Learning About 20-Somethings

Connecting to the Culture of this Generation

Click here to download the pdf version of The Lowedown.

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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!

The Year in Review

A Year of Transitions and Graduations

It’s been said that the one thing that is constant in life is change. 2013 proved to be a year of transitions for us. Some were expected and others were quite unexpected.

One of the expected transitions we experienced this year was Jacob and Joshua graduating from elementary school to bona fide junior highers. It’s amazing to think about the growth and development of our twin boys, who are truly a gift from the Lord. We are so proud of the young men they are becoming. They excelled academically in grade school and have transitioned well to junior high. Even though the amount of home work has increased dramatically, they’ve persevered and continued to excel in all of their coursework.

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FirstDayBoys12Left: Joshua (left) and Jacob at 5 years old. Middle: Joshua (left) and Jacob entering the school yard for the very first time. Right: Joshua (left) and Jacob at 12 years old.

 

Jacob and Joshua continue to develop spiritually as well. A highlight for us was when the boys decided in October that they wanted to get baptized. See my November 13th post on lowedown.com to read more.

An unplanned transition for us occurred over the summer when we officially “graduated” from the mini-van stage as a family. After 12 years of faithful service, we decided it was time to retire our mini-van. An interesting factoid is that we sold our mini-van to Michael Jordan. No, not THE Michael Jordan, but a guy like the one in this funny SportsCenter video:

 

Left: our old ride we sold to Michael Jordan! Right: Our new ride!

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Our hope was to raise enough money to purchase a new vehicle outright. While we fell short of that goal, the Lord did provide for a down payment on a reliable used vehicle that we hope will serve our family for many years to come. Thanks to those of you whose contributions helped to provide a newer vehicle for us. We are grateful for how the Lord constantly takes care of our needs.

Finally, we experienced an unexpected transition when, after 25 years of working with the Campus Ministry of Cru, we transitioned to a new ministry and new endeavor with Cru City. We’ll be working to establish a ministry among Millennials, those who are 18-30 years old in our culture and who have been described as the least churched group within our society. I guess you could say that we’ve finally graduated from working with college students to ministering to those in the post-college age group. I guess we’re all growing up! You can read more about our transition to Cru City by visiting our website and reading our October newsletter.

Thank you for praying for us and partnering with us through all of the transitions life brings. We are excited to see what 2014 brings!

Click here to read the pdf version of the Lowedown.

 

We’re Moving Again!

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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.