12/32 Task Force: Understanding the Times, Reaching America with Truth

Any strategy that God blesses begins with Jesus, is all about Jesus and ends with Jesus.

One of the most powerful prayers in Scripture is recorded by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:14-21. I just have to post this prayer in its entirety. Yes, it is that good.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen”

What a prayer!

There is a huge difference between believing in Jesus and Jesus living his life through us. Many Christians do good things in the name of Jesus, but if we are going to reach America with Truth, people must see Christ at work in Christians.

There is a huge difference between “having a daily, morning devotional time” and “being rooted and established in love” , having “power, together with all the saints”,  grasping ” how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”, and  knowing his” love that surpasses knowledge.”

As the church, our goal is to “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” so he can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”

Experiencing more than we can imagine can only happen “according to his power that is as work within us,” bringing glory to him in the church, throughout all generations, forever and ever!

Imagine being a part of a ministry that prepares Christians to be Jesus in the world, intentionally and strategically. Imagine God doing more through us than we can imagine!

This is the work of the 12/32 Task Force.

The first arena we need to address is prayer. Throughout history, all the great movements for God began with prayer — including the birth of the church in the book of Acts.

In Acts 1:14, the Scripture reads, “They all joined together constantly in prayer”.

I have always found it interesting that Jesus clearly told the disciples that they were to “go and make disciples of all nations”, (Matthew 28:19) but instructed them go back to the upper room and wait.  Why didn’t they divide the world into eleven slices and take off! Instead, they went back to the upper room and they prayed.

When God wants to do something greater than we can imagine, he does it through us. The key is that he does it and we are the instruments.

Let’s go back to the birth of the church.  All they did was pray and move as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts Chapter  two states that while they were together that, “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” What seemed like tongues of fire separated and rested on each of them.  They “were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Due to the festival of Pentecost, “…there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.”

The same sound of violent wind that was heard by those in the upper room was also heard by the crowd outside. It was God, through the sound of the wind that brought people together — not a door-to-door evangelism campaign.

When the crowd heard this sound, they “…came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.”

It was then that Peter stood and addressed the crowd.

After Peter preached, some 3,000 people came to Christ and the church was born!

The significance of Pentecost is that God did it! All the people did was to follow the fire and the wind.

The formula for taking Christ to your community is no different than what was recorded in Acts chapter two. Here are the steps.

Step #1: Gather together for prayer, teaching, fellowship and such.

Step #2: Watch and wait for God to move.

Step #3: When God says move…MOVE!

Coming together in prayer is the first step in taking Christ to our communities and country. The question for us is — are we making plans to come together to pray?

Are we busily going about our business doing good things for God, or we waiting on him, watching what he is doing, in order that he may do great things — greater than we can imagine — through us!

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!

When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

I was born on July 3, 1959. At the time of this writing, I am 54 years old. Each day is becoming a little more precious to me. As I have pointed out in many past articles, America has come apart at her spiritual seam. I will admit, times are tough. I played varsity basketball in high school. One poster that was hung in our locker room read, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

Let’s not give up on the country we all love. The going in America right now is tough. It is time for tough to get going!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Germany during the reign of Adolf Hitler. Because he could not support the government takeover of the church, he became a part of what became known as the underground church.

Bonheoffer was eventually imprisoned and on April 9, 1945, he was executed.

The government takeover of the people of Germany, is similar to what we are facing today in America. Our government is slowly but surely encroaching on our freedoms — especially our religious freedoms. As I outlined in my recent series on “gay” marriage, biblical Christianity is under attack.

The only course of action for the Christians in early 20th century Germany was to retreat — to go underground. Hitler had become an immovable force. The Nazi party took over every aspect of German life, including the church.

This is not the case for Christians in America. To retreat now would be fatal for our country. On the contrary, for us, the answer is not retreat, but advance.

These are unprecedented times for the American Christian church. It is time for unprecedented action.

We need to become like the men of old, the men of Issachar. 1 Chronicles 12:32 reads, “Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do — 200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command.”

The enemies of Israel had overrun Jerusalem and all the tribes came together to take the city back for God. The leaders of “David’s Mighty Men” were the men of the tribe of Issachar. The Scripture tells us that these guys were uniquely qualified to lead due to three traits.

  1. They understood the times.
  2. They knew what Israel should do.
  3. They had their relatives under their command.

Verse 38 gives us even more insight into this godly band of warriors. “All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king.”

This battle is only going to be won by people fully determined, with one mind, willing to risk all they have.

I want to suggest a two-fold strategy for taking our communities and our country back for Christ. We are implementing these strategies where we live, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. If you live in the north Idaho area, I want to invite you to join us. A meeting date will be announced, soon.  If you are interested in including your community in this strategy alongside us, please join in.

Strategy Point #1: Very soon, we are going to begin a weekly worship and Bible study event in Coeur d’Alene called Kootenai CARES or Cultural Awareness Readiness Engagement Strategies. It will be a service for the entire family. We are not starting a “church”, we are gathering with a group of families who want to be the church.

Strategy Point #2: We are creating what we call a 12/32 Task Force, named for 1 Chronicles 12:32. This active group will lead smaller teams. The important areas of our community we need to impact in order to re-establish our American Christian values are as follows:

  1. Prayer
  2. Community Service
  3. Education
  4. Business
  5. Politics

In my next few posts, I will break down each strategy point.

God bless you and thank you for taking your time to read these articles. Email me sometime and let me know what you believe God is telling you.

~Pastor Gary

Where Did the Effort to Take Christians and Religious Expression Out of the American Public Square Begin?

Together, We Can Make A Difference!

Where did the effort to take Christians and religious expression out of the American public square begin? How do we bring Christianity back? Is that even possible?

Exactly when the effort to take our nation away from Christianity began is debatable, but one significant place we can start is with the Supreme Court and their rulings in 1962 and 1963.

In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled prayer — even voluntary, student led prayer — was unconstitutional in our public schools. In 1963 the courts ruled the Bible unconstitutional. By the way, the 1962 case was the infamous Engel vs Vitale case. A simple 22-word prayer, approved by the New York state board of education, was struck down by the Court. “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country.”

Today, most people — Including some who say they are Christians — are convinced that the issue the Court was concerned with was coercion, since it involved a state-approved prayer. Folks, there was never any evidence of coercion proven in this case. The Court, on page 423 of the ruling, states, “The schools did not compel any pupil to join in the prayer over his or her parents’ objection.”

The Court continued on page 430 of their ruling that “prayer in its public school system breaches the constitutional wall of separation between Church and State.”

The problem this Court had wasn’t state-mandated coercion, but the simple presence of prayer in the public school system. The Engel decision was an attack on any kind of prayer; even voluntary, student-led prayer.

Let’s move on to the 1963 case: Abington Township vs Schempp.

The state of Pennsylvania had a policy that each school day would be opened by the reading of the Bible. Like the previous case, participation was voluntary and student-led. There were to be no comments made or questions asked; only the reading of the Bible would be permitted. Again, coercion was never proven in this case. The Schempp’s children, Roger and Donna, testified they had never protested to their teachers concerning the practice.

The argument was made that the school setting is no place for religious activity. If these activities are to occur it should be in the home, church or private school. Justice Stewart, in his dissent, pointed out the constitutional fallacy of this argument. “Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion are available to all, not merely to those who can pay their own way.” Judge Stewart concluded, “A refusal to permit religious exercises thus is seen, not as the realization of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of a religion of secularism.”

Some may argue that in this ruling the Bible, itself, wasn’t ruled unconstitutional, just the reading of it in public. Without a doubt, in this case the Court struck down the official use of the Bible in public education.

These two rulings paved the way for future decisions like this one. In 1980, Stone vs Graham, the Court ruled it unconstitutional for students to view the Ten Commandments while at school. — In this case the Court ruled, “That if the 10 commandments were read in school…a student might feel inclined to follow them” — yeah, really.

The 1962 and 63 rulings opened the floodgates for secularists to make our public places — our schools, our colleges and universities, our government, even our businesses — religious expression-free zones. Unfortunately, many Christians have also taken this stance.

The first amendment no longer protects the right of free religious expression but is used to restrict it. It is now in vogue to ask us, Christians, to keep our religious beliefs to ourselves. We, Christians, are being told that that we have the right to express our beliefs — in our homes and places of worship.

It is time for action.

At Reach America, we are launching a two-part strategy to bring Christianity back into the public square. The strategies will begin locally, here, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Our goal is for other communities to join us.

In my next blog, I will outline the strategy.

At times, we all get discouraged — even I get discouraged. Now, however, is not the time to shrink back. We, at Reach America, still believe God can bring our nation back through us.

Do you believe? Will you join us?

We want to hear from you. My email is gary@letsreachamerica,org. Our phone number here is 208-966-4434.

If you are interested in joining the effort to take Christ to the public square, please contact us. Personally, I would love to talk to you.

Together, we can make a difference!

~Pastor Gary

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!

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

Defining Christian Leadership

In a word, leadership is influence. We all influence someone, therefore we are all leaders. The question to ask young and old alike is what kind of leader are you being?

Christian leadership is influencing people to come to Christ and to become positive Christian Leaders.

The key to Christian leadership development is helping teens learn who they are in Christ and how Christ lives His life through them to impact our world. A couple of our RA theme verses are Galatians 2:20 and Philippians 2:15-16. I will break down these, and other scriptures, in this series.

To facilitate the leadership process, at Reach America, we have developed five levels of Christian leadership.

We say that a Christian leader L.E.A.D.S.

Level One: Look and See. When people look at my life do they see that Jesus matters to me?

Level Two: Encourage and Serve. Who am I going to encourage and serve today?

Level Three: Adjust/Apprentice. When I sense that God is working in someone, am I willing to adjust my life?

Level Four: Develop Leaders. Are those I am leading, growing?

Level Five: Success. Are those I am leading, leading others?

Over the next several posts, I will take a closer look into each of these five levels.

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.