How to Change a Habit

HabitRecently I listened to an audio book, The Power of Habit (Charles DuHigg). Then talked with my friend, Tim Schmucker, and he just finished reading the book. Then, a few weeks later a podcast by Andy Stanley interviewed the author and talked about many of the principles. 

So I thought I’d share with you some of the ideas that rose to the top and how I applied them to myself.

The Power of Habits.

Habits are powerful (notice the book title). Try to stop a bad habit and you’ll realize how powerful they are. But the power of a habit can really help us become what we should be.

God has created us to be able to develop a habit so we don’t have to constantly think about what we are doing. Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Habits allow our minds to ramp down. We stop thinking constantly about basic behaviors.

The Habit Loop.

There are three basic steps to a habit: Cue, Routine, and Reward.

The Cue is something that initiates our action or reaction. For many, when we get up we have a routine. I don’t know what yours is, but when I wake up I go into the living room to do my ‘Morning Miracle.’ (I’ll try to write a blog about this later). Then, I go for a run, come home to shower, brush my teeth, comb my hair, shave, then get dressed. This has become my Routine in the morning for several months. When I leave the house I feel like I’m ready for whatever happens. This is the Reward I feel.

We all have habits, good or bad. Let’s take one of my bad habits. I watch mindless television sometimes. Here’s what happens. I sit down on my couch, which faces the television (the Cue). The first thing I do is reach over to the remote and start surfing channels untilI I find something interesting. Then I sit back and watch the show through to the next, and then the next. Soon I find I’ve watched a couple of hours of something that added no value to my life (the Routine). So what is the Reward? My brain gets a rest and I don’t have to really think about anything.

Changing a Habit.

Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same. You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it. How it works: Use the same Cue; provide the same reward; change the routine.

For instance, with my TV habit I could put an interesting book or magazine on the end table instead of the remote control. The Cue and Reward are the same. (Cue: Sit on the Couch; Reward: Give my mind a rest). But now I have inserted a more positive Routine. If I do this for several days, it becomes my new habit.

Start a New Habit.

To start a new habit simply attach what we want to do to something that has already become a habit. For instance, many people want to have a time of prayer every day. But they discover at the end of the day they haven’t had a time of meaningful prayer. One idea is identify something we do every day – like brush our teeth. Put a reminder sticky note on your bathroom mirror, and the next time you brush your teeth, have a 1 minute prayer time. Maybe as you continue your bathroom ritual you can continue prayer. Thus, after awhile you have made prayer a part of your daily routine.

More Help.

So, below are a few more helps about habits. I hope you will develop new, good habits that will increase value and productivity in your life.

  1. Isolate the Cue. Location, Time, Emotional state, Other people, Immediately preceding action.
  2.  Identify the Routine. What do you do without thinking once you start?
  3. Experiment with Rewards. The point is to test different hypotheses to determine which craving is driving your routine. Example: You eat a cookie during a work break. Are you craving the cookie itself, or a break from work? If it’s the cookie, is it because you’re hungry? (In which case the apple should work just as well.) Or is it because you want to burst of energy the cookie provides? (And so the coffee should suffice.) Or are you wandering up to the cafeteria as an excuse to socialize, and the cookie is just a convenient excuse? (If so, walking to someone’s desk and talking for a few minutes should satisfy the urge.)
  4. Have a plan. A habit is a formula our brain automatically follows: When I see a Cue, I will do Routine in order to get a Reward.To reengineer that formula, we need to begin making choices again. The easiest way to do this is to have a plan.

Anything you have done to rework a habit? Have you had success with the power of habits?

How to Love

children“If it wasn’t for the people, this job would be fun.”

I think most of us realize that relationships are what make or break anything. If you can’t get along with others, life can be miserable. However, if you are surrounded with people you love and love you, you can handle about anything.

Matthew 7:1-6 gives the negative side of relationships. It shows the negative response when we are shown to be wrong. We tend to be critical and point the accusing finger at other people. However, Matthew 7:7-12 gives the positive side of relationships. It gives the reason the previous response is wrong. It ends with the Golden Rule:

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

Matthew 7:12 has been called the Mount Everest of Ethics. It settles a hundred issues. It prevents the necessity of laying down endless little rules for our conduct in specific cases.

But before the Golden Rule is a comment on prayer. In the middle of Jesus’ commentary on relationships He uses prayer as an illustration. It’s as if He is saying, ‘If your heavenly Father is kind to you even though you have faults, should’t we be kind and generous to others though they have faith?’ We should treat others like we like to be treated. There are three reasons for loving people as ourselves.

1- God’s Promises – We can love others without fear of depleting the divine resources.

Purpose of Prayer. God gives many principles in His Word, but not specific methods or rules for every conceivable situation. Why? (1) Situations change. It would require a large library to house all the information. (2) God desires we rely on Him directly. He wants us to be in the Word and without His Word we cannot pray wisely or rightly. (3) He wants us to be in fellowship with Him as a Father. The Bible is a limitless source of divine truth, which we cannot exhaust. Apart from God we cannot understand it. In His Word, God gives enough truth for us to be responsible, but enough mystery for us to be dependent. He gives us His Word not only to direct our lives, but to draw our lives to Him.

Qualifications of Prayer. This verse is not a blank check. It is not meant to be a thorough teaching on prayer. A key danger of false teachers is to build a doctrine on one verse of Scripture. Other qualifications include: (1) Born-again – those who are not His children cannot come to Him as Father. (2) Obedience (1 John 3:22). (3) Right motive (James 4:3). (4) Submissive to His will (James 1:7,8; 1 John 5:14). (5) Perseverance – suggested by Greek, meaning ‘keep on asking.’ Notice the intensity in the three verbs. A child if his mother is near, asks. If she is not, he seeks. If she is inaccessible, he knocks (sometimes).

2- God’s Pattern – We are to love others because God does. (also Ephesians 5:1-2)

A Father’s Love. ‘Abba’ was the everyday, family word, like ‘Daddy.’ It is not natural for a father to ignore the needs of his son. We may be sinful, but we still meet needs of those we love. God does the same.

Objections to Prayer. Some may say, ‘If our Father is going to give it to us anyway, why ask?’ God’s giving depends on our asking not because he is ignorant or reluctant. The question is not whether He is ready to give, but whether we are ready to receive. God never spoils His children. He does not give us gifts whether we want them or not, whether we are ready or not. God often gives to those who don’t ask and fails to give to many who do. Being good, He gives good gifts. Being wise. He knows what gifts are good. Some gifts that appear to be good are really not. And often it takes time to see the goodness in a gift.

3 – God’s Purposes – The Golden Rule is the best known of Jesus’ teachings and the highest level of His ethical teaching.

Fool’s Golden Rule – Negative Attitude. Confucius said, ‘What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.’ Jesus gave a superior teaching by shifting from the negative to the positive. The mere absence of hatred does not constitute love. To follow the negative teaching you simply do nothing.

The Golden Rule – Positive Attitude. How we treat others is not to be determined by how we expect them to treat us or by how we think they should treat us, but by how we want them to treat us. Only Jesus can take a negative aspect of our personality and make it positive. All we have to do is use our imagination, put ourselves in the other person’s shoes and ask, “How would I like to be treated in that situation?” Only Jesus can give power to live this kind of life.

You can read my other Sermon on the Mount articles: Life Redefined: Sermons from The Sermon on the Mount.


How to Know if You are Called into the Ministry

Many Christians struggle with the call of God into Ministry. I did. I want to share with you some Biblical and personal questions that will help you determine if God has called you into ministry.

That word ‘call’ is used in three ways in Scripture.

  1. It is used of the call to salvation. Everyone receives this call.
  2. It is used of the call to serve. Every Christian receives this call. I
  3. It is used of the call to the ministry. Every Christian is called to minister but not every Christian is called into the ministry.

The ministry has one distinction from all other areas of ministry – ‘able to teach.’ This is a ‘must have.’ The call to the ministry is a call to the ministry of the Word. That’s why many pastors call it ‘a call to preach.’

The call into ministry is not necessarily a vocation. Some people are called into ministry but are not vocational preachers. Some people are vocationally in ministry but are not called into ministry.

I want to share with you 10 questions you can ask yourself to determine if God has ‘called you to into the ministry.’ I did not come up with these myself. These are adapted from ‘Discerning Your Call To Ministry,’ a book by Jason Allen, President of Midwestern Seminary.

  1. Do you desire the Ministry?

1 Timothy 3:1 & 1 Peter 5:1-3 teach that desiring the work of ministry is an initial and indispensable feeling.

  1. Does your character meet God’s expectations?

1 Timothy 3:1-7 & Titus 1:6-9 teach that God’s standard for ministry is high. Ministry leadership personnel are male, above reproach, self-disciplined, free from the love of money, tested, hospitable, friendly, among other characteristics.

  1. Is your household in order?

1 Timothy 3:2 & 4 reminds us that a ministry leader must be faithful to his wife and must have a well-ordered family.

  1. Had God gifted you to preach and teach His Word?

1 Timothy 3:2 & 2 Timothy 2:24 require a pastor to have an ability to explain God’s Word with skill.

  1. Does your church affirm your calling?

Since the call to ministry involves an internal desire and external character qualities, the local church is positioned to assess and validate fitness for ministry. Examples include 1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:5-6.

  1. Do you love the people of God?

1 Peter 5:1-4 charges pastors to feed, love, protect, and lead God’s flock.

  1. Are you passionate about the Gospel and the Great Commission?

A love for the lost and a desire to see them come to know Christ will be a driving force in those called to ministry. Examples include 2 Timothy 4:5, Romans 1:13-16, and Romans 10:11-15.

  1. Are you engaged in fruitful ministry?

Those most fit for ministry are those most actively engaged in ministry now. A minister is known by his fruit. Examples include 2 Corinthians 3:1-3

  1. Are you ready to defend the faith?

Since the call to ministry is a call to the ministry of the Word, it is also a call to defend it. Examples include 1 Timothy 1:3, 2 Timothy 1:13, 2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 2:25, 2 Timothy 3:14, 2 Timothy 4:2-6.

  1. Are you willing to surrender?

The call to ministry involves a willingness to self-consciously choose to forgo other life opportunities, conveniences and ambitions. Examples include 1 Corinthians 9:16 and Jeremiah 20:9.

If this is you, and you are confident God has called you to ministry, prepare yourself for ministry. 2 Timothy 2:15

If you still aren’t confident of God’s call, it may be that God is not calling you into ministry. However, in all you do resolve to follow God’s call on your life. As you do, you’ll know His favor, His joy and His direction. To surrender to God is to know that He will lead the path you take.

You can read some of my other articles about the ministry: Ministry in a Secular Culture, 3 Pastors Being Real about Ministry, Power for Ministry.

Share your call into ministry to help others who need encouragement….

How To Get Up When You’re Down

Sometimes life just gets you down. What can you do? How can you get yourself in a more positive attitude?

If you find yourself in a stressful spot today, I have one suggestions ‘Turn to God’. Psalm 43 gives us two reasons we should turn to God.

Because life can be difficult, turn to God for defense.

Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? (Psalm 43:1-2)

Life can be hard. David was going through some hard times. But He knew two things about God.

God is a true judge. David asked God to judge him and to plead his cause. I don’t know if David had people lie about him or he wondered what others thought about him. But he knew God knew the truth about him. He wasn’t afraid of the truth and wanted God to make a true judgment. People can fool us and they can fool others. But no one can fool God. Even if people believe their lies to the end, God will be the ultimate judge of truth. He knows everything.

God is a powerful deliverer. David was overwhelmed with situations that were taking him down. And he had no power to stop it. So he asked God to deliver him. God was more powerful than any of the people or circumstances. God is more powerful than anything you face. Whatever it is, God can conquer it.

On September 11, 2001, Stanley Praimnath was working on the 81st floor of the World Trade Center South Tower when he saw an airplane flying directly toward him. Stanley prayed a quick prayer as he dove under a desk for protection: “Lord, I can’t do this! You take over!” The terrible impact of the plane crash trapped Stanley behind a wall of debris. But as he prayed and cried for help, Brian Clark, a worker from another office, heard and responded. Making their way through rubble and darkness, the two found their way down 80 flights of stairs to the ground floor and out. Prayer gave them direction.

Does God care? In David’s life, the lie was winning, the wrong was winning, and the enemy was winning. The ungodly, the deceitful, and the unjust were getting to him. So he wondered if God forgot him? If God cared, did he care he was losing at life’s battle? Yes, God did care. And at the end of the Psalm he reminds himself to hope in God. The story isn’t over. Hang on! It will change. So, just because the team is losing in the middle of the 9th inning, doesn’t mean the game is over. Trust God! Hope in God!

Talk to God. He knows the truth and He has the power to change any circumstance. So, don’t go to Facebook first. Talk to God first. Spend time in prayer.

Because life can be confusing, turn to God for direction.

O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. (Psalm 43:3-5)

David prays for light and truth. He says God’s light and truth will ‘lead me’ and ‘bring me’ to God.

“Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth” (John 17:17)

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105)

God’s Word is both truth and powerful. It will point out the right path we should take. And it has the power to take us there. The ultimate destination of our life is God’s presence. And that is what the Bible does – it tells us how to get to God.

How does the Bible give direction? It’s less instruction and more relationship. It soon becomes the difference between knowing what to do and knowing who is with you. You will recognize God’s silent voice. Then, as you acknowledge Him, He will direct your path. When you do what He says, He will bless what you do. So that, any decision, as long as it doesn’t conflict with His Word, made in submission to His lordship will be blessed.

Read, Hear, Study God’s Word – there is no better spiritual discipline that will help you grow.

In the 2 Kings 7:3-20, we discover a story of a horrible national situation in Israel. The enemy surrounded the capital, there was nothing to eat. Four men were lepers and had a drastic decision – stay where they were at and die or surrender to the enemy and probably die. So, they decided to run to the enemy camp. When they got there, they discovered that the enemy had run away. God had sent a commotion to the camp, they got scared, and ran home. There was food everywhere. But then they thought about all the people in the city. So, they went back to share their blessing with the rest of the people.

Maybe you feel the same way. You’re in an impossible situation and have few good choices. Here’s some insight for you:

#1 – God is working in the background. While you focus on the problem, He is working on the solution.

#2 – God will do more than you can expect.

#3 – When the problem turns around, don’t forget others.

When life gets you down, will you be a victim or a victor? Will you turn to God for defense and direction?

Why are you down? Hope in God. You will soon praise Him.

You can read some of my similar articles: 3 Positive Ways to Deal with Depression, 5 Keys to Good Grief.

Vision Changes the Future

The last night of the 2016 Baptist Bible Fellowship Fall Meeting in Cape Cod included two great speakers.

One speaker was a leading professor at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). The other a Kentucky born preacher who started and stayed in his church in Rhode Island for 40 years.

Vision That Changes World Learning

Near the turn of the new millennium, Dick Yue was given the task of leading MIT into online course study. Several other schools had already started using the internet to enroll new students. His Christian ethics and the vision of MIT, to advance knowledge and educate students, led him to suggest ‘Open Course Study.’ This would mean that courses would be offered free to anyone who could access them on the internet. Everyone was in favor and this started a revolution.

There are over 2,500 courses offered from MIT. This includes class lectures and notes, exams, online textbooks, and many other resources. It’s all free. It has been translated into many other languages. Today there are over 200 million unique visitors who use Open Course. Eventually, 400 other institutions followed their lead. There are over 20,000 courses offered from premier institutions at no charge to anyone who can access them. The hope is that one day the education of the best schools in the world will be available to anyone in the world.

You can learn more about MIT Open Course at

In 1993, the internet began to be used socially. Now 46% of the world has access to the internet. These ideas presented by Dick Yue have dynamic implications for the church. 86% of the people in unreached regions don’t know a Christian. The internet could be the tool to reach the world with the Gospel.

Vision That Changes People

In 1975 Archie Emerson went to Rhode Island and had a meeting with three people. This became Ocean State Baptist Church. Today, 40 years later, 1,000 people worship weekly. Archie challenged us with being ‘People of Vision.’

The nation of Israel had suffered defeat and their Temple was ruined. One man had vision to turn things around. Nehemiah was a man of vision. From Nehemiah 1 we discover three things about ‘People of Vision.’

1 – People of Vision are Needed.

Nehemiah had a great job. As the king’s cupbearer he was doing great. But when he heard about his people and his homeland, he was grieved. Calamity came into the calmness of his life. It caused him heartache. He could have just sat there. But he knew he must do something. He used his position to create change.

2 – People of Vision Purpose to Pray.

Before he could approach the king, Nehemiah would approach God. His prayer involved praise, perseverance (day & night), repentance (for his nation and himself), God’s promises, partners, and petitions.

3 – People of Vision Embrace Providence.

Nehemiah believed God’s promises. He knew God cared and God was in control. All of this was no accident. He trusted God and moved forward at the right opportunity. As he prayed for grace in the eyes of the king, he trusted in the ‘unseen hand.’

What vision from God do you have for your life?

You can about the other sessions: BBFI in Cape Cod 2016.

New BBFI Missionaries

The unique strength of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International is Missions. If you are not familiar with the how and why of BBFI missions, I encourage you to check out the Missions Office Website.

BBFI Missions Success

The Wednesday morning session of the 2016 BBFI Fall Meeting in Cape Cod was all about Missions. Here are some statistics of BBFI missions:

  • In 2015 117,000 were saved as a result of the direct ministry of BBFI missionaries. This number does not include national missionaries.
  • In 2015 96 churches were started outside the United States.
  • 12,733 leaders have been trained by BBFI missionaries.
  • As of May 2016, 61,000 have been saved and 17 new churches have been started by BBFI missionaries.
  • All this is done with about 740 missionaries in 84 countries.

Keith and Marietta Mills have served in Scotland for 30 years.

Missionary Approvals

TEAM missionaries were approved. A TEAM missionary raises personal finances (not ministry finances) and goes to the country to gain actual experience. Most continue as a career missionary. Three TEAM missionaries were approved:

  1. Eric & Ashley Woodworth in Honduras.
  2. Jeremy & Andi Eulberg in Bolivia.
  3. Justin Anderson in the Philippines.

In addition, 5 career missionaries were approved:

  1. Greg & Mary Albert in Wales.
  2. Kaitlynne Dixon in Guatamala.
  3. Nathan & Tiffany Foltz in Tanzania.
  4. Blake & Megan Hunter in South Africa.
  5. Daniel & Luz Palavicinis in Nicaragua.

A presentation was made by a missionary going to a restricted access area to displaced people. Because of the current climate in many countries, families are forced to leave and become refugees with nothing. Because of the nature of this ministry, all names and details are not included here. But I encourage you to pray for missionaries, churches, ministries, and people involved in this whole process.

You can about the other sessions: BBFI in Cape Cod 2016.

The Power of a Single Prayer

The second evening at the 2016 Fall Meeting of the Baptist Bible Fellowship in Cape Cod was a personal highlight for me. One of my favorite authors, Mark Batterson, spoke. I have read all his books. My two favorites are: In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day & Circle Maker. Mark is the founding pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C. This year they celebrate 20 years of ministry.

His opening challenge was: “When you let fear stop you from doing the God-sized goal of your heart, you rob God of the glory due Him.”

The Power of a Single Prayer

In Acts 10:1-25, we find the story of two men praying: Cornelius and Peter.

Cornelius prayed regularly. When you pray regularly God will do irregular things for you on a regular basis. Prayer enables us to see the opportunities around us for God to work. It sanctifies our expectations as we anticipate God to work. Our prayers are a ‘memorial sacrifice’ to God. Prayers don’t die when we die. They keep going.

Cornelius acted. If you want God to do something new, you need to take a step of faith beyond where you are. Faith is taking the first step before God reveals the second step. Cornelius acted on faith and took the first step.

“Prayer is the difference between you doing your best for God and God doing His best for you.”

Peter prayed on the roof. When are where do you pray? If you don’t know the answer, you probably are not faithful in your prayer. When and where is critical to meeting someone.

“Don’t let what you can’t do keep you from doing what you can do.”

Cornelius and Peter were praying. Peter walked in the house. This is the moment that changed everything in the kingdom. Previous to this ‘The Way of Christ’ was simply a sect of Judaism. When he walked in, it changed everything. Peter risked his reputation for God’s reputation.

God answered the prayer of Cornelius by sending Peter. God answered this prayer when we got saved. And still answers this prayer every time someone gets saved.

Will you pray for God to do something that seems impossible?

You can about the other sessions: BBFI in Cape Cod 2016.

Children in Crisis

At the 2016 BBFI National Meeting in Cape Cod, I heard from Jen Merryman, CEO of Children in Christ (CIC). She is a Harvard graduate, who through a definite call of God, is now leading a ministry touching lives of children in unreached areas.

Working in a major corporation, the Holy Spirit challenged her with this question, ‘Do you love me more than your work?’ Her honest answer of ‘No’ resulted in resigning her vocation, and spending time investing spiritually into her children. The second question she needed to answer from the Lord was, ‘Do you trust me, enough to submit to your husband?’ Her honest answer was ‘No’, but she was willing. Then her husband quit his job on Wall Street to follow a call God gave him at age 11 to serve the poor. They soon left for Africa.

Green Dots = Reached; Red Dots = Unreached

Children in Africa

Children are a systemic result of poverty. 1 of 2 people in Africa is a child.Africa is the fastest continent in the world. In 2050 1 out of 3 children in the world will be African.

Africa is a spiritual diverse continent. The southern area has a gospel witness. However, the northern half of Africa is filled with unreached people groups. It is a battle ground for children. Radical Muslims are targeting children. It is an incredible ministry opportunity.

CIC is specifically to children. It empowers the reached churches to reach the unreached groups. They teach children the stories of the Bible so they can tell other children. They offer training, encouragement, and resources.

The DNA of CIC is:

  1. Sow to the small but sow deeply. Sow small and humble.
  2. Sow to replace yourself.
  3. Sow with faith and no fear. Sow with hope and courage.
  4. Sow with simplicity. Key ideas: volunteerism, light footprint (no buildings, etc.), no give aways, even candy.
  5. Sow in partnership. Help churches reach the unreached.

CIC has logged 16 million hours in discipleship of children.

You can about the other sessions: BBFI in Cape Cod 2016.

Ministry in a Secular Culture

A special luncheon was held at the 2016 BBFI Conference in Cape Cod. Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C. was the speaker. What a visionary! He challenged us with reaching our community effectively. Below are some of the highlights I jotted down. They may appear random, but I couldn’t catch everything.

The blessings of God complicate your life. Like the parable of the talents, making good use of talents leads to more work.

It is not about the name above the door of your church. It’s about the name above every name.

If you stay humble and hungry there is nothing God can’t do through you.

In Joshua 14:6-12, Caleb wanted the mountain Moses promised him. He wanted the highest and hardest peak in Israel. He had a sanctified stubborn steak to wait long to get it. It was all “according to my convictions.”

Convictions are what you would die for! Convictions are more important than predictions (vision). Show me your convictions and I’ll show you your future.

Mark Batterson’s 3 Core Convictions:

  1. The church ought to be the most creative place on the planet. There are ways to do church that no one has thought of. We may get an A or B in Biblical exegesis but often a D or F in cultural exegesis. As we get older we shift from left brain (creativity) to right brain (cognitive) We stop creating the future while repeating the past. Some of the worst critics of what God is doing now is from those who were on the cutting edge of what God was doing then.
  2. The church belongs in the middle of the marketplace. Their small groups are free to come up with ways to reach into the community. The Apostle Paul didn’t stand outside the Areopagas and protest, he went inside and fought with truth.
  3. God will bless the church in proportion to our helping the poor and give to missions. My heart can’t be in the right place if my treasure isn’t in the right place. God’s not a slot machine. You can’t play God, but you can’t out give God either.

Life Hacks from Mark

  1. Success is that those who know me best respect me most. Spend time with family cultivating relationships. Ministry, like sports, we need rest to repair usage. We need rest and margin.
  2. Prevent burn out by meeting with other pastor couples, guard your Sabbath, use every vacation day you’re given.
  3. Leaders are readers. Read across all genres. Study the great communicators. Listen to others, even different from yourself.
  4. Say old things in new ways.
  5. Communicate in the medium the people are using.
  6. Have a Pray & Play staff retreat with spouses and kids.

My favorite thought of the day is to commit to treating people in a balance of two words: Grace – I’m going to love you no matter what. Truth – I’m going to be honest with you no matter what.

You can about the other sessions: BBFI in Cape Cod 2016.



Generation Z – The Coming Generation

At the 2016 BBFI Conference in Cape Cod, I attended a unique break-out session about Generation Z. Not sure what I should post because this was internal market research shared by some major companies. But I will share some stats and trends. The research looked forward to the next major generation – those age 0-24. They are called Generation Z.

Who is Gen Z?

Gen Z, children born after 1996, is a pragmatic and driven group that wants to succeed in a chaotic world while strongly expressing their individuality. Their core values include: success, happiness, equality, authenticity, loyalty, curiosity, courtesy, ambition, and passion.

69% say interracial couples are good for society. 57% say gay marriage is good for society.

Some startling statistics about this generation and technology. 68% of today’s teens will have jobs that don’t exist today with technology that is not invented. More teens have accessibility to cell phones than drinking water. Technology, data, and mobility drive all this.

Gen Z and Marketing

Many marketers try to capture market share by age 18 because most people make brand decisions by age 18. This becomes their brand preference for life. This should drive the church to reach these young people. Gen Z has $46 billion purchasing power while making average of $16 weekly allowance. Money comes from parents. More parents (64%) consider their kids first in every decision they make. And they are financially savvy and plugged into family finances. 64% are involved in family spending discussions. 59% are aware of household budget. Only 27% have no idea how much things cost.

Gen Z are very visual, in the moment, skeptical of advertising, more into friends perception of reality, love story telling rather than traditional advertising. It will be the most diverse generation in U.S. history. Truth, for them, is relevant, at the moment, and transient. They are a very vertical generation. Grace is either forgiveness or don’t judge me.

Gen Z and Technology

Key technology usage for Gen Z is iphone & youtube. 13-24 year olds have average of 5 devices per person. They check their iphone 46 times a day. For every second of delay in accessing a sight, 20% move on. Soon will be drone delivery & driverless car (an ethics knob to make decisions in case of an accident). They less into traditional sports, more into virtual sports. Facebook is out (average user is 39 year old woman). Snapchat, Tumbler, and Instagram or Vine are in. Youtube is king of information. Everything is visual – they use emoji’s.

72% prefer to communicate electronically. 46% are connected over 10 hours a day. 255 connect within 5 minutes of waking up. 46% say they don’t spend enough time with friends. 65% are concerned with privacy online.

Gen Z are self-empowered and self-confident because of instant access to answers. They are self-aware and driven. 83% believe they need to start preparing for the future. 72% of high school students want to start a business. Few risky behaviors (drinking, teen pregnancies, drugs, etc) due to instant access of consequences of these actions.


Some major take-aways

  1. Don’t condescend. Provide youth-oriented experiences but don’t talk to them like kids.
  2. Tell the whole story. Be transparent and complete.
  3. Speak their language. Embrace more visual communications & tap into the right influencers.

With all the change, what are Gen Z tethered to? Nothing. We should use all this information about this generation to attempt to make the bond between Christ and Gen Z. Like any quality company, the church should never change the product or who we are, but we need to change how we communicate.

What effective methods have you discovered to reach Gen Z?

You can about the other sessions: BBFI in Cape Cod 2016.