Churches Growing Young

I discovered this information listening to the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast

Kara Powell and her team at the Fuller Youth Institute spent 10,000 hours collecting data from churches to find out what they were doing to reach young people. There were huge variants in background, from culture, to denomination, to ethnicities, and what they found were six core commitments that created healthy environments for young people to thrive.

Empathy. Churches who empathize understand the main questions that young people are asking and journey with them as they figure them out. There are three questions being asked:
Who am I?
Where do I fit?
What purpose do I make?

Jesus’ message. For younger people, Jesus is first and Christianity comes second. Jesus is magnetic. He’s a message, a person, and a context who can handle our biggest questions, including our doubt. Young people connect with that.

Keychain leadership. This is leadership that isn’t centralized control. Every leader has keys of authority of power and influence, and as young people are ready for them, leaders know how to hand the metaphorical “keys” to them.

Prioritize young people. From allocating a budget to speaking their language, churches doing well to reach younger audiences invest in them.

Focus on families. One of the best ways to reach young people is to equip their parents and partner with them.

You don’t need a big budget, and you don’t have to be perceived as “cool.” You can leverage your time, talents, and volunteers to serve, and any leader can get better at engaging young people, no matter how “old” they are.

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DNow 2015

This past March we had our annual DNow weekend. Here are some photos in a slideshow put to music, (Jason Gray’s, I Am New).

We are so please to have the best youth pastor ever, Beth Anderson, investing so much into the lives of our young people.

The visiting worship team was from Christopher Newport University, and seven of the nine Bible study leaders were former students of the King’s Grant Baptist Church student ministry, who are currently making a difference on their own college campuses as well.

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Dropouts and Essential Church

I was reading through the Rainer/Geiger book called Essential Church. He writes about a study of 18 to 30 year-old adults in America where these young adults attended a Protestant church regularly for at least a year while they were in high school. Here is the incredible but sad finding of this study:


Why Did They Leave?

While he explores this topic in the first section of this book, he briefly let’s us hear from the dropouts. Look at the 10 most common reasons the dechurched said they left the church between the ages of 18 and 22.

Top 10 Reasons Church Dropouts Stopped Attending Church

  1. Simply wanted a break from church.
  2. Church members seemed judgmental or hypocritical.
  3. Moved to college and stopped attending church.
  4. Work responsibilities prevented me from attending.
  5. Moved too far away from the church to continue attending.
  6. Became too busy though still wanted to attend.
  7. Didn’t feel connected to the people in my church.
  8. Disagreed with the church’s stance on political or social issues.
  9. Chose to spend more time with friends outside the church.
  10. Was only going to church to please others.

This list helps us see a common theme among most of the dropouts: to put it simply, they just did not see that church was essential to their lives. For example, the first reason, cited by 27 percent of the church dropouts, clearly depicts the nonessential attitude of the dropouts toward church: “I simply wanted a break from church.”

But even reason number eight, a disagreement with the church on political or social issues, indicates a noncommittal posture. In this case the dropouts easily could have found another church that was a better fit with their social or political views. Instead, they decided to drop out from church totally.

Essentially This:

Churchgoing students drop out of the church because it is not essential to their lives.

Rainer, T., Geiger, E., & Rainer, S. S., III. (2010). Essential church. Nashville: B&H.

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Is it Right or Wrong?

In all my years as a youth pastor, I’ve learned a few things. When a student comes to you and asks if something is right or wrong, he’s probably already done the deed, but not necessarily. There are those students who actually recognize the temptation and refuse to allow the enemy to have power over him.

In our individual life journeys, we all come to that “Valley of Decision” (Joel 3:14). This is the place where we are called to make a decision to go one way or another. The enemy is always standing at the intersection seeking to draw you away into another poor decision and making a wrong turn. Below are three verses that reveal three important questions we should ask ourselves as we anticipate which way to turn at one of these inevitable intersections of life.

Can I Thank God for It?
“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We must ask ourselves, “If I go this way, say this thing, or do this deed: when all is said and done, can I thank God for it?” If we can’t give God thanks, then it should be avoided at all costs. Interestingly, we are not called upon to thank Him FOR everything but IN everything.

Can I Do It in Jesus’ Name?
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17). We are not only to GIVE THANKS in all things, we are to DO all things in the name of the Lord Jesus. If we gave serious thought to this temptation, it would make a huge difference to follow through with our words, our hands or watched with our eyes.

Can I Do It for God’s Glory?
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The true believer is motivated by the desire to bring glory to God in every part of life. There are many things that we do or say could have been avoided had we asked this simple question ahead of time.

Students often think that staff members or leaders are super saints, but we all struggle with doing the right thing. None of us are immune to temptation; and all of us are tempted every day in one way or another. As Bob Newhart used to say in his old sitcom, “Stop it!” Don’t just rush through that temptation intersection or make a hasty wrong turn. Ask yourself these three important questions.

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Overcoming Loneliness in Life

One of the toughest things for a college student to overcome is loneliness. They are in a new environment, perhaps away from home for the first extended period of time, and so many experiences are totally new. It can be overwhelming. It’s easy to get isolated because no one knows who we are. Being in a new area we might rather wait it out until we can make it back home to familiar surroundings. It’s difficult to establish “safe” places to meet friends, share concerns, doubts, or heartaches.We all struggle but it often feels like we are the only ones going through these issues.

One reason we have the capacity to feel lonely is because God made us to need other people. In other words, we don’t like to live alone because we weren’t made to live alone. The Bible teaches that, even when Adam was living in paradise (a perfect setting with no problems, no stress, no sin, and no one creating heartaches for others) God could see that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18).

God doesn’t want us to be lonely, and that’s why he offers us several ways to overcome the pain of loneliness while we are spending time of this planet:

God gives us a plan for life: You may feel nobody knows the depth of your loneliness, but God says this: “I made you. I put you on this earth for a purpose, and I created you. I care about you. I love you, and I have a plan for you and your future.” When you focus on God’s plan for your life, you don’t have a lot of time to feel lonely.

God gives us people in our lives: If you’re like many college students, you have plenty of acquaintances, but what you may not have are close friends. I’m talking about friends who really know you and walk beside you when you go through the inevitable crises of life. Enter, the church.

The church is the family of God, and one of its purposes is to provide us with the opportunity to develop real relationships. I’m not talking about ‘acquaintances’, but deep, close friends who will think about you and pray for you daily. If you don’t have a small group you meet with every week, take the initiative and get involved with a group where you can establish true, transparent, trusted friendships.

God gives us his presence: God created each of us to have an intimate, personal, and close relationship with him. As you go through life, this is our primary goal. Out of the overflow, we serve others in Jesus’ name. No person, no experience, no drug, no success, no possession, no fortune, no relationship, nor any fame or ideal job is going to fill that aching hole in your heart that God created for himself.

This means the most amazing remedy to loneliness is God’s presence.

I used to send missionaries all over the world, and in places like some cities in China, you can be surrounded by a million people and feel completely alone. Your college campus is no exception. We know that God is everywhere and there is no place on Earth where God is not. Knowing that can relieve you loneliness. When you understand that God is with you all the time, you can call on his help to conquer the loneliness in your life.

So, remember that God is right here with you. Jesus says, “I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 MSG).

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