Passion must lead to action! (Follow Up to Yesterday’s Post)

The response to my last post has been overwhelming.

The responses have been either ultra-positive or in complete disagreement. I figured as much. I do not claim to have all the answers, but isn’t it time to start thinking outside the box? Isn’t it time to start something new? Isn’t it time for action?

I attended an election night gathering this week. The restaurant was filled with passionate people who genuinely care for our community, here, in north Idaho. Locally, we had a great night. Conservative Christian candidates almost swept the local races. Those that lost did so by razor thin margins.

Two issues fueled the conservative surge — Obamacare and Common Core. Those who opposed these two issues won the day.

What cannot be overlooked is that this was a mid-term election and voter turnout was low. Honestly, we won in places that we shouldn’t have won. The time for action is now.

The action that needs to take place must first be deliberate and continuous.

The Apostle Paul told Timothy that we should, “Be prepared in season and out of season.” (2 Timothy 4:2) Yes, I know that Paul is referring to the preaching of the Word in this passage. We need to expand our understanding of the preaching of the Word of God. Some are called to “pastor” a congregation. All of us are called to “preach” or “proclaim” the Word! And this means through every aspect of life, including politics.

Secondly, this action must be targeted and multifaceted.

Let’s put politics in its proper context. The answer to our American cultural dilemma is Jesus Christ. Folks, Jesus is the Truth. In John 14:6, Jesus is clearly quoted as saying, “I am the truth.” Notice that I am capitalizing “Truth.” This is because Truth is not a concept, Truth is a person and His name is Jesus Christ. The problem is that we are not proclaiming Truth outside the four walls of our churches.

Truth needs to be present in all facets of our culture.

  • We need to pray that Truth will rule in our communities and country.
  • We need to show the heart of Truth through service to our community.
  • We need Truth in the education of our children.
  • We need Truth in our business community.
  • We need Truth in the media and entertainment industry.
  • We need Truth in politics.
  • We need Truth taken to the world, near and far through mission efforts.

People are asking me, “Gary, are you starting a new church?” Here is my answer. At Reach America, we are not starting a “church”, per se, but we are looking for a group of Christians who want to “be the church” where we live. We are building a worshiping congregation of people who believe that they are called by God to take Truth to the arenas mentioned above.

We do not simply want to gather for worship. We want our worship, our Bible study and training to prepare us for continuous and meaningful action! We want our tithe, the first-fruits of our labor to fund and staff these areas.

To assist us in taking Truth into the public square, we are forming the 12/32 Task Force.

This group takes its name from 1 Chronicles 12:32. “…men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do…”

I can summarize our cultural condition in America in a quick sentence — The America culture is going down the toilet. How’s that for understanding the times?

What should Christians in America do about it? Interject Truth back into the public square, back into the following arenas with the follow strategy.

  • The arena of prayer. This is first and foremost. We must hear from God about the implementation of this strategy. You can do the right thing in the wrong way!
  • The arena of service. When we lead with service, we lead with our heart. We must learn to serve!
  • The arena of education. As far as a practical boots on the ground first step — we must help parents gain control of their children’s education. Strategically speaking, everything flows from here.
  • The arena of media and entertainment. Each day, we are becoming more of a visual and audio society. Unfortunately, people are no longer reading. We must saturate this arena with Truth.
  • The arena of business. We must turn the tide of the way we have come to view employment in this country. America was built for owners. We must empower people to see the vision God has given them and help them understand that God has given them this talent to take Truth into that particular field. We are ambassadors for Christ in all we do!
  • The arena of politics. We need Truth in government! Need I say more? We need every American Christian involved in this arena — not merely in voting, but in every aspect of the political system!
  • The arena of missions. God has blessed us as individuals and as a nation, to be a blessing to others. This was the view of our Founders. Truth needs to be taken across the world!

Each of these arenas needs a Team Leader and team members. The Team Leaders of each of these areas make up the 12/32 Task Force.

Currently, there are great Christians leading in these areas separately. It is my contention that these efforts need to be brought together under one body. The answer isn’t prayer-only. The answer isn’t politics-only. The answer isn’t missions-only.

We will win this cultural battle by saturating this entire movement in prayer and then in service to the community. The strategy begins by building the foundation for the education of our children. Once the underpinning elements of prayer, service and education are laid, we then begin to build the walls of media, business, politics and missions.

It is time to be deliberate…

It is time to be targeted…

It is time to come together…

It is time to turn our passion into action!

 

Stay tuned, we are just getting started!

Turning Postmodern Christian Teens into Multiplying Disciples, Part 5

Have you ever considered this?

Jesus was the greatest cultural impact strategist who ever lived.

Jesus started a movement that not only impacted the world in His time; the movement He started is still impacting the world 2,000 years after His death! American-style, Christian training has ignored the power of His methodology. Instead of following His training methods, we have designed our discipleship training after the American education system. We cherish His words and life, but often we find our goal to touch and change the lives of people unmet.

Could it be that the way Jesus trained His disciples was just as important as what He taught them? A scripture that is classically used to wrap up our purpose on earth is Matthew 28:18-20. Basically, the command Jesus left us was “go, make disciples.” In our exegesis of the word “make” I believe that it is correct to assume that method is implied as much as message in the command to “make disciples.”

Jesus did more than lay the groundwork for what we teach; Jesus set the example. Through the way He trained His disciples, He modeled the method for “making disciples.”

A phrase Jesus often used to illustrate how disciples are made is “follow me.” The first time we find Jesus using “follow me” to explain His method for making disciples is recorded in all four Gospels (Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:2-11; John 1:35-42) Through the use of “follow me,” Jesus also revealed the goal of those who would become His disciples. He stated that, “I will make you fishers of men.”

When formulating His training strategy, Jesus did not under-estimate the pull of the culture. He knew that it was important for His guys to be taught by Him as they followed Him around. Imagine Jesus saying to Simon, “I want to invite you to come and listen to me teach/preach for two hours a week.”

The context in which we are taught and from whom are just as important as what we are taught.

Let’s move forward and consider our teen’s current cultural situation. Due to the invasion of technology into our kid’s lives, they are barraged with information that significantly influences them. Secondly, as youth get older, they desire to please their friends over their parents. Third, and most certainly not last, is every teen’s struggle with their sinful flesh.

Do we really believe we can “make disciples” out of postmodern Christian teens in an hour or two a week? Jesus didn’t even try that!

Although Jesus lived in different times with different issues, He faced the same problems we face. Simon and the gang were living in a world heavily influenced by thousands of years of Judaism and modern Roman influence. Jesus had to also deal with the disciples sin issues; their struggles with their flesh.

When He considered these cultural influences and their need to overcome and tame the flesh, Jesus knew His goal to turn these guys into fishers of men would not be realized with a daily or weekly visit in their living room. Nor would it happen in a weekend retreat or a ten-week study. These guys had to get it not just agree with Jesus.

Initially, turning postmodern, Christian teens into multiplying disciples doesn’t happen in the context of visitation, while they live in the world. Training these young people must happen in the context of a Christ-centered environment. This must be included in our strategy if we are to be successful in turning Christian teens into multiplying disciples.

Jesus never completely removed His disciples from the world; He invited them to leave what they knew in order to be taught by Him. He required that they live with Him so that they would see the way He lived. Through His teaching they learned about Jesus and His mission. Through living with Him they experienced Jesus on a level they would need to accomplish His mission once He was gone from the earth.

In order for these men to fully know and understand that Jesus really is the truth, the way, and the life; they would have to walk with Him, daily.

Next Post: Step one in turning postmodern Christian teens into multiplying disciples is to create a C-4 Community – a Christ-Centered, Counter-Culture.

Please stay with me, we are just getting started.

Thank you for your patience as I write these short posts. If you are interested in deeper conversation, please feel free to email me, Gary Brown, at gary@letsreachamerica.org.

 

Turning Postmodern Christian Teens into Multiplying Disciples, Part 3

“Gary, times are a-changin!” These are the words of my wife’s grandfather, spoken to me probably 20 years ago.

This statement has never been truer than in 2013. To help make this point, I want to turn to Josh McDowell and his book, “The Disconnected Generation.” Here, Josh created a list of terms and how they are defined by adults and by teens. Pay close attention to this list. “Folks, definitions of words are a-changin!”

Tolerance

Adult Understanding: Accepting others without agreeing with or sharing their beliefs or lifestyle choices.

Teen Understanding: Accepting that every individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyles and truth claims are equal.

Respect

Adult Understanding: Giving due consideration to others.

Teen Understanding: Wholeheartedly approving of other’s beliefs and lifestyle choices.

Acceptance

Adult Understanding: Embracing people for who they are, not necessarily for what they say and do.

Teen Understanding: Endorsing and even praising others for their beliefs and lifestyle choices.

Moral Judgments

Adult Understanding: Certain things are morally right and wrong, as determined by God.

Teen Understanding: We have no right to judge another person’s view or behavior.

Personal Preference

Adult Understanding: Preferences of color, food, clothing style, hobbies, etc. are personally determined.

Teen Understanding: Preferences of sexual behaviors, value systems and beliefs are personally determined.

Personal Rights

Adult Understanding: Everyone has the right to be treated justly under the law.

Teen Understanding: Everyone has the right to do what they believe is right for them.

Freedom

Adult Understanding: Being free to do what you ought to do.

Teen Understanding: Being free to do everything you want to do.

Truth

Adult Understanding: An absolute standard of right and wrong.

Teen Understanding: Whatever is right for you.

Some may be asking at this point, “Christian kids don’t think this way, do they?” Or, “Not my kids!”

First, let me say that no, not all Christian kids think this way. However, don’t assume they don’t until you present the list to them and talk about it. No matter what we do as parents and youth leaders – in this age of technology – we cannot shield our children from postmodern influences.

Along with technology is the pull of friends. Never underestimate your teen’s desire to be liked by his or her friends. I call this the “cool factor.” It is completely normal for teens to want to build relationships outside their families. This is why we, as parents and youth leaders, need to do what we can to make sure that our teens’ closest friends – their “inner circle” as we say at Reach America – are all Christians. And make sure these Christian friends have a biblical worldview!

In my next post, I will begin to explore how postmodernism has infiltrated the Christian teen world. And yes, I do have solutions and a strategy to turn postmodern Christian youth into multiplying disciples. I am doing my best to keep these posts to around 500 words.

Thanks for your comments. I always enjoy reading what God is saying to you!

Pastor Gary

Turning Postmodern Christian Teens into Multiplying Disciples, Part 2

I am writing a blog series on turning postmodern Christian teens into multiplying disciples. Today, let’s take a snapshot view of the postmodern youth culture in America.

The following is taken from my observations of Christian teens and with a little help from some research by Purdue University.

Historians generally place the beginning of the postmodern era in America at 1945. The characteristics of this era are as follows.

There has been a breakdown of cultural forms. Everyone is coloring outside the lines.  Although the average teen is “retro” when it comes to fashion and style, they reject the grand narratives that have made America great. Youth reject that America was founded as a Christian nation, American exceptionalism, capitalism and free enterprise.

America is becoming an oral society. According to Purdue University, literacy rates had been rising steadily from the introduction of print through the modern period. Postmodern society has seen a drastic reversal in this trend as more and more people are now functionally illiterate, relying instead on an influx of oral media sources: tv, film, radio, etc…

This culture still very much relies on print to create media outlets; however, it is increasingly only a professional, well-educated class that has access to full print and computer literacy. An increasing percentage of the population merely ingests, orally, the media that is being produced.

Due to these factors, young people are visual and temporal. They have lost all connection to reality and history. This may help to explain why they are so fascinated with reality television. Pop culture keeps coming back to the idea that the line separating reality and representation has broken down. The movie, The Matrix, is a prime example of this.

Young people have a deep desire for individualism, yet they have a strange comfort level with collectivism and government. Capitalism and free enterprise is on the way out and the government as caretaker is in. Due to advancements in technology, especially surveillance technology, young people have the sense that they are always being watched. And who do they blame for this invasion of privacy? You guessed it, the government. I know, this is getting a bit convoluted, but hang in there with me.

Essentially, teens and young adults are looking to government to protect their individuality, and provide for their daily and life-long needs. They see capitalism as the epitome of greed and they want nothing to do with it. Yes, Marxism is making a comeback.

Don’t get me wrong. I value individualism as much as anyone. It is the way it is being defined that is troubling. This generation wants the freedom to do whatever they want and to be whatever they want – individualism. They believe in a type of social justice where we all have the same things – collectivism.  Again, can you say “Marxism?”

In general, this generation is disoriented; there is no right and wrong. Truth is within you. Don’t judge me, and give me what I am entitled to have. Give me an education, health care, a job and a retirement plan. Take care of me and keep me happy from the cradle to grave.

In my next post, I will continue to discuss postmodernism.

I would love to hear from you. What do you think? Please leave a comment.

Turning Postmodern Christian Teens into Multiplying Disciples

1 Chronicles 12:32 “men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do–200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;”

As Christian parents and youth leaders, it is crucial that we understand the times and know what the church should do in America. One observation I have made is that the current American culture has moved far away from God and has taken Christian youth right along with it.

Too often, when we think of “the culture,” we think of people outside the church. Truth be told, the culture has invaded the church, especially our teens and children. I have come to believe that before we can adequately reach out and impact the culture out there, we must reach in and change the culture in here – inside our youth ministries.

We always hear of the “godless” culture in America, but we rarely take the time to define what we mean. Philosophers, sociologists and other cultural gurus seem to agree that in America we are living in a postmodern world.  From what I have been reading and witnessing first-hand, I agree.

Well, what does it mean when we say “postmodern?” How has postmodern thought influenced our Christian youth? How do we reach teens for Christ in this postmodern age? And most importantly, how do we turn postmodern Christian teens into multiplying disciples?

Over the next few days I am going to write a series of blog posts on how to turn postmodern Christian teens into multiplying disciples. I hope you find it helpful.