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Young Pros Ministry 101 by Doc Reid (2-15-2016)

Our world has been flattened via the internet. Recently I talked to a man in Bangalore, India, about an issue related to technology in my living room. With the click of a cell phone we can connect with multitudes of people through instagram, twitter, facebook, and personal websites.  The world and our opportunity to influence it literally lies at our fingertips.

Our world has become young. We have more young people in the US than ever in history. The Millennial generation is bigger than my Boomer tribe. Globally, the population is younger than ever. This generation has been shaped more than they know by the technology of texting, Facebook, and Wikipedia.

All these factors and more have created an environment where the gospel can easily be crowded out of the lives of young people in a sea of many ideas abounding on the internet among other places. Add to that a growing population of young adults who are neither churched or unchurched—they are the dechurched, those who have grown up in church but no longer want anything to do with it. How will we reach this generation?

Here are a few ideas we practice in our Young Pros ministry at the Creek:
We share unchanging truth -- but differently -- to this generation. Truth does not change, of course. The gospel of Jesus is enough. But we have not effectively communicated the gospel to this younger generation.  The unintentional focus of too many churches on religious ritual and morality has produced what Christian Smith calls a moralistic therapeutic deism that obscures the gospel while we maintain a surface Christianity.

If we will reach a younger generation we will do so not with moralisms or orders: “do this because you are supposed to.” We will do so by showing how, in a culture screaming with a thousand ideas a minute, the gospel remains the greatest idea one could ever know. We must replace a checklist Christianity with a radically surrendered life.

The irony is the greater we show young adults the radical nature of the gospel, that it will cost the surrender of all we are and all we do, the more likely young adults are to embrace it. The preachers who most effectively communicate to young adults today are the ones who call for the greatest sacrifice and who teach the Word, verse by verse, week after week.

We want to help young professionals see how the whole message of Scripture pushes us to see the great love of God in His call for us to surrender everything to Him, and to see the Bible is not a collection of individual stories with moral lessons (an Aesop’s Fables approach to the Bible), but demonstrates from Genesis to Revelation one great story of redemption, the greatest idea one could ever know.

We don't want to give young adults just enough of a nibble of Jesus to make them want more. We believe the good news in Jesus is a feast. We want to give the whole meal, and to show how following Jesus affects all of life—intellectual, spiritual, physical, relational, emotional, and financial—and help them see how that is unpacked in daily life.  We are not asking people merely to sign a card, but to grasp life as God intended. 

How will we reach a younger generation? By showing them how they were created to worship and to follow Jesus. By helping them to see the gospel compels them to see the world less as consumers and more as missionaries. By showing and telling the greatness of the gospel and its effect on all of life in the place of a checklist Christianity.

In another day and another generation a group of young men gathered while in college to push one another toward godliness. Weary of the status quo, institutionalism of their time, they added to their studies (that had to be from God), ministered in the prisons, and fasted weekly. Ridiculed by their peers, these men ultimately led a movement of God that changed their generation.

I am talking about George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, and others in the Holy Club at Oxford in the 1700s. They led an awakening that shook England. I believe this generation can as well. But not if we spend more time getting them to adopt the status quo than getting them to Jesus.

Young Pros Ministry 101, Part 2 by Doc Reid (2-15-16)

Here's a second aspect of ministry to young pros at the Creek: we seek to focus less on maintaining religious institutions and more on advancing a gospel movement.

Millennials have watched one Islamic extremist named Osama Bin Laden change the whole world by leading a movement of global terrorism. Their lives are driven by movements in fashion, in the arts, in music and culture.

The world has been shaped more by movements than by dictators or armies. The Civil Rights Movement, the abolition of slavery movement, and others have shaped history. No movement has changed the world like the movement that began with a little band of believers on the eastern side of the Roman Empire in the first century AD. In fact, you are reading this article because of that movement.

Jesus Christ did not come to establish a moral code; He came to launch a movement. Now, His movement certainly affects our morality.  But the generation before us will not be captivated by our institutions, our buildings, our programs, or our code of conduct. But they will give themselves to a movement bigger than they are.

Look at Starbucks, for instance. Today young people by the thousands stand in long lines, pay highly inflated prices, and go out of their way to meet friends at Starbucks. Why? Because Starbucks created what sociologists call a Third Place (home, school, third place). Starbucks grew globally in a short period of time because it quickly had the feel of a movement, and people who go there do not feel the same about going to Starbucks as they do going to McDs or BK.

Institutions matter. God gave us the home, the state, and the local church. I teach at an institution of higher learning. But they are not the point; God's movement in this world is.

We call spiritual awakenings MOVEMENTS of God. What if we challenged young adults not merely to show up at a church service dutifully, but to give their lives advancing a movement of the gospel? This would include faithful attendance in corporate worship, but it would be about so much more. Institutionalism breeds a factory mindset where we show up, don’t rock the boat, do the minimum, and leave unchanged. The gospel is MUCH bigger than that.

I do not want to give my life maintaining an institution. But I will give my life, every bit of it, to advance a movement of God. And I believe there is an army of young adults who will as well. The more we show the mission of God in all of Scripture, the greatness of the gospel for all of life, and the wonder of spending ourselves advancing a movement of God, the more we will find a generation of young people ready to join that movement with us.