Joshua 5:1-12 Sermon

Joshua 5:1-12 (10th October 2010, Banstead Community Church)

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We are in the land… but not yet a rest!

4 things we need to remember as we seek to follow Jesus:

1. Our God is victorious (v1)

2. Our God wants our commitment (v2-3, 8)

3. Our God has saved us (v9-10)

4. Our God is faithful (v11-12)

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Enjoy the start of August with these links…

3 models of family ministry

In a new book released in the autumn which I’m looking forward to reading, Timothy Paul Jones defines family ministry as “The process of intentionally and persistently realigning a congregation’s proclamation and practices so that parents are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as the persons primarily responsible for the discipleship of their children.”

Jared Kennedy is blogging through this book at the Sojourn Kids blog and gives an overview of the three main perspectives or models of family ministry:

The Family-Integrated Ministry Model: Family-integrated ministry is by far the most radical.  In a family-integrated church, all age-graded classes and events are eliminated. There is no youth group, no children’s ministry, no age-graded Sunday school program.  The generations learn and worship together, and parents bear primary responsibility for the evangelism and discipleship of their children.  Voddie Baucham, Jr., author of Family Driven Faith, has been the most vocal advocate of this perspective.

The Family-Based Ministry Model: In the family-based model, no radical changes occur in the church’s internal structure. The congregation still maintains youth ministry, children’s ministry, singles ministry, etc. What makes this model different is that the focus of each ministry shifts.  Students may still experience worship and small groups in peer groups, separated from other generations. However, each ministry sponsors events and learning experiences (with inter generational curriculum) that are intentionally designed to draw generations together. Mark DeVries pioneered this approach in his book Family-Based Youth Ministry.

The Family-Equipping Ministry Model: In the family-equipping model, many semblances of age-organized ministry remain intact. But the church leaders plan organize their ministries so that they champion the place of parents as primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives.   The church intentionally co-champions the role of both the church and the home in equipping students and families.  Two strong advocates of this perspective are Steve Wright, author of ApParent Privelege, and Bryan Haynes, author of the forthcoming book, Shift: What it takes to finally reach families today.

Making your Youth Ministry Family-Based

I have enjoyed reading Family-Based Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries.  Before writing one of my book recommendations I am posting a three part summary of the book.  The first part HERE dealt the need for family-based youth ministry.  The second part HERE deals with what family-based youth ministry actually is.  The third part below suggests 12 things (taken from the suggestions given at the end of each chapter) that you can practically do to make your youth ministry family-based.

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12 things to do to make your youth ministry family-based 

  1. Begin by being faithful in providing a ministry to the students God has given to your church.
  2. Keep accurate lists of the teenager’s names and addresses, and check in on them if you haven’t seen them recently.
  3. Look for ways of getting teenagers to spend time with adults.
  4. Make participation in weekly corporate worship with the entire church family a priority.
  5. Get teenagers serving in a ministry alongside an adult in the church.
  6. Have a prayer partner programme which matches teenagers to Christian adults.
  7. Have a prayer meeting for youth ministry / provide prayer newsletters.
  8. Make sure the pastors get to know the young people.
  9. Visit parents of teenagers personally.
  10. Find ways to equip parents (e.g. parenting seminars).
  11. Involve parents in a volunteer capacity of youth ministry.
  12. Do at least one thing a year to communicate to parents that they have a supportive partner in the church family.

What is Family-Based Youth Ministry?

I have enjoyed reading Family-Based Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries.  Before writing one of my book recommendations I am posting a three part summary of the book.  The first part HERE dealt with the need for family-based youth ministry.  The second part below deals with what family-based youth ministry actually is which is covered in the second half of the book, chapters 7 to 12.

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What is Family-Based Youth Ministry? 

Chapter 7: It only makes sense The Vision of Family-Based Youth Ministry

Researchers have discovered that young people who grew up in church attending the worship service and not Sunday School were much more likely to be involved in church as an adult than those young people who had attended only Sunday School without attending the worship service. 

The real power for faith formation is not in the youth programme but in the family and the extend family of the church.  Family-Based youth ministry recognises this, and these two things a priority. 

Priority 1: Empower Parents 

By supporting them and equip them to pass on their faith to their teenagers as effectively as possible. 

Priority 2: Equip the extended family of the church 

By providing the teenagers with extended Christian family, which is done by allowing them to experience the extended family of the church community.  This is especially beneficial for those who don’t come from Christian homes. 

These two principles can be implemented with any model of youth ministry.  Churches need to be intentional in choosing its youth ministry model and then undergirding it with family-based programming. 

The primary goal of family-based youth ministry is to equip young people to grow toward mature Christian adulthood. 

Chapter 8: Beyond the Cleaves The Challenge and Opportunity of Ministry to Nontraditional Families 

What every teenager needs in order to growing in Christ (faith nurturing family and extended faith nurturing family) is especially true for those from non-traditional families. 

There are many types of non-traditional families: Divorce, single parent, blended families and stepparents, with chemical dependency, with aging grandparents, in financial crisis, with both parents working. 

We are unlikely to be able to reach all these families and their needs specifically, but we can provide a consistent personal ministry to each teenager.  The extended family of the church can support for these families. 

Chapter 9: Walking the Tightrope Family-Based Youth Ministry and the Developmental Need for Independence 

There are two needs with regards to faith formation that teenagers have: 

Need for continuity – faith community to be involved in, a ‘family friendly’ youth ministry. 

Need for individuation – helping young people establish their own faith identities. 

Family-Based youth ministry is not about abandoning traditional forms of youth programming (which deals with the need for individuation) as much as it is about building the foundation of solid connections with mature Christian adults (which deals with the need for continuity). 

Chapter 10: A Different Gospel Youth Culture comes to Church 

Three of the dominant characteristics of our culture are in opposition to the Christian gospel.

1) Individualism – Christian discipleship happens in the context of Christian community.  Although we do want our teenagers to become independent in Christ, that is they stand on their own faith.  

2) Consumerism - Christian discipleship is not about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain and boredom.  Discipline is a key component.  If you build your youth ministry upon an entertainment model, the young people will be consumers and will move on when they get bored of it.  

3) Demand for success - Christian discipleship is not about treating God as the most efficient means to success in life.  It’s about learning to trust God during times of failure and suffering as well as times when everything is going well. 

Chapter 11: God Calling Thinking Theologically about Youth Ministry 

When dependence on God’s grace is excluded from our thinking we end up trusting in human strategies.  All our systems are not enough to lead us to repentance and faith.  We can only support teenagers in the growth that only God can bring.  This means the best we can do is to work with God’s design for faith formation. 

God’s first provision is the family (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  Sunday School and youth group is not a substitute for the spiritual training in the home.  The Sunday School movement began originally as outreach to unchurched poor children.  

God’s second provision is the Christian community.  God wants people connected to the community of faith.  Ideally every young person who makes a commitment to Christ should be eager to become part of a specific church.  The parent’s commitment to the community of faith should also hold them accountable for their faithfulness in the home. 

The Christian family is a tool for building faith and character in God’s children, but the family is not God and without His work will not be able bring any growth. 

Chapter 12: Making it work Implementing a Family-Based Youth ministry 

There are two main approaches to family-based youth ministry. 

1) Family ministry model - this aims to empower families and support the ministry that rightly belongs to families.  So churches employ a ‘families pastor’ whose role is to empower and equip parents to nurture their children in the Christian faith.  Programmes under this model might include divorce recovery, marriage enrichment, and parenting seminars.  One problem will always be the parents who do not and will not take the initiative of doing Christian nurture in the home. 

2) Youth ministry model – this aims to help young people come to maturity in Christ by accessing their family and the extending family of the church.  

There are two types of family-based programming. 

1) Uniquely family based events – such as parent/youth Sunday School classes, retreats. 

2) Exfamized events – taking a programme already in place and infusing it with parents and extended Christian family of adults.  If an event worked with your young people, try it with young people and parents together.

The Need for Family-Based Youth Ministry

I have enjoyed reading Family-Based Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries.  Before writing one of my book recommendations I will post a three part summary of the book.  The first part below deals with what I’m calling the need for family-based youth ministry which covers the first 6 chapters of the book.

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The Need for Family-Based Youth Ministry 

Chapter 1: Something’s Wrong The Crisis in Traditional Youth Ministry

There is a crisis in youth ministry today.  The crisis is not getting teenagers to come to our youth meetings but rather that we have not been effective in leading our young people to mature Christian adulthood.  More teenagers are participating in our programs but they are not growing up into adults who participate in church.

One of the dangers in youth ministry is that youth workers and churches evaluate their success or failure by the wrong numbers.  They spend huge amounts of effect and energy getting more teenagers to participate while ignoring most of the ones that God has already given them.

Chapter 2: Is Anybody Out There? The Growth of Teenage Isolation

The main cause of this current crisis is the way that our culture and our churches have systematically isolated young people from the very relationships that are most likely to lead them to maturity.  Young people grow in maturity generally, and maturity in Christ particularly, by being around those who exhibit such maturity themselves.

9 cultural shifts have taken place which has increasingly separated children and young people from the world of adults (taken from Urie Bronfenbrenner). 

  1. Father’s vocational choices that remove them from the home for lengthy periods of time.
  2. An increase in the number of working mothers.
  3. A critical escalation in the divorce rate.
  4. A rapid increase in single-parent families.
  5. A steady decline in the extended family.
  6. The evolution of the physical environment of the home (family rooms, playrooms and master bedrooms).
  7. The replacement of adults by the peer group.
  8. The isolation of children from the work world.
  9. The insulation of schools from the rest of society.

There are now today, less opportunities for children and young people to be with adults in the neighbourhood, schools, social activities, families and church.  Hanging out with friends or partying in an adult-free home has become the norm for the teenager’s social life.

Church is possibly where youth are segregated the most from the world of adults.  Youth programmes keep them separate from the rest of the church.  Even when adults and young people do worship together, they sit in peer groups – adults with adults, youth with youth etc.

Chapter 3: The Developmental Disaster The Impact of Teenage Isolation

There are a number of things this isolation of teenagers from adults brings:

1) Teenagers won’t learn the skill required of mature adults.  Maturation occurs as less mature have repeated opportunities to observe, dialogue, and collaborate with the more mature.  This does not happen in a peer centred Sunday School class. 

Youth culture keeps young people in youth rather than moving them towards adulthood.  Young people who sit together in church tend to act like children.  Young people who sit with parents, or who are divided amongst the rest of the congregation imitate the behaviour of the adults they are with.

2) The media now plays a more powerful role in the formation of teenagers values .

3) Teenagers are severely limited in their ability to think critically, leaving them easily swayed by what feels right at the moment.

4) Peer influence correlates closely with the rise in rebellion, resistance, chemical abuse, and promiscuity. 

Chapter 4: Sitting on a Gold Mine The Power of the Nuclear Family

What happens in the youth group has miniscule impact compared to what children learn on a day to day basis as they do the everyday things of life in and with their families.  The best long term youth leaders are parents themselves because they ultimately have the greatest interests in their kids.

Research has found a number of things to support this: It’s found that parents remain the single most important influence in the development of a teenager’s personality.  It’s found that parents who talk about faith and invite their children in serving alongside them can double and sometimes triple their children’s chances of living out their faith as adults.

This shows how important it is to equip fathers and mothers to play a more active role in the religious education of their children.  Parents play a role second only to the Holy Spirit in building the spiritual foundation of their children’s lives.

However, it’s also important to remember that the parent’s power to build up is matched by their power to cause harm.

Chapter 5: The Critical Care Unit The Peculiar Crisis in Today’s Christian Family

There are some barriers to involving more parents in youth ministry.

Here are three of the biggest:

1) Parents are not mature Christian adults themselves.

2) Parents are feeling helpless when it comes to providing for the Christian nurture of their own children.

3) Parents are victims of their own schedule – they are too busy.

Chapter 6: Stacking the Stands The Power of the Extended Christian Family

Every teenager needs an extended family of Christian adults – adults who can be a part of the cloud of witnesses that cheers them on.  Church is where teenagers are exposed to these adults.  An extended Christian family is a community of believers who affirm and encourage growth toward Christian maturity.  Only church and family can provide Christian nurture from birth to old age – even death.

The extended Christian family can be equally as powerful in faith formation as parents, especially for those who come from non-Christian homes.  Research has found that when person reaches mature Christian adulthood they often will point to the influence of a godly parent or Christian adult who modelled what being an adult Christian was all about.  It’s important that teenagers are give opportunities to build connections with Christian adults.

When the church and family abandon their role of helping young people navigate passage to adulthood, the teenager becomes more susceptible to influence of friends, music and media.

Often it is the stronger youth programmes that weaken the chances that young people will remain in the church, because participation in the youth programme takes the place of participation in the church.

Latest Links

Another week of goodies to check out…

Interview with Jonathan Carswell (Part 2)

As part of 10ofthose.com week here’s the second part of an interview I did with Jonathan Carswell who started up and helps to run 10ofthose.com.  Part 1 is HERE.

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Blog of Dan: Could you tell us a bit about 10ofthose?  Is there anything unique about it that makes it different from other Christian booksellers? 

Jonathan Carswell: Yes, there are a few things: 

The major way is that we discount for bulk purchases. Though some places are now doing the same, they generally only offer a 10 or 20 % reduction. 10ofThose offer up to 90%! Again, we just want the resources ‘out there’. 

10ofThose is also a very personal company. We never pay for advertising (to keep our prices as low as possible) so all of our business comes from word of mouth. This means we have a relationship with all our customers and this enables to know the needs of our customers and tailor our services to them. 

We are a very small company in some ways, though we distribute quarter of a million resources a year we are a small-run company. Will bend over backwards for the customers and being small means we can do this more easily. For example, last Christmas we visited over 40 mum and tots groups, many with only 20 or so mums there, to sell Christian resources. The results were amazing. Though many groups were small we would say it was worth it, even if not financially profitable. If I was on The Apprentice, Sir Alan would have said it was a waste! However, despite the small groups at each event without fail non-Christian parents bought resources that contain the gospel. Would they have bought them if we hadn’t have trekked over there and set up a sale? If we can distribute quality Christian resources, even if it costs, we will. 

When we started we sought to model the company on the budget airlines – we wanted no-fills distribution. Though sometimes are service isn’t as fast as we would like it to be (though we are working on this), what we do do is keep our prices low – so that when buying in bulk even Amazon are usually more expensive. 

We also can offer deals on all publishers. Having said that however, we don’t promote everything. What you get with 10ofThose is a broad choice of product. We have over 400 products on our site and access to 1000′s more. Yet, because we only supply books that uphold and encourage the truth of the Bible you can purchase form us with confidence. You can know for sure that we will only sell you products that will be of service to the church. 

Blog of Dan: What kinds of mission activity has 10ofthose been able to support so far? 

Jonathan Carswell: 10Mission (our charitable arm) is an important part of our work – as I say, we are a not-for-profit ministry. This doesn’t mean we don’t make a profit, but rather that it doesn’t benefit the directors. Instead, as your question suggests the money goes to help missions work around the world. 

The Lord has blessed us immensely and put us in a position to give to do various projects. In our last financial year for example, we bought a car for a missionary who works with children. We have also been able to contribute to the financial needs of an evangelistic work in the south of England, a Bible training course in the north, and by providing books for students in London, Oxford and Africa. In time, we hope to pay people to learn how to write, buy and distribute resources. 

Blog of Dan: The website is full of great books worth buying and reading, but are we limited to this selection, or are there other books available through 10ofthose? 

Jonathan Carswell: No – and its something we are aware of that we need to communicate better. You can order anything, so long as it fits within the basis of faith which can be found on our site. The books on our site are ones we would especially recommend however.

Interview continues HERE.

London Men’s Convention 2009 – He rose to rule

Here are my notes from Tim Keller’s second talk on John 20:1-3, 10-18 at the London Men’s Convention 2009.  This third session focused on Jesus, He rose to rule.

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The connection between death and resurrection in John’s gospel has to do with faith.  The cross itself does not produce faith.  People looked at the cross and said God can’t bring good out of this.  But what triggered saving faith, faith in the cross, was the resurrection. 

Three marks of faith that the resurrection triggers: 

1) Faith rests in truth 

Jesus said He would rise again over and over again.  He said it so often that His enemies had heard it so they put guards next to the tomb.  You would have thought His disciples would have said: “It’s the third day, let’s have a look!” 

What evidence would your friends need to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead?  See Him, touch Him, see Him eat, see Him lots of times.  This is exactly what we’ve got in the Gospels.  Jesus gave the evidence that broke through these barriers. 

If you were making up a story about Jesus rising from the dead, you wouldn’t put women as the first eyewitnesses.  The reason why women were the first witnesses was because it happened that way.  Historical evidence is powerful.  Believe in Christianity because it’s true. 

2) Faith comes by grace 

All around Mary is evidence, the angels in front and the Lord behind, but she still thinks it’s a disaster.  Even if you don’t think Jesus is near you, He is.  Jesus breaks through and sends her as the first messenger.  How clear does Jesus make it that salvation is by grace.  He chooses a women not a man, a former mental health patient as the first messenger.  This salvation is as much hers as ours.  She was at the bottom of the pecking order but He chose her.  

3) Faith works through love 

Mary was grabbing hold of Jesus to never let Him go (v17).  But Jesus is saying once I’m ascended you’ll still have me.  I’m about to ascend to the Father and send the Holy Spirit and you’ll have me.  The Spirit brings my presence in your life.  Don’t be satisfied with just the objective side.  Jesus can come into your hear now. 

Be willing to pray and meditate on His Word so you get to a place where He touches you.  Let the resurrection not only convince your mind but let you have Him.

London Men’s Convention 2009 – Chairman’s Welcome

Here are my notes from Richard Coekin’s address from Acts 8:35 at the London Men’s Convention 2009.

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Be Men of Jesus 

In Acts 8 we read of an important man, the Ethiopian Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

“Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”  (Acts 8:35) 

Luke records how the Lord sent his evangelist to the Ethiopian to help him understand who the suffering servant is. 

a) We are men who want to learn from Scripture 

Like the Ethiopian we have come to learn from Scripture.  We haven’t come just to be entertained.  We haven’t come just to hear great orators.  We have travelled to an inconvenient part of London to hear the living Lord speak by His Spirit through His Word.  Jesus regarded the text itself where God speaks.  The Bible is the ruling, uniting Word of God.  We’re here to search in the text expecting to hear God speak. 

b) We are men who want to understand the gospel 

We want to understand the gospel for ourselves and the sake of unbelieving family and friends who need to hear it in language they understand.  The Gospel saves us from the God’s wrath to come.  The Gospel is found in the identity and mission of Jesus Christ our Lord.  He came as King, He died for sins, He rose to rule, and will return to judge.  Each part of His mission we see He is Lord.  The Gospel is the power of God for salvation and calls us to repentance and faith. 

c) We are men who want to worship Jesus 

We want to worship Jesus.  We want to know this wonderful man, who was led like a sheep to slaughter for us.  He is the man for all men.  We can’t know this man until we know the Gospel.  But we must not forget to worship and adore Him.  Biblical faith is both objective and subjective, both facts and feelings, understanding and affections; genuine spiritual affections for Jesus where mind and heart are combined like light and heat in a fire.  We want to return home as change men on fire with a devotion for Jesus. 

We want to be men of Jesus.

Rock Solid: 12 gospel truths to live by

Rock Solid: 12 gospel truths to live by

A helpful book I’ve just finished reading is Rock Solid: 12 gospel truths to live by.  Originally written for the London Men’s Convention a few years back, it has now been repackaged for a wider audience. 

rocksolid

This book is definitely one to, as they say in the preface, be worked through in small groups “as a means of getting a hold on the truths that define who we are as followers of Christ”.

This book packs so much into every chapter.  As well as explaining and applying one of the 12 truths, there is also a short Bible study, some discussion questions, a real life story of how the truth has been used by God in a person’s life, and a brief account of someone who has contended for this doctrine in the history of the church.

The introduction is helpful because it explains why doctrine is so important, and also why these 12 truths have been selected and the relationship between each one of them.

The 12 gospel truths covered in this book are:

  • The unique supremacy of Christ
  • The depravity of sin
  • The penal substitution of Christ
  • Justification by faith alone
  • The sovereignty of God the Father
  • The regeneration of God the Holy Spirit
  • The reality of judgment
  • The priority of evangelism
  • The authority of the Bible
  • The centrality of Bible teaching
  • The importance of the local church
  • The necessity of holiness 

There are a number of reasons why I like this book:  

Firstly, it’s an easy read.  

Secondly, it gives a good overview of these important doctrines in a practical way.  For new Christians who may not be ready to delve in Grudem’s Systematic Theology, it’s a great introduction to what Christians believe.  

Thirdly, it defends the great truths of Christianity that have come under attack.  

Lastly, because of the multiple settings it could be used with: one to one discipleship, home groups, men’s groups, ladies groups, adult Sunday School, older youth group, basis for a sermon series.  I think it would also be possible to adopt this book for a series of children’s talks for church (now that’s an idea!) 

For an introduction to the doctrines of the Christian faith, you can’t get much better than this! 

Rock Solid: 12 gospel truths to live by is available to buy HERE

Also check out the special offer on this book at 10ofthose.com HERE.

Five reasons why Christians read so few good books

Five reasons why Christians read so few good books:

  • Sheer worldliness.
  • Lack of conviction that such reading strengthens faith and increases joy.
  • A disorderly life that cannot find time for the best things.
  • Preaching that does little to stimulate the mind or make us want to know more.
  • A diet of poor Christian books.

(from Neil Richards, The Cloak and the Books)