Are you doing ministry for Jesus or with Jesus? One of the questions that rang in my head thanks to Samer Massad at NYWC 2019. It was a question that I think I have been wrestling with for a numbers of years and haven’t really been conscious of it. Was I being Martha, striving to serve, to do things for Jesus, to use my gifts and talents but fail to see that all He wants is for me to sit at his feet and BE WITH Him? Also at NYWC 2019 Albert Tate decided to hit me upside the head about the idea of remix. Does something old need a remix to be new again in your life? The week before that at Northview church, Steve Carter decided to pull out the scripture about remaining in Christ; "keep the remain thing the main thing". Then a few weeks before that I had a moment of weakness, of doubt, of insecurity, of pain and broke down while talking to my amazing wife. She said, maybe its cause you always try to do it on your own. Echoing in my ears, was this thought of striving, pursuing, pushing, driving towards what I thought God wanted me to do, what my job was calling me to do, what people expected me to do.
I have been doing youth ministry for the past 13 years. I have had the privilege of serving with some of the most selfless staff, leaders, volunteers and students over this time. I feel truly blessed and honored to be around such incredible people. I didn’t go to college to study how to be a pastor, in fact, I did a pretty good job of running away from that direction. I had an incredible youth pastor growing up and he encouraged me to think about youth ministry. I had bigger visions of making lots of money and living comfortably. As God always does, he put this longing in my soul for something that actually was a bigger vision for my life, working with this generation to help them see HIM, know Him & love Him. I knew in my heart of hearts that this was what I should be doing with my life. I stepped into the role of youth pastor at the church I grew up in, me Jesus in, was baptized in and loved. So… in typical Enneagram 3 fashion, I dove in and got after it. I had a chip on my shoulder trying to make sure everyone knew I could do it, even though I didn’t have the experience or the schooling. I kept pushing, driving and doing more with the ministry at church. I wasn’t good at asking for help, I needed people to see that I could crush it on my own. So for the next 13 years that was my mentality, not on purpose, but in my humanity I fell into the achievement trap of ministry. This doesn’t mean that God didn’t use my misguided subconscious. God has done so much in the past 13 years and has shown up time and time again (like there was ever any fear of Him not showing up). I have had a front row seat to God working in students lives, transforming them from the inside out to be reflections of Him. I tear up just thinking about all the ways I have seen God work these past 13 years.
I've had moments of clarity along the way, where I was honest with myself. I’ve had moments of candid conversations with people I trust about my inner drive to be loved for what I got done, to be loved for what I can accomplish, to find acceptance for being great at whatever I do.
What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and pop 25 year old me in the nose. Pop him in the nose and let him know that all the striving, all the pushing for more, all the stuff you went after in your head isn’t really the main thing God wants for you. Jesus told Martha in Luke 10 that Mary had it right, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and was with her Savior.
I had been doing ministry FOR Jesus for far to long and it has to change. It has to change for myself and my own spiritual maturity. It has to change for my family and modeling what following Jesus actually looks like to my kids. It has to change for those I have the honor of leading, because they need to know the its not about what you can do, its all about what has already been DONE on the cross. No amount of striving can ever earn God’s love, it’s already been given to me. God loves me no matter what I can accomplish. My thick skull has been mulling this over for the past month or so and it was in TAMPA at NYWC ’19 that I think the hammer came down. I have to completely surrender all of me so that God has more to work with. I have to surrender my accomplishment attitude, my drive, my striving to Him in order for Him to get more out of my than I ever dreamed.
For anyone out there in the same boat, I feel you! I know where you are at and I know what the enemy is saying in your head. Ignore the insecurities, rest in your identity being in Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to actually lead your life. Control is a comfort but not a way to live the fulfilling life God wants for you and for me!
I am going to start sitting at HIS feet.
I am going to start carving out time to just BE in His presence.
I am going to sit and listen to that still small voice.
I am going to be sensitive to His spirit and direction for my life.
I am going to lead from a place of Christ like surrender.
I am going to stop striving, pushing and driving to be perfect.
I am going to get out of the way and let God be what HE always should be in my life… the leader!
That's my #NYWC19 moment…
Get the book here: Faith For Exiles By David Kinnamen & Mark Matlock
Generations in our lifetime:
The Builders - 1927-1945
The Boomers - 1946- 1964
The Busters (Gen X) - 1965 - 1979
Millennial (Gen Y)- 1980-1995
Digitals (Gen Z) - 1996 - 2009
Digital Babylon looks like being overloaded with choices, weaponizing humor and using Emoji’s and Gifs for every moment. This is similar to God’s people in ancient Babylon where God’s people were in exile, away from home and trying to figure out how to live by God’s law in a foreign land.
Digital Babylon makes all of us exiles.
Young people ages 15-23 spend over 2700 hours behind a screen taking in tons of different types of media. The average person age 15-29 takes in only 152 of faith based content out of the 2700 hours.
Christian Research of people age 15-29 gave the following results:
X-Christians - 22%
Nomads - do not go to church but identify as Christian - 30%
Habitual Church Goers - theologically don’t have a christian worldview - 38%
Resilient Disciples - 10%
Resilient Disciples -Committed Christ Followers - developing Jesus followers who are resiliently faithful in the face of cultural coercion. Resilient disciples take in 562 hours of spiritual content online as opposed to those who are considered nomads to take in only 210 hrs of faith based content.
This generation is trying to answer the following questions:
Searching for Identity - Who Am I?
Fighting Anxiety - How should I live in today’s world?
Experiencing Loneliness - Am I loved?
Harnessing Ambition - Whats my purpose?
Feeling Entitled - What am I owed?
Resilient disciples have a few main characteristics:
Experiencing Jesus - clearing religious clutter for closeness with and joy in Christ
Meaningful Relationships - being devoted to fellow believers we to be around and become
Cultural discernment - understanding the culture they live in and how to live purposefully
Vocational discipleship - no matter the career field they are experiencing spiritual growth to influence their workplace for Christ
Mark & Dave define discipleship in three main sections:
Recognizing their identity - are they rooted in their identity in Christ
Aligning our values - do personal values line up with biblical values
Developing skills in the way of Jesus - are the characteristics the person is developing those that Christ modeled
Exiles are instrumental to God’s purposes in times of change
There is so much data to go through and learn, the book would be super helpful to continue to find ways to impact this generation help them see a proper reflection of Jesus in person and online.
For those of you who don’t know who Samer Massad is, he is currently the Director of College Ministry at Woodstock City Church, one of the Atlanta area churches of North Point Ministries. His passion is to communicate the life-changing truth of Jesus in an engaging, relevant, and practical way. This morning Samer Challenged NYWC to stop doing ministry for Jesus, but do ministry with Jesus. Below are some statements that jumped out of the room:
"Death by distraction is being pulled in so many different ways that our attention gets shifted to things that aren’t important "
How easy is it for you to be so busy doing work for Jesus that you don’t take time to just BE with Jesus?
In Luke 10 you read about Mary and Martha with Jesus. Mary was siitting, listening and learning from Jesus. Martha was slaving away in the kitchen, working, getting frustrated with Mary and went to Jesus. "Jesus dont you care that Mary isn’t helping?” Martha wanted Mary to help her be hospitable to their guests.
Hospitality in middle eastern culture is EVERYTHING - Martha is following the cultural norm and working hard to make sure everyone is taken care of, that the guests had everything they wanted. The frustration Martha had was very real.
Jesus tells Martha “Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her. Martha, you are being distracted from whats most important, ME!”
"Distraction Dilemma - Even a good thing can distracting you from a better thing”
"Doing for Jesus is not the Same as being with Jesus”
Matthew 11 - Jesus gives you an invitation - Come to me all who are weary and burdened… my yoke is easy but my burden is light.
You need to take on the posture of Mary, sit, listen and learn from the Lord.
Nobody wins when you fail to come to Jesus for rest.
"You can quit ministry tomorrow and Jesus would still want to spend time with you"
Ministry isn't why Jesus loves you… Jesus loves you because he loves YOU