Friday, February 20, 2009

The Language of Youth

The language of today’s young adults is music. Churches that understand this new language will be able to effectively reach young adults. Many churches think that if they add drums or guitars to their worship services then they will automatically reach young people. While it is true that young adults prefer music that is more upbeat, the real secret to understanding their music is the emotions that their music displays.

Young adults often express their emotions best through music. They sing about their experiences and how those experiences make them feel. Their music is very personal. They often write music of their own. Their music comes from deep within them.

They use music to communicate how they feel about themselves, other people, politics, nature, and even spiritual matters. When it comes to spiritual matters, young adults prefer music that allows them to talk “to” God instead of just “about” God. Though they may prefer the music to be upbeat, what is more important to them is that it is filled with spiritual passion. They want to feel God not just know facts about Him. Worship services led by young adults display a passion for connecting to God that few other generations can fully comprehend.

You may not always like their music, but if you listen to it, you will come to understand them in very real ways. If your church can learn to speak the same “language” as these young adults, you may be surprised just how many of them may come to your church.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What is Truth?

In the midst of a recent great discussion with a group of teens about spiritual matters, one astute young man asked how spiritual matters affected those who do not believe in God. He referred to a group of people who did not accept a certain spiritual truth as really being true. This led to an interesting discussion about truth. I used the illustration that a person could sincerely believe that snow did not exist, yet if that person walked outside the building we were meeting in, they would find snow everywhere. No matter how sincere the person believed there was no such thing as snow, it would not change the truth that snow was real and there were mountains of it outside our building. We then went on to discuss how the same thing would be true for a person who lives near the Equator and had never experienced snow. That person would have never seen snow, no one they knew would have ever seen snow, and in their own personal experience they would not be able to see how something like snow could possible exist. Yet, that person’s experience would still not change the reality that snow does exist and there are still mountains of it outside our building.

I went on to explain that God has declared certain things to be true. No matter how sincerely a person believes that those things are not true, they will remain true. Even if a person had no personal experience with God and couldn’t imagine a God who has the power to declare certain things to be true, truth would still be truth.

That young man, and so many of his peers, are caught up in the postmodern idea that each person can determine their own definition of truth. It makes a person feel good to think that they can decide what truth is for themselves. But when you look at it objectively, it just does not make sense. Truth is truth, regardless of whether I like it or not. Let’s help young people understand the truth; let’s introduce them to the Truth by reminding them that Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

Friday, February 6, 2009

How Should Churches Invest Their Money?

There was a day when churches that wanted to grow would build a new building. It almost seemed that growth came automatically with a building expansion. The “secret” to church growth could have been borrowed from a movie, which was “if you build it, they will come.”

While new buildings still attract a lot of attention, they no longer automatically produce church growth. In a recent survey I conducted on my blog not a single respondent indicated that they felt that churches should invest more money in bigger or better buildings.

What do people think churches should invest their money in?

  • 11% percent thought churches should invest money in paying a more professional staff
  • 22% percent thought the church should invest more money in programs that would help members be better Christians
  • 66% thought the church should invest more money in helping the needy

How a church invests the money available to them may not always equal church growth, but if they want the church members to be excited about the church’s activities, then it might be prudent to think about the results of such polls.

Perhaps the wave of the future for churches that want to grow is helping those in the community in need. What a novel idea! Sure sounds like the New Testament church described in Acts 4:34-35 “For there was not a needy person among them, because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet. This was then distributed to each person as anyone had a need.”

If our churches want to grow, it is time to get off the latest church growth fad and just start doing what God told us to do in the Bible to begin with. It does actually work!

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He also writes books and leads seminars on how to help churches be more effective in their ministries. Check out his resources at:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Word of God or Human Opinion

“Dear Pastor Terry,” the email began, “I have not attended church since I was a teenager, and that’s been twenty years ago. I have felt like I have been drifting through life and needed direction. For some reason I felt drawn to enter your church. The scriptures that were read and explained were an ‘aha’ moment for me. I look forward to coming back next week.”

I received this email earlier this week, but over the years have received many others that offered a similar message. People often drop out of church when they are in their teen years. Many will never return, but some do. The ones that do return are seeking something real that can give direction to their lives. In my experience they are seldom interested in being spoon fed thin theological porridge. They have lived enough to know they need something real.

By God’s grace we have something real to offer. As the Word of God is spoken, hearts are transformed by the power of the Spirit. Sadly, the people who send me messages like this often say the reason they dropped out of church to begin with was that they did not hear much at church that was relevant to their lives. I believe the Word of God has always been and will always be relevant to life. That means that if church was not relevant in the past, or is not relevant in the present, then the Word must not have been spoken very clearly.

I want to encourage everyone in church leadership and who has teaching responsibilities in church to make sure they focus on teaching the Word and not human opinion. The Word changes lives; human opinion simply can’t do that. I join the apostle Paul in saying “Preach the Word, in season and out of season!”