Ask the Network – Curriculum for the 30 Something Crowd

August 11, 2009

 

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION is from Elaine Morse, our State Point Person for Washington – What is the latest in curriculum? What works well for moving a younger (30 something) crowd toward spiritual growth and action in their communities?

We received a great answer from Jen Hurst of California: One way I’ve been trying to address community action in our church is by writing a blog. It’s a way to address questions that are asked, to update people on service opportunities and announcements, and to model easy serving and engagement with the community. We started using a blog as opposed to emailing or handing out a newsletter so that it is easily accessible and so that we can track how much it is actually read. Those who don’t have email are mailed a newsletter quarterly. 

In my graduate program, I was given the opportunity to survey the leadership of Bel Air Presbyterian Church in regards to outreach. We found that curriculum wasn’t the primary issue; the leaders’ confidence in their own understanding of outreach was. They felt like they didn’t know how to get involved, but the data showed that they knew more than they thought they did.

If your situation is anything like this, it might be enough to focus on making the link between what they’re learning in their Small Groups and what they can do in their own lives—that picking up trash in the neighborhood is service, that even if they do something that the church doesn’t know about, it’s valuable to their community and the Kingdom. You could also try finding out what they are passionate about, and helping them find ways to serve in their passion.

 In my study, I looked not just at whether they were involved in outreach, but also what stage they were in based on David Daugherty’s “Six-Stage Mobilization Strategy”. The stages are: 

Unaware > Aware > Interested > Concerned > Involved > Mobilizers. 

These can be phrased as three questions:

Do they know about it? Most of the 31-40 year old respondents knew about the programs we have in place for serving, but they didn’t know the overall purpose of the outreach department.

Do they care about it? These leaders were passionate about serving. Many of them have a specific ministry, people group or area of the world that they care about, and even feel capable enough to lead mission trips and service projects. However, most of them feel like they don’t know enough about what the church offers them for service opportunities. 

Are they doing it? The young adults follow the same pattern of involvement in different areas as the rest of the congregation. The one area that they came in lower was in financial giving (which is generally to be expected given the lower income that younger people tend to have). 

Jen Hurst is a Regional Point Person for the Los Angeles area and Associate Director of Small Groups at Bel Air Presbyterian Church.   jen.hurst@belairpres.org

NEXT MONTH’S QUESTION: WHAT TYPE OF CELEBRATORY/VISION CASTING GATHERINGS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUR SMALL GROUP LEADERSHIP?  Email your answers, or questions for next month, to PDSG Network Coordinator, Cheryl Shireman at cheryls@saddleback.com


Resources For You – August 2009

August 11, 2009

GREAT WEBSITES TO CHECK OUT!

purposedrivenradioconnection.com    A wonderful new website that allows you to listen to music and encouragement live from your computer! Go to the website and click on either “PC” or “MAC” in the “Listen Now” box and you will be connected immediately. It is that simple. The Purpose Driven Radio Connection is a connecting point for you to the global Christian community and the church. You’ll find a welcoming safe place to be encouraged throughout the day. Tune in daily for uplifting Music, Messages and More.

smallgroupexchange.com     This is a great website full of a variety of small group resources. It is slanted more toward the Small Group Leader than the Small Group Point Person. In fact, you might just want to send this one to all of your small group leaders. One of the nicer features of the website is that it allows you to preview small group studies by watching short video clips. 

biblegateway.com    A free service for reading and researching Scripture online in various languages and translations. Searches can be based on keywords or verse. Reading plans and additional resources such as audio bibles and commentaries are also available on this site. A great tool when you need to quickly look up a verse. Put a link on your desktop! 

churchteams.com    Online software to track your small group ministry. Allows your church members to directly browse and join groups. Also, facilitates communication between group members, group leaders, and the Small Group Point Person. Go to the website for a 30 day free trial. 

smallgroups.com    A good source of information, both for the Small Group Leader and the Small Group Point Person. A nice feature is free downloads of songs and bible studies. This site includes various articles on a wide range of topics. You are sure to find something of interest to you here.


Soul Searchin: Classic Christianity

August 11, 2009

GETTING BACK to ‘CLASSIC’ CHRISTIANITY
by J. Lee Grady

We need voices from the past—like Andrew Murray, Corrie Ten Boom and Charles Spurgeon—to help us find our way to the future.
During a visit with my parents in Georgia, two of my daughters asked if they could listen to a tape recording my father made in 1962 when I was only 4 years old. So my dad rummaged through some drawers and found the old reel-to-reel tape, which was amazingly still intact. Then he went to the garage and found the old Realistic tape player that no one in the family had used since the Nixon administration.

To our surprise the scratchy tape actually played without breaking, and my girls laughed when they heard me—in a babyish Southern drawl—describing a Florida vacation and a fishing trip with my grandfather. After my “interview,” it switched to an older recording made in 1956. It included a conversation with my dad’s mother, who died before I was born.

It was eerie to hear her voice. I’d never heard it before yet it sounded hauntingly familiar. After that brief segment of the tape ended we listened to comments from my other three grandparents —all of whom died in the 1960s or 1970s. Their voices unearthed long-buried but fond memories.

These sounds from the past reminded me of some other distant voices I have been listening to recently. They are the voices of dead Christians—writers of classic books and songs that we are close to forgetting today.

Their names are probably somewhat familiar to you. Jonathan Edwards. John Wesley. Charles Finney. Catherine Booth. Andrew Murray. Evans Roberts. Charles Spurgeon. Fanny Crosby. E.M. Bounds. Watchman Nee. A.W. Tozer. William Seymour. A.B. Simpson. Corrie Ten Boom. Leonard Ravenhill. Fuchsia Pickett.

All of them could be labeled revivalists. All challenged the Christians of their generation to embrace repentance and humility. They understood a realm of spiritual maturity and a depth of character that few of us today even aspire to obtain.

When I read their words I feel much the same way I did after hearing my grandparents’ voices on that old tape. I feel as if I am tapping into a realm of spirituality that is on the verge of extinction.

What was the secret of these great Christians who left their legacies buried in their books? They considered humility, selflessness and sacrifice the crowning virtues of the Christian journey. They called the church to die to selfishness, greed and ambition. They knew what it means to carry a “burden” for lost souls. They saw the glories of the kingdom and demanded total surrender. They challenged God’s people to pursue obedience—even if obedience hurts.

Even their hymns reflected a level of consecration that is foreign in worship today. They sang often of the cross and its wonder. Their worship focused on the blood and its power. They sang words of heart-piercing conviction: “My richest gain I count but loss / And pour contempt on all my pride / Forbid it Lord that I should boast / Save in the death of Christ, My God.”

In so many churches today the cross is not mentioned. The blood is avoided because we don’t want to offend visitors. And worship is often a canned performance that involves plenty of rhythm and
orchestration but little or no substance. We can produce noise, but often there is no heart … and certainly no tears.

In the books Christians buy today you will find little mention of brokenness. We are not interested in a life that might require suffering, patience, purging or the discipline of the Lord. We want our blessings … and we want them now! So we look for the Christian brand of spiritualized self-help that is quick and painless.

We’re running on empty. We think we are sophisticated, but like the Laodiceans we are actually poor, blind and naked. We need to return to our first love but we don’t know where to begin the journey.

These voices from the past will help point the way. I’ve found myself drawn to reading books by Ravenhill, Ten Boom, Murray and Spurgeon in recent days. I’ve even pulled out an old hymnal and rediscovered the richness of songs that I had thrown out years ago—because I thought anything old couldn’t possibly
maintain a fresh anointing.

I realize now that I must dig for this buried treasure. We will never effectively reach our generation if we don’t reclaim the humility, the brokenness, the consecration and the travail that our spiritual forefathers considered normal Christianity.

Strang CommunicationsJ. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma Magazine. Reprinted with permission from Charisma Magazine, Strang Communications, July 21, 2009. http://www.charismamag.com