Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Connecting the Next Generation with the Gospel: Part 3

Essentials of Spiritual Growth and Multiplication

This is the title of a small group training tool that students involved with Campus Crusade for Christ are using on college and high school campuses. It is simple, practical and easily transferable. The guide is a thin, spiral bound notebook containing 24 lessons on the essential principles of relating to God and living the Christian life. And it is currently being used by God to not only help young Christians mature in their faith but also to reach many of those who have yet to be reached with the Gospel message.

So, how is ESSENTIALS different from any other small group guide or Bible study workbook you may have used? First, each lesson is just 1 page in length and follows the same outline; Connect, Hear, Apply and Tell. The leader begins by connecting with the needs of each person in the group in a few ways; asking how they are doing, praying for wisdom for God towards their time together and then sharing a statement relating to the lesson, for example "Relationships thrive on acceptance and assurance." The group leader then gives each person an opportunity to share how they have experienced this statement in their own lives. Next, we open the Bible and read about what God says about relationships and being assured in our relationship with Him. Again, this section is tailored more towards discussion rather than teaching. So the group leader gives others an opportunity to share what they have learned from the Bible about a particular topic or truth.

The last two parts have to do with personal life application and sharing what one has learned with others. The group leader may ask 1 or 2 questions to help the group members be thinking about how this applies to them. Finally, everyone is given an opportunity to share with whom they may tell in the days to come and the group members pray for one another before the session ends.

Essentials is free to download on this website: You will want to click on the "Essentials small group leaders guide tab in the middle of the page."

There have been a few videos created to accompany certain lessons and more videos are in the process of being filmed to accompany all 24 lessons. This tool is tailored made for reaching the Next Generation with the Gospel-- the related videos are helpful & intriguing!

If you would like any more information on Essentials, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Joshua for the Barta family

Monday, April 27, 2009

To the grandmothers and grandfathers:)

Well, this past weekend Dad (Randy) and Tammi Jo came to visit. It was so fun to watch them play with Azariah and see their excitement as he learned new things. We taught him how to put his new blocks into their bag, which he picked up on very fast. He can sit and play with toys by himself and be completely amused as he feels, tastes and looks at things from all angles.  He's also been observing and imitating body language more, and dances to music or whistling. How amazing to watch him learn and to watch his personality develop. 

My project this week is to find baby gates to put up around our house. HE'S ON THE MOVE! And the most dangerous part about it all is his lack of satisfaction with crawling. He wants to walk, and thinks he can! Within just over a week he can walk alongside furniture, often letting go with one or both hands to redirect his steps to a new location. It's almost as though his memory completely blocks out his hundreds of painful falls. 

Oh Lord protect him:) We love you and miss you all! 

Love, Rose

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Connecting the Next Generation with the Gospel: Part 2

Where do I even begin?

I still find myself asking this question after having spiritual conversations with many people over the last 7 years.  

So let's start with something simple.  Do you like listening to stories?  I don't know of anyone who does not enjoy a good story. Consider thinking through, and maybe even putting down on paper, your own story of how God changed your life.  If you are a follower of Christ, you have a story to tell...God did a marvelous work and changed your heart.  Know your story so well that you can tell it in 1 minute, 5 minutes or throughout a conversation that lasts 1 hour.  

Engaging people in spiritual conversations is not easy; we believe the person we are talking with may think we are weird, or maybe you fear rejection, or even more I have felt that it could jeopardize my relationship with them.  Any of these could be a reality.  But what if you pray and ask the Lord to grant you opportunities to share your story, and ask Him to fill your heart with faith so that it depends on Him working in someone's heart and not us. (Romans 10:14 & 17) "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."

Connecting: this is essential in talking with people about Jesus.  Let's say you've known your friend for 6 months.  You see each other every so often, but don't necessarily know a lot about each other yet.  If you sit down to a meal with them and start the conversation by saying, "Did you know that Jesus Christ died for your sins and He is your only hope in this world?"  That might not connect so well with them.  Instead, try find common areas of interest; maybe you have similar family backgrounds, or maybe you enjoy playing the same sports or musical instruments.  I often find that when i begin to connect with someone, they tend to trust me more and want to listen to what i have to say.  I plainly admit that i don't have all the answers and that i'm often intimidated to the point of not wanting to engage people in spiritual conversations at all.  So let me close with the words of Jesus in regards to sharing our faith.  Matthew 10:32-33 "So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, i also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."  

May God grant each of you strength of heart to proclaim His wonderful name,


Thursday, April 9, 2009

First Bites... applesauce

For all the grandparents: I thought you'd enjoy this one too!

Azariah's New Endeavors

Today Azariah crawled forward for the first time. Over the course of these past few weeks it has been such a joy to watch him develop and learn so many new things. It seems that his strength has doubled along with his curiosity and probably also the number of times he wakes up at night. I read in a Dr. Sears book that often times when babies learn a new trick, they wake up during there light sleep (which occurs nearly every hour and a half) to practice. Other then that, we're getting used to his smile filled with teeth, his developing mobility, parenting in the middle of the night, and refraining from sticking our fingers in his mouth (Ouch). On Monday, Joshua watched Azariah grab onto the top rail of his crib and pull himself up to his knees. Yikes! Today I lowered the mattress:) We love nearly every second that God is gracious to give us with our son, and hope that he allows us many more years of being parents. 

Tomorrow Linda and Molli (Joshua's mom and sister) will be coming into town. We're so excited to visit, but even more share in the joys that Azariah brings to our daily lives. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Connecting the next generation with the Gospel: Part 1

News break: If you are not aware of the paradigm shift (an example serving as a model; pattern) in the culture of our young people today, you MUST wake up to it. The methods by which we reach young people with the Gospel message today has drastically changed from the way we reached them 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 2 years ago and may I even say in 2008. The one unchanging factor, and it will forever remain unchanged, is the truth of the Gospel message itself...that Jesus Christ came to save sinful people from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:6-11)

Let me get you thinking more specifically. If you were to survey high school and college students on the question: "Do you believe there is such thing as absolute truth", i am fairly certain a good majority of them would respond that they do not believe there is absolute truth. What this shift should tell us is that we must begin conversing with these young people about the Gospel in a very different way than we may have in the past. We have to first and foremost get past the huge roadblock that they don't believe in absolute truth.

This next example comes from Ken Cochrum, he is Campus Crusade for Christ's Vice President for Global Campuses. He oversees all of our college campus ministry work around the world, in some 150+ countries. Here is something he recently shared about, what he calls Generation F. "Facebook hit 200 million users this week, in 40 languages. That's doubled from 100 million just 8 short months ago. The NY Times graphed the progress, including the generational element. If Facebook were a country, it would be the world's 5th most populous nation, following China, India, the USA and snuggled between Indonesia (220 million) and Brazil (190 million).

The under-25's are the people that have never known a time when they couldn't know more about a subject than their professors could teach in a 45-minute lecture simply by exploring the top 10 Google hits. No wonder this group is a bit skeptical of leadership authority culture based on traditional currencies such as age, position or tenure." Whether this grasps you or not, the youth culture is changing...daily!

I will be continuing this series in the days to come with some specific methods that Campus Crusade and others have been using to reach young people in light of today's culture changes.

I end on a personal note: My son, Azariah, just turned 7 months old this past Sunday. He is really starting to enjoy when we read books to him. Since he was 1-2 months old we began reading to him out of "The Jesus Storybook Bible- Every story whispers His name". Through these simple, rooted in truth Bible stories, through prayer and by the grace of God, our hope is that Azariah will believe in the absolute truth of the Gospel from an early age and that he will love his friends and family a way that will lead them to the foot of the cross of Christ!