youth

Pastor, Where's Your Timothy?

Photo credit: lightstock.com_pearl Mentoring is a hot topic these days. Access to information, even for repairs and DIY projects, is unprecedented through the world-wide web. A whole new industry emerged over the past decade—online entrepreneurship. It's spawned a new generation of experts.

A new wave of experts has rippled through the church, as well. New, trendy, cutting edge churches are launched every week, at least it seems so. Notice I said launched, not planted. But something is missing.

The need for mentoring is great in the church, but for more reasons than you might think.

Experience needed

The older generation in churches are a valuable part of the church. They provide stability and commitment, and are often the most consistent and generous givers. But many with gray hair have more to offer than consistent giving and commitment.

They have experience, and that experience is valuable and needed.

Older pastors and leaders can be valuable mentors for young leaders and potential leaders. They are a living resource for the church. And what do young leaders lack? Experience!

[bctt tweet="Young leaders lack experience and need mentors"]

Responsibility of the church

Discipleship is more than a buzzword, as is the idea of being missional. I've heard many pastors and leaders speak on equipping the church, but I don't see it happening enough.

Oh sure, Bible colleges, seminaries, and other ministry training options exist, even discipleship curriculum. But the church lacks well-equipped leaders ready to lead the church into the next decade or two.

Equipping does not take place through teaching or training programs. None of those existed for the early church.

[bctt tweet="Equipping leaders doesn't just take place through teaching or training programs"]

What did they have? Leaders who discipled in simple ways. Their goal was to personally transfer their own relationship and experience with Jesus to others (2 Timothy 2:1-2), as Jesus did with His followers.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:11-13 NIV)

Life example was a key element of discipleship and leadership development in the early church (1 Cor 11:1). They were on a mission, the Lord's mission (Matt 28:19-20).

New wine, new leaders

A healthy physical body requires new cells to replenish and promote continued health. In a healthy church, those new cells are young people. They are potential leaders.

I say potential because they need to be equipped and trained up, as Jesus did with His first followers, and as we see the apostle Paul did with Timothy and others (John 13:15; 2 Tim 1:13).

In a dialog with some religious leaders, Jesus said that new wine needed to be put into new wineskins. In that context, He was speaking of the New Covenant—a new way of relationship with God.

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the skins burst and the wine is spilled out and the skins are destroyed. Instead they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved. (Matt 9:17 NET)

Many of us want God to bring revival, a new outpouring and moving of God's Spirit. But are we ready for it? Not if we aren't training up Timothy-type leaders and releasing ministry to them.

[bctt tweet="Many of us want God to bring revival, but are we ready for it?"]

If you're a pastor or in a place of pastoral leadership, you need to ask yourself an honest question— Pastor, where's your Timothy?

What's a pastor to do?

  • Personally disciple people— those who have a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus and those who seek Him
  • Give people opportunities— those who are both faithful and ready to step out in faith
  • Provide further training— for those who show commitment and aptitude for leadership
  • Encourage and equip all the people— not by yourself, but through those raised up in leadership
  • Be an example of a servant-leader— Jesus' is our prime example, as in John 13:1-17
  • Find a Timothy—a son in the faith—to pass the responsibility of ministry on to them

This is a two-part post. Stay tuned for the follow-up on this one.

These links help provide some background for this article—

Aging Congregations

8 Implications– of aging boomer pastors & church staff

How to Add Years to Your LIfe

Photo credit: lightstock.com

The health and vitality business is a multi-billion dollar industry. Why? I guess we Americans are still looking for the fountain of youth.

Americans are living longer, and obsessed with looking younger, fit, and living healthy. We're not just a consumer culture, we've become an obsessive-compulsive culture.

Are we happier? Do we live more fulfilled lives? What do you think?

Scripture

“If you correct someone who makes fun of wisdom, you will be insulted. If you correct an evil person, you will get hurt. Do not correct those who make fun of wisdom, or they will hate you. [vss 7-8a]

But correct the wise, and they will love you. Teach the wise, and they will become even wiser; teach good people, and they will learn even more. [vss 8b-9]

“Wisdom begins with respect for the Lordand understanding begins with knowing the Holy One. If you live wisely, you will live a long time; wisdom will add years to your life. The wise person is rewarded by wisdom, but whoever makes fun of wisdom will suffer for it.” [vss 10-12]

(Proverbs 9:7-12 NCV) [Context– Proverbs 9]

Key phrase

understanding begins with knowing the Holy One

Digging Deeper...

  1. What are we told is not a good course of action? What do these actions lead to?
  2. What is a better pursuit than the first course of action? Do these things appear opposite to what a person might expect?
  3. What are we told is the key to gaining wisdom and understanding? What are the benefits of this pursuit?
  4. Is any of this advice hard to understand or surprising to you?

Make it personal...

What has been your experience in giving advice or counsel to others?

Why do you think those who already have wisdom tend to gain even more?

Do you pursue wisdom as something to know or pursue God to gain wisdom?

In what ways are you pursuing God in a personal way that benefits you with wisdom?

Reflection...

For all our attempts at clinging to life (most of us), it doesn't seem to be paying off. Demand for prescriptions of antidepressants and tranquilizers is at an all-time high. Not just that, but our children battle ADHD and obesity. Americans, in general, are not a bunch of "happy campers."

All our effort at getting and having more still leaves us with an empty feeling. Our obsession with social media and digital awareness doesn't take away our sense of loneliness and lostness. Why? We're so focused on ourselves, we've neglected the most valuable of relationships. The most important relationship of all—our personal relationship with God—can too often be given lip-service more than genuine attention.

God Speaks

Times_Times-Changing_collage I came of age during the tumultuous sixties. The Vietnam War began in the middle of that decade. Prior to this, America was immersed in a promising rise in economic power. The growth of the middle class was the engine that powered the American economy after decades of depression and wartime economies.

Along the way, America seemed to lose its soul. Social protests marked the latter end of the sixties and became a cultural undercurrent against racial injustice, materialism, and a war far from home.

This undercurrent created a spiritual vacuum, and nature abhors a vacuum. It was quickly filled with a myriad of philosophies, religious movements, and lifestyles.

A culture shift

The range was staggering—eastern religions and philosophies, a resurgence in witchcraft, experimentation with illicit drugs, communes, and along came the Jesus Movement that challenged the traditions and status quo of Christianity.

This cultural shift wasn’t restricted to the US, but found its way throughout the world.

The Beatles mystical involvement with Transcendental Meditation and drugs led them to India for an audience with an Indian yogi. Their songs reflected this personal and famous cultural shift, while visiting the infamous Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.[i]

Prior to this, songwriters like Bob Dylan and other folk singers challenged America’s status quo on issues of social conscience, and Time magazine announced the spiritual vacuum with their cover declaring—God is dead. Inside this issue noted theologians touted the loss of America’s spiritual soul.

These were some of the prophets of that decade.

A breath of fresh air

In the midst of all the protests came a breath of fresh air spiritually. Waves of young people dropped out of the middle-class march and pursued all that reared its head at the time—including meditation, drug use, and free love.

Out of this move away from middle-class America, many turned to God and joined the Jesus Generation that launched what became the Jesus Movement.[ii] Although more well known and popular on the west coast, it took place across the nation, and spilled over to the next decade and into other nations.

The Olympics of 1972 (in Munich) were tragically marred by a terrorist attack on the Israeli Olympic team. But God’s counter was to send a ministry called YWAM (Youth With A Mission), which sent well over a thousand young people into the midst of millions from all over the world, and shared the love and hope of Jesus.[iii]

The Second Coming

A primary influence of this movement was an interest in the return of Jesus Christ—the Second Coming—when God returns to bring those who love Him to heaven, and also brings a final, apocalyptic judgment upon the earth.

It paralleled fears about over-population, famine and environmental ruin. Once again, God brought an answer to the world’s self-destructive spiral into despair—hope in His Son’s return to save the world from itself.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb 1:1-3)

Are you ready for the Lord's return to earth?

If so, how are you using your time and living that shows your readiness?

If not, what hinders you from opening your heart to God?


This is an excerpt from my book. Thanks for reading!


[i] The Haight-Ashbury district became a famous staging ground for the hippie movement, especially known for love-ins and hallucinogenic drug use

[ii] The Jesus Generation was a name given to the (primarily) young people in the Jesus Movement

[iii] For background on YWAM see this link– History of YWAM

The Search

©CCCM – the Tent

During the sixties, I was part of the counterculture movement seeking spiritual truth. In the early seventies, I became part of the Jesus Movement.

This movement was neither organized, nor guided by any church or religious organization. It was the work of God in people searching for spiritual truth and encountering Jesus in a personal relationship.

“It’s not about religion, but relationship,” was a common expression in those days. Young people popularized the Jesus Movement, including those known as hippies who joined the developing counterculture of the 1960s.

A spiritual vacuum

A spiritual vacuum existed in those days. For the most part, traditional churches did not reach the young people of that generation. Several elements in our current decade remind me of that era.

Today, traditional and established churches are not reaching the young people of this generation, including those raised in Christian homes. Many surveys show a strong trend toward young people leaving churches in droves.[i]

In my own search for truth as a youth, I sampled wisdom from various religions and philosophies that surrounded me in abundance and diversity.

Raised in a nominally Christian home, even confirmed in the faith of the Episcopal Church at the age of twelve, I found my Christian moorings too weak to keep me from drifting into varied experiences, philosophies, and religious encounters. These encounters brought plenty of confusion and uncertainty.

During the late 1960's, I had developed a ritual of reading the Bible every morning. Even so, I still used drugs and alcohol, practiced transcendental meditation, and played and wrote music, along with other experiences typical of that time.

Through it all, I was coming to believe Jesus was an important element of true spirituality. During this period, a friend invited me to a certain church in Southern California, which later became a mega church within the Jesus Movement.[ii]

Thrown out

I attended an evening service where a very young but quite charismatic evangelist was teaching the Bible. At the end of the study he gave an invitation to “accept Christ.”[iii]I wasn’t ready to do this.

After the service, I began asking many questions my friends were unable to answer. So they brought me to a man considered a Bible answer-man of sorts—I continued asking my questions. He answered me by quoting verses of Scripture from the King James Version (KJV), but without explanation.

I had studied Shakespeare and Chaucer in high school, so it wasn’t the archaic language that troubled me—it was my lack of spiritual understanding.

Each time he quoted a Scripture in response to my many questions, I could hear a round of “amen’s” and some cheering, as he refuted my challenging questions.

Intent on my quest for spiritual truth, and exasperated with his pat answers, I finally asked him—“If I could destroy all the books in the world, how would you then tell me how you truly know God?”

He promptly called me the devil and threw me out of the church.

The wrong way

It was another two years of spiritual wandering before I came into a personal relationship with Jesus, my Lord. I continued reading the Bible and praying, but didn’t give up the other activities and experiences that were counterproductive to my spiritual growth.

My frustration deepened and became desperation.

One morning, leaving the small trailer I lived in with my girlfriend, I went on a search for God. I expected some sign in the sky or a burning bush experience, as Moses had before he led Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 3:1-6).

I saw no sign, no burning bush, and didn’t hear any voices.

Discouraged, I returned to the trailer and began reading my Bible. I came to some verses that challenged me—

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)

In my heart I took up the challenge of going on the narrow and hard way. I had considered many different philosophies and religions in search of a harmonious belief everyone could hold.

This text showed me I was on the wrong path that led to destruction. I saw the last part of the verse as a challenge to pursue, so I committed my life to God.

A changed life

My life changed little by little as God showed me a new way of living.

I began to give up old habits of my previous lifestyle and developed new ones. On the day of my wedding I experienced a rush of new life and freedom.

I had closed the door on my old life as a new door opened up.

My wife and I attended the same church I’d been thrown out of, but I had a much different attitude and view of God.

I began serving the Lord[iv] in various ways, and became part of the church staff. My wife and I became full-time volunteers who oversaw the childcare ministry at the time our first son was born.

A better way

Years later, I’ve often wondered if the time between my earnest questioning and eventual commitment of my life to Jesus could have been shorter—perhaps two years shorter!

What I needed that night and what millions—even billions—still need is a simple, clear, and complete explanation of the gospel.

For many people, Jesus is only a historical figure whose life is shrouded in mystery.

Every Christian believer should be able to share the truth of the gospel with or without a Bible in hand, and without using Christian terminology and jargon.

Is this possible? Absolutely!


[i] The Barna Group has done a lot of research, especially in the area of young people. Here are a couple reports that reveal this trend of church dropout among youth/young adults— Barna article. There was also a significant study done by sociologist Christian Smith, which he published in his book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Eyes of American Teenagers (published in 2005), coining the term Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD). Here is a link to an article about MTD

[ii] The Jesus Movement was a Christian counter-culture movement starting in the late sixties, and growing to prominence in the early seventies. Young people, often termed Jesus freaks, and Christian rock music, characterized this non-organized movement. [http://www.one-way.org/jesusmovement/| http://conservapedia.com/Jesus_Movement]

[iii] “Accepting Christ,” describes a person making a decision to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It is also called “making a decision for Christ.” An invitation (opportunity) is given to make this decision during an “altar call”—an invitation to come forward or signal an intention to “accept Christ” with a raised hand, then being led in a simple (often rote) prayer.

[iv] “Serving the Lord” became a popular phrase describing volunteerism in the church, but can also include paid staff positions. The idea being it’s more than a job, it’s an opportunity to “serve the Lord.”


This is another excerpt from my book— The Mystery of the Gospel