Our hearts are broken for what happened in Belgium. No words can make it hurt less for those involved and those around the world.
We wanted to share reflective prayer stations that we have written in times of disaster, which have been edited to help people of all ages to think through and prayerfully reflect on this terror attack.
Feel free to use these in your own congregations, homes, and wherever else you might see fit.
Each station has a "set-up" explanation page and then a second page to print out as instructions for those going through the prayer stations in a self-guided form.
Below is a link to an editable word file or a .pdf.
Let us know if you have any questions.
-Chris and Joanna
There has been a lot of focus on millennials of late, and the biggest reason the church is talking about them is because statistically they aren’t GOING to church.
Before I go any further, I want to clarify that being in a church building or an official member of a local congregation is not a requirement to BE the Church, but GOING to Church used to be the clear marker. The Church, especially in the west, for too long has equated church attendance and membership to faith. Essentially: If someone attends church then they must be a ‘better’ person than someone who doesn’t. The problem is that church attendance and membership doesn’t perfectly equate to faith or “good.”
I was out to dinner last night and saw a family praying before their meal together, and as soon as they said “amen”, the dad yelled at a daughter about how her chair was positioned. Seeing this made a seemingly meaningful moment feel cheap. I think this is just a small example of why many millennials have passed on Church. They have examined the fruits of the church community that they know and have found the Church wanting.
So then, is there any hope for the Church and millennials?
I think that the Church NEEDS millennials in order to no longer just survive, but to become more who Jesus calls the us to be, the Kingdom of God. We are missing an important rock that would provide better balance. This isn’t just a millennial thing or a filling a pew thing, but a desire for everyone to be a part of the Kingdom of God.
Here are a few reasons why I think that the Church needs millennials:
1. Millennials see beyond what currently is to what could be.
One of the reasons I love working with teens and young adults is that they have an amazing gift to see beyond what is. Maybe it is because life hasn’t beaten it out of them yet, or maybe it is because they haven’t been lulled to sleep by the monotonousness of work, home, tv, sleep, repeat. Whatever it is, I think that the church needs more of it. They need dreamers who can ask “What if?” and find where God is at work in the community and push the church to jump in.
2. Millennials demand answer to their “WHY?” and “We’ve always done it this way” doesn’t work.
This is one of the biggest things that the Church needs right now, but probably doesn’t want. To do things just because we always have just doesn’t compute. Millennials want a “why.” The “why” is important because it sets a reason and purpose behind doing something. If there isn’t a reason or purpose, then kill it. It really is that simple to Millennials, but for the Church it might mean years or decades of wasted time and resources because we just kept the status quo (which by the way, doesn’t work anymore).
3. Millennials are some of the most creative people.
Everyday I see new Millennials coming up with new ideas, starting new companies, blogs, videos, products, etc. They feed off of each other’s creativity in a sort of synergy way that is simply amazing. Because so much information is available all the time, they have become experts in using all different types of tech and media and information to create an even better ideas to make our world a better place. They can do this for the church too! Millennials are finding a huge value to their souls in ancient spiritual practices like silence, solitude, journaling, etc. While the church thinks they want the newest praise team, Millennials might prefer a small group discussion that involves art and lectio divina.
4. Millennials are willing to take huge risks without being paralyzed by possible failure.
This is the big one. While risks always have a possibility to fail, Millennials are able to see the payoff more than the possible failure. The Church has become way too good at asking, “How do we avoid getting sewed?” and have stopped asking, “What crazy thing is God calling us to do?”
All of this doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope. I think there is a huge potential for Millennials in the Church but the church CANNOT maintain what it has always been to do it.
Here are a couple steps for the Church to take to connect to Millennials:
1. The Church needs to stop trying to be relevant, cool, or new. Just simply be an authentic community of people seeking to love God and love people.
Millennials, and really everyone, want the Church to be REAL, not relevant. Just be yourself. If you are a hardcore traditional Church, then do that with all you have. If you find your Church to be gifted with artists, then use them in every way possible. If you have teachers, host amazing Bible studies. Whatever you do, make sure it is authentic to who you are as a Church. We have to stop jumping on the newest church trends just because.
2. The Church needs to give Millennials a real voice and allow them to take risks in the name of the Church.
This is probably the best place to start and hardest thing for the Church to do. The Church has to let go of control. Which, let’s face it, God should have been the one in control anyway not the trustees or finance committees. Have Millennials preach, lead Bible studies, start mission projects, serve on church committees, and not just as a token, but as a real voice. Have a “Big Crazy Risks” line item in your church budget that is specifically to fund the new risks adventures that just might change your community.
So, that’s a lot, what do you think? What do you agree with? What don’t you like? How do we do this?
As a youth minister, I hear this phrase a lot “positive peer group.” Often it is when a parent, with good intentions, is saying that they would like for their teen to be around other teens who will be a positive influence on their own child. The hope is that by being around this “positive peer group” that their child will make better choices in life and be a “good” kid.
I totally understand this reasoning and in fact this isn’t a new thing. I have heard this all 11 yrs I have been in youth ministry and even heard it when I was a teen. This idea of who you are around influences who you become has been around for a long time, maybe forever, and it is true. Now, let me stop here and say that this in itself isn’t a terrible idea. Being around people who influence you in meaningful ways is great, but the problem is that when being a part of the Church ENDS at the goal of “positive peer group.” What has changed is that for at least 30 years, the focus has been on “positive peer group” not passionate disciple.
One of the reasons that we are seeing a huge decline in the American Church is because for too long, we have been a part of a church for the purpose of “positive peer group.” The way this has played out is that those who were told as teens that church is where you find a positive peer group are now parents of teens. As parents, they are able to find numerous ways for their teens to be part of positive peer groups through sports, clubs, interest groups, etc. Positive peers groups are no longer just found in church. When we made the point of Church to be the place we find positive peer groups, and people have found that elsewhere; the Church no longer is needed, and so people leave. And they are.
The church must be more than a positive peer group!
So then how do we reclaim the church as more than a place where we find positive peers? Let’s look at our lectionary passage from this past Sunday entitled: “Demand for genuine change”
“Some who were present on that occasion told Jesus about the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices. He replied, “Do you think the suffering of these Galileans proves that they were more sinful than all the other Galileans? No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did. What about those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more guilty of wrongdoing than everyone else who lives in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did.”
Jesus told this parable: “A man owned a fig tree planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. He said to his gardener, ‘Look, I’ve come looking for fruit on this fig tree for the past three years, and I’ve never found any. Cut it down! Why should it continue depleting the soil’s nutrients?’ The gardener responded, ‘Lord, give it one more year, and I will dig around it and give it fertilizer. Maybe it will produce fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.’” - Luke 13:1-9 (CEB)
Here we find Jesus talking to a group of followers about Galileans who were killed almost for sport because they were living out their faith. We see that the group starts to ask questions to find out why this happened. They are trying to figure out if God had punished them for being bad people and that’s why they died. But Jesus turns the questions back on them, saying that their questions aren’t valid, and says if they don’t “change their hearts and lives” they will lose out on life too.
Then Jesus tells a story. This story is one of a tree who should be bearing fruit, but hasn’t and the owner says let’s cut it down it is useless; but the gardener says give it one more chance.
This is a great illustration of the American Church right now, we should be producing disciples who are changing the world, and some churches are, but as a whole we aren’t even worried about making disciples but rather we are spending all our time and effort to make “good and positive” people; and we are even failing at that.
If church is only for finding a positive peer group, then it is going to die; just like a fig tree that bears no fruit.
The church must be more than a positive peer group!
We must be willing to push beyond creating good, happy, and positive teens, and start trying to make disciples for the Kingdom of God.
Positive Peer Group Faith
-Follows the rules that are told to them
-Makes sure that they themselves have what they need and are comfortable
-Makes sure to follow what culture tells them is the path to success and the American dream
-Is driven by fear and worry
Passionate Disciples Faith
-Stands against the injustice of those in charge.
-Comforts those who are uncomfortable and challenges the comfortable.
-Puts God above grades, tests, friends, and resumes.
-Is driven by passion for the Kingdom of God
Just look at Jesus, I have heard too many people talk about “What Would Jesus Do” in regards of not doing drugs and making good choices. We like to think of Jesus as a goody goody, but rather he created such a disturbance in the status quo that they killed him.
I don’t know about you, but I get way more excited about a faith worth dying for more than I do about a positive peer group. And I would argue that so does every Millennial and everyone else who walked away from the Church because they were looking for more.
The church must be more than a positive peer group! If this doesn’t change, then we are no better than a fruitless tree that should be cut down.
Now, I could end it here, but then there seems to be no Good News. Hear the good news today:
We don’t have to make this change on our own, we can’t, but the gardener is here to help and will guide us and push us and challenge us, we just have to be willing to try. God believes in the Church, and so do I.
Who is with me?