The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.
Postmodernism is a term that is very hard to define. Many people define it in various ways. I would define Post-modernism as a worldview that establishes truth based on community. Truth has been divorced from relationships, thus allowing each individual to determine truth based on the view of a particular group or community. Postmodernism is not concerned with finding or discovering an absolute, unwavering truth. It focuses on defining truth based on feeling or experience as opposed to logic or reason.I think that the church has been slow at addressing this issue. If we are really going to make a difference in the world around us, we need understand the effect postmodernism is having on us as believers. After studying this issue, I believe that Christians and the church basically react in several ways. Below are a few:
Baptize It: I believe that one of the things that the church has done far too often is take things from the world and incorporated them into the church culture from the Postmodern world and place it under the banner of relevance. We need to realize that relevance is basically knowing the needs of the people in your ministry and how to meet them in a real and tangible way. Jesus did this so well. As He spoke to the crowds, He would tailor His message to meet the needs of the audience. We must do the same. It is ok to incorporate music, video, and other media to reach this generation, but we need to influence the world not the other way around.
Demonize It: In my opinion, this is the most damaging reaction the church has had to Post-modernism. I
think that this comes from fear and misunderstanding. As a human race, when we come up against
something that is confusing or fearful, we tend to reject or criticize it. I was at a concert in rural Kentucky. This was a very conservative, Bluegrass culture. The event was actually a Youth Event to help students understand what they believe and why. The band came out on stage and began to play. The band was your typical youth style rock band. Most of the kids were excited and the crowd was electric. But five minutes into the show 75 people got up and left. They thought that music of this nature should not be played at this type of event. We need to teach our students how to be critical thinkers. We need to understand the culture in which we live and rise to meet them with the gospel message.
Ignore it: I used to be this way when it came to conflict. If I had a problem with someone, instead of trying to work it out, I would ignore it. This only made things worse. Things were taken out of context, feelings
were hurt, and there was a constant tension until one of us took the initiative to resolve the issue. I believe the same thing is happening in the church. Many adults are fearful or confused about what is happening in youth culture. Instead of taking the time to do some research, they just clam up and choose to ignore it. We need adults, pastors, teachers, and parents to rise up and engage this culture. We need to issue the battle cry and lead the charge to reach a generation that desperately needs us.
Critically Engage It: This is the approach that makes the most sense biblically. Jesus chose to fully engage
the people of His time. He took the time to ask the tough questions. He always asked the questions that would go way beyond the surface. As youth pastors, we need to know what our students are involved in and ask the tough questions. For example,14 years ago I did a message series called “MySpace” We took six weeks to look at the who, what, when, where, why, and how of MySpace. MySpace is an internet blog site where students can set up a profile, post media, and blogs about themselves. As I began to research this topic, I looked for our students that had a MySpace account, and I was shocked. Some of the students had revealing photos, lied about there age, and used profanity fluently. I e-mailed these students and asked to be
added to their friends list. Within one hour, I had a student at my house. He asked,” How did you find out about MySpace? He was embarrassed that I had found his site. He puts on a very spiritual front at church, but his site was far from it. Others were excited that I took time to enter their world. If we critically engage the post-modern world, we will truly see change. As youth pastors, we must lead the charge in an evangelical revolution to reach a lost generation.
Will you join me on this journey? I would really like to get your feed back about this issue. Please send me your comments. The only way that we are truly going to make an impact is if we join together to reach this generation. I look forward to our dialogue
So get out there and transform your world…
In Postmodern Youth Ministry, Jones paints a picture of what Youth Ministry in a postmodern context will look like. The vast majority of Americans claim to be religious, but how much is Christ-like compassion and aid to the needy actually making a difference in our communities? How well are we reflecting and emulating the mission of Jesus? How much is our culture in its darkness and need actually finding hope from those
of us who proclaim Christ and his Kingdom of love and compassion?
Is there a similarity between religious life in the first century prior to Pentecost and that of most churches and Christian communities today? Clearly, the answer is yes. Sure, there are differences: we have all the conveniences of twenty-first century technology—printed Bibles, Christian radio and TV broadcasts, and the
Internet. These wonderful tools should greatly aid us in an effort to transform our culture. But in spite of the differences in technology and information availability, today’s typical religious life seems anemic and ineffectual. The average American church appears to have little impact on the culture around us. Why?
The Church today is not what the church was intended to be. The Church started as a missionary
movement in Jerusalem. It moved to Rome and became an institution. It traveled to Europe and became a culture. It crossed the Atlantic to America and became a big business. While this is simplistic, it does ring true. It appears that religious people have, on the whole, lost their “transforming salt” and are no longer an “attractive light” that most people want to follow.
It may seem strange to think that traditional evangelism is in its last gasps when some North American churches seem to be increasing in number. Indeed, if the measure of success is church attendance, donations, people’s participation, numbers of programs, or square footage of church space, then many of today’s churches would be considered overwhelming successful. But are these factors valid measurements for the success of a church? If not, what is? The apostle Paul established some indicators. He stated that the leadership of the church was responsible “to equip God’s people to do his work…” so they would be “…mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13, NLT). “Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live…so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, NLT). The disciple James went on to add: “Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you
don’t prove it by your actions?” (James 2:14, NLT).
Just as in the first century, a new church is emerging that is measuring its success not by the numbers of those participating in religious programs, but by its transformed lives. These churches measure their success by the lives of those who profess to be Christians. Their standard is simple Christ-likeness and how the transformed lives of their members impact the community around them. Over the past few decades Youth Ministry has been on the cutting edge of relevant ministry. He points out that if we are going to make an impact we must understand the condition of the postmodern mind and develop Youth Ministries that seek to meet those individual where they are. Considering the condition of the church and what is has become, we must be willing to think outside the box and be proactive in our approach to reaching this generation.
As I read this book, I could not help but think of my second full time Student Ministry Position. The church was in rural part of Georgia. Most of the students that were drawn to our ministry were skaters and Goth kids. I thought that this was odd considering the community we were in. As I began to minister to them, I realized that I needed to change my approach or I would lose them. I spent time getting to know them and began to invest into their lives. As time went on their appearance began to change. I think that once they felt loved and accepted, they did not need to dress that we any more. I believe most of them dressed like that just
to get attention, and sometimes not very positive attention. As I read Postmodern Youth Ministry, I really began to identify with the description that Jones gave of this new type of ministry. I really see how I have incorporated some of his ideas into my own ministry.
So this raises some very important questions:
How can I change my Youth Ministry to be more sensitive to the Postmodern Seeker?
What things must I change in order to be relevant, but not compromise the truth of the Gospel?
How do identify those students in my ministry that have a Postmodern mindset?
How do I train my leaders to be sensitive to this type of approach to ministry?
After reading Postmodern Youth Ministry, I realized that if we are going to make an impact in the generation, we must get back to the model of the early church. It didn’t take thousands of people to launch God’s transformational Kingdom movement in Jerusalem during the first century. There were only 120 in that upper room pouring their hearts out to God in agreement when his transforming Spirit empowered them to engage their city. And from Jerusalem they turned the known world upside down. What did they do and how did they do it? A study of the early church reveals how they grew and stayed focused on the mission Christ gave them. There were many factors involved, and we must practice these as well.
First, I must proclaim a transformational message. The new kingdom was not about changing the
Government; it was about transforming each individual life. I must have a burden to reach the lost and
truly seek to help students find the transforming power of Christ.
Second, my Youth Ministry must embrace a missional focus. Church growth should not be our goal; it is a
by-product. My strategy has to come together in the prayer of agreement, unify around God’s heart of compassion, and engage the city with a message of Christ’s love that met people’s needs. And that will result in converts. Converts will then be discipled, and the Youth Ministry and church will become more authentic and experience growth.
And third, I must help my students become living models of transformation. People aren’t attracted to
preaching personalities or church buildings or church programs. They are attracted to a people who demonstrate love and care for others, people who have a clear sense of purpose and convictions worth dying for.
Our culture today has similarities to that of the first century. The needs of people are the same now as then. People in our community will respond and can be changed by the same message of transformation, they will respond to the same missional focus, and they will be attracted to authentic models of transformation.
In our Christian Life, we are taught many Disciplines that shape us into the person God wants us to be. We learn the disciplines of prayer, scripture reading, hospitality, and service. One discipline that goes unnoticed or overlooked it the Discipline of Thanksgiving. I realized that the discipline of giving thanks is a new concept for me. I would often give thanks in my prayer, but I never considered it a discipline. The discipline of thanksgiving is really more of a state of mind or it may be better to describe it as a state of grace. Our very lives are an example of God’s grace to us. We often neglect the small things in life and forget to be thankful for all we have been blessed with. One example of thanksgiving that really spoke to me is a passage about Paul and Silas. In Acts 16:16-40, we see an example of 2 men who had every right to be angry and bitter over their capture, but instead were singing praises of thanksgiving to God.
This might seem strange, but God tends to speak to me in unusual ways. A couple of years ago, I went to court with one of my students to support them at an Arraignment Hearing. As I sat there and looked around the room, my heart began to sink. I was face to face with the cost of sin as it runs rampant through our world. Charge after charge was read and each person entered his or her plea. Some plead guilty others plead not guilty and wanted a jury trial. For the first time, I could really see how much I have been saved from. The only difference between the people in that courtroom and me was grace. I was given a gift of grace that is open to all who would receive it. My heart swelled with thanksgiving and praise. I walked out of the courthouse that afternoon with a greater appreciation for the gospel than I have ever had before. I
also had a renewed my passion for the lost. There is a lost world out there, and we have been given the
responsibility to share this good news with others. We have been called by Christ to be “transforming salt” and “attractive light” that point people to the saving grace of God. The Discipline of Thanksgiving is a way for us to be reminded of God’s Amazing Grace. This grace is available with no strings attached. If we walk in a state of grace, we will begin to see things through the eyes of Christ. We will love what He loves. We will be heartbroken by the very things that break His heart. Take some time this Christmas Season season reflecting on God’s Grace and how He would want you to share that grace with others. This will transform our world!!!
During this time of year it is not uncommon for people to refer to the atmosphere that is created by the holidays as the Spirit of Christmas. Is there some mysterious spirit that only is detectable during the last month of the year or is it something more.
If we look at the Christmas story we see that the birth of Jesus was announced to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds by angels. These angels were God’s messengers. They were empowered by the Holy Spirit to go and reveal the message of the coming Messiah. We also see that when Mary went to see Elizabeth that the baby in her womb jumped at the sound of her voice. This was a result of the Holy Spirit being present in that moment. The Holy Spirit played a major role in the Christmas story. This was the introduction of the role that Holy Spirit would soon play in the life of every believer.
The Holy Spirit announced Jesus’ birth, but would soon be revealed as the promise that would be given to every believer to guide and direct their lives. We see in John 3 that when Jesus was baptized the Holy Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. Then a voice from heaven affirmed that Jesus was indeed God’s son. The Holy Sprit always preceded the proclamation of God. After he was baptized, we see that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. As a result, in John 4 we see that he was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert. After he was tempted in the desert, we see in John 4:14 that he returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Sprit. It is interesting to see the progression of how the Holy Spirit works.
First we see that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. We must be totally yielded to God in order to be filled with the Spirit. In John 3:21-22 we see that Jesus was obedient to his Father and was baptized. This was how the Messiah was to be revealed to the world. As a result of this obedience, we see that God wanted to praise the son and even said, “You are my son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life” (MSG). We see that when the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove that was a mark that separated Jesus from everyone else. When the Holy Spirit controls our lives it marks us a different from others in the world.
Later when Jesus returned from the Jordan now that he was full of the Holy Spirit, He could now be led by the Holy Spirit. When we are full of the Holy Spirit, then we can be led by the Spirit. Too often we are not led by the Sprit but by are led by the flesh. We must constantly be in tune with God and constantly be “filling” up on the Holy Spirit. In order to be filled, we must empty our selves of everything else to make space for the filling to take place. Once filled, then we can be led.
Once we have been filled, and are being led, then and only then can we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. In John 4:14 we see after Jesus was tempted he returned in the power of the Holy Spirit. We often miss out what God has for us because we attempt things in the power of the flesh rather than in the power of the Holy Spirit.
During this Holiday Season, it is important for us to recapture the idea that the Holy Spirit is at work. The holidays cause us to be more generous and helpful than we would be normally throughout the year. It that because the Holy Spirit only moves during the holidays? It may be that we are more sensitive to the Spirit’s leading during this season because we are focused on the meaning of Christmas and therefore are more attentive to its movement. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us year round. Then we will be led to do the things that God calls us to do and then we will be able to accomplish them under the power of the Spirit rather than our own strength.