Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Let Everything that has Breath Praise the Lord

So yesterday I worked on our Bible reading plan for West Side for 2010. I will give the Church more details as we approach the new year, but on thing we will be doing is reading through the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. My format and ideas for this reading plan is going to follow one done by Vince Antonucci. As I put the plan together I decided to end the year on a very positive note, so we will be ending with Psalms 149 & 150. The cool thing is…that is over a year away, so I want to comment on it today. If you haven’t read it, and do not have a Bible handy, click here.

What do you think the major theme of these two chapters is? Praise! That is it. We have been created to praise. We praise because we have been given salvation. We praise with everything we have. We praise because of everything God has done. We praise everywhere we are. We praise with new songs and with old songs. We praise to glorify God and bring vengeance on those who oppose God. Then the book ends with “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

I wonder, do we praise God that much? Do we spend every waking hour praising God? Does our life reflect an attitude of praise? I know many times mine does not. I am excited to see how this Bible reading plan comes together, and am excited to see it all point towards a life of praise.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Understanding the Generational Gap Part 7

The following is part of a series on generations and what I have learned about them.

The church is made up of all the generation I have discussed last week. The church is a unique organization in that it has the mission of reaching all people. Most companies are designed to reach specific parts of the population. Matchbox Cars are designed to reach young boys, while makeup is targeted to women. However, the church has the commission to reach all people.

That is why we have many churches. Each church must decide who they are going to seek to reach. When I lived in Chesapeake there was a church near by that I would have absolutely no desire attending. They have worship that is just not for me. Some of their methods are not for me. But, I love what they are doing because they are reaching people for Jesus Christ. They are reaching people that the church I served in that area was never going to reach. However, we were reaching people that they were never going to reach.

In his book The Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren talks about how they came up with Saddleback Sam. Saddleback Sam is the ideal person that Saddleback Church is targeting. They pick who they are going to go after and that is who they reach out to. Friends, I believe we must do that same thing. We must work together as the larger body of Christ brining people into a relationship with Christ with our own unique churches reaching our own unique culture.

Our culture is made up of many different people, from many different generations. Some have grown up in the church, others haven’t. Some you can label with a generation, others you cannot. Some fit their generation, others do not. The information I have passed on through this blog is generalizations, nothing concrete, but some basic guidelines to work with as we seek to grow Christ Church. Learning how to work with the different generations, different cultures, and different personalities, and at the same time defining who our target group is, will help as we seek to bring life to lost people.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Understanding the Generational Gap Part 6

The following is part of a series on generations and what I have learned about them.

What defines the characteristics of a generation? I believe there are several factors at play when the characteristics of a generation are formed. Some of these include the parents they were raised by as well as the domestic and world events during their formative years. In the past couple of days we talked about the Greatest Generation, the Silent Generation, and the Baby Boomer Generation. Today we are going to complete the generation and how we might deal with them in the Church. As we do so, please understand this is a generalization of entire generations.

Generation Jones 1954-65
Now I know you might be thinking that we already covered these years, and yes we did. Some want to draw a line in the sand and break up the Baby Boomer Generation. Those that do sight that birth rates took a plunge in 1954 and that there are some different ideals. Some Characteristics about this generation are they arose less optimistic, they distrust the government more, and are generally cynical. This has a lot to do with the things of their era, like the oil crises of the 70’s and the war in Vietnam.

This generation can be a challenge to work with in the church. They take there distrust of government over to the church. They see the world wearing dark tinted glasses, and they see the church the same way. This generation, like the Baby Boomers can be hard to get involved in things and when they do, the commitment level is not that high. Those who have been in the church most of their lives are committed and even stepping up to be leaders and Elders. This generation is highly educated and wants real answers to the questions we ask. We have to be prepared to give those real answers.

Generation X – 1963-1979
This generation was born at the end of the Vietnam War, and saw the end of the cold war and the fall of communism. They grew up during relative peace; they hold the highest levels of education of any generation; and they saw the rise of computers, video games, and the internet. This generation tends to make less money than their fathers did, but their hose hold incomes are higher because of working spouses. This generation is very pragmatic and perceptive to new things. They are very savvy but amoral. This generation is more focused on earning money than creating art.

This generation can be a great benefit to any church. Getting them in the church however can be a challenge. There are so many things screaming for this generation’s time that adding something else can be a challenge. What this generation is looking for is a church that can help to meet the needs of their families. They want churches that have things for their kids, have things that reduce the number of things they have to do, and have things that get them involved. This generation wants to see technology being used to demonstrate the gospel, as well as seeing things done professionally. They are consumer driven, and want the church to act like a marketer. This has forced the church to keep up with the modern day world.

Generation Y – 1978-1992
This generation was born during the collapse of USSR, the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Cold War. This generation was born in a time of resurgence of the US as an economic world power. This generation is driven by communication such as media and digital technology. This generation signs on daily to Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, YouTube, and their person blogs. They can be called the MTV generation. This generation no longer receives their news the “old fashioned” way of the newspaper. 74% of this generation receives its new by TV or the Internet. They grew up participating and trying everything under the sun. Because of social networking this generation is greatly affected by what their peers are doing. They have also delayed the plunge into adult hood by living with their parents longer, waiting longer for marriage, and those who choose to, waiting longer to have children. Because of this delaying of adulthood, this generation is more in touch with their parents than generation before. They have have forced business to change its strategy’s and marketing. When it comes to working, this generation seeks more feedback and responsibility, but does not want to be left out of decision making. However, they want their jobs to adapt to their lives instead of adapting their lives to their jobs.

This generation has become very focused on me. Because their grandparents parents left (the broad Baby Boomer Generation), we have a long way to go when it comes to brining them to Christ. They do not see the need for salvation. They have been raised in a world that say if it feels good do it. Their morals are based on what they want them to be. Teaching about the love of Christ is a long road. However, this generation is looking for meaning and purpose. They want to know what they are here for and they want completeness. We have a perfect opportunity to show them that only true completeness is found in Jesus Christ. We must do that by being open going to where they are, maybe that can be through blogging and social networking. We must also change the way we market the church. We must now look professional, put together, like we know what we are doing. This generation seeks this in all aspects of their lives. This generation is waiting for us to come to them. With this generation, more than any before it, must we follow the approach of Christ, and go to the people, where they, no matter how far away.

There is one more generation living in our society today. However, they are still coming into their own and I will not discuss them here. Check back Monday to see how all of this ties together.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Understanding the Generational Gap Part 5

The following is part of a series on generations and what I have learned about them.

What defines the characteristics of a generation? I believe there are several factors at play when the characteristics of a generation are formed. Some of these include the parents they were raised by as well as the domestic and world events during their formative years. Yesterday we talked about the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation. Today we are going to lay out a few more of those characteristics and how that might have an impact on the church. As we do so, please understand this is a generalization of entire generations.

The Baby Boomer Generation 1946-1964

This was the first generation during the recovery of the Great Depression and the WWII. During this time of plenty there was a major boom in birth rates. From 1946 to 1960 over 76 million babies were born. They were born during a time of economic stability as well as the pushing of new frontiers in social and philosophical realms. This generation grew up as the healthiest and wealthiest generation of all time. Because of this they expected to the world to improve with the passage of time. They saw the assassination of President Kennedy, the moon walk, the court battle of Roe V. Wade, and the rise of sexual freedom. From these things this generation sought an experimental spirit, individualism, a free spirit, and became interested in many social issues.

There are some startling statistics about this generation when concerning church attendance. Out of this generation of 76 million people, 42% left formal religion, that means 31.9 million left formal religion. Out of the original 76 million only 33% stayed in the church, which is roughly 25 million of the generation. Out of the 42% who left religion, only 25% have returned to the church, which is roughly 8 million people. That means out of 76 million from this generation only 33 million are involved in the church. That is less than half of the generation. Now the people who remained from childhood are active participating members in congregations. However, the ones who left and came back tend to be less active members and more liberal on issues pertaining to abortion, homosexuality, and other similar issues.

Friends, this may be one of the most difficult generations to deal with. I am not normally one to place blame, but I believe many of the issues we face in today’s culture; like redefining of the family, widespread acceptance of sexual promiscuity, and many other once forbidden lifestyles, are brought about by this generation. This generation became comfortable with the world their parents, the Greatest Generation, had created for them. They have grown up in plenty and have expected things to be handed them. They are willing to work, but sometimes they have unclear objectives at hand. For this generation many absolutes are not part of their vocabulary. I also believe this generation varies a great deal as well depending on the region of the country where they were raised.

With this generation there are two areas to target. The first is a little bit more difficult than the second. This first area is rebuilding a Biblical foundation. Teaching what God desires from his children. It is also returning to a Judeo-Christian set of morals and principles. It is teaching that God’s Word is infallible and inspired. This is also a group that is hard to motivate to take part in the growth of the church. There has to be at times some serious arm twisting to get them involved. But unfortunately sometimes when you do get them involved the long term commitment is not there. This presents major challenges to our churches.

The other part of this group is not as difficult to work with. In fact they are easy to work with. They are similar to the Silent Generation in the fact that they have taken what has been passed on to them and brought it to the present day. This is one of the most educated generations of all times. Because of that they are like the Greatest Generation. They are not about change for the sake of change, but if they see that it is for the right reasons, they are easy to jump on board with it. Working with this segment of this generation is truly an enjoyable experience.

Tomorrow we will look at Generation Jones, Generation X and Generation Y.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Understanding the Generational Gap Part 4

The following is part of a series on generations and what I have learned about them.

What defines the characteristics of a generation? I believe there are several factors at play when the characteristics of a generation are formed. Some of these include the parents they were raised by as well as the domestic and world events during their formative years. Today we are going to lay out a few of those characteristics and how that might have an impact on the church. As we do so, please understand this is a generalization of entire generations.

The Greatest Generation – 1901-1924
This generation grew up during the “Roaring 20’s” and the Great Depression of the United States. They saw both the good times and the horrible outcomes of the Depression. They understood what it meant to be in want and need. This is also the generation that fought World War II. Following the war and following the Depression this generation helped to rebuild the United States and helped to form it into a world superpower. This generation did not fight and work because of a desire for fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do.

This generation is a group of hardworking people, seeking a better life for themselves and their children. They are very country minded people. They honor and cherish the things of the past, but seek to build a stronger future.

I believe as we look at this generation in our churches, too many times we think they are un-capable of change. But remember, it is this generation that built the America we know today. It is this generation that fought for our freedom to speak and worship freely. They are open to change, they are open to adaptation; however, it has to be for the right reason. They are not going to change just for the sake of change. Whatever changes we seek in our churches must be thought out and presented well, and have extreme importance for future growth for this generation to get on board. If we think through change, deem it is necessary for future growth, and present it well, this generation has it in their DNA the ability to jump on board and support it greatly.

The Silent Generation – 1923-1943
This generation was born into the great depression and grew up during WWII. They saw the horrors of the depression as little children and saw the horrors of war as teenagers. This generation was raised by parents that new a good life, a peaceful life, and saw how everything could be ripped away. This generation typically has a grave and fatalistic view of the world. They often posses confused morals and expect to be disappointed, but they do desire faith.

This generation is called the Silent Generation because they did not have any major manifestoes, make many important speeches or carry many causes that made major societal changes. This generation took the technology of the Depression and WWII and enhanced it, but did not do much creating on their own. However, they did work through other means to bring about social and even political change. When they did speak out, they were well heard. One of the greatest Civic leaders of the 20th Century came from this generation, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Other leaders from this generation came from the performing arts: The Beetles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean. They all impacted culture and society greatly.

This generation was made up of hard working people seeking to keep the status quo, happy with what the generation before them had created and willing to pass it on to the next generation. For the most part major change was not sought, but contentment was desired.

This is a generation presents some challenges when it come to the church. This generation was the one that took what was done before them and held on to it tightly. They are the generation that glorifies that past and wants to cherish it, almost as if they are too scared to fail, because they know how bad failure can be. They are essential to any congregation because they remind us of our values and principles. This generation reminds us that the message cannot change. The few in this generation that are willing to step out in faith, are willing to take risks, are some of the greatest advocates in any church. They are the ones who really have the ear of the people. If anything is going to be done it must be done through them. Can you think of who this is in your own congregation? Getting to them with your ideas and vision might be imperative if you seek any change.

Check back tomorrow for the next generation. Let me know if there is anything you can think of to add to these generations from your own experiences.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Understanding the generational Gap Part 3

The following is part of series on generations and what I have learned about them.

What generation is your church reaching?
The answer to that question is possibly as simple as looking at the color of hair in the congregation. When I came to West Side one of the things the elders told me was they wanted to see less grey hairs in the congregation. Now this can be an easier thing to talk about than to actually execute.

Yesterday I broke down the various generations living in our culture today. If you look at church culture today, churches at various levels of health and life are reaching the generations they are targeting. Each generation has different likes and dislikes. A church steeped in tradition, steeped in doing things the way they have always done tend to be the churches that are dying or are struggling to maintain, and tend to be made up of the silent generation. Churches that have taken some steps forward, but cherish some tradition, tend to be the ones reaching the broader segment of the Baby Boomer generation. The churches that are cutting the edge with new methods are the ones reaching Generation Next and Generation Y.

How does all this affect the church? Knowing what generation a person belongs to, and the characteristics of that generation, will tell you what kind of church they are going to closely relate to. The church I desire, the church my mom desires, and the church my grandmother desires, are all just a little different. Pinpointing the differences in generations will help to define the people you want to reach and the church you want to be. Tomorrow I will uncover a few of the distinct characteristics of each generation, and give differences in the type of church I believe they may desire.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Understanding the Generational Gap Part 2

The following is part of series on generations and what I have learned about them.

Do you know what generation you belong to? For some of us it is pretty easy to define, for others it can be rather difficult. Because there is no specific authority, the lines and names of the various generations can become a little gray. From my research I believe there is between 6 and 8 generations living today. Below is a list of the common names used to describe generations and the years given. (The years and names very from source to source. Generations in green are agreed upon breakdowns)

  1. The Greatest Generation – 1901- 1924
  2. Some want to split this into two Generations – 1901 – 1913 or 1912- 1924
  3. The Silent Generation – 1923 – 1943
  4. The Baby Boomer Generation – 1946 – 1964
  5. Generation Jones – 1954 – 1964 (Birth rates of this period dropped off the Baby Boom highs thus leading some to say a new generation started in 1954).
  6. Generation X – 1963 – 1979
  7. Generation Y – 1978 – 1992
  8. Generation Z – 1992 - 2010

As you can see there is no real authority when it comes to defining when a generation starts and when it ends. Part of the reason for this difference and for some of the overlapping in years has to do with the parents of the generation. Depending where the parents are born affects what generation a child born during a change is placed. This makes this research a lot of fun.

How does all this affect the church? To have the best church possible you must closely relate it to your people. Knowing the different generations, their likes and dislikes will go a long way in defining what you church will look like. Can you guess what generation most of the people in your congregation belong to?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


So, last week the blog just kind of stopped. If you are, and I don't think there are many, reading this blog, I am sorry that I have not updated. My mind has not been on blogging, or doing anything creative that way. I have been sermonizing. Because I don't preach every week, (and haven't wrote a sermon in a while) writing a sermon takes a lot out of me creatively. As I do it more often I imagine I will develop a better routine and not be so creatively drained. I hope to begin/resume my generation post next week.