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Share the Good Story

by

Bishop David Roller (To read more from Bishop Roller, visit fmcusa.org/davidroller)

In most of the conjecture about how different each generation is from the last, we exaggerate our Western supposition that individuals are capable of significant uniqueness. The truth is less exhilarating: In their essential makeup, generations are boringly redundant.

Sure, Millennials text more than Gen Xers, and young Millennials tend to live longer in their parents’ basements, but all the descriptors are incremental, not radical. At our core, we are all depressingly the same. These shared core characteristics are then molded by cultural forces into apparently unique generations of humanity, but whereas the uniqueness is on the surface, the similarities inhabit the core.

That doesn’t mean generational differences can be ignored as we imitate Paul in becoming “all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). Thoughtful ministers (both lay and clergy) will probe every generation to discover how to best present the good news of Jesus in generationally appropriate ways.

An example is how we Christians talk about guilt.


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Overlooked by the Church

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llm-oct14_foundationWhen I attended church for the first time, a tall guy with a soul patch (the seemingly universal requirement of a male youth pastor) approached. He said he saw my sister and me in service and wanted to invite us to the youth group that met later that night. I said, “Yeah, maybe,” which meant no.

Yet I remember thinking how great it was to have someone approach me and invite me to something my first time at church. It made me feel like church was a place I belonged rather than a place for “old people.”

After I graduated from high school and entered college, my experiences with churches became much different. Several times, I walked into a church, sat down and walked out after a service without anyone talking to me. Sadly, as I work with more young adults, I find out this is common in many churches today.

In Acts 6, widows were neglected. The church grew every day, but these widows were overlooked in the daily food distribution. In their book, “The Slow Fade,” Reggie Joiner, Chuck Bomar and Abbie Smith ask, “What if college-aged people are the widows of a twenty-first-century church?”

In a Barna survey, 59 percent of young adults with a Christian background report they have stopped attending church after going regularly in high school.

I think a mass exodus of young adults from the church does not result from Millennials wanting to miss church, but rather because people in the church do not try to connect with them. The church leaders in Acts 6 became aware of the need, accessed the need and, as a community, met the needs of the overlooked widows. What will you do now that you are aware of the need? Will you try to re-engage a generation that has gone mostly overlooked?

Go to fmchr.ch/Oct14Lynch for an expanded version of this article.

SCRIPTURE:

Acts 6

Adam Lynch, a 2010 graduate of Spring Arbor University, specializes in ministry to young adults. 

This article originally appeared in Light & Life Magazine at http://llcomm.org/.



Sharing Stories and Connecting in Church

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llm-oct14_featureGospel tracts, street preachers with bullhorns and sidewalk witnessing — these things seem like evangelistic efforts of yesteryear. In all of our innovative efforts to engage culture, have evangelical Christians left evangelism behind?

The church does not have the option of sitting idly by while the world continues to shape, transform and influence culture and the way young adults live. The church needs a way to address the relational voids that exist in our communities by using Jesus’ model of storytelling, connectivity and access. The challenge lies in finding effective ways to grow emotionally and numerically, instill a sense of belonging within congregational life, and provide safe and meaningful space for connections to occur and develop.

What allows a church community to flourish and instill a sense of belonging? The church is commissioned to develop a proverbial village to raise up (figurative and literal) children. Within this village, a person experiences a sense of belonging, the space to relate at different depths with different people, the strength of a resilient community of support, and the reassurance of multiple people who are invested in that person.

Becoming a Christian is life-changing. After that initial change, however, many people don’t seem to grow much, if at all. They think becoming a Christian was all they needed to do, and now they have reached the goal and are done growing. This travesty fails to understand the true goal of Christian life and the necessity of continuously growing and learning. The greatest travesty is when Christians are not becoming what God designed them to be. The heart of the body of Christ requires continuous learning and intentionality in relationships. The church must connect hurting people with people offering love and support.


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Light & Life Magazine

Over the course of the next 2 weeks, we will be posting articles from the most recent edition of Light & Life Magazine, a Free Methodist publication. Here is the intro…

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llm-oct14_covView From the Middle (Age)

I think of myself as young, but society (and my younger co-workers) might not agree.

After all, I’ve never used Netflix, and I own two VCRs. The music of my youth is now on the oldies station, and if I can’t find a song there, I can turn to my cassette collection. When I mention a TV show like “The Jeffersons,” I get blank looks. I’ll never land on Christianity Today’s “33 Under 33,” but in just 10 years I can join AARP.

When I walk into some churches, however, I’m still one of the younger people in the room. Where are the Millennials? According to Barna Group researchers, only 20 percent of adults age 30 and younger consider church attendance important (fmchr.ch/barnamil).

What can be done to reverse this trend while respecting people of all ages? I’m probably not the right person to answer that question — no matter how many issues of Relevant Magazine I read or how many hashtags I put on my tweets.

Thankfully, these pages contain the perspectives of several young adults who have much to say about how churches can reach and serve Millennials and the rest of us too.


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Do I Really Need To Know About Youth Culture?

By Walt Mueller

I think I’m your average looking fifty-six year old man. That might be why I get so many funny looks when I go to the mall. The cashiers and people in line behind me either think that I’m a crazed middle-aged maniac, some kind of creeper, or a terrible father. On one mall excursion several years ago I stood in line at the book store to purchase a stack of magazines including YM, Seventeen, Cosmo Girl, Teen, Rolling Stone, and Tattoo Savage. When I catch people curiously glancing back and forth between me and my armload of goodies I quickly utter what I’m sure comes off sounding like a pretty lame excuse – “I study youth culture for a living.” I can always tell what they’re thinking – “Yea, right.”

But is it really that important to know today’s youth culture? And why do I feel it’s so important to convince you as a youth worker to do the same? The answers are many. Here are four.


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Pastors Start Strong

Pastor Darwin Mowat and his wife, Joan Mowat, of the Lighthouse FMC in Barryton, Mich., join in worship during Starting Strong.

New Free Methodist Church – USA pastors connected with bishops and each other Sept. 8–10 during the Starting Strong Conference in Indianapolis.

“Monday afternoon, there was a real sense of excitement as the pastors arrived. There was a sense of hope to build lasting relationships with each other and the bishops,” Ministerial Credentialing Services Coordinator Douglas Britt said. “Wednesday, when they left, those hopes had come to fruition. The new pastors connected with each other and the bishops in a deep and meaningful way that can serve as a springboard to strong relationships of mutual support as they work for Christ throughout the years.”

The conference included both longtime Free Methodists who are new to pastoral ministry and experienced pastors who are new to Free Methodism.


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Ebola Outbreak: Pray for West Africa

west-africa-outbreak-infographic

Free Methodist World Missions Africa Area DirectorMike Reynen requests increased prayer for our churches in Liberia and Guinea, where the Ebola crisis is severe.

The Free Methodist Church’s Liberia leader reported his next-door neighbor died last week from the virus. News media have also reported many who have non-Ebola illnesses are unable to get needed care, either because of concerns their illness resembles Ebola or care services are unavailable. Tragically, there are not enough facilities to handle Ebola patients, and regular health care facilities are overcrowded and vastly understaffed.

Pray for all persons suffering, especially those experiencing terrible stigma and no one to care for them. Pray also for this disease to be contained. It is estimated that the number of cases could be in the tens of thousands. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 5,347 cases as of Sept. 18.) Pray for U.S. troops and others who are providing vital logistics, training support and set up of more care facilities. Pray for these workers to successfully avoid contact with the virus while accomplishing effective steps of intervention. Pray for people in the host countries to understand the disease and how they can unite to end its spread.

In addition to Liberia and Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal all report one or more cases.

For more missions news and prayer requests, read the Missions Hotline.
This post originally appeared on http://fmcusa.org/blog.


Stepping Back

For the next 8 Thursdays, we will be posting a series originally posted by Mark Oestreicher, longtime youth ministry guru and partner with The Youth Cartel.

Question: When should I start to back off and be less engaged in actively parenting my young teen?

In one sense (and you all know this), you’re never done being a parent. I still seek out advice from my parents, and I’m 51. And of course, parenting teenagers has stretched well into (and sometimes through) the 20something years in most cases. Adolescence has extended on both ends of its age delineators.

But I have a couple theories I’d like to suggest you consider reality…


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How to Help People Fleeing ISIS

ISIS Response: Bishop Thomas from Light & Life Communications on Vimeo.


The rise of the Islamic State terrorist group (commonly known as ISIS or ISIL) has resulted in persecution and beheadings of Christians and created a refugee crisis in the Middle East.

Bishop Matthew Thomas said that Free Methodists in Jordan and other parts of the Middle East are responding and helping thousands of displaced brothers and sisters in Christ from countries such as Iraq and Syria, but they need our help. One small congregation is caring for 8,000 refugees.

“They’re overwhelmed with the need – the physical, human need – to be able to care for those who have fled their country,” said Thomas, who added that many refugees “have had their own family and friends murdered and their houses destroyed. It’s in this kind of context that our churches, located in safer places in the Middle East, have been overrun with the need.”

While helping the refugees, churches continue to reach people for Jesus Christ.

“In Kurdistan, in one of our churches there, 13 people were recently baptized. There are still people that are needing the Lord and finding Him and finding the joy and the peace that passes understanding and coming to know Christ,” Thomas said. “We invite you to participate in any way you can.”

The churches in the Middle East need both prayer and financial support. Donations can be made to the Bishops’ Crisis Response Fund. Please designate your gift for the “Middle East Crisis.”
This post originally appeared on http://fmcusa.org/blog


Proud of the Progress

Mike & Vickie Reynen

Mike- Africa Area Director

Vickie- Regional Coordinator for

International Child Care Ministries (ICCM),

Proud of the Progress


Not many things make us happier–in missions–than to see our national church leaders, leading at levels beyond what we anticipated. That is what we are seeing in Malawi. Most who will read this know Henry and Bonnie, personally. And you know the years of service they gave in Malawi. One of the primary endeavors they were involved in was developing the Bible school for pastors. Many of you also know that their successors, Ryan and Jen Willson continued for several years, but in January of this year returned home, to pastoral ministry. So, we planned and worked and prayed all through last year for a good transition. Leaders were selected for the Bible school and ChildCare ministry. And, when the Willsons left, these leaders took full responsibility.

 

In late January, Vickie and I made a brief visit, while the Bible school module was still in session. All was going well and we received warm, African hospitality in the same guest house we had stayed in several times.

In August, we made another visit, this time with Bishop and Lavone Kendall. Again we found top notch hospitality. The school is going well. Principal Kalukusha gave an excellent report of the two sessions, and new developments at the Bible school. Rev. Annie is attending well to the ChildCare administration. And all three conferences brought good reports. All these things contribute to making us proud of these leaders. We had high hopes and they are leading even beyond them. This is not to say they are perfect. But, all of us continue to have room for growth. God’s Spirit is very much at work through the Free Methodists in Malawi. Praise the Lord for the foundation Henry and Bonnie laid, and the further building work of the Willsons. And Praise the Lord for all He continues to do through many leaders in Malawi.

Mike and Vickie will be our guests on Missionary Weekend, October 18 & 19.