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]
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)
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!
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…”
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!
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:
One of the most recent studies from the Pew Research Center shows that 70-75% of Christian youth leave the church after high school which begs the question – why are they leaving? Some say it’s because the church is irrelevant. But keep in mind, they said the same thing twenty years ago when many of the first Millennials also left triggering thousands of churches to bring out the haze, light shows, worship bands, and the Starbucks coffee. However, they kept leaving.
Today, church trend researchers say it’s due to intellectual skepticism, citing that only four percent of Generation Z (see Get to Know Gen Z below) have a biblical worldview (see below How A Worldview is Determined). Whatever the exact cause, many blame the church (including the church experts) for not providing the fertile soil of biblical truth for youth to grow strong spiritual and moral roots that would sustain their faith through their teen to adult transitional years. But for a moment, let’s examine that argument and possibly consider a model that Jesus might use in solving the Gen Z church exodus crisis.
First, let’s admit the modern-day church is not beyond fault. Keeping pre-college and college age young adults in church is not exactly a high priority for a lot of churches. Most churches give little time and attention to worshippers in this age group. Maybe it’s because we have no easy answers or possibly because of the lack of financial potential they possess. Whatever the reason, it’s fair to say that at this most crucial time in a young person’s life, the church often becomes a nonfactor.
However, it’s important to consider how little time and few opportunities the church gets with today’s youth compared to the three major influences in most young lives: their parents, the schools, and social media.
Let’s be brutally honest, for many church attending parents, faith is not a high priority in raising their children. Sports, academics, extra-curricular school activities, working a job, and even a child’s social life seem to all rank higher than their children being actively involved in a church. Consider also, that many students are on school campuses from 7 am to 7 pm throughout the week along with practices and school events on the weekends.
Thirdly, when you consider the average student spends nine hours a day on social media – there’s little time left for worship and church activities. Consequently, the message is sent by every major influence in their young, impressionable lives that building and growing their Christian faith is a low priority, if any priority at all. Is it any wonder that three-fourths of church-going high school students stop attending church when they leave home? Could it be that the church really never was a influencing factor in the first place?
On the somewhat bright side, approximately 25 percent are staying in the church while hopefully growing in their faith journey. More than ever, I talk with young pastoral leadership in the church who seem to be a part of an organic movement who see the need for intimate, mentor-discipleship type relationships for young believers. And the research seems to support the movement, recent studies show that 28% of students (the younger millennials) stayed in the church because of an adult mentor-discipleship relationship or personal friendship in the church (other than the pastor) versus only 11% of students that did not have such a relationship. In other words, if youth have a personal Christian mentor or friend, they are three times more likely to remain in the church than a young person who is without such a relationship. Maybe this is why the Apostle Paul encouraged the older men to model and teach the younger men and the older women to model and teach the younger women the sound principles of the Christian faith.
1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things– 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. 6 Likewise exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. – Titus 2:1-8, NKJV
I know in my own pre-teen years growing up in Greenfield (Indiana), I was fortunate enough that a young adult from our church and a close friend of our family, Gary Robinson, would consistently pick me up and take me to the nearby basketball court at the park including me in pick up games with guys his age. The impact it made on me as a young believer was influential as I was able to observe an older Christian friend model how to be Christlike in a setting where young men were behaving like young men do before they are born again.
In my mid-teen years, the Lord brought another young adult into my life who happened to be our church’s youth director (pastor). Once again, Danny Tompkins would play basketball with me and the other guys in the youth group; before worship services, after worship services, and often sacrificing time with his family to hang out with us. He and his wife, Melinda, were instrumental in encouraging me during my latter teen years when a lot of my friends were getting jobs and leaving the church. Even after turning twenty and getting married to my wife, Annette, it was Danny who called a year later giving us an opportunity to be on staff at his church he pastored. For the next three years in our early twenties, my wife and I were blessed to sit under the Tompkins and not just learn how to do pastoral ministry but I was able to continue the Christian mentoring relationship that began in my teen years.
Is there hope for Generation Z to keep them in the church while even growing in their faith in Christ through the difficult transition years? Absolutely, and the solution is the same as it was in Jesus day when he spent nearly three years discipling twelve young men through intimate, relational discipleship. Is it easy? No. Is it messy? Yes. Is success guaranteed? No. Jesus wasn’t one hundred percent successful and we won’t be either. But it was Jesus’ method and it’s the only hope for Generation Z or for that matter every generation past or present.
Get to Know Gen Z
- Generational Z was born in 1996
- Immediacy – “expect it now”
- Older generational bias – i.e. “Okay, Boomer”
- Tech dependent
- Get information: 29% news outlets, 27% word of mouth
- Fear: do not personally remember 911 but see violence in real time through technology
- Freedom…”be what you want to be” (do not see diversity except when it is absent)
- Sexual (no boundaries) – many have been raised in in different types of cohabitation homes
- Interracial – they see interracial marriage and relationships as normal
- Religious – the more variety of beliefs, the better. Less Christian and more confused about moral and spiritual truth than ever.
- Fidelity: High value on connecting but mainly through technology, which is a barrier to intimacy
- Financially conservative and cautious
- Social ingenuity is a high value
- Spend on average 9 hours a day absorbing social media
- 70% learn by some form of social media/texting
- 4 percent have a Biblical worldview (Barna Research)
Suggestions in doing ministry in a Multi Generational Church
- One study showed that all generations place the same value on becoming a leader, concern about how their personalities fit into the place they work, and all worry about stress and work life balance.
- Empathy and Listening: the key to harmony and effectiveness
- Be mindful of Generational Bias: “Our way is the best way.”
- Avoid stereotyping when serving or working together: common stereotypes are that Millennials are entitled and lazy, the Gen Xers are bitter, Baby Boomers mess up things for everyone else.
- Understand life stages
Suggestions for Gen X and Boomers: How to work with Millennials and Gen Z
- Understand the value of relationship and mentoring
- Extensive hands on orientation in how to serve and do ministry is appreciated
- Discipleship and Ministry training should be personal and practical
- Brief training videos are valued
- Utilize updated communication methods when appropriate
- Give frequent, short, informal feedback instead of scheduled formal reviews.
- Understand that they have been raised in a post Christian era.
- Start with the end (the purpose, the why, the goal) and work back to the beginning step by step
- Help them to see that they matter.
How a Worldview is Determined
Worldviews ask and answer questions like:
- Does God Exist? (God)
- How Did Everything Begin? (Origins)
- What’s Wrong with the World? (Problem)
- What’s the Ultimate Solution? (Solution)
- Who Am I? (Identity)
- Why Am I Here? (Purpose)
- Am I Living a Good Life? (Morality)
- What Happens After I Die? (Destiny)
A worldview is a web of habit-forming beliefs about the biggest questions of life that helps you make sense of all your experiences.
The Dayton-Middletown-Cincinnati (Ohio) region is known as the epicenter for the Heroine epidemic that has swept America. Nearly six years ago, the church that I pastored (Kings Point Church of God in Maineville, Ohio) hosted a men’s encounter weekend for a faith-based Heroine and Alcohol Treatment Center in Hamilton, Ohio. Since then, myself along with a team of pastors and church leaders, have led many such encounter weekends for hundreds of men battling opioid addictions (mainly heroine) resulting in men testifying of God performing life-transformational works in most of the men who attend. Over these six years, these men have taught me a lot about the church. Here are five things that I have observed that has helped me be a better worshipper and church leader.
1. That the church should be a place where I can admit that I am weak instead of having to prove that I am strong.
2. That the church should be a place where God can demonstrate His worth to me rather than a place where I think I must prove my worth to Him and others.
3. That the church is to be a place where imperfect and broken people can meet and celebrate God’s generous mercy and perfect love rather than a place where we think we must look and act like we are perfect and have it together.
4. That the church should be a place that is open to acknowledging and wrestling with difficult questions instead of a place with canned and pat answers.
5. That the church is a place for hungry and desperate seekers rather than a place where we scrutinize and judge everything and everyone.
As you can see, I have chosen not to build a case for each of the above points. They speak for themselves. For me personally, when I worship with these men, I think of Psalm 73:27, “I am in the presence of the Lord – oh, how refreshing it is!” (The Message)
My prayer for the local church is that we might return to be a real place where people can be real with a real God. If this can happen, I believe true repentance followed by times of refreshing will fill our houses of worship once again. I want that so badly. I think you do too.
Randy L Ballard
As Christian leaders, which game are you playing? Finite or infinite?
Explain or give reasons why you believe you are playing by finite rules, infinite rules, or both.
Can you discuss the personal or corporate frustration in times when have played the finite game?
Sinek said, “The joy comes from advancement.” Discuss this statement as it relates in the context of our calling as Christian leaders.
Discuss Sinek’s thoughts in regard to Millennials (really people in general) being consumed with self instead of others. Are we guilty of these as Christian leaders?
Do we as Christian leaders/pastors look to the church to care for us? Or do we understand and practice our calling of caring for the church?