I personally think division is the ultimate tool that the Enemy uses in his attack against humanity. If you were him and you heard Jesus say, “The gates of Hell will not prevail against my Church” then you would know you’ve got to do something to separate the church. The only chance the Enemy has to defeat the Church is divide the Church.
Right now, “9 in 10 millennials expect to stay in a job for only three years.” (Barna Research)
My advice to business leaders would be to throw more money towards training and coaching so you can spend less money on recruiting and hiring. Here are 3 reasons to invest a ton in the millennial workforce, even if they may not stay long.
When people ask me what my favorite part of New York was, I always answer “the Brooklyn Bridge.” At first, I would tell them it was because you can see the entire Manhattan skyline, and that it was the first place I had been in two days that wasn’t overly crowded. I knew that was not the ultimate reason I fell in love with the little pier next to the massive bridge, but I was still working to discern what the Lord was trying to teach me about Himself. Though I saw the bridge before Movement Day Global Cities even started, it was the physical representation of everything the Lord taught me in New York.
Honestly, I went into this week with closed ears and a closed heart. I was already exhausted, and my introverted self knew it would be a draining week. Our mission statement is “Shifting culture by making millennials Christ-loving, city-changing, church-investing, disciple-making local missionaries.” I really did not feel like I could learn any more about these things than I already know, but I quickly learned that is such a dangerous place to be. The first breakout session I attended was entitled “Emotionally Healthy Leaders” and it was an hour and a half of both conviction and encouragement. Mental and emotional health is what I am most passionate about, but emotional health as it relates to leadership is often brushed aside. The Lord was quick to remind me I would not be city-changing, church-investing, or disciple-making if I was not first Christ-loving. He taught me the difference between isolating myself and seeking solitude, and how to do the latter in a way that seeks Him and empowers me to love the people around me. He brought me from a place of hiding my weaknesses to one of sharing them. I had to learn to be honest and vulnerable with other people and boldly ask the Lord to help me turn my eyes to Him. The Brooklyn Bridge is a beautiful reminder of the access I have to my Father and the grace He abundantly gives, even when I try to rely on my own strength.
During the week, the Lord consistently revealed himself to me as a God of restoration. On Wednesday, we had a worship night in our hostel, and God gave me the verse 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says, “therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I was diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses at a young age, and have struggled with anxiety and depression (amongst others) since then. The month leading up to the trip had been unusually difficult, and it often felt as if the Lord had stopped caring. That night, He reminded me that though they are still part of me and my story, I do not have to live as a victim to these things. The Lord has already restored me and made me a new creation. I attended a session led by Nick Pitts called “Urban Apologetics,” in which he spoke about shifts we have seen in culture and how to love our neighbors well in the midst of them. A few of these were our victim culture, we validate emotion and intuition over logic, we view everything as a narrative and affirm people’s stories, and that truth has become subjective. Instead of teaching us how to fight against culture, Nick said “the goal is not to win culture. The goal is to be faithful to the creator.” As local missionaries, our intention is not to fight against the culture we live in, but to share the Gospel and let Christ’s love redeem and restore it. Through my difficulties, God is my only provider of hope and peace, and the same hope and peace that has restored my soul will be restoration to our city.
When you cross the Brooklyn Bridge, though you are still in New York City, it is a different borough. The people are different, the subcultures change, even the primary type of food changes. The Lord did the same for me in a lounge room in the hostel while worshipping with some of my dearest friends, and while sitting in a chair with thousands of people from all over the world in the Jacob Javits Convention Center. I am still Hannah Rebecca Priest. I still fight temptations and still struggle with the same brokenness, but I do it with faith, knowing Jesus is better. I am praying and believing for the same faith and hope to cover the city of Dallas.
No one warned me that my first week of college would be the most terrifying week of my life. Loneliness, anxiety and doubt hit me right in the face those first days of my college experience and I had never felt more abandoned by God. Over and over again I confessed to God how I was losing faith, how it hurt and I didn’t understand why. I thought this is what would heal me. However, my anthem of, “I’m not enough, I’m stuck, please help me God!” soon transformed into the belief that God had not equipped me to face my circumstances. I continually confessed my helpless heart before God, but I wasn’t met with any breakthrough.
In that season of my life, the Lord revealed multiple lies I believed about what it means to be a child of God. I had many misaligned ideas of what relating with God looks like in a challenging, dry and quiet season. The Holy Spirit showed me that celebration in a desperate season is the most beautiful discipline in faith.
Joyful dependence is beautiful.
The first lie I believed in this season was that the only fitting response to feeling abandoned is a repetitive, weary proclamation of my lacking. I lived in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” So I went to the feet of Jesus and laid down my feelings of abandonment over and over again. “Jesus, I’m here. This dry season has left me weary and heavy laden. Fix me. I don’t know what else to do but cry out.” And while confession, bearing your whole heart before God, holds beauty and goodness, the purpose of confession is not to stay there. Think of the moment a lost person cries out to Jesus for salvation. They confess their sin, acknowledge His power to rescue them from bondage and then, by His grace, are set free. You see, I practiced those first two steps repeatedly but neglected to remember the fact that I’ve already been set free.
And then God began to whisper, “Come on, Mary Grace. Get up. I’m here, I already cover you. You’re already free.”
The verses that follow Matthew 11:28 hold the key to freedom from the bondage of a dry, weary season.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
As children of God, we take on the yoke of Jesus. Our yoke is easy and our burden is light! “Cast your cares.” Let them go! He carried the sins of the world, surely He can carry your weariness too.
The Holy Spirit met me one afternoon on my drive home and said, “I am the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead and I live inside of you! We will overcome this season!” Turns out the Bible says it too.
“But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (Romans 8:10-11)
We all know there’s no guarantee of an easy life. God didn’t promise us painlessness, He promised us provision. In the dry and weary season we need not capitalize on our lack, but magnify the strength of Jesus within us.
When the Lord shifted my focus from what I felt I lacked to the abundance I know in Jesus, He transformed my season of drought into one of depth. I wasn’t overwhelmed with the presence of God, and I didn’t suddenly feel renewed. The season was still a battle, but my trust in God’s provision had grown. And so with joy and celebration, I pressed on and continue to press on. The children of God have been saved “into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:3-4). Circumstances don’t dictate God’s goodness, anxiety doesn’t lessen His power and desperation does not deprive us of His joy. We have been set free (Romans 8:2). All we need do is celebrate.
In a day and age when Christianity is diluted by the culture and discredited by many, Christians are left to wonder what it is to live a life obedient to Christ and therefore impact a virulent society. With such opposition and difficulty Christians have a tendency to bend in two ways: a quiet faith or an oppositional obedience. Some take to a quiet faith that is lived inside the boxes either they or society has forced them to retreat into. While others choose to live obediently on the outside but internally have malice-filled hearts and an embittered tone towards the “other” and the “those people.” A faith like this will be trampled by society. A form of obedience as such will be overlooked by and hidden from society.
In Matthew 5-7, Jesus contrasts a trampled and hidden life with a posture of obedience that breaks the typical “religious” mold and brings God’s heavenly Kingdom to a broken earth. Having "opened His mouth," Jesus gives clarity to what it means to be blessed by God in Matthew 5:1-11. Jesus then moves on to explain the identity of those who truly live like Kingdom disciples and the identity of those who do not live so. There are those who obey, they who are called “salt” and “light,” and there are those who do not obey, those who are “trampled” and “hidden.”
Like salt, His obedient followers heal, preserve, and give taste to a broken world. They heal by loving their enemies (5:44), by praying for their enemies (5:44), and by being “peacemakers” in a hostile culture (5:9). They preserve the world by their purity in heart (5:8), by their meekness (5:5), and by their resistance to anger (5:21-26). They give taste by being conscious of their need of a Savior (5:3), by their joy in persecution (5:11-12), by treating others as they would desire to be treated (5:12).
As light does, those who follow Jesus expose a dark world and bring clarity to it. They expose darkness by mourning the effects of sin against them, against others, and across the world, but with a unique and holy comfort (5:3). They expose the darkness (and hollowness) of a materialistic society by expecting provision and satisfaction from their Father (6:33). They bring clarity in a confused age by asking, seeking, and knocking on their Father’s door for help, by building their lives on the timeless wisdom of Jesus (that does not shift, nor fail) (7:24-27) and by walking with a clear purpose on a narrow trail (7:13-14).
But, for those who choose to be disobedient to Jesus’ call, they are likened to trampled salt and hidden light - both of which are useless. These are those who tout Christianity yet refuse to understand their neighbor’s point of view. They are those who are fluent in "Christianese" and veterans in Christian work, but do not actually know Jesus. Of what use is doctrine without a repentant purity? For that adds no taste to the world. And what kind of help is a peacemaker who has no concern for dependence on God? Such labor will be no different from the world - it is hidden.
To be sure, a Christian is never perfect in this life, but in light of imperfection, it is imperative to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (3:8). Being salt and light means repentance with obedience. Therefore, Jesus is not simply calling for a grieved heart, nor is He commanding His people to do a lot of works (7:21-23). No, Jesus calls for obedience with repentance with the opening line of His sermon: “Blessed are the poor in spirit...” (5:3). To realize one’s poverty in spiritual living to God yet to be rich in good works - this is what gives a heavenly reflection, a heavenly light, a heavenly taste of His reign and goodness on earth below.
Christians are salt and light whenever they engage the world with the love of Christ while being aware of their sinfulness. They are salt and light when they give generously to those who are undeserving, knowing they too didn’t deserve the lavish Gift of the Father. They make peace with people that may end up wronging them, knowing that God reconciled enemies to Himself knowing they would still offend Him. To be salt and light is to serve those who may never come to Christ as their King, remembering that it is by the sheer grace of God that they are saved. A faith and obedience that serves in brokenness with a brave confidence in the kindness of God will not be trampled nor will it be hidden.
One Sunday many months ago, I walked into church, passed through the doors of the sanctuary, and felt a thin rectangular piece of paper slide into my hand from a greeter. I found my seat on a plush brown chair and watched as a pastor dressed in a nice plaid shirt meandered to the center of the stage and prepared the congregation for service. After working his way through announcements, he cordially lifted his gaze, readjusted his stance, and proudly informed the church that this Sunday, as a body of believers, we would be praying for our missionaries.
As the words fell upon my ears, my heart leapt, and my thoughts gathered in a mixture of surprise, hope, and joy, “They’re going to pray for me!”
As the pastor spoke, I was told to look at the thin rectangular paper in my hand and my eyes fell on the people pictured on the card. I was told that the photo showed me who we would actually be praying for.
My thoughts cascaded as understanding took root.
“We are praying for our missionaries today.”
Actually meaning, the people receiving prayer are the people printed on this card.
The people on this card are financially supported by the church.
The people on this card do not live in the topographical borders of the United States.
The people on this card are true missionaries.
I kept repeating his words to myself, “Today we are praying for our missionaries.”
Today we are praying for the people pictured on this card.
Finally, the reality hit me, today we are not praying for me.
I am not on this card.
I am not financially supported by the church.
I do not live beyond the topographical borders of the nation.
“Today we are praying for our missionaries.”
Today we are not praying for me.
I am not a missionary.
Now, donʼt fret. As my thoughts reached the conclusion that I must not be a missionary, my entire being seemed to utterly and immediately reject the lie.
In the past several months there have been many times where I have been talking with someone and they have said something like this:
“My parents used to be missionaries, but now they own a small business in Texas.”
“I’m supporting my friend who wants to be a missionary in Asia.”
“I think the Lord might be calling me to be a missionary somewhere.”
I am concerned every time I hear someone refer to a missionary strictly as a foreign identity and a calling that requires a drastic lifestyle change (including an overseas move), because the Christian identity and calling is to be a missionary right where you are. Most Christians know this– at least in theory– but there is a serious lack of a head to heart connection when it comes to this part of our identity.
When I only hear the word missionary described as someone who lives overseas and raises financial support in order to share the gospel and love the lost-- my mind automatically assigns that part of my daily responsibility to those who are the supposed “professionals." Now, this is an abhorrently ridiculous conclusion, but I believe that it is one that is extremely prevalent in our Christian culture.
It is vital that we continually remind ourselves that missionary is not a name only given to super Christians or to people whose lives are in other parts of the world. The title of missionary is the title to all Christians. It is part of our identity as followers of Christ. When we don’t identify as such, we begin to shirk the weighty responsibility of what it means to be like Christ. We begin to identify as Christians, but live as ones whose lives aren’t marked by evangelism or intentionality in relationships. We become content with solely maintaining significant friendships with other believers. We lose love for the lost.
And that is not okay.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
We must reclaim our identity as missionaries.
We must ask the Lord to renew our minds.
We must ask the Lord to make us like Him.
And then we must verbally and consciously identify as a missionary .
I have heard dozens of times that when you're struggling with self-hate, a good practice is to look in the mirror and say good things about yourself. It might sound funny or stupid, and you might not even believe it. But with time, the words become more and more acceptable and identifiable.
The manner and posture in which you speak of something will ultimately shape the way that you think of that thing.
I pray that the way the Church and Christian culture talk about missionaries will become inclusive of all Christians. I also pray that all who claim Christ, regardless of location or vocation, identify as missionaries. And lastly, I pray that the fruition of these things will result in the collective pushing back of darkness in our hearts, in our lives, and in our city.
The place where we must begin in ministering to those around us is to be broken for them.
The same Holy Spirit that dwelt in her dwells in us. Amy Carmichael felt the same weight and sadness when others rejected the gospel but remained steadfast, living 55 years in her mission field, patiently waiting on the Lord to work in the hearts of many. Waiting is hard, and to a 23-year-old growing up in a microwave age, we expect to see immediate results from our labor.
It couldn't hurt to have a few more good people in the world regardless of their beliefs.
This generation is our future, so it should concern Americans and American corporations that the polls seem to be lacking youth. I want to give my perspective on why young adults have quit showing up.
There are a few times in life when, standing at a crossroads, you make a decision to take the path that looks most like obedience to Jesus, feels less comfortable, & really hinges on doing what God's made & called you to do. This is a glimpse into Ryan's story of taking said path.
Dallas is poised to impact the world.
It’s always been a recognized city of significance, but at this point, its posture is pivotal. There are a handful of cities that impact facets of American culture. New York City impacts business. Los Angeles impacts media. Washington D.C. impacts politics. Nashville impacts music.
Dallas. Dallas impacts Church.
Dallas is the city with a church on every corner, and some of those churches can rival the size of airports. In fact, what is considered a “small” church in Dallas is considered a huge church anywhere else in America.
Here’s why this matters. For as much as the Church is perceived to be irrelevant or behind in the major issues of society, the world is curious about what God’s people are doing, together.
USA Today and CBS DFW picked up a story on a diverse church swap between Bryan Carter of Concord Church and Jeff Warren of Park Cities Baptist Church. Last week, WFAA Channel 8 News interviewed my pastor Jerry Wagner and I about unity and diversity for the good of the city.
Our goal is to change culture by making millennials Christ-loving, city-changing, Church-investing local missionaries. And what a better place to set a new precedence for how the Church is unifying for the good of the gospel despite our differences than Dallas, Texas?
What if when people doubted there’s hope in racial reconciliation, they looked to the churches in Dallas and saw a glimpse of hope?
What if when people doubted there’s hope in this younger generation, they looked to the churches in Dallas and saw a glimpse of hope?
What if when people doubted there’s hope in a better community, they looked to the churches in Dallas and saw a glimpse of hope?
What if seeing something positive made them see something possible?
With enough committed and Kingdom-minded Christ followers, we can change the culture of the Church in Dallas, in hopes of changing the culture of churches in America, in hopes of changing the culture of America altogether.
What would happen if the gospel sincerely transformed the heart and soul of America, the most influential nation in the world?
It’s not everyday that you meet someone who says their passions fall somewhere in the intersection of students, the education system, and hiphop, but that’s exactly where Jahmaol Clark finds himself. “What I’ve had a vision for is to take hiphop, something many students have a passion for, and use that to disciple and educate kids.” Jahmaol got saved around 5 years ago, when a man named Marcus began discipling him even before Jahmaol knew Christ. After months of discipleship and growth, Jahmaol heard a song by Lecrae and finally surrendered it all to Jesus.
Hiphop has been part of Jahmaol’s life and faith from the very beginning. He listened to hiphop growing up and began to write his own during his junior year of high school.
In his senior year of high school he also got plugged into a hiphop discipleship program called HipHop Worship at Covenant Church, where he started developing the passion to rap. When he started, he just wanted to glorify himself. Through Journey to Dream, God started to break down that dream and call him specifically to reach students.
“I used to want to be the next Lecrae. In fact, people still tell me, ‘I can’t wait till you make it big, Jahmaol!’ And that’s what I used to want, but I don’t want that anymore. “If I’m able to perform in front of a crowd of 50, instead of 50,000, and walk faithfully with those people, God can use that too.” After his first semester of college at SFA, he had an opportunity to perform at his high school with Journey to Dream after a student got in a car wreck and was left paralyzed from the waist down. Later that day, there was a worship night where Jahmaol started to sense what his calling was. “I’ve never seen God move more than that night. It was through that when I felt called to both ministry and music.”
From there, things began moving quickly for Jahmaol. He transferred to DBU and started to get more involved with a non-profit for at-risk students called Journey to Dream. Journey to Dream provides support in the public school setting for the kids who were struggling. “School, at some level, should be enjoyable because learning should be enjoyable. The education system tends to ignore natural talent. They focus on grades and force kids to be the same. Hiphop can help bring joy into learning for kids. That’s when I thought to myself, what if I could teach kids lessons through teaching them to rap? I don’t want to be a rapper full time. I want to work with students full time and use hiphop to disciple them.”
So that’s what Jahmaol does. He performs at schools and, afterwards, talks with the students about their struggles and guides them through it to the best of his abilities in the interactions that he gets. “Hiphop has allowed me to get in front of students and then directly impact their life off the stage”
I asked Jahmaol what is most misunderstood about students in his experience in working with them. “Students are capable. We need to understand that our students are capable. They want to do things and they’re able to do them. Students are not the future of the Church. They’re the Church now. I’ve seen a lot of teens struggle with a lot things. Depression, image, suicide. But I’ve also seen God save. God can use students as much or more than anyone else. Almost every Church movement in history was started by young people. We need to utilize them. They’re capable.”
“To be a local missionary means to do the Great Commission. The Great Commission says to make disciples. It’s so simple. Whatever season you’re in, use that season to disciple others. Take what you know and tell someone else. It’s that simple.”
“I wouldn’t be a Christian without discipleship. I think we try to make discipleship something only the super-Christians do and it’s not that. It’s Christianity 101. Can’t find someone to disciple you? Go to an older person in your church and tell them to disciple you! Practically, I think that also means being a member of a local church. The church, in many ways, has become an event and not a group of people who are incarnationally living out the gospel in that community. We’re not reaching people if we’re just doing events. We as people have a need to belong. When your gifts and talents are being utilized to be the church in your community and make disciples, thats what it means to be a local missionary. They say millennials are leaving the church. We have talents and passions and gifts and we want to use them! But if you use your talents in a way that don’t directly help the church, then they say that they can’t use you. Don’t just invite people to the event. We need churches that are willing to disciple young men and women and challenge them to use their giftings to serve the body and reach those outside the church. He hopes millennials join a local church and seek to do life with people while being discipled and encouraged in their giftings. Invite people into your life.”
So that’s Jahmaol. A hiphop loving, student reaching, education reforming new college graduate. His passion for students, hiphop, and the Church is hard to find. You can hear his ministry firsthand considering he just dropped his first album, Absolutely Relative, available on iTunes and Spotify now. We at INITIATIVE would highly recommend it. It’s so good. When we think of millennials who are on mission in their gifting, we think of Jahmaol. We’ve always wanted to tell his story to you guys and we’re pumped that we finally get to. I hope this was as encouraging for you as his story has been to us.
If you want to buy his album, click here.
Here's his music video for his single, Pop Culture
If you’ve been following us on social media for the past couple of weeks, you may have noticed that some of our team made a trip up to New York City. This was a defining trip for us as an organization, and we wanted to share exactly why we went and what we learned there. This post isn’t to highlight the fact that we made the trip. It was fun for all of us, but that’s not the point. The point is that we saw God move mightily while we were in New York, and we want to share with you what we experienced while we were there:
MOVEMENT DAY & 10 CITIES
The conference we went to was called Movement Day. On a functional level, Movement Day is essentially responsible for the existence of INITIATIVE in many different ways (other than God orchestrating it all, of course). Movement Day is a gathering of ministry, non-profit, and business leaders from all over the country coming together in a spirit of unity to discuss the importance of reaching their cities and to develop long term plans on how they can work together to meet the spiritual and tangible needs of their city. It was started by Pastor Tim Keller five years ago. INITIATIVE was birthed out of the first ever Movement Day Greater Dallas this past January.
The day before Movement Day was a smaller, related conference called 10 Cities. 10 Cities is a smaller meeting of a select number of leaders from the ten largest cities in America. Each year, two cities present what God is doing in their cities and how other cities can hop on board. This year, the two presenting cities were Denver and Dallas. INITIATIVE had the honor of speaking on a Q&A panel at the end of Dallas’ session on how to engage and mobilize young adults.
Movement Day Greater Dallas is essentially the same thing, but hyper-focused on the needs of Dallas and only a gathering of leaders from Dallas. INITIATIVE is actually designing the evening session for MDGD, and we have a discount for anyone who signs up to attend through INITIATIVE. That discount will be at the bottom of this post.
We saw and learned a ton while we were at these two events in New York City. Here are three key take-aways we had after the trip:
THE CHURCH IS DESPERATE FOR YOUNG ADULTS
We always want to emphasize the fact that we don’t believe are adults are the answer to the Church’s problems. However, we definitely want to make it known that we are part of the answer. There is a table in the Church where decisions are made and courses of direction are set and, for far too long, there have been empty chairs where young adults should be sitting. Young adults aren’t entitled to those chairs unless they are setting an example for the believers (1 Timothy 4:12), however, the Church benefits from the presence of young adults having an equal place at the table. All of Jesus’ disciples were under the age of 21. Jesus saw the importance of young adults.
The good news is, the Church is beginning to see the importance as well. During INITIATIVE’s session at 10 Cities, it was apparent that God wanted to say something. Everyone was sitting up, listening closely to what we had to say on young adults. Afterwards, we were flocked to by many of the leaders in the room, all asking questions along the lines of, “How do we engage the younger generation?”, “How do we keep young adults from leaving the church?”, “How can we better utilize the young adults in our congregation?”
It was clear. The Church is desperate for young adults. The Church is desperate for you.
GOD IS MOVING MIGHTILY ACROSS THE COUNTRY, NOT JUST DALLAS
It’s well known that we’re a little biased towards our own city of Dallas. It’s extremely important to have a laser-focus on this beautiful city where we live so we can most effectively reach it for God’s Glory and Kingdom. However, the one side-effect of this dedication to your own city is missing out on what God is doing in other cities across the nation and even the world.
God is doing some pretty incredible things across the country and we got to see just a glimpse of it while we were in New York City. If you think the Church is becoming increasingly unified here (how many times do you see 17 extremely diverse churches partner for a unified prayer and worship event?), the Church is coming together similarly all across the country. We were able to pray, worship, and learn with churches from all across the racial, generational, denominational, and geographic spectrum. It was amazing to see people from all of these different, diverse churches meeting, talking, becoming friends, and finding ways they can work together for the Gospel in their cities.
It seems that the move of God in this day and age is one of unity. Too long we’ve been divided by our secondary issues. God is filling the cracks that have developed throughout history and have divided us. The unified bride of Christ is far more beautiful than one with the cracks of division.
GOD STILL USES ORDINARY PEOPLE
For us, it was crazy just being there. The fact that we, some ordinary young adults from Dallas, had been invited to that table never ceased to be absolutely ridiculous in our minds. God has done some amazing things through INITIATIVE in this past year, but we’re just ordinary people who decided to be faithful to what God had put before us. It’s crazy to think that, just over a year ago, we were sitting in the same dorm rooms, cheap apartments, and borrowed couches that we are sitting in right now when we were planning on how to execute the vision God had laid on our hearts. And though INITIATIVE has changed our lives forever, our everyday lives haven’t changed too much.
Most of us are still in college. Most of us still have school projects, rent payments, low bank accounts, still wondering if we’re gonna get that side job in whatever it is that we do so that we can take care of the daily necessities while we devote our time to what God has called us to do. We’re not special. We’re everyday young adults. But as we sat there at Movement Day and 10 Cities in New York City, we realized that we were ordinary young adults who have found ourselves caught up in a story far greater than ourselves: God’s story. God’s story of redemption and restoration in the world and in each and every individual soul. And God has decided to allow every young adult who follows Him to be apart of that story.
So yeah, New York City was big. But not because it was a cool vacation or it made for good Instagram posts, but because we got to see God move mightily firsthand. God is at work, and you’re invited into it.
MOVEMENT DAY GREATER DALLAS
January 22, 2015
SPECIAL OFFER: $39, normally $129
OFFER ENDS SOON
PROMO CODE: SCHOLA
Martin Luther King Jr. said, "It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning." Is this still true?
On December 1st, 2014, We held an honest and healthy discussion about racial reconciliation in the Church. Why is racial reconciliation difficult? What part have we all played in this divide? How has the gospel called us to respond?
We hosted a round-table discussions on the topic, run additional questions by a panel of diverse Christian leaders, and closed by praying for God's guidance.
TREY HILL | FOUNDER OF MERCY STREET
EDWIN ROBINSON | YOUNG ADULT PASTOR AT CONCORD CHURCH
LORENZO ELIZONDO | SENIOR PASTOR OF LIFEPOINT CHURCH
DR. BARANDA FERMIN | SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR AT UNT-DALLAS
SUJO JOHN | 9/11 SURVIVOR & EVANGELIST
Here is the audio from the evening. Feel free to download it to listen on your phone or another device at your convenience.
Feel free to leave a comment in the comments section to continue the discussion or send us your thoughts by clicking the button below.
With our HARMONY event just around the corner, we wanted to ask our three worship leaders, David Terry, Dara Maclean, and Jonathan Flores what their thoughts are on worship.
Here is the interview.
What does “worship” mean to you?
David: Worship is being so aware of Gods grace, favor, and love that you are compelled to respond.
Dara: To me it means focusing all attention and adoration on the only one worthy of all the glory and the only one meant to be truly famous.
Jonathan: In the context of the Harmony event, I think that our laying aside of differences and unifying as HIS church is a powerful, visible sign of ascribing worth to who God is. He is bigger that our preferences or denominations. It is, in a nutshell, our acknowledgement of his greatness.
What does it look like when a church comes together in worship?
David: When the body comes together "with one accord in one place" (acts 2:1) we see the heart of the Holy Spirit through the power of unity... A modern day Pentecost.
Dara: Heaven. When we choose to unite instead of segregating through denominations, we begin to be the body of Christ. Unity is what causes the anointing to flow unhindered. (Psalms 133) Denominations won't exist in Heaven but our unity and our worship will.
Jonathan: Selflessness - our humility in the light of HIS majesty.
Do you think the church puts expectations on worship music? If so, how can we change that?
David: I believe the church has never seen a season of willingness to put aside stylistic worship preferences for the sake of community like we are walking through right now. I truly think we are living in a worship reformation right now. Not in the sense of style or genre, but in the sense of a generation of Christians genuinely seeking the presence of God and desiring to get to the heart of worship.
Dara: Sure. I think if anything is ever about majoring on minors instead of majors, then we will continue to let the enemy rob us of our true focus which is pouring love on Jesus through music that agrees with His word and loving people well in the process.
Jonathan: I think that every worship leader should make an effort to integrate various styles and formats of music into their church. Their should be a conscious work toward a collective understanding that our singing is not about us.
How do you imagine worship to look in heaven?
David: Worship in heaven will be similar to a high school prom full of believers dancing to a christian version of "I Gotta Feelin'”.
Dara: Like a party. Literally a love fest that blows us all away and is truly and ONLY Christ and His redemption centered. I believe the goal is to practice heaven on earth now in our churches. Jesus died as the second and perfect Adam to restore Eden back to us.
Jonathan: Celebratory and diverse - I see rejoicing as the spirit of heaven.
How do you think young believers can worship Christ more throughout their every day lives?
David: Worship, since it is a response, can't be forced or produced through any means other than drawing close to God in new ways each day. One of my favorite songs is "Never Once" by Matt Redman. The song states, "every step we are breathing in your grace ... Ever more well be breathing out your praise."
Dara: Worship is a lifestyle not a genre. That is an instant mind shift for me. He is worthy of my attention and affection daily and first. If I will let Him, He will draw me to Himself moment by moment and in that place as believers, knowing we are His beloved, we will walk in signs wonders and miracles. The greater works through the imitate power of the Holy Spirit
Jonathan: In fear of sounding trite, I would simply say to love. Love without strings attached or an active motive can be a powerful thing and I fear that too often our love is filtered through a selfish lense...in a number of ways. We could, in no greater way, be more like Christ than to love all without condition.
Is there a song that has impacted your spiritual life in a memorable way?
David: The song "Great Great God" written by David Moore at Gateway worship is a powerful song. It has been my anthem for this season of my life because it is a song that at the core, focuses entirely on the incredibly great God we serve despite our circumstances or situations.
Dara: "What A Friend I've Found" & "Lord You're Beautiful" wreck me. The focus is simply on Jesus and His beauty. When I'm gazing there, I discover truth everywhere. "One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD" (Psalms 27:4)
Jonathan: Made Me Glad by Hillsong - seems to be my go-to song when I need to be reminded of who God is to me.
HARMONY is a unified prayer and worship event for young adults in Greater Dallas.
It is Monday, November 17th from 6:30pm - 9pm at Munger Place Church.
When you think of prayer, what do you think about? What do your prayers to God sound like? Here’s what mine were like when I was a kid:
“God, thank you for my life and my family and my little puppy. I ask that you protect us and keep loving us. Also, can you help me to not have nightmares tonight? Amen.”
I used to pray this prayer every night when I was young. I didn’t venture outside these three lines, but that didn’t stop me from believing that God was listening. When I grew into my teenage years, I began to write out my prayers in journals. The Psalms inspired a poetic voice that lifted up requests and gratitude expressed on paper. Even still, I followed a pattern that “looked right”. It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I acknowledged how much I need God’s Spirit in my prayers.
Prayer is communication with God the Father made possible by Jesus Christ and the presence of his Holy Spirit.
It’s a powerful exchange of humanity and divinity, but even more, it’s the offering of verbally declaring our dependence on God. Our words are not lost in the atmosphere, but delivered at the foot of God’s throne with a scent of sweet incense (Psalm 141:2).
In order for the smell of incense to be released it has to be burned with fire. Throughout scripture, God reveals himself with fire. A few examples can be found in Numbers 16, Exodus 13, 2 Thessalonians 5, 2 Kings 1 along with numerous other places. It’s not a coincidence that incense is the visual representation of prayer being delivered to the Lord. Our offering is not set ablaze by forced fervency; our offering is set ablaze by our calling on God’s presence.
One summer, I had my heart broken by a failed relationship. I couldn’t stop myself from feeling the sting of my heart. Even in mundane conversations my mind would wander, and suddenly I would feel tears welling up in my eyes. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed. I needed Jesus to console my heart (Psalms 4:1). I only had one friend that knew the condition I was in, and I confessed to her daily how hard it was to maintain joy. She was the tool God used to transform my understanding of unceasing prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17). She preached to me the gift of constant thankfulness, while leaning into God with a posture of desperate need for His Spirit. She prayed with fervency, and her prayers were answered with bewildering abundance. She introduced the concept of Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
In the Bible, Elijah the prophet humbly acknowledged God’s presence by speaking aloud who God is. He positioned Himself alongside the Father by proclaiming his servanthood. He also mentioned his historic faith in God’s Word. Lastly, Elijah petitions for the Lord’s presence (in the form of fire) to be revealed for the glory of God’s faithfulness to people. Immediately, the fire falls and consumes Elijah’s offering causing the witnesses’ to bow their faces low and worship this God.
Our prayers must invite the presence of God into our lives, or else we’re asking in vain.
If our prayers are an offering of incense lifted to God’s throne, then we have to request that He ignites them with his fire.
Pray with everything you have.
Lay down your requests as an offering.
Jesus graciously lived, died and rose again so that we could communicate with the Lord ourselves. If we began trusting this process, then I believe God would do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. I believe our prayer lives would transform if we asked the Spirit to pray over us (Romans 8:26) while we go before the throne.
It may not look any different than my childhood three-line prayer, but the trust in God’s presence lifts praise and glory to His faithfulness.
Nothing unifies the Church like Prayer and Worship. Come join us at HARMONY on November 17th with do just that with people with all kinds of backgrounds from all over Greater Dallas!