Category Archives: Generations

ALLin Podcast Episode 14: Malakos means soft

In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul says that those people who are “malakos” are outside of the Kingdom of God. This is a Greek word that means “soft”. It is a strange choice of word for Paul to use if he meant to describe homosexuals. In the context of the passage, and with understanding of the culture of the day, this word makes a lot more sense if it is describing effeminate young men who made themselves available as “call boys”. 


Sermon: Jesus calls us to love the outsiders

I preached this sermon on 22 January 2017, as part of a series called Jesus Encounter. Jesus calls us to love, unconditionally and extravagantly. He specifically calls us to love those who outside our circles.

Jesus calls


My sermon notes:

Jesus Encounter series start

Jesus Encounter series – until Easter

The stories recorded in the Gospels and Acts are not merely stories of what happened to a few people 2000 years ago – not just historical record. They were carefully selected in order to show us patterns, and help us understand how WE can encounter Jesus even today. As we read the Gospels and Acts we should be alert for those patterns in the stories, and look carefully for clues and instructions on how we can encounter Jesus and live Christ-like lives today.


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Sermon: How to be a church entering a new land

I have not posted much on the blog recently due to work pressures. But a few weeks ago, I was able to preach at Heronbridge Christian Church, and the sermon was recorded.

I preached on the need for us to adopt the same mindset Moses and Joshua had to when they were leading the people of Israel into a new land. It requires a change in mindset and a future-focused attitude, not one that clings to the past or is frightened of change. I took the opportunity to overview an understanding of generational theory, and talk about some of the major disruptive forces shaping our world right now as well.

The sound file is available on their website here.

You can download my slides and follow along if you’d like to.

Let me know what you think.

Gen Y goes to church – or doesn’t

One of my favourite Christian bloggers, Rachel Held Evans, has recently turned her attention to some insights into the Millennial generation and their church attendance in the USA. She wrote a short blog on the topic for a CNN blog site, and sparked a very lively (if not useful) debate.

I was alerted to this issue a number of years ago by research from a variety of sources. The Barna Group and Walt Mueller’s Center for Parent/Youth Understanding have both been showing research about declining generational attendance at church for decades now. Mike Regele wrote about this in his book, “The Death of the Church” back in 1996 (buy on – still worth reading).

More recent research has emerged from Christian Smith’s National Study of Youth and Religion Project, and an excellent recent book is “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters” by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (buy on or Kindle @ or Rachel also recently listed some of her research resources on this topic – see it here.

Anyway, after her experience on the CNN blog, Rachel revisited the topic with an excellent post entitled “Why Millennials Need the Church“.

She then provided links to a number of people who had written responses to her original article. If you’re interested in the issue, you will find them useful:

Churches definitely need to be thinking about this. Gen Y are seeking for something to believe in, but much of what the church dishes up for them today leaves them cold. What do you think are the best ways churches can connect with Millennials?

Study: Why Young Christians Leave the Church

One of the biggest ‘elephants in the room’ for evangelical Christians is why so many of their young people leave the church in their late twenties. There’s no denying this happens. There are too many “used to evangelical Christians” running around. Something must be wrong.

Some people blame the way youth ministry is run. For example, see this hour long documentary produced by a young churchgoer, “Divided“. They have a point, but I don’t buy into their analysis completely.

A new book by David Kinnaman, Barna Group president, provides some more detail. “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Church” is an excellent read. The Christian Post reviewed it and provides a summary of the findings (read it here, or a summary below).

This is a problem I have been passionate about for nearly three decades. I continue to be dismayed at how few churches are trying new things in an attempt to reverse nearly a half century of losing young people. This book from Barna provides some clues. What is your church going to do about it?

Study: Why Young Christians Leave the Church

By Jeff Schapiro | Christian Post Reporter, Sep 2011

Nearly three out of every five young Christians disconnect from their churches after the age of 15, but why? A new research study released by the Barna Group points to six different reasons as to why young people aren’t staying in their pews.

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Classical Flash Mob: A wonderful intergenerational experience

One of the questions I am most often asked when I do consulting on different generations with churches and faith-based groups, is “what can we do to get young and old people doing things together”. Often, the question behind the question is about how to get young and old to enjoy the same sort of worship service together. That’s a tough (but not impossible) ask.

My response is normally to push people to think beyond the church service, and to think of actual service. Serving each other, and serving others together, is probably the easiest way to create inter-generational experiences.

So, I really enjoyed a YouTube video that is the most watched video on the web in the past week. I enjoyed it even more that it was my mother who sent me the link. It’s a four minute video of a very well executed flash mob singing the Hallelujah Chorus. It struck me that this is the perfect Christmas inter-generational experience. Young and old would both love this experience. And it is such a feel good experience, one can only imagine it will live long in the memories of all who were there.

Watch the video below, or at YouTube directly (and join the – literally – millions of others who have done the same in the past few days):

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Multigenerational ministries in local churches

In 2000, I wrote my Masters thesis on the topic of multigenerational ministries in the context of a local church. It was an extension of the work I had been doing on different generations, and a forerunner to a best selling book I wrote a few years later that applied generational thinking to all aspects of life and work (that book is “Mind the Gap” – see here for more details and to purchase copies).

I have received numerous requests to post my thesis online, and so, here it is. The thesis itself was nearly 200 pages in length – the HTML file is 1.5Mb in size. You can read it online by clicking here – feel free to save it to your machine to read at your leisure.

There are some parts of the thesis that feel a bit out of date and simplistic. But I hope it sparks your thinking and influences your practice of multi-generational ministry in your church.

Welcome new readers – a quick intro to the conversation thus far

Every now and again I’ll do a quick overview of my favourite posts – and that can act as a nice introduction for new readers and a navigation tool for those who want to “catch up” with some of the thinking and conversations on this blog.

The purpose of this blog is to help Christians and those seeking faith to find new ways to think about what it means to be a Christ follower. I have been writing and blogging on this topic since 1995, and this blog includes a selection of new and old stuff I have been working on. Some of it I’d die for, but some of it is purely experimental (I try and let you know which is which). The point is not to present a fully worked through systematic theology, but rather to allow you to enter into an ongoing conversation with me. If you like, this is just my journal – and you get to look in…

So, with that said, here is a brief intro to some of the posts on this blog:

Continue reading Welcome new readers – a quick intro to the conversation thus far

Challenges Facing Youth Ministry in the 21st Century

This paper was originally published in 2003 in the Baptist Journal of Theology (South Africa). It has not been updated – some of the website references in the footnotes may be out of date.

The paper was a collaboration between Dr Sharlene Swartz (read her bio at LinkedIn or in her current position as HSRC researcher) and Dr Graeme Codrington.

Challenges Facing South African Baptist Youth Ministry in the 21st Century

A Crash Course in Post Modernism

It’s all around us. But most of us can’t concisely describe it. It’s the philosophy of the age which follows modernism. Modernism is basically the world view which drew the line between science and religion, faith and superstition, truth and veracity. It demanded technical, scientific answers to questions of faith and science. Non-ending proofs and evidence. Modernism required that everything be rational, observable and repeatable. It was in one sense a return to the scholasticism of the thirteenth century but without a supreme deity as its anchor. “God does not exist until proven otherwise” could be a foundational principle for its atheists, although Christianity too flourished in the modernist milieu. For modernists, the truth exists objectively; things must be explainable, we must be able to demonstrate and understand it. Modernism takes it as axiomatic that there is only one true answer to every problem, from which it follows that if we can correctly formulate those answers, the world could be controlled and rationally ordered. That’s why we grew up on Creation – Evolution debates, Disco (very tangible beat and structured dance form), long theological debates, proving the existence of God and cerebral reasoning. Modernism has ruled supreme in Western thought for the last 500 years. But since its beginning, a new approach has been gathering momentum, and as this century ends, it claims dominant position, not only in the intellectual corridors of power, but is pervasive throughout society in all corners of the globe.

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The Challenge of An Aging Population

In 2001, I was editing a magazine on the future of church ministry. I approached respected author, academic and church consultant, Richard Kew to write about what he thought was a critical future trend the church needed to be aware of. This is what he wrote. Now, nearly a decade later, it’s still important, and his advice should still be heeded.

Last weekend I was invited to speak at, and participate in, a consultation on ministry among the aging. It was a fascinating weekend. I learned a lot, met some interesting people, and (I hope) was able to make a small contribution to the process. This weekend I sat down with the November 3, 2001, issue of The Economist, and found a major survey of the near future by Peter Drucker that has me questioning — as well as building upon — some of the things that I said last Saturday!

Drucker is venerable in every sense of that word. Now 92, his mind is still as clear as a bell, and for someone who is highly unlikely to live long enough to see some of the things he is talking about, he is obviously very engaged with what tomorrow might look like. At the heart of some of his projections is his recognition that the developed world’s population is aging to such an extent, that the social safety nets all western democracies have put in place are utterly inadequate.

Here’s a nugget to ponder: “By 2030, people over 65 in Germany, the world’s third-largest economy, will account for almost half the adult population, compared with one-fifth now. And unless the country’s birth rate recovers from its present low of 1.3 per woman, over the same period its population of under-35s will shrink about twice as fast as the older population will grow. The net result will be that the total population, now 82m, will decline to 70m-73m. The number of people of working age will fall by a full quarter, from 40m to 30m.”

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