Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 11.06.32 AMIn my previous post, we talked about potential areas of awkwardness for students when they come home for the holidays. I gave you one idea to bless them. Here I want to give you five thoughts to keep in mind as you have conversations with these students. 

  1. Be aware of their potential discomfort. Any time you have been away from something for a few months, it is going to be a little bit odd to reengage with it. This could be anything from a job to relationship with a neighbor, parents, friends…or you. You may be excited to see each other, but it doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t a bit awkward at this point. There is a lot that happened in your lives apart from each other that, well, is simply impossible to share over one cup of coffee. For students to try to articulate everything they went through emotionally, physically and psychologically is daunting, to say the least. That to say, I would recommend intentionally keeping this in mind and embrace the reality that you are going to leave this meeting not knowing everything…but that doesn’t mean it is not meaningful.
  2. Ask direct/specific questions. Asking an open ended question like, “So, how was your semester?” can be overwhelming and lead to them feeling like they can’t connect with you. To think through and articulate everything in that short of time is too much, and your students can leave feeling like their life is too separated from you. I’ve found it’s much better to ask specifically about their roommate, favorite class, closest friend at school, involvement on campus ministry (or lack of), favorite or most frustrating class, or even if it’s a bit awkward for them to come back home…things like that. These types of direct and specific questions allows you to really connect, on at least some levels.
  3. Share about your personal life. You pursuing your students for a time of coffee or lunch will likely be great, but it can come across as formal – or maybe even an “accountability time” from their perspective. This can be okay, but I’ve found it’s MUCH better if you take the “pastor” hat off and share about yourself. Now is the time to intentionally begin to treat them like a friend, especially if they were in your high school ministry. This can really bridge any separation and kill any awkwardness they may be feeling about their “home church.” Sharing about your own struggles, doubts, family life, etcetera can be a great next step for your relationship – as long as you don’t dominate the conversation!
  4. Ask for prayer request. At the end of your conversation specifically ask them for ONE thing you can pray for them about. This let’s them know they don’t leave your mind as soon as they leave, and let’s them know your relationship means more to you than just being a part of your job! Periodically over the next few months make sure you send them a text message or six letting them know you’re still praying.
  5. Ask them if they’re being encouraged. You could get a whole spectrum of answers on this one, but it’s a great question to ask. Some might break into tears, while others will simply be encouraged you asked. Either way, I’ve found it to be a great question to ask. It can also give you insight into areas where you can personally encourage them. Some will be more open about this than others, but you may want to ask them specifically how their relationship is with their parents, an ex, their best friend they had in high school, etc.

- Chuck / @chuckbomar

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 2.36.42 PMI’m not a huge user of social media. I do have a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account and I post occasionally on them – usually things that pertain to my family and sometimes ministry items. But I rarely look on these apps or websites to see what other people are doing. This has caused some of my friends to accuse me of being a selfish social media user. That may be true in ways, but I just don’t spend time browsing around these sites.

But, I have recently been doing so on Yik Yak and, oh my, is this interesting. In fact I have been doing a little social experiment with it. Before I explain that let me just say this: if you work with college age people and are NOT on Yik Yak…you gotta wake up and create an account. If you want to see how the people you are trying to reach think, gain insight into what they are actually talking about and thinking through or struggling with…you need to create an account right now.

The app is unique in that nobody knows who ANYONE is. It’s also based on geography…so you only see posts that are around you – and it’s derived from college campuses. So, in other words, you get the real deal from those students around you…and people throw out questions or thoughts that are unbelievably intriguing. Granted, this is not a Christian app…so you will read things that can be a bit, well, unlike Jesus. But it does give you an amazing glimpse into the minds of people.

All that said, here is how I have approached this little experiment I’ve been doing. I have been posting (because nobody knows who I am) a variety of different types of posts to see what sort of things get responses. The interesting thing about this is that your posts can also be voted off. So, you can up-vote or down-vote what people are saying and after a certain number of down-votes (I think it’s 5) your post is deleted.Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 2.34.48 PM So, here is what is interesting:

Every single thing I’ve posted about the Christian faith has been deleted. Every one with no exceptions.

I have experimented with this in both the Portland and Los Angeles areas. I have even tried posting ambiguous things and they were still voted off. For instance, at one point I made up something and posted this, “Rethinking Christians. Just met a guy that was actually pretty cool. This is a first for me.” That post was voted-down and was deleted.

The other interesting thing was every post about relationships has been voted-up and even had replies. For instance, while at Disneyland last week I made up a post and said, “That moment when your girlfriend from high school is in line behind you. Say hi or no?” This post had many up-votes and even replies. All relationally focused ones have remained on. It’s been an interesting little experiment. I also found this post to the right interesting…notice the one reply at the moment of taking this pic.

 

Thoughts?

- Chuck / @chuckbomar



Thiago-nascimento-opera-background-speaker-jpg1Our 25th episode is HERE!!! In this episode we give you four ways that has helped us support our students, in their spiritual growth. We love sharing our experiences and learnings with you, so thanks for watching. Don’t forget to Subscribe to get the newest show straight to email.

 

Hope it helps,

AC & Kurt

People Are Not A Target

 —  September 22, 2014 — Leave a comment

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 9.59.39 AMSome leaders try to figure out what attracts younger people to a church…but it’s another thing to actually provide belonging for them. Let’s look at that from a little different perspective. Just getting two people from two different generations to sit in the same room at the same time does not mean they are connecting in meaningful and sustainable ways. There is much more to ministry with people. We all know that. We just need to embrace it at the most practical levels. I do a lot of consulting and much of that is with churches or denominations that are trying to figure out how to “reach” younger generations. Some people say “millennials,” some say “college students,” and I’ve recently had a leader tell me they were trying to reach Gen-X. Regardless of terminology, there seems to be a heart to include younger people. It’s encouraging to see people of “older” generations not satisfied with few younger people being around them. But, I would say…if we view younger generations (whatever term we use to describe them) as a “target” to reach or hit…we will surely miss. In church-world I often hear phrases like “we are targeting…” and I get questions worded this way where someone is asking me about the “target audience” we are trying to reach in our church. But, dare I say, this dehumanizes people and reduces them to a stat that fits a desired metric that justifies our position. 

We are talking about human beings, not a demographic to be reached.

Now, I certainly understand the idea of “demographics” and generational distinctions (I’ve written a bunch about generational distinctions.) and using these terms does not necessarily mean we care more about our quantitative metrics than we do relationship. However, I am always concerned about the heart for people being lost in how we talk about and evaluate and program how we go about things in the Church today. I will follow this up with another post sooner rather than later, but for now let me just say this: if we want to help younger people gain a sense of belonging in the Church, we have to take the time to treat them as a human being. And that starts with how we describe them.



In my last post I discussed three relational shifts needed if we are to actually disciple younger generations.

Here, I want to discuss some bigger picture perspective shifts that are necessary. Now, to be clear, these are shifts from what might be known as a “traditional” understanding of discipleship.  In other words, here are three shifts of how we think about it:

  1. From Inside To Including Outside. Traditionally we have separated discipleship from evangelism. We have done this in our programs, in our language and many churches have even done so in their values. But in Matthew 28 Jesus clearly is not defining “making disciples” as Christian to Christian relationships. He is clearly not telling them to go and disciple each other. There is nothing in their experience that would’ve led them to believe that was what Jesus was saying. This shift is no longer allowing ourselves to believe that discipleship is just an “inside” thing.
  2. From Content To Living Example. When we think of discipleship we usually think from the context of a program…or if not, from the premise of content where we begin by thinking about specific doctrines or truths or books that we would want to help someone understand better. However, younger people are not necessarily looking for more content. They certainly want to learn, but the inward desire is to learn from exposure to someone’s living example. The disciples would not have left the conversation with Jesus in Matthew 28 and thought they should meet with someone once a week and go through some content. They would’ve left thinking they needed to go do what they’ve seen done…someone living out what he knew. This of course included content, but it stemmed from experience in life.
  3. From Country to People. In Matthew 28 Jesus says to make disciples of all ethnos - which is where we get our word ethnicity. Somehow we have thought about this as countries. I know it’s mostly translated as nations but it’s really people groups. And, to the first point above, this was radical because it was all people outside of their religious relational circles. This is a critical shift if we want to engage younger generations!

Chuck / @chuckbomar

* Check out great discipleship materials that Simply Youth Ministry has to offer. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 10.04.16 AMOver time things always change…even things in the Church. Some people choose not to change, but others do. There is always a place for both sides of that fence in the Church, but I want to talk about 3 shifts necessary for “discipling” younger generations. These shifts are not earth shaking realizations, but they are in fact different from how older generations have traditionally approached discipleship.

Here I will issue 3 shifts in the context of relationships and how we approach them. Next post will be 3 shifts in the context of “perspective.” There is more to the latter so I will elaborate in the next post on that.

The 3 shifts in relational approach are:

  1. From Information to Wisdom. Wisdom is gained through experience of embracing what we already know. The shift is a big one. It’s a shift from the mentor prepping content to bring someone through…to the mentor becoming a learner of what the other person is processing through and then, when appropriate, offering wisdom from their experience. This where biblical truth comes in. The shift is really from the mentor driving the topics of study to the other person driving the topic of conversation.
  2. From Fixing to Mutual Fascination. Far too often we look at people who “need” to be discipled as a problem to be fixed. The shift is from fixing a person to befriending a person. It’s a shift in relationship that is simply centered on being mutually fascinated with what God has done and is doing in each others lives.
  3. From Teaching to Mutual Transformation. Younger people aren’t looking to be “taught” as much as they are looking to grow and be changed. The reality is when two people become mutually fascinated with what God has done and is doing in each other’s lives…they are also mutually transformed!

- Chuck / @chuckbomar

*Need effective discipleship materials? Check out all the resources for discipleship that Simply Youth Ministry has to offer! 



Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 10.50.39 AMJesus announced the Kingdom (or literally, God’s reign) being at hand in Mark 1:14-15. At it’s core, this is simply saying, “You are now seeing God’s reign firsthand in the life of a human being.” According to Jesus, this is the good news (or “gospel”) he declares for the world to believe in. Jesus was the perfect example of a human being showing the world what God’s reign looks like, 100% of the time.

I think it’s safe to say that leaders in the Church want (or at least verbally express) the people they lead to have God reign in their lives. This may be worded in a number of different ways. Leaders say they want people to:

  • “Be on fire.”
  • “Surrender their lives.”
  • “Live for the Kingdom.”
  • “Be gospel-centered.”

Whatever language is used, the desire is to see God reigning supreme in a persons life. As it should be.

Okay, so here are 3 questions I think every leader who has this desire should ask themselves:

  1. How am I allowing people to see God’s reign in my life, firsthand? (following Jesus’ example)
  2. What boundaries do I need to set up so that I am not trying to reign in people’s lives? (avoiding a Messiah/power complex)
  3. Who is seeking God’s reign in their life and who do I know that can learn from that person? (cultivating discipleship)

Today I made a statement I’ve never made before. I said, “College Ministry is sort of like being a foster parent.” I believe that to be true for a few reasons, perhaps the most obvious reason being college-age people are in many ways “orphaned” by the Church structures we typically live under. But there is another reason I made the statement. Let me explain…

I had a meeting this morning with a pastor of a college ministry who emailed me to see if we could connect. Although I don’t have a ton of time for these types of meetings I always try to make time and really enjoy them. I love meeting new people and especially ministry leaders. He was sharing his heart for college students and expressing his struggle with having to say good-bye to them once they graduate. He really enjoys the relationships and is always in a bit of turmoil when it comes to people moving on from his ministry. One of the questions he had was about whether or not I could relate to the pain of that.

I, of course, said I cannot – I don’t like people.

Just kidding! Obviously I can relate a great deal to this and really appreciated his heart for those he invests in. We talked about how to navigate this, but I did address one thing he pointed out. He was telling me he finds himself, at times, distancing himself from them because he knows they will at some point leave. I totally understand this tendency and this is when I said the statement I mentioned above.

You see, many people say they could never do foster care because they don’t think they can handle the emotional pain of having the give up their kids at some point. I fully understand that protective tendency, but my point this morning was that I find this reasoning to be in opposition to Jesus’ call to deny ourselves daily. In other words, not to care for the orphans of our society simply because we want to protect ourselves from feeling pain seems to be pretty selfish and therefore inappropriate when held up to Jesus’ call for continual selflessness. So, in this context and in light of the gospel call toward self denial, I was trying to encourage him to hang in there and continue to invest himself into as many people as he can – knowing full well it would be hard. It was an encouraging time of discussion with this new friend. We also discussed ways he can have more sustainable relationships, which was fun to talk about as well.

- Chuck