bible’s eternal principles are worth exploring, and are priceless when a writer can articulate those in your context, and flesh our practical ways to accomplish those principles.

Honestly, this was one of my favorite youth ministry books I have read. It deserves to be put into practice in your ministry today. It’s time we do something about the problems of our young people leaving the church, instead of just pointing out the problem. This book will give you solutions, and step-by-step instructions to putting those solutions to work.

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Evangelism & Discipleship – Is it really both?

I love to fish.  For me, the best part is the jolt of the fish attacking the bait and reeling that sucker in to see how big it is…so I can be sure to add a few inches in my fish story.  Catching the fish is fun, but reeling in the fish is a huge part of it.  That’s how I feel about evangelism & discipleship.  Evangelism is the jolt of the fish attacking the bait (not saying the Gospel is the bait), but is exciting that someone accepted God’s free gift.  But if you don’t disciple that new believer…it’s like just leaving that fish out there on the line…you’re missing a huge part of the experience!

Read these verses:  Matthew 28:19-20

Okay, now read them again and circle the first 2 verbs in that passage – Go & Make Disciples.  I think we often emphasize the Go part (and with good reason, we need to go and share the Gospel with others), but we also often forget to mention, implement, or dig into the difficult work of discipleship.

You see, discipleship takes time, it takes a great deal of effort, it takes patience, it takes spiritual maturity…are you still with me?  Discipleship is hard!  You may not even see the results until much later in life…anyone involved in youth ministry knows how true this can be.

We live in a world of instant gratification.  Minute rice, instant video download, fast lane on the freeway…there’s even instant underpants (just add water!).  But discipleship is just the opposite.  There isn’t instant gratification.  Sure, there will be victories and joys of Jesus coming and changing one’s life.  But there will be many battles of the old self, old life, and old habits.  Those will drain you, disappoint you, and want to defeat you.

But, take heart.  The time you spend in discipleship is worth it…Jesus chose 12 disciples…and 11 of those men set out to change the world.  Who knows what may happen if you choose someone to mentor & disciple.  Watch this video, and see what kind of impact you can have…you too can change a generation!

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3 Ways to Stay In Touch (with youth culture), Part 1

What’s that noise?  It’s you getting older, and you getting less in touch with teen/youth culture.  Sorry for the zinger, but with each day that passes, you realize teenagers aren’t watching Saved by the Bell or Boy Meets World anymore (or at least until the new series comes out)  Face it, guys don’t part their hair down the middle and listen to grunge music, and girls don’t have a “Rachel” haircut and chat all night on Instant Messenger.

So, what are teenagers like today?  How do stay in touch with teen culture?

Here are 3 ways:

  1. TALK TO THEM!  Find out what they like, don’t like, listen to, do in their spare time…etc.  Be a mentor, a friend, a spiritual guide, a positive adult influence that will help them be more like Jesus.
  2. Youth Culture Updates – Subscribe to newsletters like www.CPYU.org.  Be a regular reader on websites like www.focusonthefamily.org or www.connectwithkids.com.
  3. Youth Pastor – If you are a youth pastor, then it is part of your job to stay up on these things.  So do the research and get the information to the parents.  If you are a parent, ask your youth pastor to make the youth culture information available.

(Stay tuned for next week’s part 2, for 3 more tips to stay in touch)

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