Tuesday, March 17, 2009

connecting through communication

March 17, 2009
During the summer of 2008, in the absence of a Minister of Children/Youth, I attempted to assist with the youth of our church. It had been twenty years since I had worked closely with children and young people. This brief journey into youth ministry was a good experience because it showed me how out of touch I am. A case and point is the night we went bowling.

Listen to the conversation that ensued after a young man nearly rolled a strike: He said, “That was close.” I responded, “Close doesn’t count in anything but horse shoes and hand grenades.” He replied, “What are hand grenades?”I suppose if I had said horse shoes and hand propelled explosive devices he may have understood.

This illustrates a problem that is prevalent in our churches today. We are failing to connect with our young people. As a result, they are dropping out at a rapid pace. If we are going to correct this problem, we must learn how to communicate the truth of the gospel in ways that they can comprehend. The first step is to understand what it means to communicate. There are many components to communication but there are three things that are essential. One, we must learn to speak boldly and clearly. Two, we must realize that listening is as important as speaking, if genuine communication is to take place. Third, we must understand that it doesn’t matter what we say, if we have not said it in way that people can understand.

The Apostle Paul understood the importance of these things. In Acts 17:22, 23 he stood in the midst of the scholars in Athens and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you” (NASB).

Notice that he listens to see where they were in their thinking, took an object that they understood, and used it to explain the truth of who God is. If we are going to reconnect with the youth in churches across our land, we must be willing to take the time to listen to discover their needs; we must meet them where they are and begin with something with which they can identify; and we must share the message in ways that they can understand. If we who are older do not understand or are not willing to do this, we will continue to bemoan the direction the youth of the land are headed but we will do little to redirect their path.

We could learn from our missionaries in distant lands. In areas where little or nothing is known about the God of the Bible, they use stories with which the natives can relate in order to get across the message of God’s salvation. They do not dilute the message but they say it in ways that the people can understand. While it is important to take the message of Christ to the world, it is equally essential that we take it to the youth of our own society. They desperately need to hear the story of God’s love for them and the hope found in a life that is lived for Him. They need to hear in the language of their day in way that they can understand. Will you be the one get things started in your family or neighborhood?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 12, 2009

The fact that I am technologically challenged has been well documented among my friends. This is my first attempt at blogging. I am not sure what it is but here it is. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

As a part of my daily ritual I browse several news outlet web pages. The last couple of days, two things have caught my attention. First, a recent study has revealed that more and more people are claiming they do not have any religious affiliation. For those that do, less designate Christian as their religion of choice. Second, another study has revealed that every human being has at least three “god spots” on their brain. A “god spot” is a part of the brain linked to religious beliefs and thoughts.

These two findings seem to contradict one another. They raise the question, “If our minds are geared for religious thought, why are more and more people claiming to have none?” Those in the church tend to blame this decrease on various societal problems. We place the blame at the feet of Hollywood, media coverage, public education, etc. While all of these things are contributing factors, we would do well to look closer home and ask ourselves what part we play in the decline.

The first paragraph of the reflection, “Limitations or Possibilities”, found in my book, 101 Reflections, may have the key to our responsibility for what appears to be a losing battle.

During Sunday school, a little girl was naming the books of the Old Testament. When she came to the prophets, she named Isaiah, Jeremiah, Limitations, Ezekiel and Daniel. Of course, she meant Lamentations, but she may not have been as wrong as she sounded. While it may not be recorded in the Bible, a “Book of Limitations” is firmly entrenched in the thinking of some people. It may not be in writing but it is demonstrated everyday in their actions. This book limits the person of God by reducing God down to the friend next door.

The problem with the “Book of Limitations” is it destroys the ability for people to envision big things. It makes them content to rely on what they can do, rather on what God can do. If the church in America is to rise to the occasion and overcome the obstacles to reaching the people of our great land, it must throw away the “Book of Limitations” and once again expect God to do great things.

We must once again embrace the God of Jeremiah: “Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jeremiah 32:17 NASB). We must believe in God as Paul did: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Ephesians 3:20 NASB). When we accept our inabilities, God will replace them with His possibilities and we will see Him do marvelous things in our midst.

The purpose of Entrusted Ministries is to assist local churches of all sizes to put away the “Book of Limitations” that hinder them from being all that God wishes them to be and to live in God’s Word, opening a world filled with possibilities.

Until next time, may God place ideas in your mind that only He can bring to pass.

In Christian Love,

Dennis Lynn

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