Do you ever wonder, are people really listening when I speak? People may look like they are listening, but how do you know if you are actually impacting them? Afterall, the goal of speaking is not to just get people to sit still until you are finished talking. You want to impact them and help them grow.
You want to serve people in some way through your speaking. I’m still processing each one of the bullet points I’m about to share. I hope I never stop growing, and if I ever do, anyone please hit me over the head with a bag of nickles and remind me to keep improving!
HERE ARE 21 STUMBLING BLOCKS THAT MIGHT KEEP PEOPLE FROM LISTENING TO YOU WHEN YOU SPEAK
Youth ministry requires lots of leaders. If you want your church or parachurch to reach an increasing number of young people in your city, then you will need more leaders to do it. Developing youth leadership is a top priority. This is true for a couple of reasons. First, trends in youth ministry show us that it takes more leaders to reach fewer kids today than in previous generations. I talk about some of the reasons why in my recent post, 5 Trends in Youth Ministry & How to Navigate a Perfect Storm. If we want to reach more kids, then we need more leaders. But how do you recruit, train, and empower new teams of leaders year after year?
Five trends in youth ministry point to a perfect storm on the horizon
The trends I’m referring to are:
1. Youth culture is more fragmented than ever before. (Why? Because families are breaking down, young people are more fragile, broken, and have greater needs.)
2. You need more youth leaders today to reach fewer young people.
3. Volunteerism is decreasing.
Mark Cannister’s well-written article, “Doing it How They Did it,” is a fantastic overview of the origins of youth ministry. If you are looking for a brief primer on where youth ministry has come from and the implications for youth work today, I highly recommend his article below as one of the best youth ministry resources to have in your library. Download a PDF of the article here.
The good news of Jesus Christ is that you are loved.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8
Jesus loves us not because we are these incredibly loveable fur balls who deserve his love. He loves us in a much deeper profound way than that. Jesus knows we are made from dust. He knows that we can’t possibly fathom how great and worthy he is of our awe and worship. He understands that we were all born of the seed of Adam which means in our own strength we have no chance of ever being completely pure. He knows how broken and frail we are even though we put on all sorts of prideful masks and crutches of victimization. And in the midst of all of that, when he was on the cross, paving a path for us sinners to cross over from death to life, he cried out to the Father in our defense:
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. –Luke 23:34
WE NEED DAILY REMINDERS WE ARE LOVED
Most of us need daily reminders that we are loved so much. Without Gospel reminders we become jaded, cowardly, judgmental, and self-protective. And when we sway from feeling loved our ability to reflect the Light of Jesus’ love to others dims and dims and dims…
I really believe that ministry is more “caught” than taught. What I mean by that is that young people learn more about being a disciple of Jesus by being around someone who is intentionally pouring their lives into them. Jesus spent most of his time with Peter, James, and John, and then the bulk of the rest of his time in ministry with the other eight of his 12 Disciples. Jesus was intentional about showing them day by day what it looked like to be in relationship with him. By being around him all of the time they learned by observation what his priorities were, how he spent his day, and what seemed to matter to him. They even observed what he ate, when he slept, how he recreated, how he talked to the Heavenly Father in prayer. For Jesus, it was “quantity” time with his Disciples as much or more than the “quality of time.”
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’ – Revelation 14:6-7
As I get to know student ministry leaders in dozens of countries around the world, one of the most important topics we constantly keep at the forefront is the Gospel of Jesus and how we can communicate it effectively to young people. As the passage from Revelation above excites our imagination about the activity of God in the spiritual realm to spread the yeast of his Good News to every tribe, tongue, and culture, we need to keep reminding ourselves that evangelism is absolutely central to the mission of the church. As we explore the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-9 in this post, I want to encourage you that no matter how hard you find it is to share the Gospel, or how discouraged you get, never give up on introducing people to Jesus. The central message of this parable is exactly that: NEVER NEVER NEVER STOP SOWING.
Foreign Policy reported on some of the current statistics of Mormonism. In the article, The Mormon Missionary: The Things They Carried, they reported there are:
83,000 full-time missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who serve in 405 missions around the world. The number of full-time missionaries has risen by some 40 percent since 2012, when the church lowered the minimum age for serving from 19 to 18 for men and from 21 to 19 for women. But conversions haven’t kept pace: The church recorded just 3.4 baptisms per missionary in 2013, compared with 4.6 in 2012.
In my travels I can attest to seeing more Mormon missionaries all over the globe. I remember being in Samoa and seeing Mormon church after Mormon church as I drove throughout the island. Most Mormons introduce themselves as “Christians” and talk about their goal as “introducing people to Jesus Christ.” The problem is that, although their culture has many attractive attributes that display characteristics of Jesus Christ, their beliefs do not align with the teachings of the Bible. This can be very hard to know how to navigate in a conversation with a Mormon.
Probably the best book I’ve read on how to share the Gospel with Mormons is, I Love Mormons by David Rowe. Dr. Rowe has been a missionary to Mormons for a long time and offers keen insight. For Rowe, the proper starting point to Mormon evangelism is to approach it just as you would approach any other “culture”. The wrong approach is to start with the perspective that Mormonism is a “cult.” Although their beliefs do not align with Christianity, it is not effective to start out accusing them of being part of a cult. I highly recommend Rowe’s book. Some say that Mormonism will soon be, if not already, considered a “World Religion.” Followers of Jesus have a great opportunity in evangelism Mormons, and we need to prayerfully consider the urgency of missions to Mormons, as they are one of the more active “evangelists” of any other religion in the world.
I recently had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with a young man in a foreign country who grew up in a family that taught that the way to God is only through believing the message of a different book than the Bible. After sharing the Gospel with him for a couple of hours I pleaded with him to take my Bible read the story of Jesus for himself to see how different his story is from this other religious book.
Although he listened intently to everything that I told him about Jesus and seemed to want to believe it… he would not accept my Bible because he said that his father would disown him or kill him if he came home with it. This is where my mind went: