May I challenge you?

This is in no way meant to be a guilt trip or sound heartless, nor is it something said because numbers are low or offerings are poor because neither are the problem here. But as pastors we often observe how people feel obligated or compelled to tell us why they miss church or meetings as if we are The Judge in the matter. It seems that some believe that by telling us reasons why they miss it in some way appeases their sense of regret and they've been excused as if they missed school. But we're not God. We do not judge but we as shepherds are heartbroken at times to see what people miss in God's Plan by making excuses to be MIA. We as pastors are not offended when people come 2 times a month because our joy and peace are in Christ alone. What do people miss? Answers. Peace. Wisdom for this weeks' problems and pain.They miss the encouragement by a group of people that are so excited to see them. They miss everything that they need. God waits to be gracious to you in the Body of Christ. There are things God will tell you in private without the Church but there are things He will only tell you in Church through His Body on earth. He has answers for you! Stop being a victim of your circumstances, stop living in what people have done to you in the past, stop complaining about your job, marriage, & personal situations. Stop being familiar with God, stop staying away because of people - draw near to Him, God is bigger than people - His Plan is bigger than your failures and unbelief. Expect great things from God for your life & come to be a part of the greatest and hottest thing happening on planet earth today - CHURCH!

Closing the Gap between You & the Millennialists, Gen Y & Gen Z

With every new generation the cycle seems to repeat itself. The gap between the older generation widens with the younger generation. It’s almost as there is a language barrier that forms. Historically it seems these generational characteristics cycle, repeating themselves almost every 100 years. In every generation we can see characteristics of earlier generations - but with different emphasis'. My parents' generation "Baby Boomers" (the loyalists and hard nosed Cold War-ists) and my generation "Generation X" were somewhat idealists - we grew up learning definitions to words, principles, loyalties, rules, & absolutes. Because we were expected to adopt responsibility at a young age (had my first job at 14 was on my own by 18) we learned how to interpret our ideals from our parents into practicality because of dire need to - we were thrust into an understanding via that great crucible coined "sink or swim”  

Here is a short outline of what is considered by many as the Gens:
"Builders": 1920-1945 The Great Depression and World War II produced a generation with a strong work ethic, financial conservatism and respect for authority.
Baby Boomers: 1946-1964 - Born in an era of financial prosperity, they are vocal on social issues and liberal in outlook.
Generation X: 1965-1979 - Cynical about authority and open to new forms of spirituality, but insecure about their financial future.
Generation Y: 1980-1994 - Labelled as flighty and transient, they are known as the “me now” generation.
Generation Z: 1995-2009 - Tech-savvy, creative, confident and with a strong work ethic – the result of more mature parents and the economic downturn. 

But Millennialists or Generation Y (born 1980-1994 - the "Pepsi Generation") grew up in an era where the internet came alive and a  budding social media craze and grew. Facebook created a "Me now” society that is very self aware and self centered. They are not idealists like us and our parents - so black is not black and white is not white to them. Rather many of them balk at absolutes, principles, clear definitions and God-lingo. They will poke at and push a little against ideals and absolutes to see if they stand - and when they do Baby Boomers & Gen X will be shocked and get a somewhat insecure - "what do you mean? you can't question that - that's just the way it is." - but that's exactly why they do that - they need to know how strong it is. They are all about practicality - not the abstract of ideals but "what does this mean to me practically today now? - I can't get a job or get over this addiction! What does grace mean to me in a day to day application, not just a theological definition”. They are having kids and living in many cases unmarried with a set of values that are more situational ethics rather than principles, that is where we see them hungry for practical principles for living. 

We Baby Boomers and Gen X are calling them Millennialists (because that's what we do - we define things - they chuckle when we call them Millennialists because they don't see themselves that way. As a matter a fact - hey don't really look at other gens)

What I see the Millennialists and later gens need is a very practical, honest, authentic, down-to-earth Gospel message that is Truth oriented and not idealistic or exclusive or judging but inclusive - real love from God that is demonstrated with straight words. The more curious intellectual Millennialists have dived into apologetics because they are seeking to define their culture for who they are in contrast to idealistic stereotyping they could be labeled with. Don't get them wrong though, they are not wanting compromise or anti-authority - as we would interpret it because they question - they want real truth, love and relationship.  The last thing they want is Gen X - (their parents) to try to be like them - they are looking for value. 

When we've had Millennialists come to our church here in Philly they are not so impressed by programs or vocab but by straight truth, honest talk, and genuine care. 

Case and point - the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus walks 24 miles to her - she did not walk to him or follow Jesus due to a miracle he performed. The conversation began with it being all about her. Once she understood that not only was it all about her but that Jesus knew her and her life without judging and condemning. She had real dialogue about real things with Jesus. Not religious ideals. He won her by his one on one authentic dialogue that was based in love and value for her soul. It was then she asked about who He was and then came the revelation to her that religion and ideals could not break through. She walked away amazed at the discovery of the “Gift of Eternal Life” and it transformed her life. 

The Millennialists, Gen Y are now in their 20’s and early 30’s as another generation is growing up, Generation Z who are in their teens and graduating from High School. They are very adept in technology, and information gatherers. 

There is yet another new generation upon us today. Babies born in the 15 years from 2010 will be known as "Generation Alpha". And they’re set to be the largest generation yet, as we experience a birthrate spike larger than the post-WWII baby boom. According to social researcher Mark McCrindle, the name was selected because, just as in science, once the Latin alphabet was exhausted they moved on to Greek letters. “This generation is likely to be the most formally educated in history. They will begin schooling earlier and study for longer.” Brought up in an era of information overload, they are expected to be even more tech-savvy and materialistic than their predecessors, Gen Z

The biggest mistake that Gen X and the Baby Boomers could make today is to underestimate their importance in the lives of Gen Y - the Millennialists, as well as the newer generation. The older generation has much that Gen Y needs - but Gen Y needs it in their language. Like Jesus did, he broke it down into practicality and real loving talk with inclusivity. Remember, God’s Love is trans-generational, trans-cultural and it is transformational. - Christian

It’s not about us...



Romans 8.28: "We are assured and know that [ God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose"

We live in an environment and in a system of social understanding that is bent on “creature comfort” and “well-being”, where to suffer as a victim in anyway is a crime warranting the highest utilization of the current legal system. This philosophy has penetrated the Church today in many different forms such as the “Blessing Movement”, "It's All About You" and “Certain Healing”. 

As Christians we need to guard ourselves from this trend of entitlement thinking as it is a form of deception. God's Eternal Purpose in our lives is not to make us happy or blessed or to even answer all our prayers as we would want; but His Purpose is that Christ would be formed in us - that we would be Christ-like. This of course creates the potential for seemingly unpleasant experiences, personal offenses and loss of opportunity. 

We as finite creatures fail to see beyond our noses, beyond what we can touch, farther than what feels nice or what we can understand. Because of our human limitations we cannot even understand what is the most beneficial for us - we cannot even define what would make us the happiest. People explain well-being and happiness by what they feel inside and what would make them sense acceptance and experience elevation socially, politically or economically.

Why? Why would God want us only to be like His Son? 

We were made for the eternal, the deathless, the enduring, the forever. You can hear it in our love songs on the radio, in films and on the internet. We were made to live beyond our limitations, our fears and our misguided illusions of pleasure - anything less of a life would eventually lead to restless discontentment and wander-lust. 

There is only one thing that lasts beyond death and decay and that is Jesus Christ. This world and all its pleasure, fashion, education and fame will pass and we like our ancestors will meet our certain end at death. 

To allow the Bible to chose for us - to allow our lives to come under the Holy Spirit's leading and to give up the steering wheel to God's Plan; is to start down the path of true happiness, true blessedness and true love. Because only God knows what is best in His Plan for us. This is a scary thought to lose control but here is the way of true freedom. 

We cannot interpret the quality of our lives by what we are experiencing today whether good or bad. We cannot say this way is better or I do not want this in my life - because we are so blinded by our own senses to what is really best for us.

Suffering in our lives is mostly misunderstood as a threat when it is truly the threshold to greater blessing and purer joy than we could have discovered ourselves.

I look at my life and I cannot say that I could have chosen a better way - I see the blessings around me, the people I love in my life and the adventure I live and know that I could not have brought this to pass even if I had tried! 

We have to walk by faith trusting God’s Way is best not living in ignorance to the reason for certain events in our lives. Those things He allows to impact us has a Higher Purpose - that “All things work together for good for them that love God and that are called according to His Purpose” - “to be transformed into the likeness of His Son” so that we can experience the best He has for us.

It's not about us - but how we may lay our life down as Jesus did in His Father's Will...

200 Words on Leadership Growth

Each one of us is a leader in some way or another. We influence people most of the time unknowingly either in a good or bad way by our decisions.
> The question of growth as a leader is often overlooked by people because of laziness and passivity. 2 Tim 4.5
> The question is not how to grow my church or expand my influence, but how to grow personally as a leader. Ministry growth follows naturally. Ex 33.11

Growth Process:
1. Honesty and transparency: You're either walking with God and there's power & anointing in your life or you are; not thus you're plagued with weakness. Ps 45.7
2. Growth in your personal relationship in the Word of God and grace convictions. How's your relationship with your Bible and reading? 1 Tim 4.13
3. Personally being a part of a small team where your tools are being sharpened as well as yourself challenged. 1 Thes 5.11
4. Selflessly develop leaders around you into their calling. Help leaders above you, beside you and below you grow in all they are to be in their Calling. Acts 14.32 & 20.17
5. Others followed Christ because He was moving in God's Plan. People will follow you as you follow Him. 1 Cor 11.1

> When you stop growing, those that are around you stop growing and the laws of deterioration begin. Jn 21.3