Fishing For Friends!

Almost 20 years ago, Jen and I were officially challenged by our regional leaders to move to Davis and pioneer a new Cru ministry on the campus there. We excitedly said yes and moved to Davis the following summer of 1998. We were there for 10 years and it was an exciting time of tremendous fruit for us.

June, 1999a handful of students gather to celebrate our first year of Cru at UC Davis!

When we walked on campus that very first day, we had exactly ZERO students involved. By the end of the first year, we had 10 committed students involved. When we evaluated the makeup of those 10 students who were involved, we asked ourselves, “where did these students come from?” We wanted to know which of our events and activities were the most effective in attracting students.

What we realized is that our students came from everywhere. We met one student as the result of a spiritual interest questionnaire we conducted during orientation week. Another student came up to a table where we were passing out Freshman Survival Kits. Another student saw our info table during the first week of school. Two students saw a flier and came to a weekly meeting on campus later in the year. Another student was invited by a friend.

The reality for us in starting and building the ministry at UC Davis is that no one event drew all of the students who got connected to us. Each event & each activity yielded small results, which, when added together over time, developed into a growing core of committed student leaders.

When we transitioned to working with Young Professionals, we would often be asked, “How will you find Millennials?”

It’s a fair question and we wondered ourselves how things might develop.

One thing we learned from our campus days that we’ve applied to our current situation is that building anything of significance takes time. The work is long and hard and progress is often incremental. But after a while, when a solid core foundation is established, you eventually reach a point of critical mass, where things begin to take on a life of their own and you’re struggling just to keep up with all that’s happening.

Robert (left) connected with us through our website: ocamplified.com, while we met Tim (right) at the Epic Winter Conference.

For the last year or so, we’ve been working to build our foundational core group.

Just like our first year in Davis, we’re evaluating where our group members have come from. One guy is a former student from Davis who lives in the area. Another Young Professional contacted us through our website. We connected with one of the women in our group from a Cru conference last fall. Another gal was urged to contact us by her parents who are friends of our ministry.

The entry points are varied, but we know that at some point, our network will get to the point where things will begin to grow exponentially because of the combined relational networks of those involved.

Hundreds of people stopped by our booth at FishFest in order to spin the prize wheel!

Last month, we had the opportunity to host a booth at FishFest. FishFest is a large all day concert hosted by 95.9, The Fish – Southern California’s largest Christian radio station.

We thought an event like this might draw a lot of young people whom we might not encounter otherwise.

It was a fun event to do together. It was long and very busy at times, with a lot of people approaching our table to take a spin of our prize wheel.

In the end, we met a few Young Professionals, but not nearly as many as we had hoped we might. But that seems to be how things work. No one event is the silver bullet that magically transforms the ministry into a massive movement.

Please pray that Young Professionals like these would get connected to our network as a result of our time at FishFest.

Our hope though is that next year, when we’re evaluating our group’s makeup, we’ll have a few people connected to us whom we met through FishFest.

In the mean-time, we’ll continue to press forward in meeting Young Professionals in any way we can and seeking to connect them to our network, while helping them to thrive spiritually and live missionally.

Thanks for your continued prayers for us and for being a part of our building process.

And as a reminder, if you know a Young Professional who is living and/or working in Orange County or the surrounding area, let us know. We’d love to meet them for coffee or lunch, tell them about who we are and what we’re doing and see what happens!

 

P.S. Check out this One minute video highlighting some of the action at our FishFest 2017 booth!

5 Ingredients Necessary for Growth

When it comes to the spiritual dimension of life, why is it that some people thrive while others dive?

As we meet with Young Professionals, particularly those who identify as followers of Christ, almost without exception we hear them say, “I can’t find community.”

Robert is a Young Professional who, like many recent college grads, was looking for a spiritual community that matched the passion and commitment he experienced while being involved with Cru at Cal Poly, Pomona.

It’s a curious statement to make if you think about it because there are no shortage of good churches and small groups to connect with. How hard can it be to find community?

As we probe further, however, they often explain that they can’t find community like they had when they were involved with Cru in college. Or they can’t find community like they had in high school, or in a particular youth group.

Somehow, the opportunities for connection, growth and development after college aren’t exactly what they expected because they don’t mirror the environment and community that they had previously experienced.

For many Young Professionals, getting connected to a deep and meaningful spiritual community has been a frustrating and disappointing endeavor.

As we’ve thought about this issue of growth and development, we’ve concluded that there are 5 ingredients necessary to a person’s environment that make it substantially more likely they will thrive spiritually and live with purpose and meaning.

These 5 ingredients are:

  • Kingdom Vision – in order for a person to thrive spiritually over the long-term AND make an impact for Christ, they have to have a vision for God’s kingdom and be motivated to be a part of it.
  • Team – Most of us tend to take on the level of commitment and passion that exists in the people around us. So by surrounding ourselves with other like-minded people who really want to make a difference for God, we’re more likely to step up our level of passion and commitment.
  • Plan – if we have no plan for what we’re going to do to serve the Lord and make an impact, then nothing will happen.
  • Coach – numerous studies have shown the value of a coach in helping a person realize a goal or fulfill a vision.
  • Ongoing equipping and Development – people who are growing in character and personal development often have more to give.

For those who’ve been a part of a campus ministry like Cru or InterVarsity, these 5 ingredients were probably embedded within their community without them even being aware of it. The environment was tailor made for spiritual growth and development.

But after college, a community where these ingredients are readily present may be harder to find.

We want to help provide these key ingredients for Young Professionals so that they might get connected to a vibrant community and begin to thrive spiritually and live missionally.

We’ve recently launched something we’re calling Leadership Development Groups. These groups are not a Bible study but more like a professional cohort environment where Young Professionals meet monthly to process key biblical and life concepts together in a small group context.

Currently, Jen and I are each leading a group and we’re in our second month. So far, the response has been extremely positive as most of the Young Professionals we’re connecting with seem to agree that this is addressing a need that they’ve been seeking to meet for some time.

We’re pretty excited about the potential and we’re hoping to get new groups started in the coming months.

Would you pray for us and the current groups we’re leading as well as for the formation of new groups in the months to come?

Also, please pray for us to continue to think creatively about how we can provide these 5 key ingredients for Young Professionals in Orange County so that they might thrive spiritually and live missionally.

We are grateful for your prayers and your partnership with us!

Crossroads, Chicago and Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Chicago was cold but it was fun to see the city and also connect with some of our colleagues from around the U.S.

At the beginning of December, Jen and I got a chance to spend a few days in Chicago with some of our Cru colleagues from around the nation who are also reaching out to Millennials in their respective cities.

It was bitterly cold, but it was a great time of connecting and learning from one another as we’re all in various stages of pioneering this new venture to reach and minister to Young Professionals.

The headline on this newspaper aptly describes how our ministry feels.

Ironically, one morning as I was waiting in the lobby to meet someone, I noticed the title of a newspaper, which read, “Chasing The Millennials”. Sometimes, that’s what it seems like we’re doing. We’re chasing the Millennials and we’re not quite sure where to find them or how to catch them when we do encounter them.

One of the questions we have been frequently asked since starting this new venture is: how are you going to find Millennials? It’s a good question.

When we were working on campus, it was easy to find students. We just showed up on campus and there they were. It was simply a matter of engaging with them and seeking to connect them to our specific campus community.

But reaching Millennials in Orange County is more complicated. There’s no “campus” where they all naturally congregate. There’s no Student Union where they all relax and hang out. They’re everywhere and nowhere at the same time. For us, it’s a matter of finding the natural places where they live, work and recreate and engaging with them there.

We believe that our ministry is going to grow through the natural relational networks that already exist among Millennials. For that reason, we’ve been focusing efforts on meeting and connecting with as many Cru grads as possible who are living and working in Orange County. The hope is to connect with Young Professionals in our area who already have a familiarity with Cru and then expand by tapping into their relational networks.

Attending the Crossroads conferences allowed me to connect with students and many staff friends, including former UC Davis students Paul (left – San Jose State), Chris (Univ. of Arizona) and Josh (right – Chico State).

Right before Thanksgiving, I attended Crossroads, a yearly conference for Cru juniors and seniors designed to help them navigate life’s choices as they seek to pursue Christ while making decisions about their vocation.

Being at the conference gave us a first-hand opportunity to talk to students and share with them about our ministry in Orange County. Perhaps the biggest benefit though was connecting with many of the campus staff we’ve known throughout the years. Many of them were reminded of grads who are now living in Orange County whom they can connect us with.

One of our former students who is now directing the Cru ministry at UC Irvine and Chapman invited me to dinner to hang out with his team. While there, I met Jeff, a recent Cru grad who is serving as an intern with Cru here in Orange County. Jeff expressed an interest in what we’re doing because he works with students all day and he wants to have more community with guys who are in a similar life stage.

Jeff, far right, not only won our Ugly Christmas Sweater contest, but he connected us with (left to right) Josh, Andrew and Tim.

I invited Jeff to come to our Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. To my surprise, Jeff not only came but he invited some of his cycling buddies to come as well.

Through a series of natural relational networks, I met Jeff who then introduced me to Tim, Josh and Andrew.

Our hope and prayer is that the scope of our impact will continue to expand as we tap into the natural relational networks that already exist here in the OC. Please pray with us as we continue to reach out to Young Professionals and seek to help them thrive spiritually and live missionally!

What Pop Culture Tells Us About Millennials

Every fall we’re inundated with a slew of new TV offerings trying to gain our viewership in an attempt to become the next hit show.

Every fall, there are a slew of new TV shows to sort through.
Every fall, there are a slew of new TV shows to sort through.

This year’s fall and midseason lineup of new shows features the regular assortment of legal dramas (Conviction, Bull, Notorious and Doubt), along with a number of spinoffs of other hit shows (24: Legacy and The Blacklist: Redemption), not to mention a few reboots (MacGyver and Prison Break) and a surprising number of shows based on popular movies (The Exorcist, Frequency, Emerald City, Lethal Weapon, Taken and Training Day). And of course, you can always count on Fox to throw in an animated show that targets an adult audience (Son of Zorn).

One of the new sitcoms that I’ve been watching is called The Great Indoors, and stars Joel McHale (from the hit sitcom Community) as Jack, a renowned outdoor adventure reporter who takes a desk job with an outdoor magazine. He struggles not only to adapt to life indoors behind a desk, but also to understand his staff of millennials who write about outdoor adventures that they never actually experience.

The show is fascinating on many levels as it portrays many of the stereotypes of millennials that we’ve heard through the media and research.

The Great Indoors is a new sitcom airing on CBS that takes a peek into the lives of Millennials in the workforce.
The Great Indoors is a new sitcom airing on CBS that takes a peek into the lives of Millennials in the workforce.

Of course the humor and the settings are not always family friendly and the caricatures of millennials are often exaggerated, but there is often some truth to the portrait of millennials that the show creates.

For example, in a recent episode, when a feature story idea goes completely off the rails, Jack tells Clark (the Millennial who is responsible) that “to call this situation a dumpster fire would be an insult to flaming piles of trash.”

A dejected Clark responds by saying, “I knew it. I just wanted to be a great journalist but I stink.”

Sensing an attitude of defeat, Jack tells Clark, “You don’t stink at journalism. You just stink at knowing what your actual talents are because you’ve been over-praised and under criticized.”

Clark suddenly has this realization that it’s actually good to live in reality because only then can he fulfill his true potential.

Millennials need and want to know what they’re good at. They want to know what their talents are and how they can make a difference in their community. They want to live with purpose and meaning.

All of our research on Millennials, along with our own personal interactions, confirm that Millennials want input. They want mentors who can influence them and help them manage life and grow personally, spiritually and vocationally.

But after college, there often is no intentional plan or program to help Millennials with their personal and spiritual development.

Millennials want input. They want mentors who can influence them and help them manage life and grow personally, spiritually and vocationally.
Millennials want input. They want mentors who can influence them and help them manage life and grow personally, spiritually and vocationally.

We hope to change that here in Orange County. After the first of the year, we’ll be launching our Leader Development groups, which are aimed at providing some key ingredients to help Millennials thrive spiritually and live missionally in today’s current cultural and professional environment.

We hope to help Young Professionals understand themselves better. We want them to know what they’re good at and how God has uniquely wired them. And we want to challenge them to use those unique gifts and talents to help advance God’s kingdom purposes in our community and around the world.

Please pray with us and for us as we continue to move forward with some of these new initiatives. We covet your prayers and are grateful for your partnership with us.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that the NBC show This is Us is by far our favorite TV show of the new season. With it’s positive portrayals of family, fatherhood and adoption, it’s a show that draws you in and tugs at your emotions. Check it out and let us know what you think!

A New Coaching Perspective

This morning on The Today Show, Tom Brokaw shared a video segment on the latest workplace trend, WeWork, a communal office space, which, not surprisingly, is a trend that is being driven by Millennials.

The Four minute video can be seen here on Yahoo, but it was something Brokaw said in the post-piece discussion with the other Today Show hosts that caught my attention.

He said that “this [Millennial] generation is changing everything that we have taken for granted over the years. Often they change jobs. Between the ages of 20 and 31, they’ll change jobs SIX times. They don’t want a permanent [work] place.”

In our limited experience in meeting with Millennials, we’ve found this to be true. The Millennials I know are very transient and seem to be changing jobs or moving frequently.

I can’t say for sure what’s driving this need and desire for frequent change, but one thing that I can say, is that Millennials are concerned with and often confused about their calling, which may contribute to frequent job changes.

In just the past few weeks, Jen and I have met with several Millennials who’ve all asked similar questions, such as, “how did you know you wanted to do what you do?” Or, “how do you determine your calling in life?” Or, “how do I know if this career is right for me?”

Brendan Porter moved to Southern California to start a LaCrosse business. God had other plans. Brendan now serves as the South County Director for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and is working to impact the lives of high school students like my own twins, Jacob and Joshua.
Brendan Porter moved to Southern California to start a LaCrosse business. God had other plans. Brendan now serves as the South County Director for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and is working to impact the lives of high school students like my own twins, Jacob and Joshua.

These life questions are rooted in a deep-seated desire to make a difference in the world. Millennials want to make a positive impact on others yet they often don’t see how their job is directly contributing to any positive change.

Part of our vision in working with Millennials is to help them integrate their faith and work, understand God’s calling on their life, and learn how to advance God’s Kingdom purposes by serving in their community.

A big role we have is that of a coach. But my understanding of what it means to coach others is being challenged through some of the professional learning we’ve been pursuing.

You see, when I think of a coach, I tend to think of my Little League Coach or my high school wrestling coach. When I think about those coaches, there was a lot of instruction and teaching, which makes sense because those coaching scenarios largely involved skill acquisition.
When I think about coaching Millennials, I tend to think about imparting my wisdom, experience and expertise to those who are less experienced. My tendency, then, is to give advice and suggestions to help others move forward and make decisions.

Jen and I are reading a book that has challenged that thinking somewhat. The book, The Coach Model, suggests that the role of a coach (a life coach) is NOT to give advice or make suggestions. Instead, the coach’s role is to listen, ask questions and empower others to be equipped to think through and handle situations on their own.

The author makes the case that God is already at work in the life of all believers. Though all believers have the Holy Spirit, not all believers listen to His voice and know how to respond well. Coaching integrates a discernment process that empowers others to learn to seek and listen to God’s voice in their own discernment process.

In a sense, our job is to help Young Professionals mature spiritually in such a way that they become more and more reflective and dependent on the Holy Spirit as they seek to overcome obstacles and meet the demands of life.

It’s a different coaching perspective, but in the end, Young Professionals will be empowered to discern GOD’s calling on their life, instead of simply adopting the desires and calling that others may have for them.

Once a person understands their calling and their passion, lives are impacted and communities are transformed. This is our hope and prayer for Orange County.

Please pray with us and for us as we learn new skills and coaching paradigms that will enable us to more effectively minister to Millennials in Orange County and release them to advance God’s Kingdom purposes throughout our community!

The Amplified Life

When you think of “Orange County”, what comes to your mind?

Some people think of the beaches or world-renowned surfing. Others think of sailing or yachting in Newport Harbor. Still others think of iconic locations such as Disneyland or the old El Toro Marine Base.

Whatever your experience is with Orange County, one thing is certain – it is diverse. It’s diverse culturally as well as geographically.

SaddlebackSnow
South Orange County’s Santiago Peak tops out at over 5600 feet.

Within 30 minutes of surfing or sailing, you can be hiking on a trail leading to a snow-capped peak of over 5600 feet.

Whether it’s surfing, sailing, hiking, biking, shopping, entertainment or sports, there are no shortage of activities in Orange County for the adventure seeker.

Many Millennials who live and work in Orange County are looking to satisfy the longings in their souls with the experiences that the “OC Lifestyle” provides.

The nature of people is that we all want full and meaningful lives and we generally pursue those things that we think will provide the meaning and happiness we desire. For many, that means long hours at work seeking to climb the corporate ladder. Or it means getting the right car or living in the right neighborhood.

In John 10:10, Jesus said that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Jesus offers the kind of life we really want and were created to experience and He declares that He’s the only authentic source of real life.

Hiking in Black Star Canyon on a Spring Weekend.
Hiking in Black Star Canyon on a Spring Weekend.

As we reach out to Millennials in Orange County, we recognize the desire that Young Professionals have to experience all that life in the OC has to offer. Our desire is that Young Professionals in Orange County would experience “the fullness” of life that Jesus offered – to experience life at “full volume.”

Jesus offers a life of meaning and purpose by knowing Him intimately and experiencing the spiritual life for which He created us. We refer to this as the “Amplified” life, a life of spiritual adventure where Christ is amplified in us so that His love might be amplified through us to those around us.

Orange County is an awesome place to experience the amazing beauty and diversity of God’s creation. But all of the adventurous opportunities that exist here in “The OC” pale in comparison to experiencing God Himself.

Jen meets with a couple of young engineers for lunch at The District, a shopping and entertainment center located in central Orange County.
Jen meets with a couple of young engineers for lunch at The District, a shopping and entertainment center located in central Orange County.

Our hope is that Millennials in Orange County would experience an amplified life, where Jesus Himself is the source of adventure and excitement in their life, even as they’re surfing, hiking, working or whatever.

We’ve created a website: ocamplified.com to help connect Young Professionals in Orange County. Check it out and let us know what you think.

And if you know Young Professionals living or working in Orange County, let us know. We’d love to meet them, connect them to other Young Professionals and do our best to help them experience the Amplified Life – the life of adventure that only Jesus can provide.

Life is Like a Track Meet

About a month ago, I attended my very first track meet ever. I honestly never paid attention to track except for watching some of the Olympic events on TV. Even in high school, I gave no thought to our school’s track team. I couldn’t tell you whether we had a good team or a bad team or even if we had a team. I was a wrestler and running and jumping and stuff like that wasn’t my thing.

Jacob passes the baton to another runner in a relay race.
Jacob passes the baton to another runner in a relay race.

But now that our twins, Jacob and Joshua, are running as freshman on the track team, Jen and I have been introduced to a whole new world.

If I had to describe a track meet in one phrase, I’d say it’s “organized chaos.” Unlike team sports like soccer, basketball, football or baseball, a track meet features multiple events that are all happening at the same time. Runners are racing while jumpers are jumping and pole vaulters are vaulting while discus throwers are throwing.

Though it seems like each event is disconnected from the rest, in actuality, each event can earn team points toward the overall team score. So even though the distance runners aren’t aware of what’s happening with the sprinters, and the sprinters aren’t aware of what’s happening in the field events, each group within the team is working toward scoring points for the overall team score in an effort to win the meet.

I thought about how life is like a track meet. We all have many different areas in our lives that often feel disconnected. We have work, family, friends, neighbors, church, youth activities and school activities, not to mention our personal hobbies and online communities.

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The 100 meter sprint ends in a photo finish

Like a track meet, it’s easy to see each of these areas as distinct and separate from the others. John Ortberg, in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, says that the great quest for people today is to achieve “balance” with all of the disparate segments of our busy lives. But the problem is that this desire for balance often leads us to compartmentalize our faith. We think of a pie chart with 7 or 8 slices that each represent different areas of our lives. This paradigm encourages us to think of matters such as “finances” or “work” as non-spiritual activities. It keeps us from realizing that God is interested in every aspect of our lives, not just our “spiritual” activities.

The idea of “balance” implies that we’re trying to make our lives more manageable and convenient and lacks the notion that my life is to be given to something bigger than myself, just as the track meet is more than the individual events but the larger team goal.

The goal as Christians is not “balance” but integration – what Ortberg calls a “Well-Ordered” heart. As we work with Millennials, our desire is to help them see that Jesus wants to be completely integrated into every aspect of their lives. We want to help them live for Jesus and express their faith in every area, whether it’s at work, or with their friends, or with their family, hobbies or finances.

Instead of seeking “balance” which sees our main problem as external – a disorder in our schedule or season of life, living a well-ordered life sees that our main problem is internal, and we need Jesus to be actively involved so that we might experience true transformation from the inside.

Thank you for your part in our chaotic lives and for enabling us to pursue a well-ordered heart while encouraging Millennials to live in such a way that Jesus is fully integrated into every area.

Women's Long Jump
Women’s Long Jump

The Trabuco Hills boy’s Track & Field team is currently ranked #1 in Orange County.

Check out this link from the Orange County Register: http://bit.ly/1UTwxX5

A Month of Milestones

This last month has been full of milestones and new steps forward for us.

You might remember that a few months ago, Jen had cataract surgery on her right eye. One of the side effects to being on Prednisone for an extended period of time is that it can cause cataracts to develop. Jen’s vision in her right eye was so obscured by an enlarging cataract that her ophthalmologist recommended that she get the surgery.

The surgery was a success but at a follow up appointment about 6 weeks later, her doctor recommended that she get cataract surgery in her left eye because that cataract had continued to grow. So in mid-November, Jen had cataract surgery on her left eye as well.

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Jen and Dave celebrated with dessert at the Cheesecake Factory when Jen took her last Prednisone pill.

Not long after that, on November 19th to be exact, Jen took her last Prednisone pill. Jen has been slowly tapering down on her Prednisone dosage since February and finally, she had reached the point where she could eliminate this medication from her daily pharmaceutical regimen. It was an exciting moment for sure.

Last week we experienced another milestone in our continuing recovery. For the first time in 20 months, Jen and I traveled together for a conference related to our work. It’s not often that we get excited about traveling out of town for a bunch of meetings, but I admit that I was looking forward to a change of pace and connecting with our colleagues from other cities.

Our meetings in Austin were an opportunity for us to rub shoulders with about 20 other Cru staff around the country who are ministering to Millennials in their respective city locations. it was great to be with like-minded people who have a passion for the Lord and are trying innovative approaches to connecting with and ministering to the 20-somethings in their cities. We came away inspired and full of new ideas.

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Jen provides some training on coaching others to about 20 Cru staff who are ministering to Millennials.

And in a strange twist of irony, Jen was asked to do some training on coaching that she has learned because the original presenter, a Cru staff mentor of Jen’s, had to back out due to some personal health issues.

About a week before our trip, Jen was asked if she could step in and provide the coaching training to our group since she has received extensive training through the Leadership Development program of which she’s been a part for the last 4 years. It was not an ideal situation, given that Jen’s only prep time was during Thanksgiving week, which we had already planned to take off, but Jen did a fantastic job helping us to learn coaching techniques that will help us immensely as we coach Millennials and train others to be mentors to Millennials.

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Jen demonstrates the training in a live coaching situation with one of our staff who works with Millennials in Chicago.

Thanks for your continued prayers and support as we continue to move forward in this crazy journey we’ve been on. We are amazed at the Lord’s goodness towards us and we’re extremely grateful for you!

The Giver

Memories. They have the power to move us to action and transform us. Conversely, the absence of memory can divert us from fulfilling our full potential and true purpose.

In the recent movie, The Giver, Jeff Bridges plays an elder in a dystopian society where people are devoid of memories of the past and are restricted from any meaningful choices. Everything from birth to death is carefully monitored and orchestrated and only the Giver (Bridges) knows the memories of man’s true history. Memories and choices are suppressed because as the chief elder, played by Meryl Streep, explains, “when faced with choice, man always makes the wrong choice. Every time.”

In the void of memories and true choice, it’s not surprising that this utopian society lacks the ability to establish deep, meaningful connections and fails to fully understand the concept of love. In fact, the word “love” is considered antiquated and without meaning.

The key character in the movie is a young man named Jonas, who is selected for the task of being the receiver of the memories of humanity as he ultimately will become the next Giver. At first, Jonas is exposed to only happy, joyous memories, like riding a sled down a snow-laden hill or seeing people dance and laugh at a wedding. This has the effect of piquing Jonas’s curiosity.

But when Jonas experiences the trauma of pain and suffering by witnessing memories of death and war, it’s as if something that was dead inside has finally been awakened. Jonas realizes that the existence that everyone has been living in this highly ordered community fulfills only a shell of their true potential and purpose for life.

I wonder if that is not part of God’s purpose when we experience trials, pain and even suffering in this life. Perhaps these experiences are designed to awaken us to our true purpose and to remind us of our frailty and brokenness and nudge us toward our Creator.

Nick (left) was awakened to a greater purpose in life after experiencing a brain tumor. With the help of Tony (right), Nick was introduced to a relationship with Christ.
Nick (left) was awakened to a greater purpose in life after experiencing a brain tumor. With the help of Tony (right), Nick was introduced to a relationship with Christ.

A few months ago I received an e-mail from my friend Tony, who lives in Davis. Tony is a Radiologist and he e-mailed to ask for my help.

A few years before, Tony had treated a young man named Nick who had a brain tumor and was given a very slim chance of survival. Amazingly, Nick survived his treatment and made a full recovery. Nick graduated from college and got a very lucrative job in the Bay Area. For some reason though, it all seemed meaningless to Nick, so he quit his job and moved back to Sacramento.

After several years of working various jobs and searching for meaning and purpose, Nick recently had the opportunity to reconnect with my friend Tony. After hearing Nick’s story, Tony suggested to Nick that his experience with a brain tumor had likely awakened in his heart an awareness that there is a greater purpose to life and that what he was really searching for was God.

Nick thought for a moment and then responded, “I think you hit the nail right on the head!” Nick agreed to meet with Tony again later to talk further.

Tony had scheduled a lunch appointment with Nick and wanted to share with him how he could experience a relationship with Christ but Tony was unsure about how to go about doing that. So Tony e-mailed me to see if I could help him prepare for this conversation about God with Nick.

Over the phone, I was able to give Tony a crash course training in evangelism and encourage him in how to share his faith with Nick. I armed him with a few resources, some key questions to ask and some helpful tips and then I prayed for him and encouraged him as he took a step of faith to do something that quite frankly, was a bit scary for him.

Not long after that, I received a text from Tony that simply said, “Praise God! Nick accepted the Lord today!”

Please pray for Nick and his new relationship with Christ. Pray that he would be firmly rooted and would grow in his new faith. And please continue to pray for us as we continue to navigate health issues. Pray too that we would experience God’s ultimate purposes for our lives and that our experience would nudge us toward our Creator!

     As we enter this holiday season, it is our sincere hope that you will remember that Jesus is the true Giver. He alone gives us physical life and He alone can save us from the wrong choices that we make. And He alone imparts spiritual life to those whose hearts have been awakened to the greater, truer purpose of our existence – to know Him!

NO GROUP FOR YOU!

Click here to download the pdf version of The Lowedown.

Fans of the iconic Seinfeld sitcom series no doubt recall the famous “Soup Nazi” episode, in which a brilliant soup chef requires strict adherence to ordering protocol if patrons expect to get a sampling of his liquid gold creations. Those who violate the terms of ordering are curtly met with the phrase “No soup for you”, while given the proverbial boot and shown the door. (For a funny clip of this episode, go to: http:// youtu.be/MVm1KcrHM6s). It’s a funny made for TV moment that is hard to imagine happening in real life.

But imagine being a young single professional, just a few years removed from college, and being told by your church that there’s “No group for you.” Sadly, that is the case in many of our churches, where young Millennials find it difficult to connect with others who are in their same life stage.

David Richmond
David typifies many Millennials. Though he was involved in a Christian group in college, he found himself disconnected from the Lord after college.

David’s story typifies what is true for many Millennials. David grew up in what he described as an “off and on Christian home.” His parents divorced at a young age. He went to church when he was with his mom but didn’t go to church when he was with his dad.

In high school, David decided that he wanted God to lead his life but that decision didn’t translate into much meaningful change. Christianity was always in the background, never at the forefront.

When David transferred to UC San Diego, he started looking at various clubs on campus because he wanted to meet people. He got involved in Cru because he thought it would be a good idea and a great place to meet people.

David was a Bible study leader for Cru his senior year but for the most part, David was a worldly Christian. He did bible studies and other “Christian” stuff but he also partied and did all the “fun” stuff that he knew wasn’t helping him spiritually.

After graduation, David came back home, had a series of odd jobs and drifted away from the Lord. David became what we call a nomad. He still believed in the Bible and in Jesus but found himself increasingly disconnected from church.

Last year, David’s girlfriend began “dragging him to church.” He really didn’t want to go but did, just to appease his girlfriend. By the early fall, David started to feel like he wanted to make a change. As David looked around to find a place to connect with others like him who could help him navigate the circumstances he was experiencing in his life stage, he came up empty. He noticed a lot of different kinds of groups – groups for high schoolers, groups for marrieds, etc. But he didn’t find any group for a young single like himself who was dealing with a very transitory season of life.

David told me that he came to the conclusion that in order to find a group, “I either need to figure out how to get younger or I need to figure out how to get married.”

I met David back in November when I spoke at a church function. When Jen and I started our home group for Millennials at the end of February, I contacted David and invited him to come. I was delighted when he and a few others showed up for our first meeting.

David shared with me that “if it weren’t for the group we have on Tuesday nights where I can connect with others in my situation, I don’t think I would have made some of the steps I’ve taken to move closer to God.”

Pray for David as he moves to San Francisco this fall to attend Pharmacy school. And pray for us as we seek to ensure that Millennials in Orange County won’t be told “No Group for You!” when they seek to connect with other Millennials in their churches and in the area where they live.

Thanks for your partnership that is enabling us to make a difference in the lives of people just like David!