Category Archives: College Ministry

Death by Church Leadership – pt 2 –

300px-Mort

A few weeks ago I suggested simply that our methods of developing young leaders in our churches are not working.

https://collegechurchplanter.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/death-by-church-leadership/

We are quick to blame our young leaders for not being ready for ministry.  We are quick to blame the seminaries for not preparing our young leaders but we never seem to point our fingers back at ourselves for creating cultures that develop leaders but not disciples of Jesus!

I say all this with a full knowledge that I have not only lived and worked in this system but I have failed many young leaders who I was entrusted to lead.  For that I am terribly sorry, but I am also working diligently to right these wrongs in our church and in our ministry.   At the beginning of Judges there is a terrifying passage that shakes me to my core each time I read it.  If you are a pastor, father or a Christian who cares about the kingdom it should matter to you as well.

Judges 2:7  The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.

Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.

No one can argue about Joshua’s generation – It would be foolish to suggest that they were not obedient, to suggest they were not faithful or even to suggest that they weren’t fruitful.  They did every thing right except one thing…….they failed to raise up the next generation.  I am terrified that our churches, our ministries may see great things done by the Lord but fail to teach our kids and the next generation how to walk as Jesus walked and live as Jesus lived!

The overall reason we are here is that we have created systems that develop leaders & not disciples.  We create mechanisms that allow young leaders to forfeit their spiritual gifts and deep calling and instead we tell them their place in the church is a greeter, a child care worker, a “volunteer.”  We have stopped inviting kingdom dreamers to seek Gods will for their life and too pursue the kingdom dreams God has given them and instead we call them into small dreams of how to, “grow our churches.”  The four areas I targeted were:

1) – The disparity between intellect and character

2) – Microwaved leadership

3) – Results over people

4) – Information without Experience

Here are three simple ways we can get better:

1) – Train for Character – I find it easy to correct competency issues, its easy for me to sit down with someone I am leading and say, “that’s not the best way to do this, why don’t you try this.”  It is much tougher to sit down with someone and say, “your not the person you need to be in order to lead as Jesus would lead.”  3DM has a great set of character ?’s that I use often, I will simply ask my huddle or the young leaders I am discipling, “which one of these questions do you not want me to ask you.”  I also have to participate in correcting character flaws when I see them.  I have tons of phone calls or coffees where I call out specific moments when young leaders make mistakes.  Do it in love, do it in grace and do it in truth.

3DM Character Questions

2) – Know Your young Leaders – Take them to a ball game, invite them to dinner, grab coffee!  Your tendency will be to be the answer guy, I encourage you to ask tons of questions.  You can never really live a life of invitation and challenge with someone out of positional leadership.  People may accept your challenge out of fear or out of respect but we want people to respond to challenge out of love.  There are a few young leaders who I love like I love my own sons!  I feel incredible pride for the men they have become and I have found in them friends that will last a lifetime.  What an incredible gift they have given me and I would have missed it if I had not been open to a relationship.  This means I have to open up my life for young leaders, I have to open up my home and I have to be available when they need me.  My greatest success in ministry is not the titles I have held or the sermons I have preached, or the churches I have started it is the young leaders I have produced.  So why do I spend so much time building the church and writing sermons instead of investing in young leaders?

3) – Apprentice Leadership – Our goal is to lead as Jesus lead and to “teach on the road.”  To invite young people into our lives and to teach them as we do life together.  We have adapted an apprentice leadership model that allows students, and church planters to spend one to four years with us preparing for ministry before we send them out.  Our core values and the things we hold most dear is that we want to Connect, Train, Reproduce and Send.  This is one of the ways we accomplish those goals.  A great method we have learned (from the New thing network) and one we saw in Jesus is to simply take your leaders through a four step process of leading.

  • I do you watch (You do the leading the teams you are leading watch & discuss)
  • I do you help (You still lead but you begin to give away small pieces to your team)
  • You do I help (You begin to give away large pieces of ministry but you still help make that happen)
  • You do I watch ( You set free your leaders when you are confident in their ability to reproduce)

Here is our handbook for our apprentice program!

Multiplicity Project Handbook

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The TOM Project

For the last few months Sarah and myself and a group of friends have been dreaming about what it would look like to plant 100 churches on the 100 most influential college campuses in the US.  Well its happening, I’m so excited to be a part of this team & thrilled about the possibilities this holds for the kingdom!
This quote may explain best what I we have been thinking!

The main reason Christian believers today lack influence in the culture, despite their aspirations, is not because they don’t believe enough or try hard enough or think Christianly enough. It’s because they’ve been absent from the arenas in which the greatest influence in the culture is exerted. ~ James Davidson Hunter, To Change the World

So please check out this announcement from Mike Breen & the website for the TOM project we are thrilled to see God creating a movement of multiplying disciples and churches on the college campus!

If you are as excited about this vision as we are then there are 3 ways you can get involved:

1) – Training – If you have already planted or are working in an existing campus ministry and are looking for training then join us. We will discuss how to build a discipling culture, how to create a movement of  missional communities, and how to create sustainable economic engines to sustain ministry.   I don’t believe there is another training out there that is as effective and intentional for college pastors as these learning communities.  You can sign up here.

1st Learning community begins Feb 17-22 2013

2) – Future College Church Planters –  If you are preparing to plant or God is stirring your heart towards planting then why not plant on a college campus.  Move to one of our missional training centers, spend 2 years being trained in principles and practice.  Then we will send you out to one of the 100 most influential campuses in the US.  For more info on this training read here.  Contact me ben@avechurch.com if you are interested

3) – New Thing Partnership – In order to pioneer new and exciting initiatives we believe we need to grab a group of pioneering leaders to join us as we seek to make this dream reality.  We are grabbing 6 to 8 church planters and giving them the best of both worlds.  They will receive all the training from TOM and they will also receive the brotherhood and coaching  throughout the year with the New thing Network. 

For us being a part of these 2 networks has allowed us to receive training and brotherhood in a way that has been amazingly beneficial.  If you are interested in joining this pioneering network through new thing contact me @ ben@avechurch.com

“The Look”

Psalms 32 :8

I will instruct  you and teach you  in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on  you.

This week during one of our morning prayers we simply reflected on Psalms 32 and in particular verse 8.  We had a group of college students & a few of the students made very similar comments.  All of them were something like, “there are moments when I feel so stuck in my faith, because I’m having such a hard time determining God’s will for my life.”  They all felt as if so much of their life was found waiting on God to speak that they never actually moved.  We start our apprentice program with the very simple idea that the foundation of discipleship is learning to hear God’s voice & respond.

 
The culture that many of the students come from is a culture where there are pastors, small group leaders, parents, mentors who are the “answer guys.”  So each time they struggle with what’s next, what job to take, what to major in, what classes to take, or what to eat for breakfast on a Thursday.  They grab their answer guy & listen & then they go.  Some can’t find a local “answer guy”  so they find a celebrity pastor, an author or someone they can podcast.  What we create here is a culture of co-dependency!

The spiritual leader loves to be the “answer guy” but the young person never learns to actually seek & pursue God, they simply live out someone else’s faith.  So, we have a generation that often times seeks wise counsel without ever seeking God!

Breaking this co-dependency is not easy but it’s where we start with our students!

So back to our morning prayers, I told the story of how I can simply give my daughter a look & she cries.  This may sound terrible but I am kind of proud of it.  I can simply mean mug her for a minute & she will automatically start crying, and telling me she is sorry.  This doesn’t work with my older boys, my wife or the other pastors on staff at the ave.   Although I think I’m close with Jeromie Jones & a few of our elders!  The idea is that with a simple glance my daughter knows she has wandered, she knows she has drifted outside of my comfort zone for her life & she knows something needs to change.  Every husband knows this look from his wife, every employee knows this look from their boss, every wide receiver knows this look from his QB.  Every Christian should know this look from God!

We need to train our young people to simply, intuitively walk by faith.  Not because they have spent hours with mentors discussing Gods will, not because they have spent months waiting on Gods will but simply because, the sheep know the shepherds voice.

Jesus tells a parable of an unprofitable servant in Lk 17:7-10:

7 And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? 8 But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. 10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ”

Doing college ministry for the last decade I have learned that one of the greatest dangers we face is a generation of young people who “do their duty” but don’t know their master.  Instead of knowing Christ because of grace they believe they follow him out of their own merit.  They don’t party, drink & sleep around and they believe that this sums up their salvation & their faith.  However, the master wants more from us than simply doing what we were commanded to do.  He wants us to know him!

Do you really believe that God wants to instruct you & guide you today?  Do you know that his eye is on you?  Do you know the look?  The simple glance of God that makes us re-evaluate where we are going, what we are doing, and who we are becoming.

Our homework for our students this week is to come back & report on a moment when God gave us “the look”.  Would you consider doing the same?

What I look for in Young Leaders

We are about to roll out the information for our residency program at the Avenue for 2012.  I am very excited about the opportunity for us to invest in a large group of young leaders.  (More coming on all of this)  One of the avenue’s goals is to invest in 20 to 30 young leaders each year and to simply say follow us as we follow Christ.  Our goal is to get them prepared for ministry in many different contexts whether they are a kingdom worker disguised as an engineer or a student minister at a local church.

Here is what I look for in young leaders:

  1. Humility / Teach-ability – Does he/she respond well to coaching?  Does he/she have a humble spirit that desires to grow?  Can he/she take constructive criticism and grow?  Does he or she want to be discipled?  If the answers to any of those questions are a resounding “NO” then they may not be ready for leadership.
  2. Character -In Mike Breen’s new book Multiplying missional leaders – There is a few brilliant chapters on Character & Competency.  He defines Character as being like Jesus.  Does the young leader desire to look like Jesus, live like Jesus and act like Jesus?  The Rich Young Ruler was interested in the answers but unwilling to change his  life in order to look more like Jesus.  I see the same problem in many young people.  They know the right answers but have no desire to do the hard work required to live like Jesus.
  3. Competency -Character & competency always go side by side.  While character is being like Jesus on the interior, competency is doing the things Jesus did.  A leader who is low character /high competency is dangerous while a leader who has high character but low competency is limited.  We are looking for leaders who have & desire the character of Christ but also have the desire to live and act as Jesus did.

This diagram from 3DM has helped shape my thinking of Character & Competency:

  1. Enthusiasm –  I want energy from young leaders.  I want excitement, I want questions, I want hope, I want enthusiasm.  Our young leaders should make us young, they should make us rethink the old ways of doing things, but they should do so not in a cynical or condescending tone but with enthusiasm.  Angry leaders make wars, inspired leaders make change!  I see far too many angry young leaders who believe they have solved the worlds problems at 23 instead of excited young leaders who want to really see the church change.
  2. Problem Solvers –  I was taught at a young age that there are 2 types of leaders.  One who can define the problem & one who can solve it.  Most young leaders excel at defining the problem.  They can sense what is wrong & have no trouble voicing their dis-approval.  Real leaders don’t only define the problem but they solve it.  I don’t need young leaders constantly telling me whats not right I need them coming up solutions to get to where it is right.  My boss when I was 25 asked me to never criticize an idea unless I had a better one, to never define a problem unless I had at least one idea on how to solve it.  That advice has served me well!
  3. Family Focused –  I want young leaders who are not looking out for # 1.  I want young leader who want to be a part of a family on mission together.  I want them to understand that in a family everyone has a role & I want young leaders to buy into their role the family.  Its not enough just to be humble and serve, you also need to let your church family know how much you love them.  Say thanks, young leaders, if someone is investing in you, make certain that you let them know how much you appreciate it.  I can always tell which interns are going to succeed by the way they leave.  If they leave saying thanks, I know they will do well.  If they leave feeling under appreciated, or under utilized, I am certain their character still needs some growth!
  4. Love the Church – There is an increasing frustration for God’s church in young leaders.  I am looking for young leaders who love God’s church and believe that the church although it is flawed is still how God will reveal His, “manifest wisdom” to the world.  I know the next generation feels let down by almost everyone.  Parents, politicians, the economy, the job market and even the church.  The best young leaders I have ever worked with loved Jesus with all their heart & because they  loved Jesus they loved His church with all their heart as well.  You can’t love Christ & hate his bride, it just doesn’t work that way!

Did I miss anything?

What would you add?

What do you look for in young leaders?

3 Questions from Sunday

As we studied the life of Abraham last weekend I asked 3 simple questions of our congregation.

1) – Where are you tempted to take shortcuts in your walk with God?

  • Gen 16 -21 is filled with shortcuts between the promise & the fulfillment – Where are you tempted to take shortcuts on the journey

2) – What are you holding back from God?

  • God says this to Abraham after Isaac was laid on the altar.  Because you have not held back, I will not hold back.  What are you tempted to hold onto.
    because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you

3) – Where in your life do you need to take the first step of faith?

  • God often moves only when we take the first step of faith.  Where in your life are your feet planted & unmoving, where has he said go & you said no?

I would love to hear your thoughts – Lets share together so we can grow together as a family on mission!

You can hear the message here –

Leading & Waiting

Two things have happened recently that have me thinking about leadership.  I got a call recently from a young man who wanted to write an article about me as being a “up and coming Christian leader.”  He said he was writing an article for a small publication and wanted to tell the stories of “Christian leaders” under the age of 35.  I politely told him that I was 37 and that I wasn’t sure an article like that would be good for my pride.  Things like that tend to puff me up & not lead me to thanking God for what he is doing but instead to thinking I’m something special.  So being old got me off the hook!

I also recently took a fairly in-depth personality test.  The one that sends you back 70 pages about who you are.   The type of test that kind of freaks you out with how accurate it is.  The one that makes you wonder how did they figure this out from me answering questions like – “Which of the 3 do you like more – Puppies – Babies or Cookies and Cream Ice Cream ?”

Well, on this particular voodoo test I was told that I am off the charts apostolic, that I am a pioneering  leader who loves to start new things.  That coupled with my desire to lead, and the high D on the DISC test means that I have a serious sense of urgency to get things done.  The results of the faith based test labeled me as a “Christian leader”

I guess “Christian leader” is the term I am wrestling with today!

Being a leader is a great place to be as a church planter or as a pastor but sometimes an awful place to be as a follower of Jesus.

Here’s the dilemma:

  • Leaders lead – Followers follow – I am never told to be a Christian leader – I am asked to be a follower of Christ
  • If I am a follower than God is the starter not me
  • If I am to walk by faith then I need to wait & listen to where He leads me
  • If I am to be lead by the Spirit – Then I can’t lead my own way
  • If I am to allow God to light my path then I can’t create my own path

You see I was taught to be a go-getter, to make quick decisions, to be assertive, to be confident & to lead the way.  I was taught to lead follow or get out of the way!

I wasn’t always taught to say

  • I don’t know – Because I’m not sure God has spoken and I simply want to follow Him
  • Lets seek God on that before we jump into something he hasn’t planned for us
  • Lets slow down, pray & wait for God to direct us
  • Or maybe the worst one of all – That is an incredible idea but I don’t think God is leading us there

Can I be honest – This doesn’t feel like what a leader does, it feels a little weak, a little too passive and a little bit lazy.

So we have started a simple exercise around our office where we create two sides on a white board (we have tons of them)

The first side simple says – WHERE HAS GOD SPOKEN

  • On that board we write all the areas where we know God has asked us to move & to go.  In those areas we plan, we act, we go , we do, we build.  We do what American Christian leaders are supposed to do – We act!  When God speaks we instantly move!

The second side simply says – WHERE DO WE NEED TO SEEK GOD – Where might God be speaking

  • This is for areas where God might be speaking.  Areas where God is stirring something but we are not yet certain of where he has asked us to go.  In these areas, we wait, we pray, we seek God, we ask for His guidance, we seek biblical counsel from other leaders and we are passive.  We do something very counter intuitive to the American Christian leader we wait.

One feels very much like leading – The other feels very much like waiting but both are teaching me that God speaks and we respond.  He sets the course and we act.  He guides and we move. That its His church and it isn’t run by “Christian leaders.”  Maybe, I’m just wrestling with semantics  but ultimately, I don’t want to be known as a Christian leader!  I just want to be known as a follower of Christ!

Where do you need to lead & where do you need to wait?

What happened to all our young people pt 4 – Consumer Creation

Let me start by saying, I was a student ministry pastor for nearly 15 years.  I know its tough, I know most student pastors are not only young but they are alone.  They are isolated and there is no one pouring into them.  I get it, in fact I personally meet with a group of student ministers in our community often and I hear their longing for some one to lead them as they lead students. I know how tough it is to work with today’s students and I feel your pain, I meet with a group of 15 year old boys 3 days a week and they are incredibly frustrating.  I speak at 15 to 20 student events a year and if there is anyone who is on your side youth ministers its me!

With all that being said, our student ministries are producing consumers and not disciples!

I know because I inherit consumers & not disciples every year.

We have catered to their needs, we have attempted to compete with culture to have the coolest program in town.  I spoke to a youth minister who in tears told me that over the last few years he had spent more time trying to create cool t-shirts & teaching series than he had in discipling students.  What we save them to is what we have to keep them with.  Unfortunately, we have a generation of young people who don’t know Jesus but know cool programs, bands, t-shirts, conferences & funny speakers.

The prophet Isaiah may have said it best with Is 1 – When he not only critiques but absolutely criticizes gatherings that don’t create lasting change!

Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
    Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons,Sabbaths and convocations—
    I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
    I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
    I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
    I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!

When our gatherings lose sight of Jesus we lose everything!  Instead of offering our students the abundant life of following Christ or giving them a vision of making disciples we give them a show, a production or a t-shirt.

So I could rage against the machine for quite some time but I’m not sure that is productive:

Here are 5 things I suggest every youth minister does to start making shifts from a consumer culture to a discipling culture:

1) – Be Discipled!

– 95% of you have not been, so find someone you respect, someone who looks like Jesus to you & follow them.  Ask them to disciple you!  Find someone who’s life is worth imitating & imitate them!

2) – Stop Counting Attenders & Start Counting Disciples

– You have to change the scorecard from how many butts are in the seats to how many students are in huddles, how many students are serving, how many students have an adult (not a 19 year old) pouring into their lives weekly.  I know you can fill an auditorium if you serve enough pizza, get a good enough band and do enough fun activities, but if that does not translate into disciples its all a “worthless assembly.”

3) – Huddle with a group of 6 to 8 students every week

– Make this your number one priority!  This is more important than sermon prep, event prep & t-short design. This matters!

4) – Find moms & dads who know how to disciple their kids & recruit them to invest in other students

– Look for parents who love their kids & who’s kids love the Lord & invite them to help you.  Listen to them!  They may not know whats cool but they know how to raise kids who love the Lord.  Invite them to help you, invite them to open their homes to other kids, invite them to huddle with groups of 6 to 8 kids in their homes.  Pray that God shows up!

5) – Start asking yourself important Questions

  •  Is my life worth imitating?
  • Am I walking with students close enough so they see my life?
  • Who am I intentionally investing in today?
  • Do the plans I am making this week make consumers or disciples?
  • Am I willing for our numbers to get smaller in order to make more disicples?
  • Am I inviting students to a relationship with Jesus while challenging them to live their life for him?

Nuggets (Exponential Conference)

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I spent last week at the Exponential conference in Orlando Florida.

Here are some nuggets of truth I picked up that have me thinking about ministry and church planting.

I am not a big conference guy but I do love the exponential conference.  I run with 2 different “tribes” of people in the church planting world and if you are planting I suggest you check both of them out!  Both have been incredibly valuable to me in my growth as a leader as a pastor and as a church planter.

New Thing Network & 3DM

1) – Everyone will love you until you lead

– I have found this to be incredibly true in church planting & in college ministry.  New families love us until we ask them to pitch in, college students love us until we ask them to rethink what living for Jesus looks like.  Everyone will love you until you lead the question is when the time comes when God calls you lead in tough ways will you shrink back or will you really lead.  Love what Hebrews 10:39 says:

39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

2) – Create a Covenant with your Spouse

I loved this idea & Sarah and I are in the process of writing one.  It simply lays some ground rules for what ministry can and can’t become.  Bill Hybels and his family said it best, “In ministry you are always going to disappoint someone, make sure that someone isn’t your wife and kids.”

3) – Teach from Scars not from Theory

Wayne Cordeiro said, “young leaders want to start at third base every time they get up.”  There are no short cuts in this.   We have an enormous amount of leaders who want to lead from a business book or lead from a template or a theory.  Very few that lead from our scars.  We lead out of seasons of being sifted, and pruned and then we grow into leaders.  Just as Peter’s greatest season of ministry was birthed from a season of sifting so is ours.

Luke 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you,Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

4) – Discover a great theology of place

Nothing new here or earth shattering but I was simply reminded of how much I love my city and was encouraged to continue to read my city so that I may be better prepared to preach, lead and serve them.

These are some simply nuggets of truth but I hope they encourage you & get you thinking in the same way they did for me!

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Nuggets (3DM)

Recently I started an fairly intense 2 year training period with 3Dm

I am so excited about the journey that began this week with a week long learning community in Cincinnati.  It is an amazing movement & God is profoundly shaping the way I practically apply discipleship in our Community.

So this morning I was searching through my mountain of notes and simply praying over what God is teaching me & I wanted to share some simple nuggets that God is working out in me & in our community.  When I say nuggets I don’t mean to minimize their significance, they are immensely valuable & are teaching me to lead as Jesus lead.

Tomorrow I head to Orlando for the Exponential conference and I will share some nuggets from there as well!

1) – The Church is the effect of discipleship not the cause!

When you build a church you don’t always get disciples but when you make disciples you always get the church.

2) – You can’t take the worlds methods & models (based on power & provision) and apply those to the church

In fact, Jesus said, (Lk22:24-30) – Don’t do that & you are not like that and you can’t make disciples that way.  Our current methods of leadership in the church more often than not prevent us from reproducing.  Are you leading in a way that creates dependence on you or in a way that creates of movement of multiplying disciples?

3) – We can’t detach the work of Jesus (Salvation) from the way of Jesus (sanctification)

Our goal is not to get people to walk across a line it is to get people to walk in the way of Jesus.  Our systems support walking the line & making a sell instead of asking people to become like Jesus.  Invite people into families on mission, then challenge them & model the way for them to walk in the ways of Jesus.

4) – Feed the Horse & Maintain the Cart

Our current methods starve the horse (the discipleship engine of the church, what makes us move) and  keep building the cart (the Sunday service).  We starve out the engine that drives the church & then wonder why we aren’t moving.  Think lightweight & low maintenance, we have pimped out our carts but they are being driven by starving horses (disciples & pastors included).   I don’t want volunteers to do what I do, I want disciples who do what Jesus did.  How much time in a normal week do you spend feeding the horse & how much time to you spend building the cart.

These are just a few great nuggets that have me spinning & praying this morning!

If you want more info on 3DM – I suggest grabbing a few books / Building a Discipleship Culture / Covenant & Kingdom / Launching Missional Communities and coming soon Multiplying Missional Leaders.

What happened to all of our young people (pt 3) ProLonged Adolescense

2 Tim 2:22

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Recent findings published by the American Sociological Association and based on U.S. Census data show a sharp decline in the percentage of young adults who have finished school, left home, gotten married, had a child and reached financial independence, considered typical standards of adulthood. In 2000, 46% of women and 31% of men had reached those markers by age 30, vs. 77% of women and 65% of men at the same age in 1960.  Those numbers are continuing to decline rapidly.

Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a developmental psychologist who has studied this age group extensively, explores the mind-set of young people in a  book, Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road From the Late Teens Through the Twenties.

“They’re not as mature because they’re not required to be,” he says. “It’s really the society and culture as a whole.”

“This is a generation that has grown up in an accelerated culture and forced them to be older before they’re ready,” says David Morrison, president of Twentysomething Inc. “Now that they have their independence, they are going to squeeze every ounce of that sponge before they settle down.”

For the 1st time in our countries History we have a generation of young people who want to delay adulthood.

In his  book, “Guyland,” a Stony Brook professor notes that the traditional markers of manhood—leaving home, getting an education, finding a partner, starting work and becoming a father—have moved downfield as the passage from adolescence to adulthood has evolved from “a transitional moment to a whole new stage of life.”

What once was lets spend a weekend together before we get jobs & leave college has now become a new life stage for young men!

Today’s guys are perhaps the first downwardly mobile—and endlessly adolescent—generation of men in U.S. history. They’re also among the most distraught—men between the ages of 16 and 26 have the highest suicide rate for any group, despite their image as a band of back slapping buddies.

Why is this happening?

1) – Student Loans & Cost of College – Students are faced with the option of enormous amounts of debt that force young people to stay away from college.  When I was in college I interned at a church, I coached basketball at a local high school and I worked in the student center.  About 25% of the college students I know today actually work.  The rest spend a lot of time playing video games, watching sports & enjoying life.

2) – Entitlement – This makes young people wait for the perfect job instead on take the one that is available.  I know many young people who instead of taking a fast food job or job at the mall choose to live on someone else’s couch & never move forward.

3) – Fear – We can’t over emphasize enough that this is a fatherless generation & that they are terrified of making the same mistakes their fathers did.

4) – Media Glorification of Immaturity – Watch any film or television show targeting men between the age of 18-30 & all of them will involve a group of young men who are immature, who have never grown up, who are simply enjoying life & doing whatever feels good.  The only person portrayed in these films as being in bondage is always the one who is married & works from 9 to 5.  Entourage, the Hangover, any show on MTV, the list could go on & on.  I can’t think of one character on film or TV who is in their mid to late 20’s married, working and happy.  The lie is go out & do whatever feels good because once you are married and working you will never enjoy life again.

Solutions:

1) – Discipleship & Mentors – As surprising as this may sound our young people want authority in their lives.  I know I am banging the same drum again and again but our young people need a Titus 2 model of the church where they have someone walking beside them.  They need someone to tell them to get off the couch, to go get a job, to man up & stop being a child.  They need a Paul pushing them towards maturity.

2) – Vision of Godly Families – They need to see family modeled correctly!  At least 3 times a week we have college students at our dinner table.  They watch how I correct, love & encourage our children.  They see how Sarah and I love each other, deal with conflict & love our children.  We invite students to go on family activities with us, we invite them to be a part of our lives.  They don’t need a perfect example of Jesus in the family but they need a living one!  Invite students into your home & into your families life.

3) – College Ministry can’t be youth group 2.0 – We don’t play ridiculous games, we don’t do 1500 events a year, we don’t try to wow our students every week with a cooler band and a better program.  We teach them that the church is a family on mission together & its their turn to take their place in that family.  We push them towards maturity, towards sacrifice for the body & towards leadership (Heb 5).  90% of the campus ministries I see and observe simply continue youth ministry for our kids with an endless supply of messy games, retreats, concerts & foolishness.  I could argue that our current student ministry model is not working with high school students, we lose 7 out of 10 of them when they go to college.  If its not working there why continue it here?  We need a new vision of what college ministry looks like.

4) – Don’t give them spiritual Busyness / Give them Jesus – Our great hope in Christ has been reduced to Spiritual activity & busyness.  Our students don’t need another event, activity or fellowship night.  They need Jesus! Give them a picture of how Jesus changes everything, teach them that they are the priesthood of all believers & that they are missionaries now.

5) – Local training centers for Students – In the past 2 years since our church has been in existence 11 students have walked through the Multiplicity project (an intense year long discipleship & training program).  Next year we already have 5 signed up already and our goal is 15-25 students.  Students need to receive intense training, discipleship & mentoring from the church! This can’t be microwaved it takes time commitment, discipline & structure.  Call your students to spiritual discipline & commitment.  If they can study liberal arts 101, jog walk and communications 101.  They can commit themselves to studying scripture for a year.