Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sticky Faith Cohort - Day One

This morning it's my privilege to be writing from FREEZING Pasadena California.  That's right, it does get cold in Southern California.

A team from our next gen ministry (children's ministry pastor, middle school ministry pastor, high school ministry pastor, and myself) is attending the "Sticky Faith Cohort" at Fuller Seminary.  We're hoping to learn a little more of how we can have a next gen ministry that launches students into emerging adulthood with a faith that has "stuck" through college or whatever they've chosen post high school.

Your know the stats.  Many youth group kids are leaving the church after high school and not coming back even after they have families of their own.  As church leaders we want to do everything we can to create environments, relationships and learning opportunities that prepare children and youth for adulthood.

After spending a few hours with Chap Clark, Brad Griffin, and Kara Powell our team was relatively encouraged by what we heard and where we are heading as a next gen ministry.  Obviously we have a lot to learn and a long way to go.

At our post meeting party (party is a little strong) there were some great questions that surfaced from our time yesterday afternoon.  Here are 2.

How do we teach children / students what the Bible instructs without presenting them with a bunch of "to do's"?  

We know kids have a proclivity to take whatever we teach and sift it through a moralistic thought process.  They hear truth and immediately feel they should simply try harder.  Because we live in a performance driven world they often translate our teaching as things you do to get Jesus to love you more.  That's simply NOT what the gospel message presents.

Here is part of the struggle, the Bible doesn't just instruct us on who we are and what Jesus did on our behalf, it instructs us in how we are to live out our faith.

Many of Paul's writings flesh out this way.  Romans 1 -11 is about who we are an what Jesus did for us.  Romans 12 - 16 tells us how we should live.  Perhaps we should follow the same kind of model as we teach.

It seems the key word in thinking through this question is the word tension.  Paul captures this tension in Philippians 2.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 

Work out your own salvation / God who works in you. 

Here's the reality.  WHY students do what they do is as important as WHAT they do.  We long to teach them in a way that helps them live out their life by faith not simply by trying harder.

We don't have the solution but we're willing to journey on and embrace this tension.

How do we encourage the rest of our church leadership to adjust for the younger generation?

Our church does a wonderful job supporting the younger generation and longs to see spiritual formation in the lives of kids.  But as you can imagine we have some opportunities for growth.

When it comes to teen's involvement in church it seems we've (not just IBC but church in general) told them to be quite, listen and smile as we adults do adult type stuff.  The way we preach, lead worship, give announcements, encourage service and provide opportunities for involvement must be prepared and led with the teen ager in mind.

It's time for the church to adjust to the unique needs of the younger generation.

No, Sunday morning doesn't have to become a "youth service" but if it is the church's calling to reach and embrace the next generation we need to start asking the right questions about intergenerational worship and service.

In this area it feels like a little adjustment could go a long way.  Hopefully today we'll receive some great thoughts on how to be catalysts for adjustments in our home church.

So there you have it.  In reality we have more questions than answers.  We're trusting God to give wisdom, grace and direction as we desperately want life changing faith in Jesus to grow in the lives of our kids.

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