Sustainable Faith II

December 8, 2010

What makes the difference between a teenager staying connected to the church or straying from it? A previous article here shares several key observations by David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group on the topic. His organization has been researching what makes for sustainable faith and while the organization is still in the midst of the study, he did share several key observations at the LOGOS Live Conference in San Antonio, Texas in October. This article continues the discussion.

What about those of the “next generation” who do leave the church?  Do they share any common characteristics?  And if so, does that give church leaders clues as to how we can keep our young people engaged and connected to the faith?

David described three types of young people who leave…Prodigals, Nomads, and Exiles.

Prodigals: These are the ones who have walked away from their faith. They’ve made an intentional break.  Presumably they’ve had a negative experience with the church or with Christians.  They’re feeling angry or annoyed with Christians in general now.

Nomads: These are the spiritual wanderers who have gradually disengaged.  Church is just not as important to them as it used to be.  They don’t feel that they “fit in” to church anymore and they don’t see that church matters.  This is the most common group who leave the church.

Exiles: These are the young people who now find themselves in a culture or environment that is very different than what their “growing up in” church understands or accepts. Because of their occupation or where they live or how they live, they have a need to navigate new territory and don’t see the church as being helpful or supportive.

I’m wondering if many of our nomads started as exiles as they entered college.  Unless they were very intentional in connecting with a Christian community it would be all too easy to move deeper and deeper into a place that separates them from what they experienced in their home-church environment—no matter how beloved at the time. And then that separation just becomes the norm and there’s little recognition of the importance of a church community or for practicing their faith.

What do you do to maintain the connection with the post-high school (and particularly college attending) youth from your church?  Is it important to keep them connected not only to their home church leaders but also to their home church peers?

What are some ideas to reconnect with them on a regular basis and when they come home for their natural seasonal breaks? Do you plan mission trips or on-line Bible studies?  Fellowship gatherings?  Please share your ideas and thoughts.


Teenagers and the Church

May 5, 2010
Confirmation class

Confirmation class by Raymond Brown

It is that time of year.  Summer is just around the corner.  Colleges and High Schools are in the midst of graduation ceremonies and celebrations with all of their “pomp and circumstance”.  It is also the time of year when many churches confirm their newest, youngest members into full membership of Christ’s church.  Late last year, I heard a speaker who asked, “What do you do to make sure that confirmation is not interpreted as graduation in your church?”

Those words have stuck with me for months and I think are worth wrestling with for all of us.  He went on to talk about how we have a processional often times with them in robes, give them a certificate, make note of their achievement,  and dissolve their class (small group).  Why wouldn’t they think they have no graduated from learning in the church?

In the church I attend, twenty-two wonderful young teens were just confirmed.  I have also noticed that Facebook, Twitter and Flickr are filled with church announcements of their newly confirmed young members.  So all of that leads me to ask some questions that I believe we need to wrestle with in our churches regarding those who have just been confirmed.

1. How does your church keep these young people relationally connected with the same intensity they had during their confirmation class?

2. What processes are in place to provide leadership roles for these new young members?

3. How are they intentionally mentored into these roles of leadership?

4. How does your church purposefully offer them ways to answer God’s call on their lives, give of themselves, share their gifts and build up the body of Christ?

A Daughter’s Poem- God’s Call

September 17, 2009

OnlookerThis is a poem that my daughter wrote after her devotions a few days ago.  When I saw it I asked her if I could share it with the world.  The LOGOS Ministry has always focused on discerning God’s call.  I am sure it is no accident that a lifetime LOGOS kid would experience that as well.

A Voice, a Call, that Reigns Most of All-by Kiersten

Do you hear it?

It’s a whisper and a clamor.

It’s a voice filled with power speaking upon the hour.

Do you hear it?

A tender voice calling you by name.  A voice that can send gentle chills down your spine.

It say’s you are mine.

Do you hear it?

In your heart it resonates, “Be still and know”

Only some may hear it.  Only some may recognize it.

It’s not just a few words, but a life calling, a way of life.

It’s not an ordinary conversation.

But the voice that in the beginning spoke the foundation.

Do you hear it?

Shhh, listen.  It’s Him. The God of the Universe asking you to listen eagerly to His love.

I can hear it. Can you?

4 Things Youth Want in Youth Ministry

September 11, 2009

Smiling teenagerSo often we think we have to make youth ministry so spectacular that they won’t be drawn away by the distractions of the world around us.  However, youth and many of those who study the culture of youth tell us that is just not true.  So why do we continue to think that bigger is better and spectacular is special?

So, here are 4 things that are key for youth today.

1. Focus on Relationships- studies from secular to faith based tell us that small groups of invested relationships are better for learning, involvement, development and growth than large “you all come” gatherings.

2. Focus on Involvement- these relationships should create a sense of belonging to the larger body of the church.  Be intentional about creating  inter-generational relationships that involve the youth in relationships, leadership and the life of the body of Christ.

3. Focus on Service- everyone wants their life to count for something and to make a difference.  Young people today especially desire to be able to participate in causes that make a difference.  Use this time of service to both support the cause and build the inter-generational relationships.

4. Focus on Faith- young people are not coming to church to be entertained.  They want answers to tough questions.  They want to know whether there is a bigger purpose in life.  They are seeking questions about their faith that can be best addressed through the comfort of deep, honest, intimate relationships by mature adults with experience. Remember they are all at different stages.  Don’t try to reach them all with the same message and method.

All of this is to say, youth ministry is a serious and complex ministry that takes a lot of planning, dedication and intention.

Getting Kids Involved Matters

August 20, 2009

kids-involvedI was at the ONE conference for Youth and Children’s Ministry Leaders last week.  One of the prerequisites for attending was your Senior Pastor had to attend.  I went with my church and my Senior Pastor.  To set the framework, Perry Noble opened with a keynote address.  Perry spoke strongly on these seven key issues about Youth and Children’s Ministry.

  1. Youth and Children’s Ministry has more potential than any other ministry in the church. (Most people make a decision for Christ before they are 18 so every dime spent on them is money spent on mission).
  2. Healthy Youth and Children’s Ministry must be supported by the Senior Pastor with time and money. (Youth and children’s ministry should be one of the best resourced areas of the church)
  3. Senior Pastor needs to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  (Do you want to try to control the movement of God in young people or unleash it?)
  4. Age Appropriate Environment matters.  It should be inviting, comfortable and fun.  (if it is not fun then that means it is the opposite, which is boring)
  5. Keep it simple- Have a clear and contagious vision
  6. Tension and conflict between ministries must always be addressed. (unresolved tension is sinful)
  7. CALL (his words not mine) the right people to the right places in youth and children’s ministry NOT according to their wants and desires but according to gifts needed and their passion to serve.

We need to work together to help churches put a priority on children and youth in the church.  In the Summer 2009 edition of Leadership Journal, Kara Powell from Fuller Theological Seminary says, “At this point in our research, we’ve found that one thing that really makes a difference is getting kids actively involved in the life of the church before they graduate.”

The key is let’s invest- time, money, relationships, the church- in the life of children and youth so they might grow up to be life-long disciples of Jesus Christ.

LOGOS Started through Webinar Training

March 17, 2009

Online LearningAt a prayer meeting last week one of our fathers was bursting with joy and pride. His daughter, an eight year old who had been attending our church for four years, came home from our first night of LOGOS so excited that she wanted her parents to buy her a Bible so that she can learn more about God. That is our hope and dream for the ministry of LOGOS and on our first night, March 4th we saw many kids from our church and neighborhood experience a deeper, more vibrant and fun time with Jesus and our church family. We are a small church of about 150 members at Christ Presbyterian Church in Lakewood, California. We had twenty one kids show up for the first night and they are excited to come back and learn more about God, have fun and spend time with their friends!

Our team had been meeting and praying for months to launch this ministry. Each week we saw the Lord lead us to a new idea and a new volunteer. Each time we gathered we sensed God’s leading and presence and the people we approached were filled with joy at the thought of God using them to shape the lives of our youngsters.

We decided to have a prize for the end of our first session of five weeks. The kids get points for memorizing scripture, bringing their Bible, bringing friends and for participating in the theme of the night. The top three point winners will get a night out with our LOGOS coordinators.We thought bowling would be a good motivation and the kids are excited to participate. We used bowling themes for our tables for the meal portion and have made the dinner very fun and energetic. Our leaders have a deep desire to show the kids the love of Christ. We as a church Praise the Lord for this ministry and are looking forward to what God is going to do in the coming weeks, months and years!

This blog article was written by Michelle Conan, Coordinator of LOGOS for Christ Presbyterian Church, Lakewood, CA where there are 24 students from kindergarten through grade twelve in LOGOS after their FIRST NIGHT! Christ Presbyterian trained their volunteers through the LOGOS webinars on line.

LOGOS Conference-A Student’s Perspective

February 17, 2009

Here is a college essay that a student wrote about her Experience at LOGOS Summer Youth Conference.  It is an incredible testimony of the experience.  In her words, ” The Conference changed my life in so many different ways. I thank God for LOGOS!”   Read on and find out about one’s persons connection with God.

Estes Park, Colorado is a sight to be seen. The drive from Indiana is certainly a long one, but once you get out there, the sight alone is worth it. The mountains make you feel like you are just an ant on an anthill, minute compared to your surroundings. The environment there is unlike anything I had experienced in Indiana. The sights and sounds of Colorado are not better than those of Indiana; they are just different. There are endless possibilities to learn, explore, and grow, in both places. I had no clue at that time as to how the experience in Estes Park would alter my outlook on life.

During the summers of 2006 and 2007 I traveled with my church youth group (Logos) to Estes Park for The LOGOS Ministry Youth Conference. Our church youth met with other church youth from around the nation to spend a week with each other at the YMCA Camp. The purpose of the time spent there was to strengthen our bond with God.

I had no clue what to expect. Upon arriving, I realized that it was nothing like I had imagined. I thought it was going to be just another place to meet new people, play games and have a good time. It was that, plus more. It was a beautiful place, but what made it even more beautiful was the fact that people treated each other like they knew them; there were no strangers.

The week went so quickly it felt like 2 days. That was probably because our week was so jammed packed with activities. Activities the whole camp participated in included Choir, Bible Study, Energizers, and Recreation. We also took outings with our own church group up into the mountains or into town.

While I was up there I had so many different feelings. Everyone there treated me like I was a child of God. I felt unified as one. There was no negativity. I felt like I had known these people my whole life. The emotions and feelings that I had were just unexplainable, but left me with a deeper connection to God.

The last night on the mountain we had a candlelight service. It was the most awe-inspiring candlelight service I had ever experienced. It wrapped the week up, summarizing everything that we had learned and experienced into one night. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had experienced so many new and uncommon emotions that week. I did not want to think about the end of my time spent there. I did not want to go home and leave this perfect place.

My second summer came up fast, and I could not wait to go back to that Utopia. The day finally came to go back to Estes Park with the benefits of seeing all of my old friends and that amazing view. When my church group arrived at Estes Park I felt like I had never left; I was home. The emotions welled up inside, and reminded me of last summer.

The second week ended up being even better than the first week spent there. I knew what to expect and what to do. Everything was basically the same, but yet it ended up somewhat different: new people, experiences, sights and sensations.

While I was in Estes Park, the feeling I had was different from any other feeling I have ever had before. I felt free but safe: surrounded by love, friends, family, and God all at once. As I climbed up the mountain I became closer to God. The bond that I had with him was magnified. On my journey down the mountain I realized that I had grown as a person and my life was forever changed. I had always been taught that everyone was a child of God. This was the first time I had seen it demonstrated in my life by others in such a big way. I will no longer perceive life in the same light.