Are you missing prime opportunities to reach and engage the elusive college demographic?
I was introduced to the facts of life the old-fashioned way: working in the breeding pens of a pig farm. I regularly got up close and personal with 500-pound hogs, helping them “maximize their efforts.”
That brutal introduction to breeding taught me more about fertilization and reproduction than a 14-year-old would ever want to know. It also left me with a lot of memories, most of which I have tried hard to forget. One familiar image, however, has stuck in my mind—the illustration of countless sperm cells desperately trying to break into an unfertilized egg to create a new generation. Believe it or not, that is precisely how I see the opportunity to engage young people with the gospel on university campuses.
These days, it’s hard to find a church with any kind of forward momentum that’s not in the business of establishing new churches or satellite congregations. Over the last two decades, the majority of those new church initiatives have targeted suburban young professionals and their growing families. Church leaders focus the balance of their efforts on inner-city neighborhoods or church planting through overseas partnerships.
Ever heard of David Hogg? He taught Sunday school in Blantyre, Scotland, in the early 1800s. In the small church where he taught boys year after year, Hogg certainly had opportunities to question his significance. But his faithfulness and the Word of God ignited a love for the people of Africa in one of his students David Livingstone, who became arguably the greatest missionary to Africa in the 19th century, opening that continent to the gospel.
In the small church or those of us who are pastors of smaller churches, it can be easy to question the significance and impact we are having in our churches and communities compared with larger or more publicly recognized churches. Yet according to the Hartford Religious Institute, 61 percent of all Protestants attend churches with 499 or fewer weekly worshipers. That means the majority of Christians in America are being discipled and cared for in much-needed smaller and midsize churches, led by regular guys like us.
A practical plan for engaging the entire church in revolutionary disciple-making
We all want to do something revolutionary. I know I do. After 40 years in ministry, I can say that I have been involved in a life- and world-changing revolution. Will you join me in this mandate to any and every mature disciple of Christ?
This revolution started 2,000 years ago when Jesus uttered the words, "Follow me" to 12 men He would spend His time on earth with teaching and showing them what it meant to be His disciple. Through this simple concept, Jesus reproduced Himself in His followers.
The revolution continued as these disciples led by Peter established the early church, followed by Paul, who followed Jesus' ex-ample as he discipled Timothy, Titus and Silas.
Since then, faithful believers have sporadically picked up this spiritual fathering concept.
Call it what you want—mentoring, discipling, coaching or spiritual fathering or mothering—it all boils down to the idea of caring about each other's spiritual growth.
Paul grasped this truth when he told Timothy, "You then, my son, ... the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" (2 Tim. 2:1-2, NIV). Paul exhorted his disciple, Timo-thy, to find another disciple who would disciple another.
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.
Don't overlook the power of 'mini' ministry moments to reach people
For the longest time the 93-year-old neighbor I help out has been after me to watch one of her favorite classic movies, Random Harvest.
If I had to choose a phrase to describe the kingdom of God, it might be that title.
So much of what we spend our time doing in full-time ministry is planning. And pre-planning. And, of course, post-event planning, in which we determine what we'll do differently next time based on areas that could be maximized to yield more favorable results.
We're right to be diligent and work to prove ourselves good stewards of the fields God has entrusted us with—please don't think I'm saying otherwise. But sometimes I wonder if in our overwrought efforts to reach others we lose God's heart for them.
Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know" (Mark 4:26-27, NASB).
Jesus' Example of Divine Encounters
We think of Jesus as one who ministered to the multitudes, who drew crowds of thousands simply by showing up to speak on a hillside or healing the hundreds clamoring for His touch. And Jesus certainly did both in the context of the masses.
The expression of God’s heart will connect you with your community.
A destitute woman. A sick, desperate mother. A prodigal son. These were the kinds of people on whose behalf Jesus exercised continual compassion in every synagogue and village of Israel. Jesus is calling His followers to live this same compassion, bringing wholeness to every community in the world.
The biblical word compassion encompasses more than emotion. The meaning conveys motivation that cannot rest until the pain is relieved. This is undoubtedly what drove Jesus to restore the Samaritan woman when His body was crying out for rest. This is what motivated Him to fight a treacherous storm to deliver a severely demon-oppressed man.