Why Relevancy is Key in Reaching the Next Generation

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Luke 10:2). When we are seeking, where are we to start? In order to reach people effectively, we must first understand people collectively.

 

This is the generational timeline and population of USA.

  • G.I. Generation (1904 – 1924) 59.6 million
  • Silent Generation (1925 – 1945) 55.4 million
  • Boomer Generation (1946 – 1964) 73.9 million
  • Generation X (1965 – 1979) 51.5 million
  • Millennial Generation (1930 – 2000) 77.9 million

This is not a scientifically proven, but mere principle of logic, the numbers of millennials are the highest. Millennials represent the largest generation in America’s history with almost 80 million members. Another poll says that in 7 years 75% of millennials will be the representation of our workforces.[1]

These people will be in areas of life according to LionShare ministry the 6 domains of life,

  1. Politicians (Government & Law)
  2. Teachers (Education & Students)
  3. CEOs (Business & Commerce)
  4. Doctors (Health & Wholeness)
  5. Social Workers (Non-profits & Services)
  6. Graphic Designers (Arts & Entertainment)

The church people inside and outside will encounter many of these people on a day-to-day basis. However, only 15% of millennials are Christians. This is not something simply be ignored. Something needs to change.

For too long, older Christians have argued and categorized the next generation by profiling and putting millennials on the fringes. Stop calling millennials self-absorbed and entitled. They are created in the IMAGO DEI and they need Jesus Christ!

The fundamental question is this; what are you doing with the millennials in your churches? Here are few things Evangelicals must remember as we engage the next generation

 

1. Stop Fighting about Non-Essentials over Entertainment

I sadly often hear people argue over the style of music or the color of the carpet. Can I come right out and say it? It’s time for a change for Christian leaders over trivial issues.

Life is too short to fight over the color of the carpet while thousands of lives bypass before our very eyes. Many so-called churches today are nothing more than entertainment centers, while others care more about social issues than the Gospel.

I care more about being true to the Gospel than being, “wowed” by a church experience or all the social issues a church cares about and how the church engages with social change. Nothing but the Gospel.

What does it mean to be evangelical on the doctrinal foundation (1st-degree matters)?

  • Agree the Bible is the accurate, written Word of God
  • Agree they personally have a responsibility to tell others about their religious beliefs.
  • Agree their religious faith is important in their lives
  • Agree God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and rules the universe today.
  • Agree salvation is available through grace alone
  • Disagree Jesus committed sins while on Earth
  • Disagree that Satan is not living being but just a symbol of evil.

 

2. Build Relationships with the Least over Information

According to research, we know few things about millennials

  1. Millennials are Family Focused.
  2. Millennials are Looking for Guidance.
  3. Millennials know few boundaries in Communication.

How do we know what really is important in their lives? Statistics prove.

  1. Family 61%
  2. Friends 25%
  3. Education 17%
  4. Career / Job 16%
  5. Spouse / Partner 13%
  6. Spiritual matters 13%
  7. Finances 12%
  8. Happiness 12%
  9. Raising kids 11%
  10. Health 10%

The top two list (family & friends), have to do with relationship over information. They are seeking a face-to-face time over face-book sort of surface level relationship. Millennials want church leader to drop their religious mask off.

Millennials seek a mentoring sort of relationship as they are seeking to grow and learn. Use these opportunities to your advantage!

 

3. Begin a Journey with the Last over a Destination

In order to really abide in Jesus, we need one another. Millennials want a lifelong friendship, rather than number to checked off. The gospel flows best through the establishing of significant relationship that is authentic and healthy.

I believe this is the biggest miss we have had as a church. I was in fact in a recent conversation with a young man who said, “I don’t know how you see it, but our church exists for just evangelism.” This young man missed big time with the Great Commission.

We must present the gospel to people, challenging them to a relationship with the Creator of the universe, NOT to just join a church and accept the rules of Christianity.

If the church simply exists then, baptism is the finished line, rather than the starting line. Many have lowered the bar which leads to the current state of the church.

Millennials are turned off by a checklist. Discipleship is not a destination, but a direction. Life on life journey together on the discipleship pathway through the relational environment is what millennials long for.

 

4. Create Relevancy with the Lost over Achievement

I’ve heard recently, “I just wish the church would stick with Jesus and the Bible and forget about relevancy.” Yes, churches have drifted at times and lead to corruption in few churches.

The apostle Paul said, “To the Jews, I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law, I became as one under the law.” (1 Cor. 9:20).

In the church’s missionary endeavor, context is crucial. For example, there is a reason なんで日本語でI’m not conversing. Speaking in Japanese will be out of context, it’s not wrong to speak, yet it’s not right. There is a reason why I don’t preach Sunday morning from the pulpit in PJs.

When we turn to the NT, unlike the NT scholars, OT was written in Hebrew and NT is written in Greek. Now, during the 2nd Temple-Judaism period, the Judea Christians could have said, “We will do as we’ve always done. We will write the NT in Hebrew.” But that would have been ineffective to fulfill Acts 1:8 and carry the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). As historically we know, during this time was the Hellenistic period (Alexander the Great) and made Koine Greek the common language. In order to fulfill this, they needed to change for the sake of the love for their neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40).

Hudson Taylor founder of CIA (Today known as OMF) wanted to take, as the organization originally was called, “China Inland Mission” to take it to where missionaries haven’t reached yet. Hudson Taylor famously dressed as Chinese people would in order to reach more effectively. He exegeted the culture however he was a laughing stock by other as he took an “Unorthodoxy Praxis.” Today, he is known as one of the greatest missionaries ever existed.

Therefore, the certain context for specific programs is appropriate to have such as woman’s ministry or men’s. It is beneficial to provide a safe environment for youth ministry for adolescents and speak on puberty & pornography.

Now, cultural relevance should never be the primary function of a church. Every church ought to first seek to be relevant to the truth claims of the gospel and faithfully make disciples.

 

ReachingMillennials

Missional Living in Transformational Work of Jesus

Millennials are important to God, therefore ought to be important to the church.

Life is too short to be disappointed on things. One day our life will flash before our eyes, let’s make sure it’s worth watching. Let’s not live a life that we will one day regret.

I will close with the words of David Platt as he said the following statement,

“We e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and text with people who are going to spend eternity either in heaven or hell. Our lives are too short to waste on mere temporal conversations when massive eternal realities hang in the balance. Just as you and I have no guarantee that we will love through the day, the people around us are not guaranteed tomorrow either. So, let’s be intentional about sewing the threads of the gospel into the fabric of our conversations every day, knowing that it will not always be easy, yet believing that eternity will always be worth it.”[2]

 

 

[1]Thom S. Rainer and Jess Rainer, The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation, unknown edition (Nashville, Tenn: B&H Books, 2011).

[2]David Platt and Francis Chan, Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live., a edition (Carol Stream, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2013).

What Does it Mean to be a Loving Neighbor?

How do I know if I'm a loving neighbor?

I was recently in a meeting with few of our members of the church asking the question of, “How are we known in our community?”

In the book, “The Neighboring Church” by Rich Rusaw[1]ask this fundamental question that churches have been too scared to ask; and the question is this.

I asked that daunting question, if my church were to cease to exist today, would anyone notice we were gone? Would anyone even care to know, or even notice that the church is gone as the body of Christ has been so active in the community loving Jesus?

I took this a step further; if my church ceased to exist today, would the community be impacted by its lack of presence for we loved our neighbors so well?

But the real question at the end of the day is not out there, but it is within ourselves. If I were to cease to exist from the community, would my neighbors notice that I and my family weren’t there anymore?

This is a hard-diagnostic question to ask, as it’s easy for myself to control of my own personal perception of impression I leave, but I cannot necessarily control about how others in the community see myself.

LovingNeighbor

How Do I Know If I’m a Loving Neighbor?

There is an ancient list called, “Corporal Works of Mercy”

  • 1. Feed the Hungry

  • 2. Shelter the Homeless

  • 3. Clothe the Naked

  • 4. Visit the Sick

  • 5. Visit those in Prison

I may have lost some of my readers here as you are rolled your eyes or looked away for a moment. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Deeds, deeds, deeds” or “Works, works, works.”

There are two typical responses from two different camps in an evangelical circle; Ligon Duncan spoke of these two at T4G 2018 in Louisville, KY.

 

1. Legalism = (Pharisaical, response to Moralistic Therapeutic Deism) = “knit picker” overvalue the law

2. Anti-Nomionism (Negative pronoun, nomos = law) = “grace guys” overvalue grace

 

Many have confused the relationship between the law and grace and the gospel and obedience. Some churches went to the extreme and say laws are bad, therefore, imperatives and commands are not of the grace of the gospel.

Ultimately, neither understands the character of God as our loving and gracious heavenly Father.

 

SecondGreatCommandment

The Second Greatest Commandment: Luke 10:25-37

Jesus speaks of the account where he responds to the lawyer’s question, “What should I do to inherit the kingdom of God?” (v 25. Luke has an interesting idea of salvation.

Jesus’ response vs. Paul’s response?

  • Book of Acts, “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)
  • Philippians Jailer: “Sir, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30)
  • Paul says, “Belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!” (Acts 16:31)

 

How does one know they are saved? Jesus responds in an interesting way,

  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart… .etc.” The Scribe to justify themselves says, “Who is my neighbor?” We don’t connect this story back to the question

 

Then following the famous story of the Parable of the Good Samaritan (vv. 30-37). Then we find the story of Martha & Mary (vv. 38-42).

What do we understand here? Often, this story is taught as the busy Christian vs. the contemplative Christian. That is how we usually understand; however, it is much more than that.

The outline of Luke 10:25-42 is a chiastic structure (a literary technique in narrative motif).

chiastic_structure

a. Love the Lord your God (vv. 25-27).

b. Love your neighbor as yourself (vv. 27-28).

b. Good Samaritan Story (vv. 29-37).

a. Mary & Martha (vv. 38-42).

 

Why did Jesus put the story here? How does that look like to love Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind and strength? It’s one being at the feet of Jesus.

 

The Works of Loving Your Neighbor.

The list of deeds that we saw, Jesus himself spoke in his own words in Matthew 25:34-40.

 

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before he will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right,

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, (1. Feed the Hungry)

I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (2. Shelter the Homeless)

I was naked and you clothed me, (3. Clothe the Naked)

I was sick and you visited me, (4. Visit the Sick)

I was in prison and you came to me.’ (5. Visit those in Prison)

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40) 

 

I can only imagine as Jesus spoke these words, it would have been one of that awkward moment for the speaker is talking about something touchy subject as the audience couldn’t handle it. That’s is that moment as Jesus spoke on the topic of end times.

Churches have been enculturated and indoctrinated by the surrounding context.  For the longest time, churches have found excuses for ignoring the second commandment. Christians been culturally conditioned and been blinded not to see certain things that are blatantly obvious in scripture.

LovingYourNeighbor

What Will You Be Known for in the Community?

As much as I love theology, at the end of the day, I pray that I will be known as a person of Compassion. This compassion made Jesus radical in every way to the point that people murdered him.

“Well, that’s the social gospel movement. Those are handled by the politician in government. That’s only dealt with the progressive and the liberals who don’t know about theology.” This isn’t about the social gospel issue.

Christians have done well excusing ourselves for the longest time of putting off, “loving your neighbor” who look different and talk different and place them on the fringes of society.

Too often, Christians have refused to treat LGBT people as their neighbors and have been content to remain ignorant about what they really feel and believe in. Typical Christian tactics such as organizing boycotts, letter-writing, and shunning even different political parties. As believers, this must become a thing of the past.

 

Loving your neighbor is so much more than a social issue, it is a gospel issue.

Loving your enemy is so much more than a political issue, it is a soteriological issue.

Loving one another is so much more than a horizontal issue, it is a vertical issue.

 

We choose the ease over the beauty of diversity in our churches. It’s just easy to be with my people. “I feel like I can get more stuff done.” So, we drift towards homogeny.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ by grace through faith in Christ alone is empowering the people of God of any color, any race, any background, any creed, any socio-economic status, with the Spirit of God by be wielding the Word of God for the ministry of God and for the glory of God to change the world.

Just look around your dinner table; Who do you have there? That reveals whether or not you are truly living out what it means to love your neighbor well.

 

If you want to be distinct, go love someone who disdains you.

If you want to be extraordinary, go serve someone who discourages you.

If you want to be radical, go pray with someone who despises you.

 

[1]Brian Mavis and Rick Rusaw, The Neighboring Church: Getting Better at What Jesus Says Matters Most(Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016).

Living the Redeemed Life – A Saved Life is a Changed Life

The Redeemed Life

Michael Brady; He was a famous stuntman who worked for Universal Studios.

During one of the filming a tragic accident that no one ever expected happened; There was an accident in the film he was in and he unexpectedly died. Michael beforehand, decided that his heart will be donated and was transplanted to another man by the name Bill Wohl who suffered a heart failure 5 months ago.

Bill was forever changed by this thing that took place. In Bill’s previous life before the heart transplant, he had to Type-A diabetes and was an overweight man. When Bill was interviewed he spoke very passionately as he said, “Every day, I thank God for Michael Brady. When I ride, when I work out – the biggest thing is to honor him.”

Bill was radically transformed and changed by a new heart. So as Bill was changed, as disciples of Jesus have received new hearts as well![1]

Oswald Chambers in his book My Utmost for His Highest said it well,

“The work of salvation means that in your real-life things are dramatically changed. You no longer look at things in the same way. Your desires are new, and the old things have lost their power to attract you. One of the tests for determining if the work of salvation in your life is genuine is— has God changed the things that really matter to you? If you still yearn for the old things, it is absurd to talk about being born from above— you are deceiving yourself. If you are born again, the Spirit of God makes the change very evident in your real life and thought.[2]

I believe with all my heart, a save life is a changed life.

Because Christ has changed born again believer’s lives from the inside out, all Christians will live to simply honor Him each day and will share His passion to take the gospel to the ends of the world.

However, sometimes Christians run into roadblocks and get distracted. Here are three reasons why living the redeemed life in disciple-making have been trampled over.

 

1. Obedience vs. Rebellion: Biblical Discipleship Insights

Do you have a hard time stepping in obedience to the call of discipleship?

Part of the problem is, Churches have been inculturated and indoctrinated to ease over the beauty of Jesus commission to all believers. Christians have been culturally conditioned not to see certain things that have blinded by this simple command.

One issue that we see is that believers have been caught in a hurricane of the lie that the goal of the church exists to simply see people get baptized. However, the Great Commission not only calls to, “baptize” but also to, “teach them to observe everything” which wasn’t a great suggestion but a great command to be obeyed.

I will quite frankly say up front – I believe if you don’t make disciples you are bluntly living sin.

Jesus has equipped us with everything we need to participate in His mission for the world. This was not only true in Jesus’ disciple time, but also for us as a true disciple of His today.

We must not shy away from the truth about what we believe and what we do.

We’ve seen how important it is for our actions to match our beliefs – or what we claim to be our beliefs. The difficulty in achieving this is that we often deceive ourselves. We shy away from the truth about what we believe and what we do.

Our actions must match our belief system. Or what claims to be our beliefs. If not able to achieve, we have deceived ourselves.

 

2. Excuses of Our Stubborn Rebellious Hearts

The second issue is our hearts are great at finding excuses for why we can’t participate in Jesus’ mission;

  • “I’ll lose my job.”
  • “I don’t have the right personality.”
  • “I don’t know enough scripture.”
  • “I don’t have the right spiritual gifts.”
  • “I’ll do it once I retire.”

The Great Commission of Jesus command to “Go therefore make disciples of all nations,” is not a passive voice. The call of Jesus to make disciples is active rather than passive.

Jesus didn’t command his disciples to THINK about the world.

Jesus didn’t command his disciples to BE NICE to people in the community.

Jesus commanded his disciples to GO and make disciples.

There is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). This is the same old lie that even the disciples were deceived by. Jesus’ disciples looked for the same excuses to not participate in the mission. Jesus then turns to them and seats of not to take any, “extra” as they set out to make disciples in order to impact the community around them (Matt. 10:9 -10).

Disciples of Jesus are commanded to make disciples of Jesus who make more disciples! This is a glorious cycle through which we make Jesus’ Name known and help new disciples grow in help.

 

Therefore,

Your mission is not your own,

Your authority is not your own.

All you’re called to do is humbly obey.

 

3. Not Giving in to Playing the Comparison Game

As a follower of Jesus, you will be tempted to compare yourself to other disciples. Such comparison is rarely helpful, are they often cause great damage.

Let’s think of this for a moment; Who do you know who has “become mature, attaining the whole measure of the fullness of Christ?”

There answer is none. In essence, there’s no end to discipleship.

Therefore, maturing is not an end in itself. Everyone is on a different journey on this spiritual journey. Maturity in Christ is a byproduct of following Jesus.

Discipleship, in essence, need consists of a decision for this or that specific actions; it is always a decision for or against Jesus Christ.

 

Missional Living in the Transformation & Redemption of Jesus

One day our life will flash before our eyes, let’s make sure it’s worth watching. Let’s not live a life that we will one day regret.

As David Platt said it well,

“We will not wish we had made more money, acquired more stuff, lived more comfortably, taken more vacations, watched more television, pursued greater retirement, or been more successful in the eyes of this world. Instead, we will wish we had given more to ourselves to living for the day when every nation, tribe, people, and language will bow around the throne and sing the praises of the Savior who delights in radical obedience and the God who deserves eternal worship.”[3]

Therefore, proclaiming the love of Christ is the overflow of sharing in the life of Christ.

As Ralph Moore said it well, “How is it so easy to set up camp while ignoring the simple command to Go!”

So, you are either making disciples or making excuses. Which one are you?

 

[1]Lifeway Adults, Disciples Path – Complete Boxed Set, Ldg edition (LifeWay Press, 2015).

[2]Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, ed. James Reimann, Value Edition edition (Discovery House, 2016).

[3]David Platt,Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, 1 edition (Colorado Springs, Colo: Multnomah, 2010).

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