Discipleship is More than Preaching to a Crowd

“SORRY PASTOR, BUT PREACHING TO A CROWD IS NOT THE SAME AS MAKING DISCIPLES”

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

It’s called the Great Commission. According to Jesus in Matthew 28:19, we are called as His church to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” All of us, have been given this commission by Jesus Himself – both clergy and laity. A church without disciple-making does not represent the true church of Jesus Christ. You might argue that Jesus drew great crowds…Jesus did miracles and healings… and that Jesus wasn’t always making disciples. And you would be correct. But Jesus did spend much of His time with twelve men, making them into disciples who after Pentecost carried out the “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” command. The result was “they turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

I come from a family of pastors. I have been raised and surrounded by pastors my entire life.  My best friends are pastors. My brother is a pastor. My dad is a pastor. My son is a pastor. One thing I know about we pastors is, we love to preach. Someone once said, pastors will preach at the drop of a hat and they will drop the hat. Absolutely! Any pastor will tell you if ministry is the cake, then preaching is the icing. But please hear me when I say, preaching is not equal to making disciples. Not even close!

I will admit, preaching is a small part of discipleship. It is true, some folks do receive the word when you preach, but not all (see the Parable of the Sower). It’s hard for most pastors to admit that. We preachers take our craft very seriously. I like to say that preaching is sowing the seed, but discipleship is personally and carefully placing every seed into the heart of the hearer through an intentional relationship. This kind of ministry happens though mentoring and small group discipleship. It’s more precise. According to John 15:8, it is true discipleship that produces much fruit.

It grieves the heart of God that many churches could care less about practicing the kind of discipleship that Jesus modeled before us while on earth.  Sadly, many pastors and church leaders measure the effectiveness of a church by their statistics, or the compliments they receive from their congregants on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, most pastors think their job is to make converts through their preaching, but in reality salvation is just the beginning of the discipleship process.

Pastor, if I may, let me give you a few more reasons why your ministry should be centered on making disciples instead of preaching sermons. I am not making these up. I did not read them in a book. I have experienced them myself and found them to be true when you make disciples.

  • Your church will be more mature leading to lower maintenance people for you to pastor. You may have never heard that before, but it is true. People that are discipled and making disciples don’t have time to cause problems – for themselves or others. Not only that, but they are being corrected by the word through the Spirit of God as they feed on God’s word daily. Honestly, in my thirty-seven years as a pastor, the people that created the greatest problems for me transferred in from churches where they were not active in a structured discipleship program. Basically, they thought their self-acclaimed gifting as a “pew critic” gave them the right to call out all the problems of the church and the pastor and his family too. Real disciples of Christ have no interest in those kinds of things.
  • Your leaders will come from those that you or your church leaders have discipled. The modern church is not telling you this. They are telling you that if your train or equip people with leadership principles, they will become leaders. And yes, there is a time for that. But discipleship that leads to making disciples must come first. And honestly, if I have a disciple that makes disciples, that might be all the leadership training he or she needs. Just saying…
  • Multiplication comes through discipleship. I shouldn’t have to explain that. That’s how multiplication happened in the early church, and it’s no different today. Please remember, we are called to build the kingdom of Christ, not the attendance inside the four walls of our churches on Sunday morning. Not everyone you disciple will stay in your house. Read the book of Acts – they are not supposed to! The great commission is to “Go, and make disciples of all nations.” Stop preventing the great Commission from being fulfilled! Disciple them and send them! Trust God to bring you more…He will if you are making disciples.
  • One final great reason for you as a pastor to make disciple-making the main thing…LESS STRESS AND BURN OUT! I am not exaggerating! You and your wife, or your staff does not have to do it all. Christ did not set up His church that way! He spent two and half years making disciples, died on the cross, arose from the grave, and left it to the disciples and the Holy Spirit to do the rest. That was the plan! I know churches with bumper stickers stating that their church is to win their city. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one pastor and one congregation. We as the church are called to do one thing – make disciples. God didn’t call you to pack out your building every Sunday, set financial records, and build bigger buildings. He didn’t tell you to build a church that would win it’s city. He called you and the people you pastor to make disciples. That’s it! If you really believe that, it will lighten your stress load! I promise! You will sleep better at night. Be healthier, and even your dog might like you better!

Believe me, we do not have all the answers at Relational Discipleship Ministries. We have some tools that can help you be a disciple and make disciples. But it all starts with all of us understanding that more important than our gifts, talents, callings, and ministries, is the co-mission with Jesus to make disciples. Are you making disciples?

Randy L Ballard

It Really is About Your Relationships

Why should I disciple someone? It’s too messy. I don’t have time. I am not qualified. What if I fail?

These are all thoughts that goes through many Christians mind when challenged with the idea of discipling someone. The Apostle Paul too, faced obstacles in his efforts to evangelize and make disciples.

In 1 Thessalonians 2, he opens up this part of the letter by recounting  tremendous suffering that he endured at Philippi before coming to Thessalonica. Yes, he and Silas were used of God mightily to establish a great work in Philippi. Most of us know the story of the prison earthquake and the jailor and his family coming to Christ. But Paul left Philippi both physically and emotionally beat up. Acts 16 says he and Silas were beaten severely and thrown into a prison dungeon. No doubt thankful and encouraged by the work accomplished there, they are forced to leave town where they arrive in Thessalonica preaching the word of God boldly in spite of opposition there as well.

In this letter, we learn that Paul’s stay with the Thessalonians was short. He ministered three consecutive Sabbaths in the synagogue pretty much suming up his public ministry there. But what we don’t know, is how long he ministered in the marketplace with his tent making occupation. Many Bible scholars say that he could have been there months after he was forbid to preach in the synagogue. It took time, much longer than three weeks to build productive relationships. While there in the marketplace, he and Silas broke bread with believers and nonbelievers. They bought supplies and sold their goods among the locals while sharing the good news of Christ one-on-one and possibly in small informal group settings.

Paul complimented the Thessalonians later in writing, “…you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

What I want you to see is what we often miss. Paul and Silas just didn’t preach in the synagogues three Sabbaths. They were in the midst of the marketplace at Thessalonica, and not just there but everywhere they went. They were bartering, doing business with the people of the various cities they ministered in. They were letting the common people see their human side, working alongside them on a daily basis – laughing, listening, watching, being normal people and doing what normal people do through the work week.

Paul and Silas must have been effective. While in Thessalonica in a very short time, a group of believers – a church was established. Mainly, made up of Greek men and some women. Who were these converts? Yes, they heard them preach in the synagogues for a few Sundays, but they watched Paul and Silas live out their lives in the flesh day to day in the marketplace.

After being made to leave Thessalonica, Paul just didn’t thank God for the results and move on to another city. He left a piece of his heart there. He wrote, “…we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us (1 Thessalonians 2:18). At the end of chapter 2, Paul calls the believers there “our glory and joy.” In Chapter 3:1, Paul begins the letter, “When we couldn’t stand it no longer, we sent Timothy to visit you.”

I could go on making my point, but please don’t miss this – discipleship is about relationships. I believe the Apostle Paul learned about this first hand in hearing it from the disciples of Jesus. He didn’t just hear it, he witnessed the great devotion and commitment to Jesus by the disciples. Paul knew that disciples were not made in the public synagogue or church classrooms, but in letting people see the real you in daily relationships where people sweat, eat, work, cry, laugh, and do life together.

The lessons in level four are much different than the previous three levels. Here, we attempt to intentionally encourage you to reach out to people. People are of great value to God. People who are lost and living in darkness. People who live messy lives. People in the marketplace, in your neighborhood, who shop where you shop, and go to the same school activities you do. It’s these people who need the Jesus that is in you!

The objective here is through sharing our faith, giving and blessing others, praying in the harvest, intentionally making disciples; we will realize the quantitative destiny that Christ has for us all – to be fruitful. Some sixtyfold, some eightyfold, and some a hundredfold, but all called to be fruitful.

Jesus said, “Yes I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” John 15:5-8

 

Fathers & Sons Series Podcast

Join Randy Ballard as he and his son, Gabe (a Student Pastor in Hamilton, Ohio), discuss the opening chapter of Randy’s latest book, “Discipling Gen Z.” This podcast features the debut of a series of monthly podcasts that focus on the need and execution of mentoring relationships in our culture today. Click here to listen.

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How Do We Reach Generation Z?

The following excerpt was taken from “Discipling Gen Z,” Randy Ballard’s new book set to be released in June 2020.

Before we can disciple Generation Z, we must reach Generation Z. In the traditional sense, this is called evangelism. Some today refer to it as pre-discipleship. No matter what we call it, before we can mentor, teach, and serve with them – a conversion or change of heart must take place.

How do we reach Generation Z? Where do we begin?

In the past, many churches focused on various kinds of gimmicks, services, special days, guest personalities, gifts, rock concert kinds of worship bands, — whatever it took to get them to walk through their doors. With Millennials, churches did it with bright lights, fog machines, loud music, and free Starbucks. We have bad news for those churches, Gen Z will not be impressed.

In consulting with youth pastors and applying Gen Z research, here are the major issues we must address to have a chance in reaching Generation Z. Honestly, these are powerful! You do the following with a Gen Z young person, God will honor and bless your efforts, and give you success.

Address the “Why”

Early in the book we focused on the importance of answering the “Why.” Nonetheless, one last time let’s put it in bold and with exclamation points how important answering the why questions are.

We can’t forget Gen Z is post Christian. That’s easy for us boomers, busters, and possibly even Millennials to do. Most of Gen Z doesn’t know that absolute truth exists. Truth has always been relative and subjective to them, depending on the culture or context.

As a generation, they have never been taught or modeled the truth of scripture. It’s a foreign concept to them. God’s word says:

“The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to Him, and he cannot understand them.” (1 Corinthians 2:14, NKJV)

Most Gen Zers see nothing wrong with lying, sexual immorality, and homosexuality. Why would they? They have been raised in a world that says these behaviors are fine. Who was there to tell them that these deeds are sin and against God’s law? Certainly not their schools, nor the media, or the pop artists, and very few have been raised in church. And if they were among the few that went to church, how many of their pastors, priests, and teachers taught that lying and sexual immorality is sin and God judges such sin and rebellion?

So, they drank the Kool-Aid as a generation. They believed what the secular media, song artists, educators, and social media preached to them. Most likely, if you were raised in the 21st century in the average post Christian family – you would have too.

They didn’t think much about it when they saw Mom go into her bedroom, shut the door, and sleep with a man that wasn’t called dad or married to their mom. They didn’t know it was wrong. Many were raised in homes with pornography, alcoholism, profanity, and parents who abused drugs — and so were their friends. They saw it as normal on television and in the movies too. Why would they question it as sin or that God’s nature opposed these kinds of behaviors? How would they know?

A very high percentage of Gen Z grew up missing someone who cared about their soul. Someone to come alongside them. Someone with the truth of the gospel living inside of them. Someone to share with them why God says these things are wrong and that they are sinful behaviors. And it doesn’t stop there, someone to lovingly explain that such sinful deeds have consequences, earthly and eternal ones.

Finally, Gen Z needs someone not only to give them the why but most importantly model truth before them…they need to see godliness lived out. Because Gen Zers instinctively know in their heart of hearts that when someone believes something, their behaviors and lifestyle reflect that. And when Gen Z sees that, what follows is respect, trust, and a openness to God in their own lives. This all happens in the context of relationship.

The second issue to address is we must:

Engage them With Conversation

Talk to them, don’t be intimidated by them. Yes, they are smart. No, you aren’t cool (to them). Yes, you may feel awkward at times. But begin with prayer and the Holy Spirit will go before you. He will open the door to their hearts. This is the way God works.

They may act shocked or a little awkward when you speak to them. But most will respond favorably. Be consistent. Be sincere. Be caring. Let God’s Spirit work in them. Trust Him to do so. Let the Holy Spirit lead the dance, not you, and not them. Don’t be creepy, don’t be weird, or pushy. Trust the Holy Spirit who has put the love of God in you for Gen Z.

[To be continued in next month’s blog or you can read it by getting your own copy of Discipling Gen Z at reletionaldiscipleshipministries.com]

How to Prepare to Worship at Home

It could be that many of us will find ourselves having to worship at home instead of attending public worship services for a while. This may have an awkward feel to it at the beginning. But if you do a little preparation and take it seriously, you and your family may very well experience a refreshing, revival-like visitation from God that could lead to a spiritually stronger home and even a stronger local church body – strong families make strong churches.

Preparation is Important

A favorite coach of mine was known for saying, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” Let’s face it, if an organized and deliberate plan is not put in place, your worship experience may turn into a disaster before it gets off the ground. Proper preparation is vital. Believe or not, children crave structure. The following are some suggestions to help you have a successful family worship experience.

1. Prepare your attitude

Solomon wrote, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God” (Eccl. 5:1). The phrase guard your steps means to proceed with reverence, tip toeing into the presence of We come with care and caution. We come with dignity and respect. We approach God with the same care as Moses when he encountered God in a burning bush and took off his shoes. He was on holy ground, and he knew it. If you have a family, don’t expect everyone to take this posture your first worship experience at home. But as the leader and planner, ask God to make the holy ground expectation a reality in time. He will honor your prayer because you and your family have honored Him in worship.

2. Preparation begins on Saturday night by everyone getting to bed at a decent hour.

Try to guard your family from filling their spirits and their bodies with junk late Saturday evening. Encourage everyone to set their affections on Christ before you go to bed. Believe God to guide and give instruction in the night as you sleep (Psalm 16:7).

3. Preparation comes by waking up on time.

You may need to set an alarm clock, just like you would to ensure an on-time arrival for work or school. Do not wait until the last possible minute and scramble around the house, yelling at the children and panicking. Have a good breakfast and be alert before beginning your worship time.

4. Preparation by preparing a spiritual atmosphere.

Play songs of worship or devotion to direct your minds toward God. Prayer and Bible reading are other ways to help. Allow ten to fifteen minutes before your worship begins encouraging your family to listen or read scripture. This will make your hearts soft when you worship. Come hungry. Come willing. Come expecting God to speak. Come anticipating a memorable experience with the Creator of the universe.

5. Preparation comes by having your Bibles, worship songs selected, communion items, and other needed items ready to go

If you wait to look for your Bible after you get started, it usually leads to frustration and family tension. As you would not leave your schoolbooks or briefcase at home during the week, come to family worship prepared.

6. Prepare an Order for Your Worship Time

Here are some suggestions:

1. Ask a family member ahead of time that feels comfortable to do an opening prayer.

2. Next, you can worship together with your local church live stream, or conduct your own worship by someone leading choruses or worshipping to your favorite family playlist of worship songs (if you don’t have a family play list, create one as a family or assign one of the children to do it – it could be lot of fun for them).

3. Have an offering time where you pray over your tithe and offerings as a family and then give online or prepare to send it in the mail on Monday. Maybe take some time as a family discussing what ministry to give your offerings to and the amount. This can be a great teaching opportunity explaining what a tithe is and what offerings consist of.

4. Your time in the word of God may require some preplanning. Some suggestions might include the following:

7. Prepare to Respond

When God reveals Himself to us, things happen. Be open to experiencing God as He leads us to respond (Isaiah 6:8). Our hearts are moved to worship because we have seen the beauty, greatness, holiness, mercy, and love of our God. We sing to him, confess our sins, receive His word preached, take communion, and give our finances, all in grateful response to seeing who God is and what He has done for us in Jesus.

8. Prepare to Edify Others

Our worship doesn’t stop with the final prayer and “Amen.” It continues as we greet, encourage, serve, pray for, exhort, and care for one another as a family. Expect to see God do great things in your family as you prepare to worship together at home. Not only will your family be blessed, strengthened, and draw nearer to God, your local church as well as the entire body of Christ will be edified, and Jesus Christ glorified.

A Final Word of Encouragement

Don’t be discouraged if everything doesn’t go as planned. Neither be surprised if certain family members resist or act like they’re not too excited about the family worship idea. Let me give you some insight from someone who knows, the enemy will fight you hard attempting to convince you that your efforts are useless. But remember this, it’s not about their reception or response. The only question you must ask yourself as far God is concerned is, “Was the word of God spoken?” If so, you know that the faith of your family members was enlarged and increased because “faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17). You also know that, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10,11)

“The 2020 Billboard” Dream and “The Wind of the Spirit” Vision

This was my FACEBOOK post describing a dream that I had a few days prior to posting the following:

September 25, 2019

I usually don’t share these kind of things with the public but the Holy Spirit has prompted me to do so this morning. Part of the reason is if I share this publicly it will put pressure on me to carry this project through. I am guilty of spreading myself to thin as it relates to plans and projects, especially writing projects.

However, in regards to this one, I really need the Holy Spirit to lead me, speak to me, and feed me. I am totally reliant on Him in the months ahead if His coming should tarry that long.

So this is where I am.

The Lord often speaks to me early in the morning before I get up. It’s in this time span where I see visions and dream dreams that I know are from Him. So when I wake up, it’s pretty fresh in my mind, and I often pray and meditate on it. Well, a few days ago, I seen in billboard-like big bold black numbers – 2020. I kept seeing it in a dream. Then I awoke and kept seeing it in a vision. I could not get it out of my mind. After about ten minutes of wrestling with this picture in my mind, the Lord directed me to get up and begin to write some things down on a piece of paper.
I wrote about five different bullet points as the Spirit led me. That’s where I am at this point as I continue to seek the Lord in prayer and fasting.
The other part of the reason I share this is because I believe God is showing me that a great shift is about ready to take place on earth. I don’t know what all that means, but I think a lot of God’s people can bear witness with it. I believe it very well could culminate sometime in 2020. I am not trying to tease anyone or scare anyone. I am not saying it’s the rapture. I don’t know what it is. But you and I need to be prepared. GOD IS IN CHARGE! HE IS IN CONTROL! HE WILL CONTINUE TO BE WITH HIS PEOPLE!

THANK YOU LORD!
– Randy

“The Wind of the Spirit” Vision
I received this vision from the Lord in November of 2019

I believe the Lord was showing me the things that are beginning to happen now in the spiritual realm and what is still to come before Jesus comes back for his church.

A few months ago, I was all alone sitting in the sanctuary of a little country church about a mile from my house. I like to go there to pray and on this particular day I heard a voice in my spirit (which I believe was from the Lord – “His sheep know His voice”) say to me, “Listen to the wind outside blowing up against the outer wall of the church building. “ After a long pause, I heard his voice speak again, “Now look out of the window and see the effects of the wind.”

As I turned my head slowly to my right, I could see through a nearby window a tree, full of branches, loaded down with autumn leaves reacting to the gusts of wind. The limbs were bending and shaking fiercely, causing the ripened leaves to be pulled off its limbs and carried away by the forceful power of the wind.

The still small voice then recalled to my mind a few months earlier when my wife and I were sitting at Ormond Beach, Florida. We had taken a few days off before attending a conference in Orlando seeking a little R & R. It was the perfect beach day…partly sunny, 85 degrees, with a strong wind coming in off the ocean waters. I remember how refreshing it felt leaning back in the beach chair, closing my eyes, and feeling the ocean wind gently pounding against my face. But even more calming to my spirit was the roaring vibration sounds of the waves colliding up against the shore. I remember immediately thinking about the thunderous power of God, “Mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore—the LORD above is mightier than these!” (Psalm 93:4 says)

For the next hour there on the beach that day, I was more content than anytime I can remember in my life. Just sitting still, feeling the wind at my face, and hearing the thunderous sounds of the ocean waves. Everything else, all of life’s concerns, plans, thoughts, all that was going around me seemed a galaxy away. I remember everything feeling so pleasing and peaceful at first, but as time passed, I felt invigorated and energized as well.

Once again, the voice of the Lord spoke to me as if I were being awakened from a wonderful dream. But it wasn’t a dream. The Lord was taking me back to a time and a place reminding me of the glory I experienced in feeling and hearing the sound of the winds of earth that He creates and controls.

He then said to me, “Notice, here in the church you can only see and hear the natural wind. And if it wasn’t for the window, you could only hear the sound. Many of my people of your day are content with only hearing about the wind of My Spirit without experiencing My Spirit. Some hear and even see from a distance, but are satisfied. But I have willed and I have declared in my Word that in your day…”

“I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.”

Joel 2:28,29

God continued to say, “I am sending a wind of the Spirit in the last days that not only will you hear and not only will you see, but will be with you, in you, and flow through you. It is sent to bring my glory to a people who have been set apart. This wind of the Spirit renews, refreshes, reenergizes, and sustains my people through the darkness that is increasing upon the earth until I come and rescue them. This latter-day wind of the Spirit is being poured out from heaven. It cannot be restrained. There are no words to explain the difference it will make when people yield their lives to me. It is a life-changing, powerful blast of wind!”

After hearing that, I felt full and ready to leave the little church building. I thought I heard all I my spirit could contain. I was excited with what God had allowed me to see and anxious to share it with others as He directed. But before I could leave, the Lord stopped me with a simple question, “Why can’t you feel the wind today like you did on the ocean beach?” Without hesitation, I responded,
“The wall of course, Lord. The wall is the only obstacle standing in the way.” He replied, “Why don’t you go outside the building? There you can not only hear and see, but feel and experience the wind. Outside there are no walls to keep the wind from penetrating.”

At that point, the Lord began to show me that the wind of the Spirit is moving today more freely outside the church than inside many churches. Why? “The walls” God says, “are preventing my Spirit from moving upon and through many of my people in your land.” He went on to say, “My people are satisfied just to hear it. It sounds strong, powerful and comforting to their ears and their hearts. But the wind of my Spirit is not allowed to blow through my church.”

God says, “My glory, my power, my presence cannot be contained. It cannot be directed. It cannot be controlled by man. I am closing old church buildings down today in your cities because my Spirit is no longer there. The bones are dead and dried up. There is no life. But where my Spirit is there is life.”

God says to His people today, “Seek me and you will find me, but I will not be found in your institutions, in your programs, in your buildings. My wind of the Spirit moves where and when it wishes. When my Spirit blows through the church, my people will be made holy through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is my Spirit of truth that makes my people holy. I am a holy God and will only inhabit a holy people. Then my people they will see signs and wonders follow them as they go out into the marketplace, into the streets, and in their houses.”

The voice of the Lord continued, “If you will seek me, if you will hunger after me with all your heart, and invite me, I will send the mighty wind of my Spirit and He will blow through and destroy to pieces your walls of unforgiveness, ungratefulness, division, bondages, religious spirits, offenses, general curses, drug addiction, depression, anxiety, witchcraft, oppression of the enemy, and a spirit of control by leaders as well as that Jezebel spirit is warring against many of my servants. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom, not control. When He blows through you will experience the fullness of my goodness, my glory, my beauty, my peace, my joy, and my power.”

When the WIND OF THE SPIRIT MOVES THERE WILL BE A:

A Holy People

A Free People

A Whole People

An Empowered People

A Glorious People

The Bride of Christ: adorned, ready for the Lord!

My purpose in making this public is to encourage the body of Christ that I believe a fresh wind of the Spirit of God is about to blow upon and through His church possibly one last time. Be expecting, anticipating, and hungry. “It is a life-changing, powerful blast of wind!”

What Gen Z Needs from You and I…Immediately!

The story of Gideon in Judges 6 finds him hiding at the winepress feeling forgotten, hopeless, insignificant, and living in defeat. This is exactly where many young people are today – little self-worth, hopeless, and unimportant. The Angel of the Lord appears to Gideon and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor” (Genesis 6:12, NKJV). The word “valor” means courage and is used 250 times in the Old Testament.

The angel was giving Gideon a new definition of who he was to be. No longer should the new Gideon look to the old Gideon but rather his point of reference should be how the angel described him – a man of valor, courage, or “mighty warrior” (NIV). Many times, we find God calling and equipping people before a task. However, in spite of the angel trying to overcome Gideon’s weakness, he still chose to focus on his inability.

“Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” Gideon responds back to the Lord, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (Judges 6:14-15, NKJV)

Like he did with Gideon, Satan tells Gen Z you have nothing and are nothing. He lies to them and keeps them in the winepress by vain imaginations and excuses. The next thing the devil steals is the supernatural. He wants young people to be miserable, never seeing any divine intervention in their lives, making them doubt God’s very existence.

Listen to what Gideon said to the Angel of the Lord in Judges 6:13, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”

Tragically, Satan’s lies like with Gideon’s generation, are attempting to deceive and destroy an entire generation of youth today. Case in point, suicide is now the second leading cause of death among America’s teens today. In Ohio, my home state, suicide is now the number one cause of death among Gen Zers from age 10 to 14 years old. In a country that is advertised to be the closest thing to utopia on the planet, why are so many of our young choosing to take their own lives? Undoubtedly, the answers center around the lies of the enemy – you have nothing, and you are nothing.

What the Holy Spirit Restores in Gideon

God would not give up on Gideon and his generation, and neither will He give up on today’s youth culture. “And the LORD said to him, “Surely, I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man” (Judges 6:16, NKJV). From there we see God restore three potent qualities in Gideon’s life that God makes available to every young person today through His Holy Spirit. The first is:

The Fire of God

There had not been fire in Israel in many years. Gideon saw the power, the fire, the glory of God and thought he was going to die! (see Judges 6:17-21) The best way to see the fire of God come into your life is to pray, worship, and fast for it. Cry out to God for an uncontrollable passion for Christ in your life. God promises us, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV) Secondly, God gave Gideon…

Convictions

Gideon pulled down his father’s altar and separated himself from the devil’s strongholds. We need to boldly declare to the world that we are on the Lord’s side. (see Judges 6:25-33) What are convictions? It is the quality of showing that one is firmly convinced of what one believes or says. How do we acquire convictions? They can be modeled and passed down to a young person by a person of influence in their life.

I have seen convictions modeled in my own father and mother while growing up. Honestly, I can’t remember them intentionally passing them down to me and my siblings, but rather on our own we took ownership of them as we witnessed them consistently modeled in our parent’s lives. The same cycle has repeated in raising our own son.

I remember a time laying on a table in my chiropractor’s office with a curtain between me and my son, Gabe, who was waiting for me. He was probably around seven at the time. A woman walked into his room with a couple of children Gabe’s age. I could not see them, but I was able to listen in on their conversation without them knowing it.
Suddenly, I heard Gabe say in a loud voice to one of the children, “You shouldn’t read that book. That book is evil. It has stories of bad things in it. Things we should not read.”

Next thing I heard was what sounded like a gasp come from the mother. She quickly responded to Gabe while reassuring her children that there was nothing wrong with Harry Potter books. And then she asks, “Who told you reading Harry Potter is evil?” He then proudly blurted out, “My dad says it’s evil and he is pastor.” It was at that moment, I was glad I was behind the curtain out of sight. I am sure if she knew I was near, she would have had some choice words for me. Nonetheless, I was proud of Gabe for standing up for his convictions at such an early age. Today, he still holds to his convictions, and is not shy about sharing them with believers as well as unbelievers.

Why do you need convictions as a Generation Zer or anyone for that matter? Because convictions serve as anchors in life. They keep you from drifting from one belief to another, or into having no beliefs at all. Of course, I am referring to convictions that are cemented in truth…that come from absolute truths from the word of God.
Finally, here is a third quality that God gave Gideon…

His Vision of Victory

The Bible says the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and he blew his trumpet. God gave Gideon a vision to defeat the Midianites, and he boldly declared his vision and dream through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Judges 6:34-35) God is still in our day sending His Spirit to be poured out upon young men and women giving them great vision for what He desires to do in our day.

“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My men servants and on My maid servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28, 29, NKJV)

Fire, convictions, and a vision for victory: three powerful qualities or gifts that God has available for Generation Z now. It’s vital that we followers of Christ in the church today intentionally possess and pass these qualities on to Generation Z. We can’t give something we don’t have. Let’s ask ourselves: Do we have a fire - the fire of the Spirit burning inside of us? Do we have convictions in our personal lives that might be picked up by those we are leading? And, do we have a vision for victory that we are boldly proclaiming to others?