True followers in every generation

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Okay, it was bound to happen. We heard from somebody between boomers and millennials. Actually, two somebodies. Two Gen Xers have written me feeling left out. This is good. That means there are at least two of you out there passionate about following the Lord. I’m sure I will hear from more.

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The First Church of Boomers and Millennials

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I had lunch yesterday with a pastor, an attorney who is an influential church leader, and a Christian college professor with a PhD from Oxford. They all love Jesus, but none of them are having a satisfactory church experience. The professor is on disability, the church leader can no longer stomach his church, and the pastor is tired of Christians and can’t wait to retire in three months. None of them are very hopeful about where the church in America is going. What’s wrong with this picture? You could say I just had an unfortunate group of people who are all having individual struggles for some reason, but Barna’s research would say I had lunch with a typical cross-section of Christians in America. All of them agree on one thing: The boomers have it; the millennials are looking for it; and most everybody in between doesn’t know what it is.

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Pioneers

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Pioneer, pioneer

Keep pressing onward beyond your fear

Only the Father goes before you

To your own frontier — you’re a pioneer

from the song “Pioneer” by Nancy Honeytree

Here at the Catch, we are about something coming. We are not about the past except as it informs the future. History only moves in one direction. It will always open a window to the present and the future.

Every “reformation” comes as a surprise to the institutionalized, and faces great opposition — that’s the pattern of history as found in the Reformation or the Great Awakening or the Jesus Movement. Standing on the brink of the next one, understanding the emergence of the Jesus Movement from the counter culture of the ‘60s will help us understand the emergence of a new Jesus movement from the millennials (possibly inspired by boomers).

Something is coming. Many can feel it. It keeps us awake at night wondering, watching, and waiting. You know something is coming, but you don’t know what it is. The one thing you do know is that it’s big, really big! So big, in fact, that it will determine the fate of many.

So we are all about being pioneers. From being older, wiser pioneers of the Jesus Movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s, to the millennial pioneers of today. In a world of accelerating change, it is fair to say we are all pioneers. Therefore, we can embrace what pioneering is:

  • Pioneering is exciting.
  • Pioneering is dangerous.
  • Pioneering is lonely.
  • Pioneering requires an investment.
  • Pioneering requires perseverance.
  • Pioneering requires hope.
  • Pioneers break new ground.
  • Pioneers overcome obstacles.
  • Pioneers change the world.

Pioneers are harbingers of hope. They see over the horizon to what could be, what must be. They are also realists to a degree. They recognize the challenge, but know there is no going back. They must forge ahead to find a new song, a new life, and a new beginning.

Pioneering is about having a vision of the future worth living for — worth dying for. Pioneers see that the mountain is worth climbing, that every journey of a thousand miles must begin with the first step, and that change is to be embraced to find the opportunity! Come Holy Spirit. Come show us the way!

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Close Encounters of the Spiritual Kind

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Okay, I’ve been dancing around this all my life, but I’m finally ready to come out with it. Blame it on my wife, Marti. She’s been saying something’s coming for some time now and I’ve been going, “Sure, sure.” But have you noticed how anyone who has either become a Christian during the Jesus Movement or experienced any kind of ministry during that time, cannot stop thinking about it? Like the scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where Richard Dreyfuss builds a model of a mountain in his living room and doesn’t know why — he just had to do it? Why does the Jesus Movement sit in the living room of anyone who experienced it? This is not ho hum, time marching on. Nor is it just a bad case of nostalgia. No … something really happened, and something’s coming back, and you can think I’m nuts, you can humor me, or you can join me, but that’s where we’re going.

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Prisons of our own making

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Your prison is walking through this world all alone.

                           – Don Henley and Glen Frey from the song: “Desperado”

I guess just about anything can become a prison if you stay in it long enough.

This line from the song “Desperado” by the Eagles nails me every time. My isolation is truly my prison. The older I get, the more this prison becomes evident and the more my struggle with it becomes apparent. I think earlier in my life I might have been more oblivious to it than I am now. Now I have no excuse. Now I am fully aware of when I actually choose to stay isolated and it scares me how much I want it.

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Free indeed

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When referencing that Jesus had come to set the prisoners free, one of our readers commented, “He didn’t specify those wrongly imprisoned but prisoners regardless of what they are guilty of doing.” Great observation, John. We don’t see Jesus going in and out of prisons opening bars and letting people out the way the Holy Spirit did for Peter and Paul. This is clearly not what Jesus meant or He would have been in much more trouble than He already was with the Roman authorities. But we do see people being set free from the terrible bondage of demon possession, from the bondage of sickness and disease, from the bondage of deafness and muteness or the bondage of paralysis, from the bondage of loneliness and isolation, but mostly, the one that applies to every single one of us without exception, Jesus went about setting people — us included — from the bondage of sin and death. Indeed, that’s what His whole life, death and resurrection was all about — setting us all free from the bondage of sin and death. That’s why His work was not finished until it was finished on the cross and sealed with His resurrection. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

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What’s important to Jesus?

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Most of the answers to this can be found in one of the more electrifying moments of Christ’s sojourn here on earth. It was fairly early on in His ministry, and He was in the town of Nazareth where He grew up. It was the Sabbath, and Jesus was in the Jewish temple and someone handed Him a scroll from which to read, and Jesus opened to a passage in Isaiah and read:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,

    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:19-21)

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50

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Fifty years ago this month, I was beginning my final semester at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and getting ready to stay for two weeks after graduation to record my first album with players from the Old Town School of Folk Music in nearby downtown Chicago. The new record was published the following September, 1969, by a Catholic recording company, F.E.L. Publications and it became part of the sound track for a spiritual revolution.

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