Derek Johnson Muses

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Introspection: Write Well, Not Just Often

When I started writing this blog, I was overflowing with thoughts. For the first few months, I gutted posts out without forethought, and somehow, managed to put up a post or two a day during the mild winter of 2012 (don’t ask me how). Gradually, I saw how it was self-defeating to push my work into the archives so quickly and pulled back, going closer to a post every two to four days. Since May of 2012, I’ve averaged about 10 to 11 a month, which seems about right.

But through all this, I’ve wondered what my long term goals should be. Yes, I love to write and I’m sharing about topics that I care about, but it’s weighed on me as to how many productive hours to sink into this venture. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about life, it’s that you can stay at the beginner to average level for a long time if you don’t do anything to improve.

That’s why I don’t write about sports or TV as much as I used, only when it comes out easily, and I don’t take the time to polish it as I would a piece about travel that I might republish. But still, the more I write, the more I ask myself: am I getting better at this, or do I make the same mistakes in every post? Can I use what I’m putting up here in a book down the line? Will a publication read this stuff and want to hire me?

Last week, I went back to the travel posts I wrote last summer and pasted all of them into a single word document. It covered twenty single-spaced pages. I have read part of it and have tweaked two pages of it. I’m grateful that I wrote all of this stuff down, and when I reread it, I can flesh out the details and improve the flow. Here’s to making it the best it can be.

Random shot of downtown Lincoln

Random shot of downtown Lincoln

How an Old Person Should Ask a Young Person to Church

“…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;” 1 Peter 3:15, ESV

A lot of times when I visit a church (or sometimes at my own church), I get this eager look from old people, as if they want to cheer, “Yes, finally someone under the age of forty is showing up! All is not lost!” And just like that, those eager eyes send me running in the opposite direction (okay, not like that.)

But seriously, a large percentage of young people leave the church in their twenties, and since I am still in my twenties and have gone to church consistently throughout the last ten years of my life, let me give some advice to the AARP crowd about how to talk to Gen-Y about church.

First, listen to where they are in their lives. Young people get a lot of messages from the culture about what the church is, and have a lot of things vying for their time. Let them give voice to some of them before you offer yours.And know that, of all the options that they have, you have one that speaks of true life and salvation, so…

Go to them in hope and optimism. As I alluded to before, if you come off as eager, you’ll just look desperate. If you say “What are you looking for in a church?”, it puts the onus on them. They may not even be looking for a church or want anything to do with a church, and will look at you as if you are coming to them to fulfill a need. Instead, talk to what knowing God in this place has meant to your life, and how the ancillary support system has helped you.

Speak in humility and have a message about how God has called you. They will expect you to preach at them, so make sure to make it personal when you talk about your relationship with God and His church on earth. Remember, they can listen to any message that they want to hear. You need to give them a reason to listen to yours.

And make sure you have a message that has theological content, albeit basic. Most young people won’t go to church just for the sake of going, so talk about your specific beliefs and about how Christ comes to you in His word and sacrament.

Do all of this in confidence, because it’s God’s work. Our socially liberal culture may seem appealing and act as if the church will eventually die out, but the peace that passes all understanding only comes through Christ. Churches may rise and fall, but God sustains them all.

Our culture preaches a message that accepts the breakdown of the family in all areas: divorce, premarital sex, living together without marriage (for many, many years even), and homosexual relationships. Many young people simply accept that a lifelong marriage is an unrealistic goal. This contemporary world is very similar to the one Jesus sent His apostles into to preach the good news and offer an alternative to the pagan lifestyle of the day. That is what you and the church have to offer Gen Y, thanks be to God.

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