The Best Laid Plans…

Click here to view the pdf version of The Lowedown.

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” 

This oft-quoted line comes from a poem written by Robert Burns in 1785 after he inadvertently plowed through a field mouse nest. The words, penned with sadness, communicate the universal truth that one cannot plan for the unexpected. This line aptly describes our week in Nashville.

For months, Jen and I had been preparing for a week in Nashville, where we would have the opportunity to meet up with fellow Cru City Millennial workers for the first time. In addition, we were looking forward to challenging our thinking on Christianity and Culture by attending the Q Conference later in the week.

We thought we had worked out all the details. We were blessed by Jen’s parents, who visited for Easter and stayed through the week to watch our boys.

I even worked feverishly through Spring Break to renovate our guest bathroom in preparation for my in-laws’ arrival. That whole process in itself is probably illustrated by the above quote given the number of unexpected situations encountered that threatened to keep me from completing the project on time. I’m happy to report though that the renovation was officially completed in the afternoon on Easter Sunday mere hours before our departure.

We arrived in Nashville as scheduled on Monday where we had the opportunity to meet our new colleagues for dinner for the first time.

We were treated to some great live music from a few Nashville Millennials
We were treated to some great live music from a few Nashville Millennials

The next day was a full day of meetings and connecting. For me, it was invigorating to increase my vision for what we will be doing here in Orange County to reach Millennials. That night, we were treated to some live music at the home of one of our Cru colleagues who lives in Nashville.

Q-quoteThe next day was the start of the Q conference. The Q conference was started 8 years ago by Gabe Lyons as an opportunity for Christians to hear from numerous leaders and experts who share thoughts and insights on 7 major segments of culture: Media, Business, Government, Social Sector, Education, Arts & Entertainment, and Church.

The first day was packed with speakers who talked on a wide range of topics. We were even treated by a surprise appearance from Carrie Underwood and her husband Mike Fisher who shared about the challenges and their commitment to marriage. Though a little like drinking from a firehose, we were eating up all of the great content.

CarrieQ
Q Founder Gabe Lyons interviews country star Carrie Underwood and her NHL Hockey player husband Mike Fisher.

That’s when our plans got derailed. Jen shared that she was experiencing some chest pain and wanted to go back to the hotel and rest. We were supposed to meet up for dinner with some friends from our University of Arizona days who were now living in Nashville. But Jen’s chest pain got worse, making it harder to breathe. We decided to go to the ER.

As many of you know from experience, the ER is rarely a brief experience. For Jen, she was subjected to just about every test imaginable to determine if there was something wrong with her heart. Thankfully, every test came back clear. It was determined that the source of the chest pain was likely caused from having a case of walking pneumonia.

Jen was eventually released with antibiotics and she’s doing much better. We weren’t able to make our dinner appointment, and we missed the rest of the Q conference. But we made our flight home, thankful that it wasn’t something more serious and also grateful for the time we were able to spend with our new co-workers.

Though the week didn’t go exactly according to plan, we still left Nashville with an increased vision and excitement to reach Millennials. It was great being with others like us who are venturing into this new arena.

We are grateful too for your partnership. Please pray for us as we continue to prepare for this new ministry to which the Lord has called us. Pray for our plans to be the Lord’s plans and that we would be able to trust Him when things don’t go “according to plan!”

Learning About 20-Somethings

Connecting to the Culture of this Generation

Click here to download the pdf version of The Lowedown.

BarnaFrame1
images from Facebook.com/barnaframes

Earlier this week, Jen and I watched a bit of the Grammys. It was a stark reminder to me of how different the current culture is to the one of my youth.

Most of the Grammy buzz was focused on Queen Latifah who presided over a mass marriage ceremony of 34 gay and straight couples while rapper Macklemore sang his hit song “Same Love”. Latifah quipped, “Whatever god you believe in we came from the same one.” It’s incredibly bad theology but unfortunately it’s a philosophy which many in the popular culture endorse and follow.

Another stark moment came for me when Country newcomer Kacey Musgraves appeared on stage to perform her hit song “Follow Your Arrow.” The song is about how there will always be people who will question you no matter what decision you make. While there is some truth in that, Musgrave’s response is “You’re damed if you do and damed if you don’t so you might as well do whatever you want.” While I wasn’t shocked, I guess I was a bit surprised to hear this ode to Post-modernism and Relativism coming from the Country music genre.

images from facebook.com/barnaframes
images from facebook.com/barnaframes

Popular blogger Ed Stetzer posted his thoughts online after the Grammys. Stetzer suggested that we as Christians should seek ways to engage the culture instead of just complaining about the things we don’t like, as we are often apt to do. He also pointed out that the Grammys don’t really reflect the true values of our country. While I agree with Stetzer that we need to find ways to lovingly engage this culture instead of just complaining, I also think that the Grammys are a reflection of what many in our country think and believe and while not necessarily reflective of everyone, it definitely demonstrates how values are trending.

As Jen and I transition to working with Millennials, we’re looking for ways to better understand our culture, particularly this generation known as Millennials. What do they think and believe and why do they believe the things they do? Why are they the least churched generation in our culture and why are they so skeptical of religion and corporate America?

While we still have much to learn, we were able to get some good input yesterday as we attended the Barna Frames event that occurred live here in Orange County. The concept of Frames is to read short books on engaging topics related to our culture in order to be better informed and hopefully better equipped to reach this culture. (see barnaframes.com for more information on the Frames concept)

One of the topics presented was on 20-Somethings. Dr. David Kim spoke on “The New Shape of Young Adulthood.” There was a lot of great information that will be helpful to us as we move forward in working with Millennials.

images from facebook.com/barnaframes
images from facebook.com/barnaframes

One of the things Dr. Kim talked about was how many global tragedies and scandals this generation has been exposed to growing up that are unprecedented compared to previous generations. From the terror of 9-11 and school shootings, to numerous political scandals as well as extreme examples of corporate greed such as the Enron scandal, it’s no wonder that this generation is extremely skeptical of everyone and everything. In fact, Dr. Kim mentioned that 1 in 4 Millennials are likely to fact check a sermon on their phone while sitting in the pew!

Yet for all this generation has been exposed to, Kim says they are less sarcastic than the previous “Seinfeld” generation. They are generally more hopeful and that is a reason for us to have hope!

We have the greatest hope ever in the message of the gospel. Pray with us and for us as we seek to present the true message of hope to this generation of 20-somethings!

We’re Moving Again!

funny-moving-picture-7

5 years ago this month, we packed up all of our possessions and moved our family from Northern California, where we had spent the previous 10 years, to Southern California, where we stepped into a new role as Ethnic Field Ministry Directors. Our job has been to help start new movements on campuses everywhere to reach students of the many different cultures that exist on our campuses, and also to create a culture of faith, awareness and boldness for our staff to step outside of their comfort zone to take the gospel to students of every culture, planting new ministries that would grow and multiply and become self-sustaining.

While there were many road bumps along the way, I look back at the last five years and am amazed at all that God has done. Space doesn’t allow me to list all of the ministries that have been started or all that He’s done. What’s really exciting is that our ethnic ministries have grown and now have their own staff and national leaders.

Over the past 18 months Jen and I have sensed that our role was like that of John the Baptist as our role has decreased while the role of other leaders has naturally increased.

This past spring, we sensed the Lord telling us that our “mission” was accomplished and it was time to take the next step. It was a scary moment for us because we weren’t sure what that next step was. We identified with Abraham as we stepped out of our role before knowing where we were going. It made for an interesting summer of contemplation and reflection on our gifts, passions and experiences as we sought to reaffirm and redefine our calling. We’ve truly been on a faith journey these past 5 months.

One of the opportunities that was presented to us was the opportunity to start something new. As a pioneer, my interest was instantly piqued.

Through the leadership program Jen was involved in the past two years, we learned about a new ministry called Cru City. Specifically, we learned about an incredible need and opportunity to reach Millennials, the group of people in our culture who are 18-30 years old and who are extremely skeptical and turned off by traditional Christianity and evangelical approaches.

After much prayer and counsel, Jen and I have accepted the role as Orange County Directors for Cru City. So we’re not moving locations but we are moving our ministry focus! Our primary role will be to work with churches and volunteers to establish a movement among Millennials that will reach those who are lost and equip them to follow Jesus and impact others for Christ in their workplace, in their neighborhoods and among their families.

In short, we want to see this group, which has been described as the least evangelized segment of our culture, transformed for Christ and His church. After all, these are the next generation of church leaders.

In the coming months, we’ll share more about our ministry and the strategic nature of reaching this audience. For now, please pray for us as we seek to secure all of the funding that’s necessary to start this new endeavor and continue to work full-time for the Lord. And pray with us for this generation. They are lost and desperately need Jesus.

We’re so grateful for you and your partnership with us. Together, we’ve made a great impact for the Lord and great opportunities lie before us!

To read the pdf version of The Lowedown, click here.