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by Timothy Agee
From the May 2013 issue of Gospel Advocate magazine…reprinted by permission.
In the midst of a culture filled with smart phones, social media, streaming video and on demand TV shows, churches of Christ across the country are struggling with how to attract and retain young adults within their congregations. In this context, the church is sometimes viewed as a relic that has trouble relating to the younger generation.
In response to this issue, some churches have embraced a strategy that has watered down the message of the gospel and that relies heavily on entertainment and social interaction to appeal to young adults. They emphasize the “experience” without the religion. They try to make the church “cool” by changing it to look more like the world. But if we do not take the time to teach them the Bible, can this approach possibly lead to an authentic relationship with Christ and His Word? Will they find answers to the deepest questions about their faith and be prepared to face the world with all of its dangers? Will they ever be motivated to take ownership of their faith?
When facing this challenge, we must realize that the church, as established on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), is still relevant today without our intervention. When we attempt to make it more relevant for today’s young adults, we may actually make it less relevant by taking the focus off the most important things, thereby compounding the problem.
Young adults are smart enough to see through things that are superficial. If we try to use entertainment, they will move on to something else once they find a better alternative. If we try to make the church appear more like the culture, they will quickly see it as a cheap imitation. If we present them with only a shallow representation of the Word, they will look for something else to fill the void and will quickly be “devoured,” “scorched” or “choked” by the influence of the world:
And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them (Matthew 13:4-7 ESV, emphasis added).
Today I almost deleted my Facebook account…
I was not an early adopter of Facebook, but these days nobody would question that I have fully embraced social media. This is not only through the use of Facebook, but also Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and even my personal Blog that is connected to these various services. In many ways social media has become an incredible tool for someone with my interests and background.
There are some obvious benefits to this technology, such as the ability to keep up with the lives of friends, former classmates, family members, and those that share my personal hobbies such as running. However, these things are only the tip of the iceberg.
As an active member and Bible class teacher at the Bellevue Church of Christ, social media provides me with an additional avenue of communication for church events, fellowship opportunities, Bible class notes and handouts, and those in need of prayer and encouragement. As a guest preacher and Bible class teacher, I have been blessed to work with a number of churches in Middle Tennessee through the years. Facebook and Twitter have provided me with a great way to stay in touch with my brothers and sisters in those churches, when this would have otherwise been difficult. It has also made it easier to keep up with the efforts of missionaries in other countries, especially those I’ve personally worked with in southern Honduras.
However, for all of the good things about Facebook and social media mentioned above, there are many things that really concern me, especially when coming from Christians. I remember vividly the moment when I found out about the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. I was overwhelmed with sadness, and all I could think about was the need to pray. Probably the best post I saw on Facebook in response to this unspeakable act was from our preacher, Tom Riley…
Unfortunately, this was not the typical response that I saw from my fellow Christians. Between Facebook and Twitter I would estimate that 7 of every 10 posts coming from Christians were regarding the political implications of the attack, rather than anything concerning the victims, the families, the community, or most importantly….prayer. This shocked me.
As a follow-up to my presentation tonight at Maple Hill Church of Christ, the following is a list of the individuals who made a commitment to Christ in baptism during our recent mission trip to Namasigue and the Island of Boca in southern Honduras. Please remember these new brothers and sisters in prayer, and please share this list with others.
- Juana Albertine Armas
- Rosahisela Briceños
- Maryuri Gomez Jarquin
- Belsa Marina Vetancos
- Joseline Escaleth Aguilera
- Emerson Beningo Armas
- Marcia Armas
- Karen Daniela
- Keyli Melissa Bonilla
- Betty Argelia Velasquez
- Maris Bonilla
- Daniel Edwardo Estrada
- Leyla Tomasa Salinas
- Ucles Ortiz Lopez
- Dubrisia Velasquez
- Antonia Florez
- Blasina Reyes
- Ermis Alonzo Nuñez
- Rene Hernandez
- Juana Maria Serufinos
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses
The link below is to a great post/article from my friend Taylor about difficulty in accepting God’s grace. Taylor is one of the most sincere and caring people I know, which makes his words even more humbling to me. Definitely worth a read.
That’s what is so amazing about God, He doesn’t want our IOU’s. He knows that we will always continue to write bad checks and increase our debt (sin). He has already written a check for us, we just have to accept it. He wants us to accept His grace. He wants ME to accept his grace. Yet I struggle to do that every day.
What is Team Agee?
It is what we call our family, and represents our approach to faith and life together. We are team that…
(1) Strives to serve the Lord together in everything we do. Without God, the strength of this team would not be possible. Our number one priority in life is to follow Jesus Christ and pass this faith to our children.
(2) Enjoys doing things together, whether it be our family meals, going on a hike, or sharing a wonderful vacation.
(3) Faces everything together, including both joys and problems. We are in this as a team and understand that the good times are even better when enjoyed together, and dealing with difficulties is much easier when faced as a family.
(4) Aims to be physically active and maintain a healthy lifestyle. All of us enjoy running and exercising at some level, but we always allow our kids to choose the things they want to do. Both have participated in running races, but they also like hiking, gymnastics, ballet, and yoga. Our main goal is to establish a foundation of being active that will carry on throughout our lives.
Our Team Agee Blog launched in 2010 on Tumblr and was a way for us to share the journey of our family as it relates to the ideas listed above. Now, we have decided to move to our our own website as a way to provide a better platform for not only the Blog, but also Bible Study Materials, Sermon Audio, Race Reviews, Gear Reviews, and interacting with followers.
For our connections on Tumblr, we have not abandoned you! All of the blog posts on this site will be automatically posted to our Tumblr site.
We welcome you to pay our new site a visit and let us know what you think!
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said…
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