“‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubborness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike” (Deu 29:19, ESV).
Contempt toward God.
Antinomian lifestyle because we always lead with the grace card.
Letting our guards down.
Flirting with temptation.
All of these lead to corrective discipline from a loving Father who does not allow His children to use His grace as an excuse for licentiousness.
God’s grace is great, but there are consequences for striking the rock.
We may be a person after God’s heart, but God’s heart is not with our adulteries, abuses of power, and murders.
More hours on-line than peers elsewhere.
Highest percent on Twitter and YouTube, relative to internet users.
Facebook, a usual mode of communication.
Soaring Smartphone growth.
75% of the country under 30.
Highly globalized youth population, many speaking English.
Government providing funding for study abroad.
4th largest number of international students in the United States.
I recall a day when demographers, sociologists, and church growth leaders spoke of a massive generation who would come of age in a few years. This generation was larger in size than the Baby Boomers and would develop under a postmodern umbrella. The influence of this generation was going to be huge.
This generation came to be known as the Millennials.
We’re still talking about them, and rightly so. I frequently tweet links to articles about the Millennials. They are, and will continue to be, a significant influence inside and outside of the Church.
However, I feel we have become so fixated on the Millennials that we have missed another generation on the scene. We have forgotten that “a generation goes and a generation comes” (Ecc 1:4, ESV). And this most recent generation is larger in size than the Millennials.
I would say “Welcome Generation Z,” but I would be too late, much too late. Generation Z (those born after 1995, making up 25% of the U.S. population) is already beginning internships in the U. S. workforce.
Do not confuse them with the Millennials. Check out this infographic for a comparison.
Get to know them.
Get to know them quickly, very quickly.
Get wisdom above all else. She is more precious than gold (Prov 3:13-15).
Satan wants you to be wise (Gen 3:5-6). Don’t forget this. He offers a semi-divine wisdom.
Just enough to have one-up on others.
Just enough to damn one to hell.
Just enough to make you think you are getting the real deal.
The writer of Proverbs calls such wisdom folly. Paul calls her that too (1 Cor 3:19). She is not wisdom at all. Oh, she is worldly wisdom. She extends a great invitation (Prov 9:16), offering much sweetness and pleasure (Prov 9:17). For a season, that is. Like this world, she is passing away.
God wants you to be wise. He alone is able to give true wisdom (Prov 2:6). His wisdom also offers pleasure, but an eternal-type (Prov 2:10). Nothing we desire can compare with her (Prov 3:15).
There is a way to wisdom that leads only to death. It is a foolish path (Prov 26:12). Whose way to wisdom will you chose?
What is apostolic missiology? Why is it important to mission in a post-Christianized context? Why does the Church in the West primarily operate from a pastoral missiology? In this episode, I address these and other questions related to mission today.
Our theology shapes our missiology. Our missiology shapes our missionary methods. How we begin the journey affects what we do in the field.
The need of the hour is for the Church in the West to embrace both a pastoral and an apostolic missiology. Check out this episode where I share more.
We know the world is filled with rapid change. We often say, “change is the only constant.”
Since such is the case, we should expect our ministry positions to change with time. They are in a state of evolution with shifting contexts.
However, many leaders do not recognize this matter. In fact, if the pastor is called to equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph 4:11-12), then he is to be constantly working himself out of jobs and into new ones with his church. Planned role changes are a must.
Positional evolution does not mean the pastor ceases to be a biblical pastor, the teacher a teacher, the professor a professor, or the leader a leader. It means the culturally preferred structures that define these positions change over time and we must adjust appropriately.
And such change is okay. Culturally determined structures are not biblical prescriptions. Of course, recognizing the reality of positional evolution is difficult. For in our hearts, the structures are the same yesterday, today, and until Jesus returns.
We know change is constant. We must be wise Kingdom stewards and engage change with a proactive approach. We are filled with the Spirit; He will lead us as we lead others.
Expecting, embracing, and adjusting to change is an important key to healthy ministerial longevity.
If we do not intentionally adjust, change will eventually change us, and usually it is not for the good. When positional evolution is forced upon us, it often demands our resignations and transitions to other ministries.
Change is happening. The wise Kingdom steward recognizes this and changes for the glory of God.
I often hear from church planters in North America:
Of these 37 local churches, there are no gospel preaching churches in this community.
These churches are not Reformed enough (Or, These churches are too Reformed.).
They preach the gospel, but it’s not really deep. Just John 3:16 kinda stuff every week.
These churches are too formal.
Their music is Baptist Hymnal stuff. I’m talking 1975, not 1991; that doesn’t appeal to young families (Or, Their music is too contemporary. They need more hymns.).
When will we realize church planting is an apostolic work of evangelism that results in new churches (see Acts 13-14)?
In our Baskin-Robbins of Christianity, why must our church planting actions come from the desire to provide another choice of flavor to long-term Kingdom citizens?
The four billion remain.
Over the years, I have heard sermons (including mine) that contain lengthy exegesis of Scripture. While all good preaching is exegetical preaching, sustained exegesis over fifteen minutes here and fifteen minutes there is difficult to follow and falls short in effective communication. Some of the world’s best preachers even enter into the mode of lengthy sustained exegesis from time-to-time. If given the choice of hearing someone explain Scripture or tell stories, we should always chose the former. However, illustrations are very important in pulpit communication.
While my preaching style has changed over the past twenty years, I have always tried to follow a model of using illustrations in the introduction and conclusion and one illustration per major point. While I do not always follow this model, I do make an attempt at it. There are times when I am unable to find the right illustration for the truths that flow from the text. When this happens, I do not have an illustration. I do not want to force it.
Spurgeon once said illustrations are like windows into what the text is saying. Don’t worry. No one will accuse us of narrative preaching if we pepper illustrations throughout our messages. Illustrations help the contemporary listener understand what the first century listener both heard and understood. If illustrations are windows, then we regularly need to add them to our messages and allow some light to shine in for our people!
I recently read this article describing a once booming Chinese business district in New Orleans. From the 1870s-1930s, the city was home to a substantial enclave. While the Chinese are still located in New Orleans, this article reminded me that much can happen in 60 years. My guess is that if you had asked someone at the turn of the 20th century if the Chinese enclave would be around for the next 40 years, the answer would have been yes.
Though I only have anecdotal evidence, I was told a large population of Hmong in Pennsylvania packed up and moved to Wisconsin in a short period of time. I also heard of a few thousand Vietnamese in Louisville gathering their belongings (almost overnight) and moving to another location in the country.
Societies shift. People move.
The United States is home to the third largest number of unreached people groups in the world. Only a few people are waking up to this reality. Most remain asleep.
It would be horrible if while we are just waking up to the reality of unreached peoples in our backyards, they are gone before we get out of bed.
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time” (Col 4:5, ESV).
Ruth Tucker writes, “Shrouded in legend and glorified by sainthood, Patrick, Ireland’s great fifth-century missionary is one of the most misrepresented figures in church history” (From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, 37).
On this first episode of Strike the Match, we are discussing, “Who was St. Patrick and what can we learn for today?” I felt this would be a very appropriate topic with St. Patrick’s Day around the corner.
My guest is Dr. Ed Smither, professor of intercultural studies at Columbia International University. Ed’s next book is Missionary Monks, so he has much to share about Patrick.
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