Category Archives: Youth Ministry

To Win in Young Adult Ministry You Have to Be Willing To Play “Small Ball”

Everyone loves a home run. The crack of the bat, the leisurely jog around the bases, the high fives, the curtain call–it’s why people go to the ballpark. It’s energizing–it’s electric–it’s intoxicating. In ministry it’s no different, we love to swing for the fences, we love the feeling of being in a packed auditorium, with perfect music, perfect lighting, perfect preaching, and a tangible, quantifiable altar response. We feel good when we hit a “home run”. I’m convinced in too many of our ministries–we’ve come to rely on “the long ball” when we should be concerned with how well we play “small ball”.

There are several reasons for this, but the one I want to address here is that it is directly connected to our ability as a Christian generation to effectively reach, disciple and “do church” with young adults.

“Small ball” refers to the style of baseball that relies on base hits, stolen bases, sacrifice bunts, and working the count–instead of swinging for the fences on every pitch. It’s slower, less flashy, more gritty, it requires patience, and delayed gratification–but it works. It scores runs. It wins games. It wins championships.

I want to point out a few observations that I have noticed in ministering and building relationships with young adults that can help us understand and have long term success in the area of young adult ministry:

1) Young adults both inside and outside the church are highly friendship oriented–so much so that for most young adults friends play an even more important and influential role in their lives than family or pastors.

2) Young adults want to be led, but they don’t want to be told what to do. They want to know the truth but don’t want someone to else to be their source of understanding that truth. They want to discover and develop their relationship with God in small, loosely structured peer groups.

3) Young Adults are notoriously spontaneous, they have bible studies at Huddle House at 2 in the morning. They break out in a prayer meeting after worship practice on a Thursday afternoon, but they blend in and disappear on Sunday morning or don’t even show up to service.

The role of the pastor that wants to successfully reach young adults must expand beyond simply preaching and teaching; to intentionally, but not too obviously, creating Jesus centered, social situations, where discovering the Scripture happens in small groups.

This highly friendship oriented, highly spontaneous, seemingly disorganized feel, makes for a style of ministry that scares many pastors to death. It feels ambiguous, fuzzy, uncommitted, unstructured, and worst of all, un-measurable.

It’s not the long ball. It’s small ball.

It’s messy, but it wins.

Pastor Dalton

Pastor Dalton

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Can Pentecost Survive in the 21st Century?

Can it?

Can a message that was born in the 1st century culture still be relevant, significant and necessary in the 21st century? Many “Pentecostal” churches say no, and have omitted the Pentecostal distinctives from their teaching, preaching, practices and doctrinal statements.

In response to this, I have on my heart to post an article focusing on what’s going to be necessary for the blessing, strength and power of Pentecost to remain in our churches and ministries in the 21st century. And why eliminating the operation of the Holy Spirit from our churches is the LAST thing we should be doing in our attempts to reach this generation.

As i study Acts 2–I feel 3 things emerge that have To happen for Pentecost to survive and thrive this in this generation. These things are vital to being a Pentecostal church—and being a Pentecostal people in the 21st Century.

I was 15 years old—when Jesus got a hold of my life and saved me and filled me with the Holy Spirit—and called me to the ministry—and I have a heart to see him do it again—and again—and again. I know many of you share that same heart, but it won’t happen by accident—it won’t happen by random chance—and it won’t happen by good intentions alone. The Pentecostal message is unique in that it must be intentionally taught—and deliberately modeled.

1 Corinthians 4:20 tells “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power“. So we have to do more than SAY we’re Pentecostal—we have to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in the actions of Pentecost—the fruit—the gifts the distinctives that make us who we are.

As I studied the Acts 2 account—3 things began to emerge about what will be necessary for us to remain practicing Pentecostals in the 21st century and impart Pentecost to future generations.

First, We Have To Be A Good Investment. No one in their right mind invests their resources in a failing company—that’s headed for disaster. The Disciples on the day of Pentecost were a good investment for God to pour his spirit out on, because they  were about the fathers business. The day we stop preaching salvation through Jesus is the day we are out of the Fathers business—the day the Day the Holy Spirit will depart from us and leave us barren.

God will not empower a carnal church—with a carnal gospel—that prays carnal prayers. We must be striving to reach the lost—we must be proclaiming the gospel– that “you must be born again-through the cross of Jesus Christ”–we must be making disciples—we must be a good investment for God to pour out his Spirit in out midst. Why would God pour out his Spirit on a church that wasn’t concerned with reaching the lost? It would be a bad investment. The promise of Pentecost is a conditional one. Conditional that we stay on mission.

Show me a church that is not reaching the lost—and not preaching the gospel—and not making disciples and I’ll show you a church that’s faking it—when it comes to Pentecost. Because glorifying the Savior is what the Spirit does—& if we’re not in the business of proclaiming Jesus as savior— don’t expect the authentic power of God to be present. We must continue to be a good investment, for God’s Holy Spirit anointing to be present in our lives and churches.

Secondly, we have to engage the Holy Spirit as the source of supernatural creativity. The Bible tells us in Genesis and Psalms, that the entire person of God were active in the creation of the universe—Father, Son, Holy Spirit. In other words, God the Holy Spirit is the most creative personality on the face of the planet. Now the Holy Spirit lives in the hearts of every Christian. In other words–Pentecostals, people of the Spirit, should be the most creative people on the planet.

Sometimes in the church– we have the mindset that the Holy Spirit can only move and operate the way he did 20-30-40 years ago—that he’s bound in a style or a tradition or a culture. But that’s not the Holy Spirit I see in Acts 2—it says the Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in the native languages of the people—the languages they spoke as a child— the languages that they prayed in –the languages they dreamed in—I can’t think of anything more creative for the HOLY SPIRIT to do

What this tells me is that—-If we’re obeying the Holy Spirit we’re going to be creative—if were ministering under the power of the Holy Spirit we’re going to do ministry creatively—we’re going to do things that have never been done

So often—we let the world create cultureand we do one of 2 things—1) We try to copy it and we end up just having a second rate version of what the world has—or 2) we completely reject it and we seem unengaged, oblivious to what the real world is like.

Both of these responses get us in trouble—and both of these can kill the church of tomorrow if we’re not careful.  Because #1 we’re called in Romans 12 not to be conformed to the pattern of this world—but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. HEAR ME—we are not called to copy the world’s culture and values and ideas—we are called to create in the power of the Holy Spirit a culture that transforms the world.

And #2 if we completely reject everything everyone outside of the church is doing–we miss ideas that God wants to redeem—we alienate people that Jesus wants to save—and fill with his Spirit.

The most dynamic soul winning Spirit filled churches—the ones where the Spirit of God is moving in power and doing miracles and transforming cities and nations are churches that are on the cutting edge of creating culture. Not b/c they’re copying the world’s ideas—But because the HOLY SPIRIT is giving His church better ideas. If we’re going to be a spirit filled people—that are effective in the 21st century—we have to realize that that means—creating culture—instead of copying it—or God forbid ignoring it.

Why is creativity so important? Acts 2 Say the Spirit enabled the disciples to speak the NATIVE languages of the people gathered for Passover. That’s significant—for any of you that speak a 2nd language—most people continue to dream in the language they spoke as a child—in private they tend to pray in that same language—bc it’s who they are. It’s the language they approach God in. It’s the language that they comprehend the best. We must learn to communicate the Gospel—in the ‘language’ of the people we’re trying to reach. The language they approach God in—the language they dream in.

And the first language of this generation is CREATIVITY.Its the language they dream in—it’s the language they approach God in. The young people of this generation–will draw more pictures—take more photographs–write more songs—invent more products—they will write more books—they will CREATE MORE than any other generation in the HISTORY of the world has ever created. The language they speak is creativity. It’s how they approach God.

And that’s good news for us as Pentecostals—as people of the Spirit—BC the HOLY SPIRIT is the most creative personality on the planet.  If we’re serious about reaching young people—-we must engage the Lord for an authentic move of His Holy Spirit.

Because–the young people of this generation will not be tolerate a lip-service Pentecost—authentic Pentecost is practical—it is powerful—it is focused on Jesus and it is creative. If Pentecost is going to be what God called it to be in the 21st –preparing the world for the final harvest:1)       We must be a good investment—and be about preaching Jesus to the lost. 2)       We must engage the HS as the source of Creativity—-and lastly–3) We have to realize that Christianity in general and Pentecost in specific is intergenerational in nature

Acts 2:39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

My great grandparents Prentice and Ella Pry were saved—and filled with the HS in 1939 at an Assembly of God camp meeting in Leora, Mo—they were passionate Pentecostal people. Grandma Ella once told me about a prayer meeting—where they felt led to pray for future generations that they would know the Lord and be filled with His Spirit. It sends chills down my spine that what God is doing in my life has been affected by what happened 80 years ago in a prayer meeting.  When’s the last time we were that in tune—and that creative–in the Lord—to look 80 years ahead and see a great-grandson that needed the power of the Holy Spirit—and to pray for Him to be poured out?

We must pass down the Pentecostal legacy to young people. We must make ut about the Gospel being preached, we must do it with supernatural, Holy Spirit inspired creativity, and we must cross generational barriers to do it.

Lets make it happen.

Pastor Dalton

Pastor Dalton