How to attract—and empower—a new generation of worshippers
Most music has a shelf life. While there are many songs both sacred and secular that span the generations, a vast majority fades into distant memory with the years.
The same can be said of worship music. We all remember and cherish the songs that we sang in our churches when our lives were first changed by the power of God. Those songs stay with us, embedded in the story of our relationship with Jesus. But on a regular basis, new, dynamic worship songs and albums sweep through the body of Christ and again transform lives. These songs are the beauty of God’s creation responding to its Creator.
Why personal finance must be set upon a strong foundation
The more the economy continues to bump along, without much evidence of rebounding, the more anxious people become about the future. We don’t like uncertainty, especially financial uncertainty. Have you noticed how many people are ready for economic change? Nearly all of us! And regardless of how we’ve weathered this recessionary storm, we all have a need for a solid financial foundation.
Poor employment numbers, diminished value on investments, lost equity in real estate—these and more have pushed many of us out of our comfort zone during the last several years. This has instilled some with an urgency to find new ways of doing things and has led to some good changes. Many, though, are still looking for direction, hope and a positive outlook about the future.
How can your church become a child’s favorite place to go?
A few months ago I conducted a water baptism interview in my office with a 10-year-old girl. We talked about all the reasons that Christians should be baptized, and I walked her through how and why we immerse kids and adults into the “big bath tub” and what it means.
The interview continued, and then she asked if she could share something with me. While in chapel at school a few days earlier, she said, a teacher asked the students where their favorite place was to go. One of the kids in the front of the room raised his hand and exclaimed, “Church!” Enthusiastically, the little girl in my office added, “Church is my favorite place too!”
How to help people surrender their deeper issues to Jesus
Jesus came to set captives free. Whenever He taught, healed the sick, and ministered to crowds and individuals, He viewed each person as someone who was trapped and needed to be free—not as someone who was lazy and needed to try harder. The emphasis Jesus put on freedom throughout His ministry indicates just how important freedom ministry is.
Freedom ministry is far more than a one-time event; it’s a year-round, ongoing discipleship process. It engages people at an ever-deepening level and equips them to live in freedom and, ultimately, to become instruments of freedom in the lives of others.
How is your church helping parents who are running on empty?Almost all parents feel at times like a person who’s run out of gas—they’re going on empty. Desperately they look around to find “parent fuel” that fills them and gives them confidence in raising their kids.
Parents look to the church as the gas station for the parent fuel they need. But often even the best churches have little to offer. How can your church fuel parents so they can move down the road toward God’s parenting destination?
Begin by looking candidly at the parent fuel your church provides—or doesn’t provide. Ask the hard question: Why are your parents out of gas? Picture them on the side of the road staring at an empty tank. Could they have filled up at your gas station when they drove by?
Church leaders often complain about uncommitted parents dropping off their kids at church, yet they continue with the usual superficial fare: A yearly family sermon series. A meeting for parents to get them excited about upcoming activities. A pleading announcement for help in the children/youth ministry. A seminar on the evils of culture, music and the Internet.
What about your church? Does the pastor meet with and mentor younger generation leaders? Do youth pastors cycle through every year or two? Do younger generation volunteers relationally disciple kids? Does antagonism exist between parents and youth/children’s leaders? If your church is not yet a “full-service gas station,” answering these questions is the first step toward offering the fuel your parents need.
Next, envision a refueling place for parents. Imagine your church as that place—a ministry environment that equips parents to max out their influence with their kids.
Begin by acknowledging this fact: Parents are the No. 1 youth leaders in the world! Parents, beyond all others, have the most dramatic personal influence on their children. George Barna confirms this truth in his book Revolutionary Parenting, in which he reports that an AP-MTV Youth Happiness Poll found two-thirds of 1,280 teenagers surveyed listed parents as their greatest heroes, and 47 percent of teens say that their parents have the greatest influence on their spiritual development.
However, most parents lack the fuel to max out their influence. Barna goes on to say that parents are “desperate ... parenting by default, lacking self-confidence ... turning over their parenting responsibilities to others. This crisis is seriously undermining the potential of our next generation to become spiritual champions.”
Envision the solution to this dilemma by holding one hand over your head and one hand out from your side. Imagine every parent reaching with one hand to connect with God and reaching with the other hand to connect with their kids. Through parents, kids connect to God.
You can turn this vision into reality with:
• A process that focuses parents on pursuing their relationship with Jesus and on fulfilling God’s parenting purpose.
• A Spirit-led experience with other parents to pray over and discuss their kids’ issues.
• A set of relationship and discipleship-building tools that connects parents with their kids’ hearts. (For specific direction for fueling your parents, go to parentfuel.org.)
Imagine your church’s influence when the No. 1 youth leaders in the world fill up on fuel that leads their kids to follow Jesus!