A Wasted Life? The Short Life of William Borden

"No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets." - notation in William Borden's Bible

"Do not put out the Spirit's fire." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:19

Quotations taken from Borden of Yale, by Mrs. Howard Taylor, Moody Press, Chicago

In 1904 William Borden graduated from a Chicago high school. As heir to the Borden family fortune, he was already wealthy. For his high school graduation present, his parents gave 16-year-old Borden a trip around the world. As the young man traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world's hurting people. Finally, Bill Borden wrote home about his "desire to be a missionary."

One friend expressed disbelief that Bill was "throwing himself away as a missionary."
In response, Borden wrote two words in the back of his Bible: "No reserves."

Even though young Borden was wealthy, he arrived on the campus of Yale University in 1905 trying to look like just one more freshman. Very quickly, however, Borden's classmates noticed something unusual about him and it wasn't that he had lots of money. One of them wrote: "He came to college far ahead, spiritually, of any of us. He had already given his heart in full surrender to Christ and had really done it. We who were his classmates learned to lean on him and find in him a strength that was solid as a rock, just because of this settled purpose and consecration."

During his college years, Bill Borden made an entry in his personal journal that defined what his classmates were seeing in him. That entry said simply: "Say 'no' to self and 'yes' to Jesus every time."

Borden's first disappointment at Yale came when the university president spoke in a convocation about the students' need of "having a fixed purpose." After that speech, Borden wrote: "He neglected to say what our purpose should be, and where we should get the ability to persevere and the strength to resist temptations." Surveying the Yale faculty and much of the student body, Borden lamented what he saw as the end result of an empty, humanistic philosophy: moral weakness and sin-ruined lives.

During his first semester at Yale, Borden started something that would transform campus life. One of his friends described how it began: "It was well on in the first term when Bill and I began to pray together in the morning before breakfast. I cannot say positively whose suggestion it was, but I feel sure it must have originated with Bill. We had been meeting only a short time when a third student joined us and soon after a fourth. The time was spent in prayer after a brief reading of Scripture. Bill's handling of Scripture was helpful. . . . He would read to us from the Bible, show us something that God had promised and then proceed to claim the promise with assurance."

Borden's small morning prayer group gave birth to a movement that soon spread across the campus. By the end of his first year, 150 freshman were meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer. By the time Bill Borden was a senior, one thousand of Yale's 1,300 students were meeting in such groups.
Borden made it his habit to seek out the most "incorrigible" students and try to bring them to salvation. "In his sophomore year we organized Bible study groups and divided up the class of 300 or more, each man interested taking a certain number, so that all might, if possible, be reached. The names were gone over one by one, and the question asked, 'Who will take this person?' When it came to someone thought to be a hard proposition, there would be an ominous pause. Nobody wanted the responsibility. Then Bill's voice would be heard, 'Put him down to me.'"

Borden's outreach ministry was not confined to the Yale campus. He cared about widows and orphans and the disabled. He rescued drunks from the streets of New Haven. To try to rehabilitate them, he founded the Yale Hope Mission. One of Bill Borden's friends wrote that he "might often be found in the lower parts of the city at night, on the street, in a cheap lodging house or some restaurant to which he had taken a poor hungry fellow to feed him, seeking to lead men to Christ."

Borden's missionary call narrowed to the Muslim Kansu people in China. Once he fixed his eyes on that goal, Borden never wavered. He also challenged his classmates to consider missionary service. One of them said of him: "He certainly was one of the strongest characters I have ever known, and he put backbone into the rest of us at college. There was real iron in him, and I always felt he was of the stuff martyrs were made of, and heroic missionaries of more modern times."

Although he was a millionaire, Bill seemed to "realize always that he must be about his Father's business, and not wasting time in the pursuit of amusement." Although Borden refused to join a fraternity, "he did more with his classmates in his senior year than ever before." He presided over the huge student missionary conference held at Yale and served as president of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa.

Upon graduation from Yale, Borden turned down some high-paying job offers. In his Bible, he wrote two more words: "No retreats."

William Borden went on to do graduate work at Princeton Seminary in New Jersey. When he finished his studies at Princeton, he sailed for China. Because he was hoping to work with Muslims, he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted spinal meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.

When the news of William Whiting Borden's death was cabled back to the U.S., the story was carried by nearly every American newspaper. "A wave of sorrow went round the world . . . Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice" wrote Mary Taylor in her introduction to his biography.

Was Borden's untimely death a waste? Not in God's perspective. Prior to his death, Borden had written two more words in his Bible. Underneath the words "No reserves" and "No retreats," he had written: "No regrets."

Portions based on material in Daily Bread, December 31, 1988, and The Yale Standard, Fall 1970 edition.

Chronology / Dates
November 1, 1887 -- birth
1904 -- High school graduation (Chicago)
1905 -- Round-the-world trip
1909 -- Yale graduation
December 17, 1912 -- Sails for Egypt on way to China
April 9, 1913 -- Death in Egypt

God's Heart for the Kurdish People...A Wide Open People Group.

As my turkey digested from a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with my family I stumbled across this stirring video by FAI of a group of missionaries ministering to Kurds in Erbil, Iraq. With every victory the Kurds have over ISIS their fledging state of Kurdistan grows. They are  a very open people group where many are getting saved - we need to take a trip there. Here is the video, be blessed, stirred, pray and let's go! 

 

The Pattern Among Fallen Pastors

I recently read this article by Garrett Kell and thought it worthy to repost here on my blog.

During my time in seminary I took a leadership course taught by the late, great Howard Hendricks. As we studied the life of David, Hendricks shared a study he conducted with a group of men in full-time ministry who had fallen into a morally disqualifying sin.
At the time, I had only been a Christian for a few years, but unfortunately the subject was all too relevant. During my early days I had witnessed several men whom I loved and respected fall into serious sinful compromise. At one point in those days, the falls came so frequently I felt as if I was on the spiritual beach of Normandy watching buddies’ lives get blown apart all around me.

Fallen Soldiers of Christ

The study examined 246 men in full-time ministry who experienced moral failure within a two-year period. As far as Hendricks could discern, these full-time clergy were born-again followers of Jesus. Though they shared a common salvation, these men also shared a common feat of devastation; they had all, within 24 months of each other, been involved in an adulterous relationship.
After interviewing each man, Hendricks compiled four common characteristics of their lives: 
  • None of the men was involved in any kind of real personal accountability. 
  • Each of the men had all but ceased having a daily time of personal prayer, Bible reading, and worship.
  • More than 80 percent of the men became sexually involved with the other woman after spending significant time with her, often in counseling situations.
  • Without exception, each of the 246 had been convinced that sort of fall “would never happen to me.”
As I reflect on this study, four lessons come to mind. These are applicable for pastors, plumbers, stay-at-home moms, and anyone else who seeks to follow Christ.
1. Sin thrives in isolation.
Satan lives in the darkness and longs to keep us there. Lies live best in the darkness. That’s why when God calls us to himself, he calls us into the church.
God has created the church to be many things, including a community of people who help each other fight sin and love him. He calls us into relationships where we speak truth to one another (Eph. 4:1525), confess sins to one another (James 5:16), and love each other enough to chase after each other if we stray (Matt. 18:10-20Gal. 6:1-2James 5:19-20).
Who knows you? I mean, who really knows you? Who not only has permission, but is currently acting upon that permission to ask you penetrating questions? Are you answering those questions honestly, or are you hiding details and painting over your sin to guard your image? Do not hide from God’s gracious aid of loving relationships.
2. If you flirt with sin, you will fall into sin.
Sin’s slope is slippery. The longer you walk along the edge of the abyss, the more likely that your foot will slip. The men in the study put themselves in dangerous situations again and again. They ignored the words of Solomon, who warned his sons to “keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house” (Prov. 5:8).
These men did not guard their hearts, or the hearts of the people they were supposed to be protecting. Instead, they became blinded by the deceitfulness of sin (Eph. 4:22Heb. 3:13) and were led into the ditch of destruction (Matt. 15:14).
What ways are you flirting with sin? What provisions are you making for the flesh with regard to lust (Rom. 13:14)? What guards have you stepped over? What details are you hiding? What e-mails are you deleting? What search histories are you erasing?
Sin is crouching at your door (Gen. 4:7), and the tempter is looking for an opportunity to pounce (1 Pet. 5:8). How are you making his aim easier?
Flee from sin, don’t flirt with it (Gen. 39:6-12Prov. 5-7, Rom. 6:12-132 Tim. 2:221 Pet. 2:11).
3. Pride blinds us to our weakness.
Many of us think this sort of serious sin would not happen to us, just as those fallen pastors thought. But 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns, “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Let us not forget that Samson, the strongest man in the Bible; Solomon, the wisest man in the Bible; and David, the man after God’s own heart, were all overcome by the temptations of sexual sin (Judg. 14-16; 1 Kings 11:1-82 Sam. 11-12Ps. 51). No one is above the temptation to sin in grievous ways. If you doubt, you are on your way to a great fall.
Beware! Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
4. Purity is cultivated by loving Jesus.
Somewhere along the line, each of the men in the study began to drift. Prayers became less passionate. The promises of God in his Word grew dusty. Love for Jesus became something spoken of in the past tense. The seduction of sin and enticement to sacrifice all to satisfy inner longings became too strong to resist.
But Christ is stronger. Hear these words of promise afresh:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:14–16)
There is no sweeter assurance of help than Christ Jesus the Lord. He stands ready at God’s right hand to supply the grace and mercy we need.
Do not allow your hearts to grow cold toward the Lord who loves you so. Draw near to him daily, moment by moment, in hopeful expectation that he is better than any fleeting pleasure that might entice your heart. Do not seek him only in days of desperation, but seek him daily. Walk with him. Rekindle passion. Plead with him to help you. He is able to do it, and he delights to do it: 
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)
Come Lord Jesus, come.

Church Building & Growth from the Inside Out

Just returned from an awesome Pastor's Retreat with about 110 other GGWO pastors. We were challenged, encouraged, built up, and inspired by new ideas and vision. Here are some notes on a session I did on Church Building and Strategies:

Building from the Inside Out

Church Growth vs. “Making all men see” - Numbers are God’s part - we can’t make a tree grow faster. It’s the inherent life within the seed - in the tree. The Gospel Seed is the The Life in the Body = the Word. 1 Pt 1.23 & Jn 6.63. Our Passion is not growth but Paul’s passion: "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ" - Eph 3.9. It’s the Word of Grace that caused growth in the first church and that made disciples - Acts 4.4. Is the Father’s desire to have a full house - Lk 14.23

“The stat that 80% of church plants that fail is bogus - The truth is that after 4 years 68% of church plants are alive and well - only 32% fail" (see Ed Stetzer‘s research on this). There is a revival of missions and church planting across the country and the world today.

Divine Creativity is Good - Jesus has the Key to the city where we minister = Function by principles and not patterns. Concepts & religious idealism kill - principles breathe creative life into programs and events.


Critical Internal Ingredients:
  1. Inner heart picture of what the church will be like in 2 years, in 5 years and beyond. 
  2. “Self Talk” - what is the content of what we are speaking in our heart as a pastor/planter? Eccl 5.2
  3. The team has to be led in vision and passion - 
    1. Daily schedule
    2. Word of God intensity
    3. “Team Talk” - what are we talking about on the team consistently? Complaining? Vision? 
  4. Pastor and team members personal discipline in the Word, prayer, and private life - personal growth as a leader. 
  5. Develop Timothy and men. “If we have one man we have the country”
  6. Be patient - Let people grow. We are not here to conform people to Christ’s image or a pattern of religious behavior - the Holy Spirit through the Word transforms people by the renewing of their minds. 
  7. Attack laziness - Col 4.17

7 Reasons Why Church Plants Fail - Generally church planters and church planting ministries all agree on these 7 reasons.
  1. Unqualified and or novice leaders
  2. Lack of understanding or respect of the local context
  3. Underfunded
  4. Rigid model
  5. Planting alone
  6. Resiliency in defeat - “Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face”  Mike Tyson
  7. Intangibles: Calling? Timing? Right Man? Sent? 

Church Growth Analysis: NG = VF x RR – BDL
Net Growth = Visitor Flow x Retention Rate minus Back-Door-Loss (Dr. Larry Sherman - Director of Church Planting - Great Lakes Conference ECC - 82 new churches this year)


Breaking Barriers: With two or three people, there is disciple-making. When you have 12, you have a unit of disciples. A group of 70 you have Body where you assess, train and at 70-100 like Jesus & the Moravians you send out.
  • Breaking the 100 barrier. Unless you are an extra-ordinary pastor / leader - the average pastor can only pastor 70-100 people affectively before he starts losing touch with some. Delegate. Trust. Listen. 
  • Breaking the 200 barrier. Disciple & raise up men. Many churches had to break down and hire a small staff to go beyond the 200 mark. 
  • Breaking the 500 & 1000 marks - The pastor takes on more of a preaching/teaching role only & with effective training and raising up men to lead teams, groups and departments. He focuses on his investment and discipleship of this handful of men that are leading. 

6 Team Positions That Must be Filled to Grow a Church plant startup: (this may be obvious but a common mistake is the planting pastor does it all himself with little to no delegation & trust)
1. Lead Pastor: You have to have a point leader - A builder of men. Jesus had disciples, Acts 20.4-5 Paul traveled with his men and you should mentor the team & others as well.
2. Worship Arts Director: Someone who can provide leadership and build teams at every level. Web, stage design, media and graphic design. 
3. Children’s Director: a MUST, a Youth Pastor can wait.
4. Connections/Assimilation Leader
Greeters, parking lots, cafe, etc. = connections, and follow-up from first-timer through them accepting Christ and becoming discipled is key in being baptized into the Body. Many times assimilation is shared with the Pastor and  the Assistant Pastor in this list or this is 2 separate roles.
5. Office Administration/Pastor Assistant
This is such a key role that again, your wife does NOT want to fill.
6. Prayer Warrior/Leader


#1 Problem all leaders struggle today is they are not encouraged. Not built up. Tell a man who he is and he’ll know what to do. Here are 12 reasons (among many) leaders lose their passion in their call and they stop growing - in return their ministry stops growing. Very often the people that a leader leads will not grow beyond the level the leader himself has grown - we need as leaders to be constantly challenged and constantly grow.
  1. Getting stuck in the mud of the details of the ministry & spinning wheels.
  2. Distraction of entertainment - movies, online entertainment, gaming, and excessive recreation
  3. Google searches replace turning of the pages of the Bible and books.
  4. Discouragement due to family pressures or marriage problems - find the right balance.
  5. Soulish relationships - relationships that cross the lines into the inappropriate
  6. Petty skirmishes - the tit-for-tat arguments because of insecurity
  7. Hidden idols - toleration for error that slips in and causes to stumble
  8. Personal sin. Sin steals joy, vision and concentration. Consecration produces concentration
  9. Pursuit of materialism - Succumbing to the temptation to possess and acquire.
  10. Knowledge replaces obedience - The stimulation of information replaces radical steps of faith
  11. Psychological thinking replaces Bible Conviction
  12. Departing from the basics of the vision & teaching to be more acceptable and less controversial.

Things that Have Brought new people for us in Philly/Hatboro. 

  1. Monthly events - Last month - Pig Roast - 200~ new visitors.
  2. Concerts and Raffle
  3. Bring a Friend Sunday - new visitors get a free gift bag
  4. Social Media - targeting groups of people with special interest / topics - Meetup.com & Craigslist
  5. Word of Mouth 
  6. “Walk-ins"
  7. Signs in front of the church
  8. Street evangelism & visitation 
  9. Sermon series & hitting hot topics people talk about on the street.
  10. “Surgical Outreaches” - Targeting community events and people hotspots with events such as coffee house outreach, etc.

Steps of Faith

Some of the greatest things that we posses today or the most exhilarating experiences we can remember, are things that we have or done because we took a step of faith when we didn’t see the whole picture. We just stepped out in obedience to the Spoken Word and the Jordan river parted.

The problem today with many of us is not that we haven’t heard from God, but that we have heard the Voice of God on the outside as well as in the inner man, and having heard we do not take that step of faith in the direction of "Him that calleth thee”.

Abraham toiled in the Ur of the Chaldees with an inner cry for something more, something supernatural, something God. Yet he did not know it that way. But when God spoke to Abraham to take steps of faith in his life and in his family - He did. That is when he ventured into the Plan of God and possessed all that God had for him to possess. 

Take steps of faith in the direction you hear the Voice of God. Do not explain away the Eternal Opportunity because of temporal circumstances. Like Peter who stepped out onto the water, yes there were the waves, the winds, and the chuckles of the other disciples; but which of the disciples can say “I walked on water”?

We don’t need to see the whole picture, to plan it all out in our heads before we take steps. God orders our steps and His Everlasting Arms are underneath us. Why not take that step of faith today and stop the procrastination?

Sanctification Left Undone...





As I'm sitting here in Istanbul waiting for my connecting flight to Bishkek it is impossible to miss observing the many here in this part of the world that hold fast to the submission to Islam. It dawns on me that Islam, as with any other sincere religion on this earth, has no power to Sanctify the soul and to rescue it from the perils of sin, guilt, and shame. Only the Precious Blood of Christ can be that effective cleansing and make right the erring heart that the sons of Ishmael seek.

Eurocon 2014 Mission March

What an incredible time we all had at a record breaking attended EuroCon 2014 in Budapest! It was a powerful time in the Word, fellowship and miracles. We were able to see 40+ Ukrainians attend by nothing short of a miracle with all that's happening in Ukraine now. Here is a video p. Maciek from Poland made of the Missions March. Enjoy!

P. Roman & Albina Grodz - Kyiv, Fall Newsletter

Today I received this inspiring newsletter from the Grodz's - some of my heroes of the faith!

Enjoy their Fall Newsletter as they walk by faith with a renewed church-plant in Kyiv, Ukraine! - p. Christian

Greetings  from Kyiv!

Planting a local church in Kyiv is an amazing process that we all (me, my wife Albina and our son Samuel) are experiencing. As a family we moved here in July this year. Since then God is working very deeply in our hearts. He is teaching us to trust Him in everything.  Primarily He is teaching us to trust Him for building the church. It’s His will and His great desire to see how His children are growing in the unity of the spirit and in praise.

Our church isn’t big. There are about 10 people. Twice a week we meet at our home for the church services.  On Mondays we have soulwinning and Bible lesson with discussion at the Pedagogical University.  On Saturdays we share the Gospel of Christ with people in the center of the city.

Recently Vitaliy Melnikov came back to church, he use to be a part of our church 15 years ago.  He shared great testimony of his life and how God very clearly told him to go back to the church and when he asked which one, God answered: you’ve got Greater Grace church.

Two weeks ago one man sent me sms: “Pastor, I got confused in life, please, help”.  When we met we had long conversation about Christ and Sergiy trusted his heart to Him. Sergiy lived and had his business in Warsaw, Poland. He believed he can do everything and fortune is following him. He helped other people and taught them how to live this life. One day his wife left him. Life started cracking. Drugs.  Deportation from Poland. He decided to start everything from the beginning in Ukraine. He found some job in Kyiv, substituted drugs with alcohol, found some woman, but  he wasn’t happy at all. He was thinking about suicide and remembered that someone gave him telephone number of some pastor. Praise God for His Faithfulness in the lives of broken people. Now Sergiy has new life, new family, new friends, new job. Please, continue to pray for him.

Every soul  is priceless to God. He will never despise a person. Church is a great provision from God for people. The place where we all are hidden, fed and warmed. The place we grow in the knowledge of the Father.

Thank you for your prayers and support!

With love,

P.Roman and team

Puerto Rico Mission Trip Getaway 2013


This week my wife and I went on a mission trip getaway to Puerto Rico where we met up with a team from Baltimore; p. Kevin Cooper, James Bryson, & Ian. There we visited p. David in Aguadilla, and his church. The Body there is a very joyous church with an outreach vision for their city. P. David met Greater Grace through p. Foster who led him to Christ while he was a missionary in Puerto Rico. While in Puerto Rico we did outreach in Mayaguez & other coastal towns. I was able to take a mountain bike trip up into the rain forest of El Yunque and do some evangelism for the people that lived up there. Precious people!


Check out the slideshow...

P.Scibelli in Philly for Love Philly Concert & Church

P42

We want to invite you to join us for a powerful weekend in Philly, April 28-29th with Pastor Steve Scibelli. Saturday afternoon we will do outreach with a bus load from Baltimore in Center City then at 7 pm we will have a concert and a message with a rap to follow. Sunday at 1.30pm we will have the privilege of having him speak at our service. Join us at the Holiday Inn Express at the corner of 4th & Arch St. in Historic Downtown Philly @ 400 Arch St. For more info call p.Chris at 267.328.4496.

In addition to being the Vice President of the GGWO Board of Elders, Pastor Scibelli is the Director of Missions for GGWO. In 1988, he led a 16-person team to Ghana that included his wife, Linda, and their two children. Today, the Greater Grace work in Africa includes more than 179 churches in 19 countries. He is a popular teacher on discipleship, evangelism, and church planting and has traveled more than a million miles in his worldwide ministry. It is not uncommon for him to be surrounded by scores of people after MBC&S classes and GGWO services. He can often be found doing rap sessions in the parking lot and late into the night. The Scibellis – the parents of one son and one daughter -- live in Baltimore, where he enjoys spending time with his granddaughter.

How Facebook and Social Media affects Church Attendance


Although I do not agree with his philosophy or theology - Here is an interesting article by Richard Beck on Social Media's affect on today's church attendance. The churches mentioned in the article are churches that do not most likely have fervent Body Life.

There has been a great deal of hand wringing in the Christian community about the onset of Web 2.0 relationality (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, blogs, MMOGs). The concern you often hear is that "virtual" relationships are no replacement for "authentic" relationships.

No doubt this is true. But I've done some research in this area and here's my general conclusion: Facebook friends tend to be our actual friends.

No doubt, the vast majority of the people in a friend list on Facebook are strangers, acquaintances, or old school friends you haven't seen in years. But no user of Facebook is confused enough to think that she is "in relationship" with any of these people. These are just the penumbra around the core of our Facebook interactions, connecting with people we actually know and are friends with.

In short, Facebook isn't replacing real world relationality. Rather, Facebook tends to reflect our social world. For example, in a soon to be published study some ACU colleagues and I used Facebook to predict student retention at our school (i.e., which freshmen return for their sophomore year). We found that on-campus Facebook activity was significantly correlated with measures of "real world" relationality. Further, on-campus Facebook activity also predicted who would come back for their sophomore year. For example, if you had a lot of Facebook Wall Posts you felt more socially connected and were more likely to come back to ACU for a second year. Which makes sense. Who would be posting on your Wall day to day? Sure, old friends might give you a shout out from time to time on your Wall. But for the most part Wall posts come from people who you'll actually see today. Or at least this week, month or year. The point is, you know these people. Talking with them via Facebook is authentic relationality. It's staying in touch, coordinating plans, offering up encouragement, saying a prayer, working out misunderstandings, and sharing a moment.

Over at my friend Mike's blog there was a recent discussion about why Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are leaving the church. His question was, why are they leaving? Most of the answers took aim at the church. Churches are too shallow, hypocritical, judgmental, or political. Many surveys have shown these attitudes to be widespread among Millennials. Consider the Barna research summarized in the book unChristian. Young Christians and non-Christians tend to feel that the church is "unChristian." Too antihomosexual. Too hypocritical. Too political. Too judgmental. That's how young people see "the church." And it's hard to blame them.

But my argument at Mike's blog was that the church has always been this way. Is the church of 2010 much different from the church of the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, or '90s? I don't think so. So, yes, the church is screwed up. Always has been. The church has been a depressing constant over the generations. So the change isn't with the church. The change is with the Millennials. If so, in what way and how has this change related to the church?

The most obvious change is in mobile and Web 2.0 connectivity. Generation X didn't have cell phones. Nor did they have Facebook or text messaging. And you can't tell me that Millennials see the church any differently than Generation X saw it. Look to the right at cell phone subscriptions plotted by decade. Most have Generation X as birth dates between 1961 to 1981. Which has Gen X as college students in the years 1979 to 1999. As you can see, most Gen X'ers didn't have cellphones. And based on the sociological evidence Gen X was much more cynical and anti-establishment when compared to the Millennials. So you can't tell me Gen X'ers didn't see the church as judgmental, hypocritical, or sold-out. They did.

So what happened? Why didn't Gen X leave the church while the Millennials are leaving in droves?

The difference between Generations X and Y isn't in their views of the church. It's about those cellphones. It's about relationships and connectivity. Most Gen X'ers didn't have cell phones, text messaging or Facebook. These things were creeping in during their college years but the explosive onset of mobile devices and social computing had yet to truly take off.

So why has mobile social computing affected church attendance? Well, if church has always been kind of lame and irritating why did people go in the first place? Easy, social relationships. Church has always been about social affiliation. You met your friends, discussed your week, talked football, shared information about good schools, talked local politics, got the scoop, and made social plans ("Let's get together for dinner this week!"). Even if you hated church you could feel lonely without it. Particularly with the loss of "third places" in America.

But Millennials are in a different social situation. They don't need physical locations for social affiliation. They can make dinner plans via text, cell phone call or Facebook. In short, the thing that kept young people going to church, despite their irritations, has been effectively replaced. You don't need to go to church to stay connected or in touch. You have an iPhone.

Sure, Millennials will report that the "reason" they are leaving the church is due to its perceived hypocrisy or shallowness. My argument is that while this might be the proximate cause the more distal cause is social computing. Already connected Millennials have the luxury to kick the church to the curb. This is the position of strength that other generations did not have. We fussed about the church but, at the end of the day, you went to stay connected. For us, church was Facebook!

The pushback here will be that all this Millennial social computing, all this Facebooking, isn't real, authentic relationship. I'd disagree with that assessment. It goes to the point I made earlier: Most of our Facebook interactions are with people we know, love, and are in daily contact with. Facebook isn't replacing "real" relationships with "virtual" relationships. It's simply connecting us to our real friends. And if you can do this without getting up early on Sunday morning why go to church? Particularly if the church is hypocritical and shallow? Why mess with it?

Why are Millennials leaving the church? It's simple. Mobile social computing has replaced the main draw of the traditional church: Social connection and affiliation.

David Brainerd's last journal entries - Missionary to the American Indians

Reading these last entries recently stirred me. This journal was used by God to inspire many modern day missionaries from the 1700's on till today.

Wednesday, Sept. 23. 1747
I finished my corrections of the little piece before mentioned, and felt uncommonly peaceful; it seemed as if I had now done all my work in this world, and stood ready for my call to a better. As long as I see any thing to be done for God, life is worth having: but oh, how vain and unworthy it is, to live for any lower end! ---- This day I indited a letter, I think, of  great importance, to the Reverend Mr. Byram in New Jersey. Oh that God would bless and succeed that letter, which was written for the benefit of his church! Oh that God would  purify the sons of Levi, that his glory may be advanced! ---- This night I endured a dreadful turn, wherein my life was expected scarce an hour or minute together. But blessed be God, I have enjoyed considerable sweetness in divine things this week, both by night and day.

His last entry: Friday, Oct. 2. 1747
My soul was this day, at turns, sweetly set on God: I longed to be with him, that I might behold his glory. I felt sweetly disposed to commit all to him, even my dearest friends, my dearest flock, my absent brother, and all my concerns for time and eternity. Oh that his kingdom might come in the world; that they might all love and glorify him, for what he is in himself; and that the blessed Redeemer might see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied! 'Oh come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Amen.'

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time - Eccl 3.11

What a beautiful day of joy, tears, fun and reunion, a reunion of many we haven't seen, in some cases, for 20 years! P. Roman & Albina, two wonderful servants of God, are now one and have begun their race together to "win Him".

The wedding was attended by at least 250 people on a sunny Ukrainian September Day at a Baptist Church which when we lived here, was closed by the communist government and used as a warehouse for educational literature. It was the one of the first baptist churches built in Ukraine where evangelical baptists began their ministry to Ukraine during the 1500's.

I preached on 2 Kings 3.16 - digging ditches of faith in our calling. Both of them have lived their life this way the last 20 years they've been saved.

Now they plan to move to Kyiv and minister there to an eager church that awaits their arrival. Please keep them in prayer and if you'd like to help them please contact us in the GGWO Missions Office.

Anointed for Sweet Exhaustion



If you cannot see the slides click here: http://bit.ly/ppCEwn

P. Vladimir Teplov and I sat in his Moscow apartment for a few minutes too exhausted to speak. We looked at each other and just smiled.

"How was the conference in Helsinki?"
"Oh" he said with his tired but purposeful Russian accent,
"It was a-mazing". Rubbing his eyes he struggled to utter a few choice quotes from p.Love. Then in the middle of his sentence he stopped, turned with sleepy eyes smiled again and said "let's pr-ray".

I had just arrived an hour ago to St. Petersburg by early morning (2am) plane from Tyumen, Siberia where sleep was what we did when we weren't preaching, praying or fellowshipping and eating pelmeni. P. Vladimir had just moments ago walked in the door from a sleepless night in a mini-bus from Helsinki to St.Pete followed by a long train ride to Moscow.

We prayed briefly then I got up with my bags and went out the door - I was off on a 28 hour trek back to Baltimore by plane, train, and metro. As I walked out onto the sidewalk he opened a window and shouted to me from the second floor;

"Hey pastor Chris!" looking up a him he just shook his head, laughed and closed the window.

We were beyond beat.

July 4-7 we met up with all the Russian pastors and many of the Russian believers in St. Petersburg and had a conference continuing the topic of Convention- "Anointed for Service"

By the next day I was two time zones away in Siberia at a missions conference with p. Pavel Gailans. Each night we had about 70 in attendance. Damir and Natavan from Baku came and blessed us with their joyful portion and Lezginka dances (see below the video). New team members have joined the team in Tyumen and God is adding new people to the church. It's a Siberian Spring there.

I think one of the highlights was sitting in the thick Siberian Woods with a boisterous happy group of young Russian eager men singing, eating pork chops, onions, cucumbers and dry bread with our hands talking about Luke 17.21.

Today is Monday July 11th, and as I write this blog entry I am hurling towards the Finnish border at 220 km/hr in a high speed Russian train. I am stirred in my heart with a fresh vision for Russia; Novosibirsk, Volvograd, Vladivastok, Tobolsk, Stavropol, and Kazan.

Let's burn for Him!

Here Damir and his wife Natavan dance the traditional Lezgi "Knife Dance" after a rap one night:


Here Arkhad and Damir do another Lezgi Dance for us: