Monday, November 29, 2010


Wanted to pass this thought-provoking subject and article along. This is a trending that I have seen myself over the last 5-7 years and it seems to be broadening and deepening. Feel free to post a comment on what you think about it all. Thanks!

What is Adultolescence?

Christian Smith, professor of sociology at Notre Dame, wrote in the most recent Books and Culture a review of six books that deal with the new phenomenon of "adultolescence"—that is, the postponement of adulthood into the thirties. I want to relate this phenomenon to the church. But first here is a summary from Smith's article of what it is and how it came about.

Smith writes,
"Teenager" and "adolescence" as representing a distinct stage of life were very much 20th-century inventions, brought into being by changes in mass education, child labor laws, urbanization and suburbanization, mass consumerism, and the media. Similarly, a new, distinct, and important stage in life, situated between the teenage years and full-fledged adulthood, has emerged in our culture in recent decades—reshaping the meaning of self, youth, relationships, and life commitments as well as a variety of behaviors and dispositions among the young.

What has emerged from this new situation has been variously labeled "extended adolescence," "youthhood," "adultolescence," "young adulthood," the "twenty-somethings," and "emerging adulthood."

One way of describing this group is to highlight the tendency to delay adulthood or stay in the youth mindset longer than we used to. Smith suggests the following causes for this delay in arriving at mature, responsible adulthood.

First is the growth of higher education. The GI Bill, changes in the American economy, and government subsidizing of community colleges and state universities led in the second half of the last century to a dramatic rise in the number of high school graduates going on to college and university. More recently, many feel pressured—in pursuit of the American dream—to add years of graduate school education on top of their bachelor's degree. As a result, a huge proportion of American youth are no longer stopping school and beginning stable careers at age 18 but are extending their formal schooling well into their twenties. And those who are aiming to join America's professional and knowledge classes—those who most powerfully shape our culture and society—are continuing in graduate and professional school programs often up until their thirties.

A second and related social change crucial to the rise of emerging adulthood is the delay of marriage by American youth over the last decades. Between 1950 and 2000, the median age of first marriage for women rose from 20 to 25 years old. For men during that same time the median age rose from 22 to 27 years old. The sharpest increase for both took place after 1970. Half a century ago, many young people were anxious to get out of high school, marry, settle down, have children, and start a long-term career. But many youth today, especially but not exclusively men, face almost a decade between high school graduation and marriage to spend exploring life's many options in unprecedented freedom.

A third major social transformation contributing to the rise of emerging adulthood as a distinct life phase concerns changes in the American and global economy that undermine stable, lifelong careers and replace them instead with careers of lower security, more frequent job changes, and an ongoing need for new training and education. Most young people today know they need to approach their careers with a variety of skills, maximal flexibility, and readiness to re tool as needed. That itself pushes youth toward extended schooling, delay of marriage, and, arguably, a general psychological orientation of maximizing options and postponing commitments.
Finally, and in part as a response to all of the above, parents of today's youth, aware of the resources often required to succeed, seem increasingly willing to extend financial and other support to their children, well into their twenties and even into their early thirties.

The characteristics of the 18-30 year-olds that these four factors produce include:
(1) identity exploration, (2) instability, (3) focus on self, (4) feeling in limbo, in transition, in-between, and (5) sense of possibilities, opportunities, and unparalleled hope. These, of course, are also often accompanied by big doses of transience, confusion, anxiety, self-obsession, melodrama, conflict, and disappointment.

How Should the Church Respond?

How might the church respond to this phenomenon in our culture? Here are my suggestions.
1. The church will encourage maturity, not the opposite. "Do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature" (1 Corinthians 14:20).
2. The church will press the fact that maturity is not a function of being out of school but is possible to develop while in school.
3. While celebrating the call to life long singleness, the church will not encourage those who don't have the call to wait till late in their twenties or thirties to marry, even if it means marrying while in school.
4. The church will foster flexibility in life through living by faith and resist the notion that learning to be professionally flexible must happen through a decade of experimentation.
5. The church will help parents prepare their youth for independent financial living by age 22 or sooner, where disabilities do not prevent.
6. The church will provide a stability and steadiness in life for young adults who find a significant identity there.
7. The church will provide inspiring, worldview-forming teaching week in and week out that will deepen the mature mind.
8. The church will provide a web of serious, maturing relationships.
9. The church will be a corporate communion of believers with God in his word and his ordinances that provide a regular experience of universal significance.
10. The church will be a beacon of truth that helps young adults keep their bearings in the uncertainties of cultural fog and riptides.
11. The church will regularly sound the trumpet for young adults that Christ is Lord of their lives and that they are not dependent on mom and dad for ultimate guidance.
12. The church will provide leadership and service roles that call for the responsibility of maturity in the young adults who fill them.
13. The church will continually clarify and encourage a God-centered perspective on college and grad school and career development.
14. The church will lift up the incentives and values of chaste and holy singleness, as well as faithful and holy marriage.
15. The church will relentlessly extol the maturing and strengthening effects of the only infallible life charter for young adults, the Bible.

In these ways, I pray that the Lord Jesus, through his church, will nurture a provocative and compelling cultural alternative among our "emerging adults." This counter-cultural band will have more stability, clearer identity, deeper wisdom, Christ-dependent flexibility, an orientation on the good of others not just themselves, a readiness to bear responsibility and not just demand rights, an expectation that they will suffer without returning evil for evil, an awareness that life is short and after that comes judgment, and a bent to defer gratification till heaven if necessary so as to do maximum good and not forfeit final joy in God.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


It seems as though merchants really don't know what to do with Thanksgiving. They market Halloween and Christmas and make a lot of money off these holidays. But they don't really know what to do with Thanksgiving, which is really very spiritual and reflective in its origins. It was designated by President George Washington in 1789 as a national day for giving thanks to God.

In the midst of all our feasting, it is very easy to forget about the one we are celebrating. Sometimes we even forget to give thanks altogether. You might be thinking, "Well, I don't have a lot to give thanks for." Maybe you are having financial troubles or health problems. Maybe there is conflict in your family. But we need to put things into perspective. As someone wrote,
"If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who won't survive the week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 20 million people around the world. If you attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than almost three billion people in the world. If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8 percent of the world's wealthy."

There is a lot to give thanks for. And the primary reason we were put on this earth as human beings is to glorify God and to give Him thanks.

How are you observing Thanksgiving? Hopefully it's on your knees thanking God for ALL that He's done for you.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
— Psalm 107:1

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Weekend with Bob Russell

Many of you know that Bob Russell came to speak at our church this weekend. Bob is the retired minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. Bob helped grow the church from 120 members to over 18,000 in a 40 years span. Bob has moved on to a new ministry now as he mentors Senior Ministers from around the country and visits churches to speak, encourage, and equip. Bob is a great man of God and is wise to how God can build a church.

As you can imagine, having him here this weekend was such a blessing to all of us who spent time with him. He spoke twice on Sunday (both are available online at click teaching). Both messages were powerful. On Monday, Bob stayed and met with our church staff and elders. Again, it was equally a powerful time of being challenged and encouraged.

Anytime that you get to spend with someone like Bob Russell is a time to soak it up. That's exactly what I did the entire weekend. Bob and I were able to spend some time together just the 2 of us where I was able to ask questions and seek wisdom on some of the issues faces facing our leadership and our church. Bob had several things that he shared that I'd like to share to encourage other leaders in churches, whether lay leadership or church staff.

1) If you stay one step ahead of your people, you're a leader. If you get 3 steps ahead, you're a target. Sometimes when you sit in the seat I'm in you see things faster than other people. Sometimes this may be a supernatural gift from the Lord and sometimes it may just be the seating. In leadership, you have to lead and be out in front...but no so far that you become a target.

2) Don't be too sensitive to people's criticism. Sometimes we care too much about what people might say? We need to know and ask ourselves, #1)"What's going to be the best for this church 3 years from now?" and then #2)"What are people going to say?" When question #2 becomes more important than question #1 then you've got trouble. We must remember that we are here to do what God wants us to do for His church and we ultimately answer to Him. Remember the Israelite leaders and when they did what the people wanted (golden calf, kings). Every time bad things followed.

3) Keep the unity and harmony of the church. Titus 3:10 says, "Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them." So many times we are afraid to do what we know is right. We are afraid of someone leaving or being offended. The church has to maintain a peace and harmony as part of our testimony and witness to the world. We are also called to not allow sin in the camp and we are called to deal with it biblically. What we find is that doing the right things will bring about that desired end result of unity because we do it God's way.

There are a plethora of other lessons learned, but those are 3 big ones. I encourage everyone who reads my blog to listen to Bob's messages for AM and PM services on our website.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Game On

1 Peter 3:15 "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."

As Christians, the Bible tells us we are to give an answer to every man who asks us. That phrase "give an answer" is from the Greek word apologia, from which we get our English word "apologetics." It means a legal defense, as in a court of law. But we are to keep in mind that as we make our case in the courtroom of public opinion with those we are speaking with, we are not there as prosecuting attorneys, but as witnesses. And witnesses simply testify to what they have seen.

Yet sometimes Christians, armed with all the information they can get, assault unbelievers with what they know and effectively blow them out of the water. They have won the argument but lost the soul, and that is not the objective. Even though we may know a great deal, we should present the information with love and humility. In 2 Timothy 2:24–25 we are reminded that "a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition...."

As you share you faith through the power and testimony of a redeemed life, be sure to not settle for winning a battle when you could help win the ultimate war for a soul. Always be ready to share your faith and give a witness to God's goodness!

Game on!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why Worry?

It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.
— Psalm 127:2

Daniel was a man of integrity with no weak spots, no scandals, and no sins that his enemies could identify. And when King Darius came into power during Israel's 70-year captivity, he relied on Daniel's wise, insightful counsel. Yet there were others who didn't like this Hebrew prophet.

Because Daniel had a habit of praying openly every day, his enemies convinced King Darius to foolishly sign a law that would prohibit prayer to anyone except the king. The penalty for breaking this law was being thrown into a den of lions. Sure enough, Daniel prayed as he always had, and it was reported to Darius. The frustration for the king was that as powerful as he was, he couldn't change a law that he himself had set into motion. So Daniel was sent to die in a den of lions. Yet the Bible tells us that Daniel slept while the king was up all night. I find it interesting that the child of God in the den of lions slept peacefully, while the faithless man in the palace with all its luxuries was up and worried and stressed out. As Solomon wrote, "For God gives rest to his loved ones" (Psalm 127:2).

And so it is for the person who puts his or her trust in God. When we are worrying, we are really saying that God isn't in control, that God is not paying attention. When we worry, we are not trusting in the providence of God.

And what is the providence of God? It is the belief that God is in control of the universe. And specifically as Christians, it means we believe there are no accidents in our lives. Nothing touches us that has not first passed through His hands. So trust in the providence of God.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Good Long Weekend

It started Friday with a Sunday School class party and bonfire. We were out north of Enid and the sky was really cool as you could see thousands of stars that are usually not seen in town from the city lights. Then Madalyn and I went to the Enid High football game. On Saturday we got up and decorated a door for Festival of Light (our Halloween alternative here at Oakwood) and mixed the final batches of candy that we had. On Saturday night Amy and I got to go to the Brandon Heath/Jars of Clay concert here in town. It was a great concert! We had lots of fun and a good friend gave me the tickets for my birthday. We had the "artist circle" seating and got to go backstage to meet the artists, etc. It was really cool. Jars of Clay and Brandon Heath are the real deal. Brandon Heath's new album comes out in January and it's got some really good stuff on it. Then on Sunday it was church, set up for Festival of Light, and do it that night. Wow...busy weekend, long weekend, but a good one none-the-less.

One of the things that I walked away with from the concert was the impact of Brandon Heath's new song called "Leaving Eden". Awesome song. I got the pre-release of it. The premise is that some of our worldly suffering feels like we're leaving Eden, like we feel what it must have been like to leave the garden for Adam and Eve. It's a cool concept and a very cool song. Really makes you look into yourself and think about sin and this fallen world and how it separates...but someday, we'll go home. That's what this world leaves us longing for. Good stuff. I highly recommend it.

I'm so excited about Bob Russell from Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY coming to preach this weekend. I've been on Bob's minister mentoring retreat and Amy and I both got to go on the couples retreat this past summer. Great times and great growth experiences for me. Bob is a great preacher and communicator and we will be blessed to have him here sharing here at Oakwood.

Good things are happening for God's Kingdom right here in Enid. I'm just glad to be a part of it. Keep the faith!