We need to equip young adults to help change their world
I am the product of spiritual genetic engineering. God has placed a passion inside of me to see global change through young people.
Never in history have we been faced with these demographics—60 percent of young people live in Asia and 90 percent of the world’s youth live in developing nations. These countries are part of what’s known as the 10/40 Window—a geographical region that is the most densely populated and yet the least evangelized.
Young adults worldwide are facing horrific issues, which we must confront. The average age of human trafficking victims is between 10-18, and 60 percent of those rescued from brothels in South Asia are infected with HIV. Approximately 1 million youth and children are sold into the sex industry annually.
Those, as young as age 5, are being recruited and forced to serve in combat in nearly 50 wars worldwide. Child labor is another concern in developing countries. Forced labor threatens the physical, emotional and mental well-being, as well as the proper development of a child. The International Labor Organization estimates that 215 million children, as young as age 5, have been forced to work in order to pay off the debts of their parents.
Seek the best for your community and see your influence grow
Imagine a church of 850 in attendance winning nearly 2,000 people to the Lord in the space of just 12 months. In addition, imagine that church being featured in Charisma magazine as one of the fastest-growing churches in the nation. Imagine this church had been stuck at a plateau for over three years. Sound unimaginable? That’s exactly what happened to my church in 2009-2010.
When our church was at a plateau, I become weary in attempting to motivate my congregation to regularly evangelize. Some responded, but I didn’t get the results I was looking for. I couldn’t understand why most wouldn’t or just didn’t. I needed a unique strategy for our house.
First, I began to focus on increasing their love quotient. I believe evangelism flows best out of a heart overflowing with love for the Lord. So, I talked more about God’s attributes and personality—attempting to cause their hearts to soar. I motivated the church to focus on intense prayer, asking the Lord to mark each heart with His presence.
We must be carriers of Jesus’ presence to a dark, broken world
Recently, we partnered with local leaders and organizations by opening the first Dream Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., a free medical clinic for women who are underinsured or uninsured.
The small clinic space was given to us and sits right across from the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) office, where the poorest families in our city go to apply for food stamps. This is the first of many ministries we plan to open. Soon, we want to have a home for single parents who are afraid to come out of the shadows of homelessness for fear of losing their children to the foster system. We also plan to open homes for kids who are too old for the foster system and have no families.
We are not doing this out of guilt or to be trendy or popular. We are certainly not out to prove to the world that we really are nice people despite the caricatures of Christians.
Why Jesus wasn’t big on asking unbelievers to follow Him to church
Growing up, I was not too interested in church or religion. When I became a teenager, I was invited a few times by Christian classmates to attend their church youth group activities and Bible studies. I was pretty good at saying no. I was not ready to dive into their world. However, I couldn’t keep them from diving into mine.
I am forever grateful that Ron Musselman, the First Presbyterian youth pastor, did not just invite me into his church world; he jumped into my not-so-churchy world. Ron engaged my culture and my community because I was not interested in engaging his.
Jesus gave the greatest demonstration of engaging culture and community when He left the streets of gold in heaven to walk the dirt roads of the Roman Empire. Showing up was just the beginning. While here, He was the expert at engaging all types of cultures and communities that were disenfranchised by the religious elite.
If we don’t pray, how will we really know what God has for us?
Passionate spiritual zeal is one of the most important, evident qualities of having an authentic relationship with God. It is key to our witness. It is vital to moving His church forward. Passionate Christianity should be the norm for every believer—not the exception. Our spiritual passion should be something we fight to protect.
It has been through times of drawing closer to God through prayer and fasting that I have received some of the most precise, specific direction for my own life, my family and our church. Without fail, each time I fast I look back in amazement at what God has done in my heart and what He has revealed to me, and I wonder, What if I had not fasted? I would have missed out on what God had for me and our church.
The first 10 years of my ministry at Celebration Church felt like life with Jesus in the fast lane. I ran so hard and so fast. My relationship with God was great, but the church grew so rapidly I had to sprint to keep up. I suppose it’s OK to be in the fast lane, but it is so important to ensure we are making regular stops along the way to get alone with God. If not, the other voices, business and pressures of ministry crowd out the voice of God.
Could you be pursuing the right ministry for the wrong reasons?
I have come to love the people of the Hawaiian islands in the 27 years since we planted New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu. The warmth of the Aloha spirit in the islanders wonderfully complements the islands’ perfect temperatures. A unique blend of nationalities and languages here creates some of the most beautiful people on the globe.
Yet, at the start, much of my love was a choice. I didn’t always live here. I received my education and early experience in ministry in the Pacific Northwest. But it was a love for the island people that compelled us to come here and stay here. And no matter where I travel, that love has never left.
Love for people, even love for an area of the country, is mandatory for a church to succeed. A church God loves to bless is one that loves the people in its community as well as its call to reach them.