Ever since our fall into sin in Genesis 3, the effects have permeated everything and broken everything — bodies, hearts, minds. One of the effects on the mind is that there is a skewed understanding of what Christianity is about.
To some degree, our understanding is re-invented every generation; the effects of sin don’t change, but culture and sin’s pressure points do change. We are often fighting off accusations of being violent, or extremist, or close-minded. In order to address this image-problem, we can be proactive in avoiding those stereotypes when we interact with others. Sociologist and scholar Christian Smith, who wrote Lost in Translation, suggests that we can do this by being:
1. Convicted, but charitable, capable of good and constructive arguments.
2. Committed, but interested in reasonable, rigorous, fun conversations.
3. Serious, but not rigid or reactionary.
4. Evangelistic, but interested in other people not just as souls to save but as real people to learn from, as gifts for us to receive.
5. Caring about the right ideas, about truth, but interested in reciprocity.
6. Critical of the world, yet appreciative of the good in it as God’s good creation.
The 20s Mission is working to disciple and support young adults Christians as we articulate our Christian identity in the midst of many cultural changes.
If you’re in the Chicago area, come to one of our monthly events, where you can hear from other professionals and Christian leaders and discuss what it means to be a Christian in your environment.
When I was in college, I decided to do something different than many of my friends and not major in theology or ministry. I sensed that some of them were focusing on Biblical studies or ministry simply because they thought it was a higher profession, or that it was rewarding to study. A ministry vocation would be more likely to ensure that one is a faithful Christian, many of us assumed.
(Of course, this idea is present among Christian colleges, while some people in secular colleges tend to view vocational ministry as “not a real job.” That is equally problematic, because the Bible teaches that ministry is a necessary job worthy of support from the church in 2 Cor. 11:7-8).
While I too felt that I was growing in my faith while studying theology, I also didn’t believe that I was called to vocational ministry. And while staying strong in your faith takes effort, the Bible teaches that Christians are called to participate by working in many vocations, not just ministry.
In a recent Relevant Magazine article by KC McGinnis noticed the same problem. Here is how he describes our responsibility to participate in many vocations:
Because all honest work displays the image of God and demonstrates His care, it is valuable even before a single co-worker comes to faith, even before a single cent is given to charity. This view of work breaks down the distinction between the ministry and the marketplace. Both become part of a larger category: God’s work.
God designed us to work, and even allows us to make work something that doesn’t sound so boring as “work” — it can be a source of joy and fulfillment as we join him in the creative and productive process. It’s also helpful to acknowledge that our job is not our whole life, and that we have obligations to our fellow Christians, friends and to ourselves.
It’s also helpful to acknowledge that our job is not our whole life, and that we have obligations to our fellow Christians, friends and to ourselves. If work is the only thing we think about day and night, that is equally a problem of balancing our priorities.
The bottom line is that God’s desire is for us to be fulfilled in finding peace with Him, with each other, and with the gifts that he gives each of us.
Which is a bigger challenge for you? Is it harder to find joy in your work, or is it harder to get away from work and enjoy other parts of life?
Twice a year, the leaders of the 20s Mission in the US gather to pray and assess the progress of the Mission. The most recent gathering was last week, and I took the opportunity to chat with the national director of 20s Mission, Joe Maschhoff. Joe and his wife Joy have 3 children, and have been with the Navigators for a long time. They are respected leaders and laborers.
How many years have you been with the navs? How long with 20s, and how did you get into 20s?
I have been strongly involved in the Navigator Vision (as a laborer and as a staff) for 21 years. I have been on staff for 15 of them. I was a college student for 4 of them, seeking to live and disciple among the lost and later was in the business world for 2 years, seeking to live and disciple among the lost with my peers. All stages have been so rewarding! I love participating in what the Lord has called the Navigators to. I was asked to lead the 20s work in early 2009 and started that summer.
The 20s are vital in the advance of the Gospel. The sheer number of them… 30-40 million of them! Also, that decade is at the cutting edge of change: culture, technology, ways of looking at life, careers, relationships, life purpose, etc. They are often the forgotten people by many parts of the Body of Christ. I find that very few are focusing on the 20s for the sake of the Gospel. In Acts 8 we see that a key to the Gospel advancing was a “scattering” that took place. The 20s are either scatttering or about to!
I find that there is great openness to authentic and transformational spirituality. People want what is real. Marketing, nice words, and cool illustrations have limited appeal. People want real love and real change. Thankfully, that is exactly what Jesus is all about.
A Pew Research survey recently reported that the “religiously unaffiliated” in America is a bigger group than ever, especially among young people. How does this growing indifference to religion in general affect the approach of the 20s Mission?
It is one of those factors that, on the surface, can look negative. But really it can become a positive! We don’t approach people to “get them to do our thing” or “come to our event” as much as we want to help them live in the fullness that God intended. I find that this approach helps us get in the door with people that normally won’t listen to the organized religion message.
What’s your vision for 20s Mission five or seven years from now?
I see us having networks, teams, communities, and “pockets” of laborers in cities all across our country. How connected they are will vary depending on geography, job demands, family demands, etc. However, there will be some level of connectivity between the various forms in our cities. I think God wants us to trust Him to be in about 30 of our cities in 5 years.
In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus told His disciples to “make disciples”. He did not tell them to “make converts”. Converts are a means to the end of disciples, but not the end. Discipleship is everyone’s business.
Somewhere, there are likely church small groups that function like us… However, we are a cross-denominational work that focuses on seeing our Vision come to pass among the 20s. Communities, teams, and individual relationships are our vehicle to see it happen. But, our Vision is what we are aiming for. The Navigators focus on making disciples and raising up laborers more than they focus on getting people to join something.
You travel a lot — will you be in the Chicagoland any time soon?
Tim Elmore, author of Generation iY and founder of Growing Leaders, a nonprofit in Atlanta dedicated to developing emerging leaders. He offers the following tips to mentors:
What Is Supposed To Happen In A Mentoring Relationship?
So—what is it we are called to do if we’re to be life-giving mentors? Good question. Over the last several years I have made it my aim to distill the ingredients that make a good mentoring experience. The following word-pictures represent what I believe are the most helpful goals you can shoot for as you attempt to invest in someone.
1. PAINT PICTURES
Pictures stick, longer than mere words. Your mentee likely grew up in the digital generation—with MTV, photographs, videos, DVDs and movies. There are screens everywhere and images abound. I believe the surest way to deliver a memorable message is to paint a picture in their mind. Use metaphors, images, word pictures and stories to drive home the principle you want them to catch. I try to live by the axiom: give them a point for their head and a picture for their heart.
2. GIVE “HANDLES”
Everyone possesses some knowledge of truth. Most people, however, are hard pressed to own it in such a way they can use it in everyday life. Simply put, “handles” are things we can grab onto. Every door has a handle; every drawer has a handle. We give people “handles” when we summarize truths or insights in a user-friendly fashion so they can wrap their arms around it. Truth becomes a principle they can live by. When someone has a “handle” on something, it means they “own it” and can practice it as well as communicate it to others. A good mentor can distill or crystallize truth so that the complex becomes simple. For instance mentors may provide a “handle” for their mentees by summarizing the truth they are discussing into a brief phrase, slogan, metaphor or jingle. They may choose to add a memorable experience together. An example for service may be working in a soup kitchen or serving in a retirement home.
3. OFFER “ROADMAPS”
Roadmaps give us direction in our journey and a view of the “big picture.” When we give someone a “roadmap,” we are passing on a life compass to them. In the same way that maps help us travel on roads we’ve never been on, these life roadmaps show us where we are; they help people not only to see the right road, but to see that road in relation to all the other roads. They also help a person stay off the wrong roads. They provide perspective on the whole picture. This generally happens only when we communicate intentionally, not accidentally. While there is a place for spontaneous interaction, planned opportunities to speak into a mentee’s life are necessary. Friendship may happen by chance, mentoring happens on purpose. Roadmaps help mentees navigate their way through life.
4. PROVIDE “LABORATORIES”
When we provide “laboratories” for our mentees, we are giving them a place to practice the principles we’ve discussed with them. Do you remember science class in college? Science always included a lecture and a “lab.” By definition, laboratories are safe places in which to experiment. We all need a “lab” to accompany all the “lectures” we get in life. In these “labs,” we learn the right questions to ask, the appropriate exercises to practice, an understanding of the issues, and experiential knowledge of what our agenda should be in life. Good laboratories are measurable; they can be evaluated together; and they provide ideas for life-application. In these labs, mentors can supervise their mentees like a coach. They can oversee their experimentation like a professor. They can interpret life like a parent. Every time I meet with my mentees, I have a “laboratory” idea to accompany the principle I want them to learn. This forces me to be creative, but I believe in the axiom: information without application leads to constipation!
5. FURNISH “ROOTS”
One of the most crucial goals mentors ought to have for their mentees is to give them “roots and wings.” This popular phrase describes everyone’s need for foundations to be laid and for the freedom to soar and broaden their horizons. The foundation we must help to lay in our mentees involves the construction of a “character-based life” versus an “emotion-based life.” This means we help them develop core values to live by. They should leave us possessing strong convictions by which they can live their lives and the self-esteem to stand behind those convictions. The deeper the roots, the taller a tree can grow, and the more durable that tree is during a storm.
6. SUPPLY “WINGS”
The final word picture that describes what a mentor must give a mentee is “wings.” We give someone wings when we enable them to think big and expect big things from God, from life and from themselves. When someone possesses wings, they are free to explore and to plumb the depths of their own potential. When mentors give wings, they help mentees soar to new heights in their future. Consequently, it’s as important to teach them how to ask questions as how to obtain answers. Mentors should empower mentees to take the limits off what they might accomplish with their lives—and cheer when their mentees surpass their own level of personal achievement.
Read the whole thing on his blog.