June 14, 2010

Coming or Going

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about the topic of evangelism. Typically, if you explore the Bible on this topic you tend to find actions words like “share,” “send,” and “go.” You think about Paul’s missionary travels or Peter going and preaching in city centers. You think about Jesus going to villages; going to the people he was trying to reach with the Good News.

Lately, I have been wondering if this attitude and example of evangelism has really been lost in our churches and even more so with our youth.

It seems to be that the idea of “going” has gotten lost on our current church cultures. Rarely are churches and youth ministries going out into their communities or teaching their congregates how to share their faith in the workplace, at school or with their families. Instead, we create special events or services where we encourage people to “bring a friend.” In youth ministry, we even offer incentives if our students bring enough friends – cutting our hair, ice cream parties or swallowing goldfish.

This flips the Biblical idea of evangelism on its head. Instead of “share,” “send,” and “go” we turn a 180 and focus on “come,” “bring” and “stay.” This I think has created some issues within the faith development of our students and churches:

1) Evangelism should be left to the professionals.

Rather than challenging our students to share about Jesus at the lunch table, at the athletic field or at home we tell our students to simply just bring a friend to church (which isn’t even a theologically correct statement). By focusing so much on “bring a friend to youth group” and creating outreach events where students can bring their peers to hear about Jesus, I wonder if we are subconsciously teaching our students that sharing about Jesus should be left to the trained professionals.

2) Students don’t know how to share their faith.

My favorite teacher growing up, Mr. Keeney who I had for math for three years in high school, always used to tell us, “Hear it, learn it once. Do it, learn it twice. Teach it, learn it for good.” And that was how he ran his classes. He would teach it to us as we listened. Then we would do a work sheet and practice it ourselves. Then he would put us in groups where we then explained the math processes to each other. Math was the only subject in high school that I got straight A’s in every year…and a lot of that was because of Mr. Keeney and this model.

When it comes to the church, we tend to do really well with the first step. In most cases our students hear all about Jesus and the Bible. In some cases, the second step is carried out as well, especially over the last decade or so as service opportunities, social justice and mission trips have gained more and more importance. But when it comes to the third step, in my experience most faith communities drop the ball. When it comes to evangelism, by putting so much of an emphasis on “bring a friend,” I think we take a huge part of the faith learning journey away from our students. Our students don’t know how to share their faith because we rarely let them have the opportunity to do so.

3) Students don’t get to experience the joy of being used by God.

Lastly, I think the church has done a cruel thing to our students because we steal the joy of sharing Jesus with other people. We as pastors get to celebrate with our staff and volunteers how many kids responded to the Gospel. We send out e-mail reports to our Sr. Pastor’s or boards with those numbers. We go home to our spouses excited about what God has done through our talks. Our students should get to celebrate this joy rather than just being happy that they brought that friend to church that Sunday. They should get to experience the satisfaction, the growth and the deeper purpose of doing God’s work.

Instead of focusing on getting students to bring a friend to church, let’s instead focus on getting our students to bring Jesus to their friends. Rather than trying to entertain students to come to an event so we can share Jesus with their friends, let’s create ways to allow our students to share Jesus with their friends wherever they are. Let’s challenge our students not to stay in our churches or programs but get them to go out into the world and be the church that God is calling them to be.

June 4, 2010

Book Release: Answering the Tough Questions About Sexuality

I just finished my first book…well, booklet. It’s a short book that goes through the main questions that teens and parents ask about sexuality. It’s purposefully short and to the point so it’s a quick read. It is also written so that either teens or parents can read, possibly even together…

You can pick up a copy by clicking on the following link:

Here is what people are saying about it:

“Jake Kircher has written a wonderful booklet on sexuality giving the honest, straight scoop on healthy sexuality. He knows the key questions kids and parents are asking and he answers them with short, yet profound answers. This is a booklet I will pass along to everyone I can. Parents get this booklet and give it to your kids. They will read it. Youth Workers buy this booklet for your entire youth group and go over each question and answer. It’s great stuff. “

Jim Burns, PhD
President, HomeWord
Author of Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality and The Purity Code

“Answering the Tough Questions About Sexuality doesn’t talk down to teens or candy-coat the real issues teens face daily. Instead, it presents solid, biblical advice in a direct and realistic style. Jake Kircher uniquely blends credible research, theology and adolescent sexuality in a format that promotes parent-teen discussions on vital issues.”

Timothy Smith
Author of The Danger of Raising Nice Kids and founder of www.ParentsCoach.org

“Our over-sexualized world is giving kids lots of guidance and direction on how to live out the wonderful gift of their sexuality. Sadly, most of that direction is anything but helpful, good, or Godly. Jake Kircher’s little book is a great springboard into thoughtful discussion of sex and sexuality, offering parents and teens answers and advice that can launch them into a deeper understanding of God’s best for this area of their lives.”

Walt Mueller
President, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding

“At a time when our young people struggle deeply to understand their sexuality and parents and youth leaders search for ways to clearly and effectively communicate the basic truths about this critical topic, along comes Answering the Tough Questions About Sexuality. Jake Kircher packs a lot of solid information and, more importantly, Godly wisdom into this concise and straight forward little booklet that will serve as an excellent resource for parents, youth workers, and the young people they love care about.”

Mark Orr
New England Regional Coordinator, National Network of Youth Ministries and Executive Director, REACH Youth New England, Inc.