Growing our Leadership Capacity

Dave addressing 400+ students at the 2017 West Coast Epic Conference.

In January, I had the opportunity to share with students at our Epic Student Winter Conference about our ministry to Young Professionals in Orange County. While I was there, I connected with several of our former UC Davis students who are serving Christ in various capacities, some as full-time vocational missionaries and some as lay leaders. It was so fun to see how they are all still engaged in ministry in some way and how God is using them.

One of the things we’re passionate about is developing leaders who can significantly impact others for Christ.

When we were serving as campus leaders, our hope was to help each student become a life-long follower of Jesus. We wanted to develop leaders who were equipped with the tools and training necessary to make an impact for Christ wherever life might take them.

Former UC Davis Epic students connecting together at the Epic Winter Conference

We’ve been privileged to follow the journey of many of our former students who continue to walk with Christ and serve Him while making an impact for Him all over the world.

Some of our former students are serving as missionaries overseas in the Middle East, Europe and various parts of Asia while many are serving as missionaries with Cru on various campuses all over the country.

Some of our former students are serving as pastors in churches around the United States, while others are serving as lay leaders in their church and other non-profit ministries.

Still others are using their unique technical and administrative skills to serve the body of Christ on a global scale.

Cru’s Senior Leadership Initiative was started to fill the need to develop high level leaders to meet the global needs of the organization. Click the image to read the article from Outcomes Magazine.

What has drawn us to work with Millennials is the opportunity to have direct influence in the lives of Young Professionals, helping them to become unleashed to make the greatest impact they can make for Christ in their community and the world.

We’ve realized though that the job of developing leaders first starts with developing ourselves. Bill Hybels has said that “when a leader gets better, everyone wins.” When we grow as leaders, we grow in our ability to affect and impact others.

Jen and I are committed to developing as leaders so that we might develop other leaders who in turn impact others.

Jen poses for a picture with some of the women who help give leadership to the SLI leadership program

A few years ago, Jen was invited to participate in a two year Leadership Development program with Cru that we refer to as Senior Leadership Initiative (SLI). The program had a profound impact on Jen’s development as a person and as a leader and for the past four years Jen has been a part of the Leadership team that is implementing and executing this program for other participants (Click here to see our August 2013 Lowedown newsletter to read more about Jen’s experience as a participant of SLI).

Jim Williamson (left) is a former Cru staff member with the Impact ministry, Cru’s student ministry to students of African descent. Jim now works in the corporate world in Nashville and will be coaching me for the next 2 years.
Jim and Dave’s initial meeting over lunch at Cru’s Orlando Headquarters.

In February, I was invited to be a part of a leadership program Cru has just established called the Executive Coaching Cohort.

For the next 2 years, I’ll have access to a personal coach who is committed to helping me take the steps necessary to grow as a person and a leader.

In March, Jen spent a week in Dallas getting trained in Core Clarity, a program that utilizes the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment tool to help leaders understand how to maximize their talents and develop them into strengths for the greatest possible personal impact.

Jen attended the week-long Core Clarity Training which helps leaders unpack the Strengths Finder Assessment tool to learn more about their talents and understand their unique giftings.

We recognize there is more growth and development that is needed if we’re going to be truly effective in helping Young Professionals experience their full potential.

We hope to get more training in Coaching and other assessment tools that will enable us to minister to Young Professionals at a high level.

Thanks so much for the investment you’re making in our lives. The impact you’ve made is enabling us to impact the next generation of spiritual leaders!

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!

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!

Two Views of Freedom – The Amplified Life: Part 2

The Washington Monument in the foreground with the U.S. Capitol building in the background
The Washington Monument in the foreground with the U.S. Capitol building in the background

Freedom.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Probably because our family just spent 5 days in Washington, D.C. on our first real vacation in 3 years.

As we walked around the city, touring the museums and visiting the many monuments, it was a reminder to me that we live in a pretty incredible country, where we’re free to pursue our vocational and financial dreams as well as express our religious convictions.

Seeing the World War II, Korean and Vietnam War memorials was a reminder to me that many have given their lives fighting not only to maintain our freedom but to secure the freedom of others.

Seeing the Lincoln Memorial was a reminder that not everyone in our country has always experienced the same level of freedom. And seeing the spot where Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, coupled with the tragic events we’ve witnessed in our country over the past few weeks and months is another reminder to me that the struggle for freedom and justice is ongoing and not always equitable.

The Lincoln Memorial, a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States who helped abolish slavery and preserve the Union, is one of the most popular sites in Washington, D.C.
The Lincoln Memorial, a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States who helped abolish slavery and preserve the Union, is one of the most popular sites in Washington, D.C.

We had the chance to visit the site of the Museum of the Bible, which is currently under construction and set to open in the Fall of 2017. While we live in a “free” country, it is the Word of God that truly sets us free.

As I think about freedom, God’s Word reminds us that we’re spiritual creatures on a spiritual journey. Paul said in Ephesians that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

What does it mean to really be free?

The popular view in our culture is that freedom means that I’ve been released to do whatever I want without fear of punishment or remuneration from others, especially the government.

Jesus’ picture of freedom is much different. According to God’s Word, we become free when we’re released from the bondage of sin. We don’t become free to do whatever we want, but instead we become free to become the people God intended.

The Amplified Life is a life of true freedom, where we’re free to experience Christ fully and live for Him.

Left: An artist's rendering of the Museum of the Bible. Right: under construction, the Museum of the Bible will open in Fall 2017.
Left: An artist’s rendering of the Museum of the Bible. Right: under construction, the Museum of the Bible will open in Fall 2017.

Where the American view of freedom is that the shackles of oppression have been discarded, allowing me to live for myself and do the things that would provide pleasure and satisfaction for myself, the Biblical view of freedom is one in which we’ve been liberated from the bondage of sin, which frees us to experience God fully and serve Him and others.

The American view of freedom involves external physical forces (such as people and governments) keeping us from the pursuit of our own personal happiness.

The Biblical view of freedom is that there’s an internal spiritual problem that keeps us from loving God and others.

Our hope is to become the people God desires us to become and to help Young Professionals experience the Amplified life – one in which real freedom is experienced through an authentic, personal relationship with Jesus.

Thank you for prayers and partnership which give us the freedom to pursue the calling which God has given us. We are truly blessed!

Note: Click here to download the pdf version of the Lowedown.

Barbara pictured in the center, was our usher at the Washington Nationals game.

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.

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!

Embracing New Vision

It was my junior year of high school and I was at an all day wrestling tournament. As I sat in the stands between matches, I looked across the gym to the other side at the many butcher paper posters that were hanging on the wall cheering on the various teams that were competing. Only, I couldn’t read what they said. I turned to my mom and asked, “Can you read those signs on the wall over there?”

“Yes, can’t you?” she replied.

“No, I can’t see them clearly.”

That was it. The next week, I went to the optometrist and I’ve been wearing glasses ever since.

I often wonder what people did before the invention of glasses. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to see things clearly.

Up until last year, Jen had always had perfect vision. Reading up close and seeing things far away had never been an issue, that is, until her long-term Prednisone usage caused cataracts to develop in her eyes. She suddenly found it difficult to see her computer clearly and things at a distance were out of focus.

At first, her eye doctor didn’t want to give her prescription glasses, thinking that her vision would correct itself after she reduced the amount of Prednisone she was taking. But after several months with no change, she went back to the doctor and finally got prescription lenses. The glasses definitely helped, but not as much as we expected.

After several more months of fuzzy vision, Jen went back to the eye doctor and learned that her cataracts had grown and she was going to need surgery.

Two weeks ago, Jen had cataract surgery on her right eye and it’s made a HUGE difference. She no longer needs the glasses that she was using for distance vision. She’s still having difficulty seeing things close up though. We’re not sure if that’s just the normal vision adjustment that we all go through as we age, or if it’s a result of the cataract in her left eye causing her vision to be blurred.

2015-Family-Dana Hills
Jen can see more clearly now that she’s had cataract surgery in her right eye. Joshua (left) and Jacob and seeing more clearly on the trails now that they are wearing contact lenses.

The same day Jen had cataract surgery, I took Jacob and Joshua to see the optometrist.

Joshua started wearing glasses in elementary school while Jacob’s vision seemed to be fine until last fall, when he complained of not being able to see the board in class clearly. A quick eye exam revealed that he too needed glasses for distance. But his vision changed and he recently has complained again about not being able to see things at a distance clearly, even with his glasses.

The eye doctor confirmed what we had suspected. Both Jacob and Joshua needed new lenses as their old prescriptions were no longer adequate.

Because they’re active in running, we decided to let them get contact lenses so they would be able to see, not only in the classroom, but out on the trails as well. This past Saturday, they were able to run in their first invitational with contact lenses.

It’s amazing how much clear vision can affect our perspective and our demeanor. I was reminded of that recently via a Facebook video that went viral showing a 6 month old baby’s reaction to getting glasses and being able to see clearly for the first time. You can check it out the whole story on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/cI1jBVD1OY0.

I’m finding that having a clear vision in ministry is important as well. For the last year and half, our vision has been impaired by the circumstances of life. It’s not that we don’t know what we want to see the Lord accomplish or even have some ideas about how to go about it, but it’s more like the circumstances of life have acted like a cataract, creating barriers out of our control that made it difficult to focus.

But the good news is that with Jen’s condition more stable than it’s been in the last 18 months, we are finally beginning to see things more clearly and with more focus.

We’re excited to move forward on the journey the Lord has us on. There are still challenges and circumstances that are making our journey different than we had imagined but we are anxious to see how the Lord will use us to impact Millennials in Orange County and the surrounding Los Angeles area.

Thank you for journeying with us and for being our eyes even when we were not able to focus clearly. We are extremely grateful for you!

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!

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!”