Monday, March 22, 2010

The Elephant in the Room

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. - (1 Timothy 4:12 KJV)

As I grow older and witness my young children growing older (both processes which seem to be speeding up exponentially!), I find it more and more impossible to ignore a problem that every parent and every church is facing--the noticeable lack of young adults in many of our congregations. A lot of churches have seen a resurgence of school-age children that are attending with their parents, but what happens in the late teenage years and early 20’s? The question must be asked: what is being neglected by ministers and members of the body of Christ? What are we not doing in our churches and homes that we should be doing? This article is by no means comprehensive, but hopefully it will stir up our thoughts about this important issue.

First, we must question if we are teaching the whole truth of God’s word. Are we equipping our young people for the many temptations and troubles that can ensnare them in adolescence and early adulthood? Oftentimes, we speak about godly behavior in generalities and never delve into specific scenarios that confront our young people in everyday life. This includes the temptations of peer pressure, the importance of chastity and purity, the dangers of alcohol or drugs, and the flaws of worldly philosophies. One of the great things about scriptural truth is that it does impact our behavior and equips us to battle the myriad difficulties that confront us in everyday life. ALL of God’s children are commanded to be examples of Christ, even young adults.

We must also make sure that our teenager/young adults are actively included in the fellowship of believers. If they demonstrate a genuine love for the Lord, then they have spiritual gifts and talents that can benefit the body of Christ. Singing, praying and teaching is not limited to the older folk. I have personally been greatly encouraged when a younger church member has offered a word of encouragement or engaged me in a spiritual conversation. They have much to offer to the body of Christ.

Our nature is to associate with those that are similar in age, personality and background. We miss out on many blessings and fellowship when we limit our fellowship thusly. I encourage you to step out of your ‘comfort zone’ and actively engage the young people around you, and all those who demonstrate an interest in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Again, clear communication and expectations should be maintained when interacting with our young adults. We have a tendency to assume that teenagers and twenty-somethings will not listen to counsel, so why bother engaging them? We err when we have this attitude. God’s wisdom is relevant to the old and young alike. If we fail to show interest in their lives, and neglect to help them build a Biblical foundation, then they will seek answers elsewhere. I confess that I have been neglectful in this avenue of discipleship. Many have despised the youth. God grant us mercy and strengthen us to do a better job in the future.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Some Observations about Communication (aka, Shut Up, Put Up, or Listen Up?)

I have attempted to minister unto the Lord’s people for fourteen years and have been employed in public education for approximately twelve years. Both fields of labor require effective dialogue to meet particular goals. Poor communication on the part of the giver and receiver hinders progress in both areas. As far as receiving communication, experience has taught me that there are generally three responses when communicating with others about topics that might be challenging, uncomfortable or confrontational in nature.

One group of people will clam up. In an attempt to avoid dealing with an uncomfortable topic, they will shut down. They might quietly listen to the communicator, but will offer no response. This person usually will respond with a ‘deer in the headlights’ look when addressed. The mindset is that if I just ignore the issue at hand, then it will go away. Perhaps the individual who is being confronted is hoping that someone else will deal with situation. This mindset is an avoidance technique.

Another group will put up--walls and defenses, that is. When confronted about a challenging topic, they default to a defensive response. Any type of reproof or correction is received with much anger and bitterness. They perceive such communication as an attempt to cause them harm or single them out from everyone else.

And finally, the third group of people will listen up. These are the few who are ready to listen to others when presented with a difficult subject. They might not like what they are hearing, but they take the time listen to the information being presented. This type of person may not agree with what is being communicated but they hear the presenter out. Once they digest the information, they will try to formulate a well-reasoned response.

Obviously, the third response allows the most effective communication to take place. I believe that this is the Biblical response. James writes,

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. - (James 1:19-21 KJV)”

Useful communication takes place when we manifest a willingness to listen to others. Oftentimes, while another person is presenting something that we perceive as a challenge to us, we either immediately begin to tune them out or formulate a response to defend ourselves. Sometimes we don’t even give the speaker time to finish what they are saying before we interrupt them. James exhorts us to be ready to hear.

After we hear someone’s position on a particular topic, James teaches that we need to be slow to speak. In other words, we must pause and think about what we are saying in response to others. This simple change in our behavior would eliminate many later regrets when dealing with people! There is nothing wrong with pausing during an uncomfortable or challenging conversation to formulate a reasoned response; even if the conversation has to be picked up at a later date. This will also give us pause to examine ourselves and consider what is being verbalized to us. Perhaps the communicator is correct in their words to us.

Godly advice from others has the potential to save our souls in this present world. The gospel minister has been called by God to impart scriptural truth to the sheep. If we shut down or get defensive when confronted with Bible, we might ignore some important truth that will deliver us from great misery in our lives. There are others around us that have much wisdom that they can potentially share with us. Perhaps they have experienced some of the same trials with which we struggle, and can give Godly counsel. This needful communication will likely not occur if we respond by shutting down or getting angry. May God bless us as individuals, families and churches to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. When we cultivate this attitude, we will grow closer in our fellowship with one another and progress in our service to God. We need all of the help that we can get!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I Am Still Alive!


It has been a while, but I wanted to take a moment to update my blog. WE have been busy preparing and welcoming the new addition to our family. Gideon Everett Green entered the world at 4:55 AM on March 3rd. We are thankful for God's blessings in every aspect of our lives.

I have recently invested in a new camera, so I hope to add some pictures and post other musings that I find amusing :-) I am still writing about varied religious subjects. They can be accessed at Most are contained in the church newsletter section.

I am also hosting an Internet broadcast on Sunday evenings at 6:00 ( Tune in and take a listen!

Have a great day!