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A Eutychus Generation

I am a person who loves to read and has tons of books. I find that there are times or seasons in my life when I need to return back to the books that I have read and reread some of them. That seems to be the season that I am in at this time. Yes lately I have been going back and re-reading some children’s Ministry topic books for myself and this has served as a good refreshing time for me. One of the books I have picked up and reread recently is a book called: “Crucial Concepts in Kids Ministry”by Randy Christiansen.

In the book at the very beginning Randy starts off talking about a Eutychus generation. Randy begins to talk about that is one of the foundational reasons that churches are suffering today is that, deep down inside, their ministry to children is suffering. Many church bodies have grown to have a high pain threshold in the area of children’s Ministry. There is something vitally wrong, the leadership has grown to ignore and live with the pain. Often times churches don’t sense something is even wrong because of their high threshold of pain until children hit the teenage years where many churches then begin to see these kids as possible contributors to their volunteer base and tithers. I think usually at this time then churches can begin to diagnose the problem incorrectly, and give blame to other various causes and treat only symptons instead of the root cause. The whole local body is being affected, but they have not yet diagnosed the root problem. Few look at the ministry to children at their church. We must realize that healthy Ministry to children is a central part to the overall health of the church.

Acts 20:9-12: “….in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “to not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.“and they brought the young man in alive…”

There are many children in the church today who we could see are just like Eutychus. Eutychus had a desire to hear the things of God and most likely desired more of God’s presence in his life. He wanted to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He probably sat in the window because the fresh air would help him stay more attentive to Paul’s message. Children today are also attentive spiritually. Spiritual sincerity and curiosity envelope our children. Saturday morning cartoons grasp their imaginations. They want to believe that a greater spiritual creative force (God) exist. Children are searching for the reality of a supernatural power in an everyday world. This is the theme of most popular children’s books,movies and toys.

Eutychus probably exemplifies church young ones in another way. Simply stated, Eutychus fell asleep. His attention was not focused and captured. His flesh over rode his spiritual desire at the time. No one can ignore a true move of God. When children’s sense the presence of God during worship, when they lay hands on a friend and see a healing occur, when they see the unsaved walk the aisle in response to the gospel, one will not have a problem maintaining children’s attention! The reality of a relationship with the all-powerful God is not something that a person can sleep through. This spiritual atmosphere must be fanned into a flame by church leaders and committed parents. This expectation level must be set as an everyday standard. Too often our expectation level of children and ministry to them and with them doesn’t match God’s level of expectation.

Notice what Paul did, He stopped his Sermon and went down to Embrace Eutychus. Paul was not satisfied to leave Eutychus in a state of sleep, or a state of death. We face the same question today. Will we be satisfied to ignore the spiritual condition of our children? Will we stop what we are doing, to bring life back to these young ones?

Growth through Vision

We all seem to want to grow our churches, ministries, businesses and the such but more often than not we don’t see that growth. I have spent tons of time at conferences with the best of them, listened to story after story, read book after book about how to grow and yet I still hear and see things remain the same in so many places, churches, and businesses. What is some of the cause of this stagnation or decline after a while? Do we bring it on ourselves? I believe in a saying that I heard John Maxwell say (I am not sure if he created the statement but it was him that I heard say it first for me) “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” It is over the years that I continue to realize the truth in this statement.

I see that once leadership has traveled down a certain path, it is difficult to choose a new path but not impossible. Often times barriers to the growth that so many are after come from the leadership (Even as I write this today I too am part of leadership in many of my circles, so my hands are not completely innocent either) that is caused by repeated patterns of behavior, otherwise know as “path dependency” which is the term I first read about in the book, “The very large church” by Lyle Schaller.

I have always been taught by some of the greatest mentors out there in the church and business world that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. How many times have we constrained ourselves to destructive patterns in our churches or businesses that prevent the growth we are talking about? Our churches and businesses are to grow and have an impact into our culture for Christ.

I want to take a few moments and look at only two even though there are several fundamentals that could help us break through and into the growth we should be part of.

1. Clarity of Vision

Churches must have a heart for people. If your vision is to care for the contented, then you will not produce passion in your people or volunteers to reach outside your current boundaries.

One of the exciting things of having a clear vision is recognizing the needs currently in your communities. Instead of waiting for the community to show up at our doorsteps, churches break through a barrier by being present in normal ever day society, meeting actual physical, emotional, spiritual needs of the people. Churches that are effective reaching people are those who see the needs of those outside of the church and establish ministries that allow the church to be present in the community, and they also have a process by which they are able to draw these people into the safety and care of the church.

Leaders of growing churches or businesses also know who they are, why they exist, and where they are going. They communicate this and communicate this over and over very clearly and assume always that they must continue to communicate it. Leaders in growing churches and businesses build bridges to the future while they are walking there.

2. Unity of leadership

I had read a book by Larry Osborne, pastor of North Coast Community Church in the San Diego area which he titled, “The Unity Factor”. The key message of this book was, “Get the key influencers in your church to share a common vision.” Without leadership in leadership there will never be a lasting ministry or growth that breaks through their barriers.

I think a lot of times their isn’t unity due to leaders who are afraid for one reason or not to confront those not in unity. Often times we can hear from these leaders words like these: “oh that’s the way they are”, or “I don’t think God wants us to treat people like that”, or “someday they will come around and understand”. Let us keep in mind that each of our visions for each of our churches will not be for everyone. That’s ok, let them go to the church where the vision fits them. I love the way Ed Young the pastor of Fellowship church in Grapevine, Texas says about his church, “That Fellowship Church is not for everyone”, and because he and his unified team are willing to stand by that that have found thousands of people who find that Fellowship Church is for them.

In closing this, I think some of us have done the math wrong, since we haven’t been willing to stand by a clear vision for our church we have seen a couple stay happy for a season but have lost 10, 20, 50, 100, 1000’s of people who have come in our churches and sensed something wasn’t right and left to go where there is a clear vision and people who will stand by what that means for that church.

God does want us to break through barriers, we need to take steps necessary to see those growth barriers removed, today , because people are counting on us.

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