Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Break Reading List

Here's what I am excited to read in some of the quiet moments up north over the next several days:

1. new book on the rich rod years at Michigan... just can't help myself with this one...

2. Circle Maker by mark batterson...a gift from a friend...this author has deeply energized both of our spiritual passions...and this book on prayer promises to do the same...

3. Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie...the story from the founder of toms shoes

4. stickyfaith by Kara Powell and Chap Clark...thoughts on how to build faith that lasts in students.

By the way, I love reading downloaded books from library on the kindle app!

Off to sit by the fire at the cabin with a book...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reasons Younger Christians Check Out on Church

Here's some really interesting stuff I have been processing with our team at CU this fall after I read Dave Kinnaman's new book called YOU LOST ME...a great read for anyone connected to young's the info to process and respond to below...

Overall, the research uncovered six significant themes why nearly three out of every five young Christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age 15.

Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
A few of the defining characteristics of today's teens and young adults are their unprecedented access to ideas and worldviews as well as their prodigious consumption of popular culture. As Christians, they express the desire for their faith in Christ to connect to the world they live in. However, much of their experience of Christianity feels stifling, fear-based and risk-averse. One-quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said “Christians demonize everything outside of the church” (23% indicated this “completely” or “mostly” describes their experience). Other perceptions in this category include “church ignoring the problems of the real world” (22%) and “my church is too concerned that movies, music, and video games are harmful” (18%).

Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
A second reason that young people depart church as young adults is that something is lacking in their experience of church. One-third said “church is boring” (31%). One-quarter of these young adults said that “faith is not relevant to my career or interests” (24%) or that “the Bible is not taught clearly or often enough” (23%). Sadly, one-fifth of these young adults who attended a church as a teenager said that “God seems missing from my experience of church” (20%).

Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embrace the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.

Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
With unfettered access to digital pornography and immersed in a culture that values hyper-sexuality over wholeness, teen and twentysometing Christians are struggling with how to live meaningful lives in terms of sex and sexuality. One of the significant tensions for many young believers is how to live up to the church's expectations of chastity and sexual purity in this culture, especially as the age of first marriage is now commonly delayed to the late twenties. Research indicates that most young Christians are as sexually active as their non-Christian peers, even though they are more conservative in their attitudes about sexuality. One-sixth of young Christians (17%) said they “have made mistakes and feel judged in church because of them.” The issue of sexuality is particularly salient among 18- to 29-year-old Catholics, among whom two out of five (40%) said the church’s “teachings on sexuality and birth control are out of date.”

Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
Younger Americans have been shaped by a culture that esteems open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Today’s youth and young adults also are the most eclectic generation in American history in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, technological tools and sources of authority. Most young adults want to find areas of common ground with each other, sometimes even if that means glossing over real differences. Three out of ten young Christians (29%) said “churches are afraid of the beliefs of other faiths” and an identical proportion felt they are “forced to choose between my faith and my friends.” One-fifth of young adults with a Christian background said “church is like a country club, only for insiders” (22%).

Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.
Young adults with Christian experience say the church is not a place that allows them to express doubts. They do not feel safe admitting that sometimes Christianity does not make sense. In addition, many feel that the church’s response to doubt is trivial. Some of the perceptions in this regard include not being able “to ask my most pressing life questions in church” (36%) and having “significant intellectual doubts about my faith” (23%). In a related theme of how churches struggle to help young adults who feel marginalized, about one out of every six young adults with a Christian background said their faith “does not help with depression or other emotional problems” they experience (18%).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Section #1 from 58: FAST LIVING…How the Church Will End Poverty by Scott Todd

I just finished reading this remarkable read by Scott Todd inviting the church of Jesus Christ to imagine, believe, and then participate in helping to end extreme poverty for this next generation of children in our many words and quotes and ideas struck me that I've decided to simply post some of the passages I underlined over the next few weeks on my be honest, I care too deeply about this huge idea and believe with all my heart that God is indeed calling those who know Him to engage in this remarkable Kingdom act in the days and years to here's the first couple sections of many more to come...I hope you read the book or watch the accompanying documentary we showed a few weeks ago on campus at CU yourself!

The ideas in this book are designed to move you to expect that Christians, by God’s grace and power, will bring an end to extreme global poverty in the next 25 years. We can build a world where massive numbers of children will no longer die from mosquito bites, invisible killers in their water, or any other preventable threat. And on that journey we will no longer slouch under mediocre expectations of God or of ourselves. Instead we will discover sources of unexpected hope and draw strength to do what God has equipped us to do.

Expectations are not the same as hopes. They are hopes injected with confidence. Expectations also differ from possibilities. Possibilities are imaginable, perhaps even realistic, scenarios of the future. Expectations, on the other hand, are probable, seemingly inevitable scenarios for our future. Expectations provide a scaffold for our decision making, and we gamble on them every day. You can’t expect what you don’t believe possible.

High expectations innovate. High expectations persevere. High expectations don’t quit until they’re satisfied.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day--A Decade of Seeing December 1 as a Significant Day...

I spent World AIDS Day 2011 on another campus...and I didn't hear one person mention that December 1 held that particular significance for students wearing orange as hundreds did at Wheaton Academy and their weren't stories of those affected by HIV hanging from clotheslines strung across campus like we've done at Cornerstone...and I was reminded how significant this day has become for me...I've attended AIDS prayer breakfasts, taken massive school photos that have hung in my office, and been part of panels talking with those infected and affected by this virus over the last several years...and today I missed those people and being part of those events...and I was reminded that in so, so many places with people filled with people like me they still need to know what causes HIV, who its victims are near and far, what can be done to prevent its infection and spread, theneed for its treatment globally, and how good it is to have friends in your life who are overcoming the challenges of HIV, and the remarkable opportunity as a Christ-follower to pour out the love and hope that comes from Jesus into the lives of those affected by this disease...

I'm looking forward to World AIDS Day 2012 where I think I'll make it a point to spend time with others concerned about AIDS in our world today as a guy who 10 years ago wouldn't have seen anything special about December 1 as well...