I do a lot of reading, as you probably know. Right now, I am reading a splendid book on the subject of apologetics titled, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes, by Nancy Pearcey.
Unfortunately, despite the amazing nature of this book, the author makes the same mistake I have heard repeated time and time again: the claim that our churches do not prepare our youth with the answers to the questions and challenges they will face in college.
The reason for this lack of preparedness (I would argue) is not necessarily a lack of opportunity. Many students don’t want answers to questions (before they face a crisis), because it takes too much mental effort to think things through. Even if present where the big questions are thoroughly addressed, some may be uninterested and daydream the opportunity away. Such issues do not seem relevant at the time.
It is not until those students are pressured in college that they realize they do not have an answer, or that disturbing questions even exist. In most cases, answers are available—if you know where to find them. But if you haven’t learned at least some of those answers beforehand, it is easy to conclude that there are no answers. (Incidentally, this is why it is crucial for college students to be involved in organizations like Cru/Campus Crusade, Navigators, or Intervarsity; those organizations can often steer inquirers to quick and at-hand resources).
This year my New Year’s Resolution is to celebrate New Year’s at a time more conducive to change and renewal—oh say, spring instead of the dark, dead of winter when I’m just coming off the sugar high of the holidays. Somehow I think we Gregorian calendar devotees have got this one all wrong.
Historically, New Year’s Day hasn’t always fallen on January first because our calendar hasn’t been a consistent entity. Factor in a few mythological gods, Roman emperors, and a pope or two. Add a dash of Protestant Reformation and you’ll find that in the past, the New Year occurred anywhere from January 1 to March 25. (Surprisingly, it wasn’t until 1752 that England and the American colonies began celebrating New Year’s on January 1st.) That’s nothing to say of the multiple cultures that celebrate it in recognition of their own calendars. And if you really want your head to spin, don’t forget all our dear southern hemisphere friends who experience the seasons opposite to us and whose Christmas and New Year’s celebrations include BBQs on the beach.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, in my experience, making resolutions on January 1 is a bad idea.
Because there’s nothing particularly organic about celebrating the New Year this way. For most of us, it’s simply a function of the calendar and happens primarily because we’ve reached the end of the month and need to turn the page (or in my case, glue magnets on the back of my 2012 office-sized calendar from Target and stick it to the side of the refrigerator.) Think about it—there is no seasonal change or religious celebration that would motivate us to make resolutions; it’s simply a cultural obligation. Or, in my experience, the result of the guilt from eating too much, exercising too little and overspending in the last six weeks since Thanksgiving.
Disciple-making involves personal attention and guidance from one maturing Christian to another “younger” believer in the faith. It’s essentially spiritual parenting — intentionally and relationally investing oneself in the spiritual growth and maturity of a few disciples — part of which is training those disciples to then disciple others who disciple others.
Read Part 1.
What can Baby Boomer church leaders do to develop growing disciples from the Millennial generation?
1. Motivate and train older people to build growing relationships with younger people in your church.
Godly older people can be a powerful positive influence, if they don’t become isolated, bitter and alone. This is why church leaders must make ministry to senior citizens a top priority, and not just to provide aging generations fellowship with other old people. An effective senior citizens program must be much more than that. Left alone, seniors are likely to feel put out to pasture, as if their days of effectiveness for ministry are long gone. They need to be motivated and trained to spend their retirement years being proactive about building positive relationships with the next generation. Emerging generations need to hear their stories and learn the lessons of living for Christ over the long haul. In fact, I encourage church leaders all over the country to recruit older people to be youth workers. Yes, their days of playing tackle football are long gone, but one never gets too old to build relationships. The generation gap is perhaps best bridged by older people taking the initiative to develop growing, encouraging relationships with young people.
What common feature do you find in these excerpts from Acts?
“And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7)
“But the word of God grew and multiplied.” (Acts 12:24)
“And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 19:10)
“So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19:20)
These verses highlight a noteworthy phenomenon that Luke recorded about the first century church. Like the ripples from a pebble tossed into a pond, the influence of the Word of God moved out into the world. Luke traces this noteworthy expansion from Jerusalem to as far west as Rome.