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:

  • If possible, a priority as a family is to watch or hear a message from your pastor. He or she is your shepherd and seeks God on your behalf. Your pastor loves your family and is called by God to care for your family’s souls.
  • If you can’t hear your pastor’s message, a message from an anointed minister on YouTube may be an option. Again, it’s wise for a parent or parents to plan this ahead of time and even make it a matter of prayer.
  • Another option is to have a parent prepare and teach a lesson. Again, preparation is imperative mixed with prayer. Seeing dad and mom at home making worship a priority, reading and teaching God’s word, makes a powerful, lasting impact on children. Children see and learn firsthand that church is not somewhere we go, but it’s who we are.
  • Involving other members of your family here, making the teaching or sermon time interactive is important. Encouraging each other to read scripture, ask questions, offer opinions, discuss scripture, and make application are all great ways your family can marinate in the word of God.
  • Close out your family worship time with prayer and possibly even singing a chorus or two together​

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?

Keeping Gen Z from Leaving the Church

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.

Five Things Heroine Addicts Have Taught Me About The Church

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.

Respectfully,
Randy L Ballard

“Be A Infinite Player”

Discussion Questions:

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?

Combating Insults

I carry in my heart the insults of so many people. Psalm 89:50b, NLT

Consider, Lord, how your servants are disgraced! Psalm 89:50a, NLT

How can we not carry the insults from others in our heart? How can we hear them but not be moved or affected by them? Is it really possible?

As pastors and Christian leaders, we can identify with the words in Psalm 89. We can preach a great sermon and experience the powerful presence of God in a worship service, but allow one insult to ruin our Sunday and sometimes our week.

Here are four suggestions from God’s word in how to battle the enemy when he attempts to use the insults of people to discourage and even paralyze us.

First, CONSIDER THE SOURCE

With which Your enemies have reproached, O LORD, Psalm 89:51b, NKJV

Consider, that the insults from our enemies are God’s enemies first and foremost. Those who insult and disgrace us are the enemies of Almighty God. It will not end well for them if they choose not to repent. The battle is the Lord’s, not ours.

Jesus taught us, …love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you. Matthew 5:44

I have always found that when I love and pray for those that insult me, it makes the cut heal faster.

Secondly, RECALL THE LORD’S POWER AND STRENGTH

Psalm 89:13 reads, Powerful is your arm! Strong is your hand! Your right hand is lifted high in glorious strength.

Ps. 60:12 reads, With God’s help we will do mighty things, for HE will trample down our enemies.

In spite of what others say or do, we respond in the power and strength of our God – not by our own strength.

Refuse to let the insults and the attacks of others keep you from dreaming great dreams and doing mighty things.

…if God be for us, who can be against us, Romans 8:31.

Thirdly, REMEMBER GOD’S CHARACTER

Ask God to help you to consistently see yourself in the light of who He is, not what others say or think about you.

Read and meditate on the scripture passage below noting how the characteristics of who God is benefits you and I as worshippers.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.
Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness. You are their glorious strength. It pleases you to make us strong. Yes, our protection comes from the LORD… Psalm 89: 14-18, NLT

Finally, REMIND YOURSELF OF GOD’S FAVOR

Psalm 30:6 says, his favor lasts a lifetime.

Your favor has made me as secure as a mountain, Psalm 30:7

Note the advantages of God’s favor throughout Psalm 30.

v. 1 you refused to let my enemies triumph over me
v. 2 I cried to you for help, and you restored my health
v. 3 you brought me out of the grave, O Lord, you kept me from falling into the pit of death
v. 11 you have turned my mourning into joyful dancing
v. 12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent

Oh Lord, my God, I will give you thanks forever!

My prayer for you and I today is from Psalm 90:17, May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us, establish the work of our hands for us, yes, establish the work of our hands. (NLT reads “make us successful)

Thanks for taking the time to read the blog. I hope it blessed you!

The Need For Discipleship

“Cultivating Discipleship”
Mark 4:13-20

Introduction: The need for discipleship.

Discipleship is the only method of retaining fruit.

  1.  The parable of the sower is a parable about discipleship.  Jesus’ teaching was on the timeline of an interested seeker, an excited believer, a distracted disciple, and a faithful multiplier.
  2. Discipleship develops “fruit that remains” (John 15).  Without discipleship, we will never achieve world evangelization.

Discipleship is the only method of multiplication.

  1. Programs produce converts and attenders; Networks produce disciples.  A network is the passing down of spiritual values from fruitful disciples to baby believers, turning them into strong disciples who disciple others.
  2. We must build “discipleship networks,” relationships that bear lasting, multiplying fruit.

Four levels of discipleship:

“Knowledge”

  1. Jesus said that the “sower sows the Word.”  Immediately, the devil is present to steal the seed that is lying on the hard soil.  The “soil” is the heart in all four cases.
  2. The seed must be pushed down deep into the heart:  “With the heart man believes” (Rom. 10).  ALL DISCIPLESHIP STARTS WITH A REVELATION OF THE WORD IN YOUR SPIRIT.
  3. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 6: 6).  Church attenders who barely “hear” preaching but have no revelation of it in their spirit will never be discipled.  That is why small groups and individual discipleship is necessary:  to be sure that an interested seeker has really received a revelation.
  4. “Knowledge” has to do with salvation, healing, blessing, family, the will of God, spiritual warfare, etc.  A new believer must learn verses that apply to each of these subjects and have a revelation of them or they will never develop fruit.  IT IS THE WORD THAT BEARS FRUIT.

“Obedience”

  1. The second level of discipleship is those who hear the Word, receive it, but only “endure for a while.”  If the Word is never acted upon, it is unfruitful.  A new believer must obey the Word:  tithing, dating only Christians, forgiving others, loving their wife, etc.  If there is no obedience, the seed of the Word is dead.

2. Once a believer makes a decision to act upon and do something in obedience to the Word, Satan makes every effort to stop them immediately with “tribulations and persecutions.

a) A “tribulum” was a piece of equipment rolled over wheat to separate the stalk from the grain.  It was very heavy and applied immense pressure.  “Pressure” is Satan’s method of opposition:  financial pressure, health problems, family pressure.
b) “Persecution” means to be “hunted.”  Satan used this method to discourage disciples where they became weary of being hunted continually by people like Saul of Tarsus!

3. We must walk with new believers through the certain tribulations and persecutions they will face as soon as they become serious about obeying the Word.

“Relationships”

1. The third area of discipleship Jesus spoke about is the deepening of our relationship to God.  As years go by (after 5 years it seems like) believers who have become disciples can become “distracted disciples.”

Three things will do this (cool down):

  • cares—Worries of the world, even about little small things to do with houses, cars, computers, fashion, and money.
  • wealth—The “deceitfulness of riches,” the ease with which Satan can remove money from you when you have chased it.
  • distractions – The “desires for other things” creep in.  Hobbies, habits,  “rings, things and blings” can all distract us from God.

2. A true fruitful disciple never loses his focus on drawing closer and closer to God (like Enoch).  If anything has stepped into our focus and is pulling us away from God we need to ruthlessly remove it as a weapon of the enemy to make us unfruitful.

“Fruitfulness”

1. Jesus said that some would bear “30-fold, 60-fold, and 100-fold” fruit.  This, of course, has to do with the measure of faith that God has given to each believer.
2. There are three ways to bear fruit in the New Testament:

a) harvest (Jn. 4:36):  “Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life”.
b) helps (Titus 3: 14):  “Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent needs, and not be unfruitful.”
c) generosity (Phil. 4: 17):  “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit”