Gay Marriage, Part Eight: Serve, Say, Stand

Part Eight: Serve, Say, Stand

Matthew (20:28) and Mark (10:45) record Jesus as saying, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The power behind what Jesus said was in how Jesus served.

Without a doubt, Jesus’ words were powerful, but it was what he did that gave his words impact. Luke records in Luke 4:36, “All the people were amazed and said to each other, ‘What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!’”

As I stated in “Rip Van Church”, Christians fell asleep at the switch and now we have awakened to find ourselves shoved out of the public square. As stated in Part Six, “A Little History Lesson”, the “gay” movement had its roots in the feminist, socialist movements of the 1930s through 50s and sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s. To pinpoint the watershed moment when our country began to rapidly move away from our Christian founding we need to look to the 1962 decision of the Supreme Court, ruling student-led prayer in public schools as unconstitutional. (This will be the topic of my next post.)

I believe we all agree that the sleeping giant, the church, needs to wake up and re-enter the public square. I want to begin a discussion on the most effective way to do so. I want to suggest a three-point strategy to bring back righteousness and save our communities.

Start, Serve, Stand

Start

We start with learning to C.A.R.E. for our communities again. We must become Culturally Aware and become Ready to Engage our community. Too many of us, Christian, have given up on our communities and we have begun to withdraw from the public square. I believe the scriptures are clear that we should be “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) and that we should “occupy” (Luke 19:13) until he comes.

Why did God leave us here after we were saved? Think about it. There are only two things we can do on earth that we cannot do in heaven — sin and tell others about Jesus. Now, which one do you think He left us here to do?

Serve

We must re-enter society as a servant. Unlike when Jesus walked the earth, Christianity is not new. In the eyes of today’s world we are not only irrelevant but we read an ancient book that is no good for today and we claim to worship a God that no longer is necessary. In the minds of the majority of America, the advances of society and science have made faith in a “God” pointless.

It is into this new America that we are living and that we are called to reach.

In Matthew 20:25-28, Jesus is recorded as saying this:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

How we reenter the public square is important. I have been involved in the abstinence education movement since 1990, when Magic Johnson first announced to the world that he was HIV positive. I have been blessed to lead on every level of government in America. I have served locally, as well as the state and national levels.

From experience, I have learned that the old adage, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care”, is true.

It seems that the only time Christians show up in the community is when we are against something. All people know about us is what we are against. When we lead with our service, people see our heart. When we lead with our mouth in a negative way, all people believe they see are our fangs. When we serve, we prove to those reasonable people where we live that we really don’t have fangs.

Stand

After we have shown that we care, we have earned the right to be heard. We need to be active in the community. We need to be active in county commissioner meetings, school board meetings, and city council meetings. We need to let our voices be heard in areas in which we agree and disagree.

Christians need to get involved in politics. Yes, I said “that” word — politics! Run for office, work for those Christians running for office. VOTE!

Get involved in local ministries that are making a difference. Programs like food banks, shelters and pregnancy centers need our help. Start a leadership program, like Reach America, where you live that is training up youth and their parents how to lead.

Jesus used the “salt” and “light” metaphors –mentioned earlier– in what we know as the “Sermon on the Mount”. Earlier in that sermon, Jesus lists the “beatitudes.”  I have always found it ironic that right after Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers”, he said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted.”

Yes, I believe that was intentional. This is the nature of righteousness spoken in the public square. To those who are willing to listen, righteousness brings peace. To those whose hearts are hardened, righteousness proclaimed in the public square brings persecution to the righteous.

Unfortunately, the fear of persecution is driving Christians out of the public square. The fear of turning people away from the gospel message of salvation is keeping Christians away from speaking in the public square.

Never does the Bible tell us not to speak righteousness, but it does tell how we should speak.

Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”

Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

We will always be vilified — count on it — but let’s be sure it is the Word of God that is offending, not the messenger.

This series has been one of the most challenging I have written. I hope it has been helpful to you.

In my next post I am going to examine the 1962 Supreme Court decision, ruling student-led prayer in public schools unconstitutional and the impact that ruling has had on our country.

Together, let’s re-enter the public square. Together, let’s start, serve and stand!

Gay Marriage Part 7: Rip Van Church

In the 1950s and 60s, when our American society was racing away from Christ and our American founding values, the church was silent. When the Courts were ruling against prayer (1962) and the Bible (1963), the church was silent.

With good intentions we sent our kids off to public schools, then to state and private colleges and universities, ignorant of the fact that many of the teachers/professors were guiding our children away from God and their parents.

As a nation, we have lost our way because:

  1. Overwhelmingly, Christians no longer care about America — maybe we never did.
  2. Doctrinally, we have come to embrace a theology where it is practically “unchristian” to care about our culture and our country.
  3. Instead of Christians shaping the culture, the culture has shaped those who call themselves Christians.

For whatever reason or reasons, America has lost her way because the church in America has lost her right to be heard.

For the purpose of this post I want share with you the condition of the church in America and how we got to where we are today.

I was born on July 3, 1959 — I know, I’m old.

I remember a time in America when the church and pastors were respected — even by those who weren’t Christians. I remember when businesses were closed on Sunday, in honor of the Lord’s Day. Any of you old fogies remember the old “Blue Laws”? I remember when community recreation departments would never schedule a game on Sunday or on Wednesday night.

Divorce was unheard of in my community. Every one of my friends had a mom and a dad — at home. Teachers were respected and discipline in our nation’s schools was the order of the day. Most, if not all, of my teachers were also Sunday school teachers at their church.

As Christians, we sat on our “blessed assurance”, and let our children and our country slip away. You know, like the frog in the kettle. You remember this one, don’t you? If you place a frog in a kettle of boiling water, he will quickly hop right out of it. However, if you place it in cool water and turn the temperature up slowly, the frog will sit there and boil to death.

Welcome to the New America.

It’s as if the church in America is Rip Van Winkle.

The story of Rip Van Winkle is set in the time just prior to the American Revolution in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Rip is a fine man, liked by all, but unfortunately he had a knack for avoiding work. His wife was constantly nagging him about his chores. Eventually, his house and farm began to slip into disrepair.

Tired of his wife’s incessant complaints, Rip took off with his dog, Wolf, for greener pastures. He came upon a band of travelers who offered him some of their moonshine. Rip drank it and quickly fell asleep.

He awakens to discover many shocking changes. His musket is rotting and rusty, his beard is a foot long, and his dog is nowhere to be found. Van Winkle returns to his village where he recognizes no one. He discovers that his wife has died and that his close friends have died in some war or moved away.

When Rip returns to his favorite drinking hole he discovers that the portrait of King George has been replaced with one of George Washington. After a fair amount of investigation, Van Winkle discovers that he had been asleep for 20 years. He slept through the American Revolution and awoke to find an entirely different world.

Rip Van Winkle was asleep for 20 years. To the best of my recollection, the church fell asleep some time during the late 1950s to early 60s and now we are waking up from a slumber of fifty-plus years to an America that is vastly different from the America we once knew.

The changes in our country have been vast and, frankly, too numerous to mention in this one blog post. We awaken from our slumber to find that society as we knew it in the early 60s has been redefined. As we wipe the crusty “sleep” from our eyes, we notice that is no longer Christ’s picture we see hanging in our local schools and court houses; it is Charles Darwin’s, Albert Einstein’s and Sigmund Freud’s.  Dad is no longer the bread-winner and mom is no longer at home to raise the kids. As a matter of fact, most children do not have a dad in the house, period. If there is a dad, he is most likely working hard to make the ends meet. Mom works, too. The government is now raising the children.

Our church houses are nearly empty and no one cares what we have to say any more.

When we fell asleep, it was Elvis who had left the building — now, it is God who has left the country. And we wonder why they are not heeding to the Word.

No one forced the church to fall into our 50-year stupor. We weren’t given cosmic sleeping pills. No one pushed us into the corner in which we now find ourselves.

What are we, as the Church, to do?  What do we do about what we know?

Next Post: Developing an Action Plan. Hint: We must learn to C.A.R.E.

Gay Marriage, Epistemology & Righteousness…”What?!” Part Three

Part Three: What is Epistemology and Why Should I Care?

Dr. Jason Lisle is a Christian astrophysicist who writes and speaks on various topics relating to science and the defense of the Christian faith. His blog post on epistemology is excellent. For the purpose of this post, I borrowed greatly from Dr. Lisle. I highly recommend that you subscribe to his blog at www.jasonlisle.com.

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Epistemology helps us answer the question: how we know what we know.  When a person has a belief, it is reasonable to ask the person “how do you know this?” The way in which a person responds to this kind of question will reveal his or her original source or epistemology.

Everyone has an epistemology because everyone have some beliefs, and they have reasons for their beliefs. However, not all reasons are good reasons. If the reason isn’t very good, then there is a good chance that the belief is wrong.

Epistemology is very important if we want our beliefs to correspond to what is real — to truth.

I believe it is safe to assume that most people have not consciously reflected on their own epistemology.  According to Dr. Lisle, when we think about what we believe we know, we need to ask ourselves three questions.

  1. How do I ultimately know anything?
  2. What are the standards by which truth is determined?
  3. Are these standards biblical?

Before we continue with this discussion, you may be asking yourself this question: “Why should I be concerned with epistemology?  It is enough that I do know things?”

Our epistemology is crucially important because if it is wrong, then many of our beliefs derived from that faulty system will also likely be wrong.  In other words, if our epistemology is wrong, then we could be wrong about everything we think we know!

Biblical Epistemology/Worldview

Only a Biblical worldview makes it possible for us to answer our questions and have genuine knowledge.  This is because knowledge stems from the nature of God. Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

A Biblical worldview gives us rational justification for all the things that we rely upon in order to have knowledge. As I stated in the last post, human beings are made in the image of God.

Now, as Christians, let’s consider these additional facts.

God’s mind is perfect by His nature.  At salvation, God gave us — Christians — the ability to pattern our thoughts after His.  For our benefit, God has commanded us to pattern our thoughts after His, so that our thoughts will be truthful.

In 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 — please take the time to read these verses yourself — we read that God has given Christians two amazing gifts to enable us to discern the spiritual truth in all situations.

First, God has given us His secret wisdom. Vs. 9-10

However, as it is written: “‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’–but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

Secondly, we have the mind of Christ. Vs. 16

“‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”

Friends, as with any issue or situation, the “gay” issues we face today can only be righty discerned by Christians accessing the secret wisdom of God through our right mind — the mind of Christ. This is accomplished by way of the only reliable record we have, the Bible.

The Failure of Secular Epistemologies

Dr. Lisle writes in his blog, “Non-Biblical worldviews makes knowledge impossible.”

That doesn’t mean that non-Christians can’t know anything.  Clearly they can.  But this is despite their worldview and not because of it. When you ask a non-Christian why they know what they know, it ultimately leads back to themselves as the basis of their knowledge.

Rationality

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a rational person and an irrational one? A rational person has a good reason for his or her beliefs.  An irrational person does not.

A Biblicalworldview allows us to have good reasons for our most basic beliefs. Apart from the Bible, any reason that we offer for any belief cannot be ultimately justified.

Folks, it would appear that there are only two options for a person to hold.  One can either be a consistent Christian, or one can be irrational.

Epistemology is important because we live in a post-Christian America. More than ever, it is essential that, as Christians, we ask ourselves these three question about what we, think we know. Then, we ask others.

  1. “How do we know what we know?”
  2. “What are the standards by which truth is determined?”
  3. “Are these standards biblical?”

In my next post, I am going to present a biblical epistemology/worldview of marriage.

Again, I want to express my thanks to Dr. Jason Lisle for his work on epistemology.

I sincerely hope this series is a blessing to you. I would love to know what you believe the Bible says. Got any stories or reports? Please share.

~Pastor Gary

In 10 Years America Can be a Different Place – Curious? Keep Reading

Our Lord, Jesus Christ, was the greatest leadership training strategist that ever lived.

Think about it. He took 12 regular guys and not only impacted the world for their time — but we are still experiencing the impact of His ministry 2,000 year later!

Get this — Jesus got His guys trained in just three years! Surely, through the power of His Spirit working through us, He can reach just one country in 10 years!

The key is to embrace Jesus’ methodology of world impact — and to do it, together.

As the church in America, we have taken the eternal message of Christ and His love and packaged it into a modern, western, “education” methodology. Folks, it simply isn’t working.

I believe American Christians have developed a mentality that — “if we studied it, we did it.” In our lives, we have reduced Jesus to a doctrinal statement. He is not living and working through us. (By the way, there is nothing wrong with doctrine — I hope you got my point.)

Belief statements, alone, don’t change the world, changed people change the world.

What would happen in America if our churches trained Christian parents and youth leaders how to train children and teens in the way Jesus trained His disciples? Do you believe that in 10 years this country would be different?

This is the purpose of our upcoming conference, April 25-26, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I would love to meet you.

Together, let’s learn how Christ changes lives and impacts societies. Together, let’s experience how, through the power of Christ’s Spirit, God can bring this once great nation back to Him. TOGETHER, we can reach America!

Click here for more info and registration.

~Pastor Gary

How the Left Discredits Authentic Americanism – Part 1

Yesterday — Thursday, January 23 — I spoke at a local political meeting, in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. My topic was “Winning the Future.” I spoke of how past strategies to rally young people to traditional Americanism are not working, today. Actually, this was just part one of a two-part speech.

In part one, I shared my insights about the postmodern views of 21st century teens and young adults.

A reporter from our local newspaper, the CDA Press, was in attendance. To provide you with the proper context, I have included the manuscript of my speech and the link to story written by the reporter.

I do not have a lot to say about the article. For the most part, the reporter simply reported what I said. It is the comments at the end of the piece that I want to call to your attention. Be assured — I am not, in the least, offended by the comments. My purpose in responding to them in a blog post is to help us understand how those who do not love God and America are trying to discredit those of us who do. And, by the way, their strategies are working — at least, up to now, they are working.

To get the whole picture, you need to know what I said and what the reporter wrote. Today, I am providing my manuscript and the link to the article. In my next post, I will analyze the comments. I realize this is kind-a long for a blog, but here is the manuscript.

And — don’t forget — this is only part one of the speech.

The link to the Cd’A Press article HERE.

The manuscript:

Winning the Future – Winning the Next Generation

It was eight years ago that I sat down with Morton Blackwell, founder of the Leadership Institute, in Washington, DC, to discuss reaching the next generation of conservatives. He had called me in to ask me about how to reach the next generation. He really didn’t like what I told him. Morton insisted that we begin with college-aged youth. I have great respect for Morton. Let me tell you a little about Morton.

  • Morton was the youngest Barry Goldwater delegate.
  • In 1980 he organized and oversaw the national youth effort for Ronald Reagan.
  • He served as Special Assistant to the President on President Reagan’s White House Staff from 1981-1984.
  • At the time of our visit in 2006 he had been working to reach college students for conservative causes for 41 years.
  • From 1965-1980, Morton’s strategy was tried and proved to work.
  • His strategy was to knock on college dorm room doors and ask students if they were conservative. If they said they we not conservative, he would thank them for their time and move on. If the student said they were conservative, he would invite them to a training event; there, he would train them in this method.

I told Morton that day that I felt we needed to get even younger. We needed to reach middle and high school students. That we needed to build relationships with them when they are young, not to recruit them, but to listen to them and help them to realize their importance.

  • The concept I had was to build conservative communities across America.
  • He disagreed, saying that was a waste of time. We don’t have enough time for that!
  • Listen my friends, it is no coincidence that our sitting president is a “community organizer.”

It didn’t take long for me to realize that Morton really wasn’t interested in hearing what I had to say, he had heard that I was conducting youth leadership training events and wanted to recruit me to conduct his college training events.

We must reach young people, ages 10-19.

According to Forrester, a business technology and consumer strategist company, if a business is smart, they will start to gather data from middle and high school students, ages 12-17. Buying habits start young and those businesses who still want to be in the game 20 years from now better not ignore this important age group.

In a 2011 report, Forrester stated that only six percent of 12-17 year olds who use the web want to be friends with a brand on Facebook.

It would serve us well to understand the postmodern mind.

The following information is taken from my observations from working with teens for 37 years and 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 embodiment of greed and they want nothing to do with it. Yes, Marxism is making a comeback.

Don’t get me wrong, they value individualism. 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.

Josh McDowell in his book, “The Disconnected Generation,” he 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.

Thanks for hanging around long enough to read all this. My next blog is coming very soon.

God Bless!

~Pastor Gary

Equipping Teen Leaders in This Postmodern Age

Step One: In my last post I suggested to create a C-4™ Community, a Christ-Centered, Counter-Culture.

Step Two: Parents and the church take control of education. (Sorry this is coming a little late. We are selling a house.)

When it comes to equipping teens to become effective leaders in this culture, one word comes to mind – education.

When turning postmodern Christian teens into multiplying disciples the only place you can begin is where they are. And where are our Christian youth? … in School.

As parents, and the church, we need to become involved in the education of our youth. Education is a vital part of discipleship. When parents and the church take over the education of a teen, we gain access to the process that is molding that teen.

Currently, Christian parents and the church have given our children over to the state to educate them.  We have literally handed our children to the secular state and have said, “Here, take my children and mold their minds. Shape the way my children see the world.”

After giving the state approximately 40 hours a week to impact our children, we herd them into the church for an hour a week and expect them to become everything God wants them to be.

Gang, take a moment and think about that.

In my last post I mentioned the importance of creating a C-4™ Community – a Christ-Centered, Counter-Culture. This next step is just as important.

I believe that if we are serious about turning postmodern Christian teens into multiplying disciples, the next step is getting control of their education.

I believe, we need to take a page from Daniel. You remember Daniel. In chapter one, we read that Nebuchadnezzar had occupied Jerusalem and had taken the Israelites captive. He chose the best young people Israel had to offer to train up as leaders for him. A part of their training was eating the King’s food. For Daniel, and his friends, that was a problem. The King’s food was not acceptable to God; eating it would cause them to be defiled.

Daniel made a deal with his Babylonian overseer. He challenged the overseer to allow them to eat food that was approved by God for a period of 10 days. At the end of the 10 days, the overseer could judge who was healthier – Daniel’s guys or those who ate the King’s food.

Ten days past and Daniel’s group was healthier than the others. As a result, they were allowed to continue eating food that pleased the Lord.

You see, Daniel knew that God’s ways are always better than the world’s ways. He knew that when he followed God’s ways that he would always come out on top.

Education is a vital part of teen discipleship and spiritual growth. Parents and the church can do it better than the state!

Do you agree?

Two important things happen when parents and the church take over the education of Christian youth. First, youth are educated with a Christian worldview. Secondly, the educational process is more efficient leaving teens with time during the day for training in righteousness and discipleship.

We must get involved in education.

Teens are busy, thus they have precious little time for training. Ninety (90) percent of Christian teens are educated in public school buildings, which is the world’s most inefficient way to educate children. Also, teens are involved in all sorts of extra-curricular activities. Combined with loads of homework, they simply are not available for the training they need to be effective Christian leaders.

As adults, we must reevaluate our priorities.

The typical Christian adult’s priorities are somewhere else other than spiritual growth. Parents do not value spiritual growth, for themselves or their children. Personally, I believe education and activities, like sports, are very important, but so is learning to hear the voice of God and learning a biblical worldview. Parents will make every effort to ensure their teen is “going to school” or “playing sports,” but church and things related directly to spiritual growth are optional.

At Reach America, we have partnered with a group of parents who have thrown the old model of American education out the window. We do not have all the answers, but we believe we are on the right track. We have created a C-4™ Community and the parents of our students are in more control of their teen’s education than they have ever been.

Although we are still learning how to effectively reach this postmodern age, we believe we have made some progress.

Next Post: Defining Christian Leadership

Turning Postmodern Christian Teens into Multiplying Disciples: Part 6

Step One: Create a C-4™ Community

I want to prepare you; the solutions I share below aren’t “sexy.” Turning Postmodern Christian teens into multiplying disciples is, in a word – hard. Only those who wish to get their hands dirty should continue to read these posts and answer the five questions at the end.

I am looking for partners who are willing enter into the culture wars. We are in a battle for minds, hearts and souls of our youth.  I look forward to hearing from you. Here we go!

In Acts 17:28, the Apostle Paul writes, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” In essence, where our kids “live” and “move,” they “become.” Our youth are attending church for a couple hours, but they are living and moving in a world that no longer recognizes Christ as God. Actually, should we be surprised at what our youth are becoming?

In Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, we are creating a C-4™ Community, A Christ-Centered, Counter-Culture. The biblical foundation for a C-4 Community is Jesus’ ministry with His disciples, Acts 17:28 and Paul’s ministry found in 1 Thessalonians chapters one and two.

A C-4™ Community is a vibrant, growing group of Christian youth and their families on a mission. These Christians love Jesus and have a burning desire to see their family, their friends, their community, their state and America come to Christ. This is important: When people come into our C-4™ Community, we do not become like them, they become like us, then Christ.

The object of a C-4™ Community is to create a Christ-centered culture that is counter to what the American culture has become. We believe we can be more effective reaching people for Christ by bringing people to us, rather than trying to reach them where they are living.

Spiritual development happens best in a C-4™ Community. Spiritual growth is all about people and places. Who teens are with and where they are is very important. Jesus built His training strategy on a powerful spiritual principle – Christianity is caught more than taught. Yes, there is an important teaching component to disciple-making, but you catch Christianity the way you catch the flu, you catch it from being around someone who has it!

CREATING C-4™ COMMUNITIES — “CHRIST-CENTERED, COUNTER-CULTURES”

Youth must live and move in Christ-Centered, Counter-Cultures if we expect them thrive. The perfect example of a C-4™ community, of course, was Jesus and His disciples.

For three years, the disciples lived and moved with Jesus, and they took excursions into the world. They didn’t live and move in the world and visit with Jesus for a couple of hours a week. The disciples walked with Jesus daily and had a front row seat as He taught, performed miracles, and confronted the religious leadership of the day. After a day of watching Jesus, He would sit down with His disciples and hold de-briefings on what they saw and heard that day. Eventually, Jesus sent the disciples out into the world with specific assignments, and they would return and report.

After three years of intense training, of living and moving with Jesus, the disciples were ready to launch out on their own – they had become everything Jesus needed them to be. Jesus could now return to the Father.

What was the result? Just read the book of Acts and beyond!

With our youth attending church activities (worship, youth group, etc…) for just a couple hours a week, can we expect to get similar results from our youth that Jesus got with His disciples?

At Reach America we are creating a C-4™ Community where youth are able to live and move daily and become everything God made them to be.

Parents, Pastors, Youth Pastors: I would like to end this post by asking five penetrating questions.

  1. Is your youth ministry Christ-Centered?
  2. Is your youth ministry Counter-Cultural? Recently, I was speaking to a teen who is a regular at his youth group’s Wednesday night meeting. He said, “Pastor Gary, I believe our youth group is a C-2 Community. We talk about Jesus, but we don’t see a lot of real life change, and I don’t believe we are impacting the culture.”
  3. How many of the teens in your youth group are seriously leading others? Do you have a leadership training process in place? Have your leaders been equipped to lead others, and are in fact leading?
  4. How many of your youth are actually leading people to Jesus at their public school versus how many of your youth are being led away from Jesus at their public school?
  5. Are you open to something a little different? If you are open, please email me at gary@letsreachamerica.org.

Without a doubt, this is a tough culture in which to be a young Christian. At Reach America, we do not pretend to have all the solutions, but we have dedicated our lives to cracking the code that unlock the answers for turning postmodern Christian teens into multiplying disciples.

Interesting in partnering?

Next Post: Equipping Teen Leaders in This Postmodern Age

Pastor Gary Brown

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

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.