Category Archives: From the Executive Director

3 Early Warning Signs for the American Church- and why there is hope!

by Dave Coryell

On Monday, October 8, Florida State Governor Rick Scott issued a mandatory evacuation for all people in the path of Hurricane Michael. Most people heeded the Governor’s warning and fled to safety. Michael carved a multi-billion dollar destructive path through parts of the Caribbean, Florida and neighboring states. Sixty people lost their lives from the storm’s cataclysmic impact; many died because they did not heed the Governor’s warning. Around the world, several natural disasters occur each year. Modern technology from brilliant scientific minds allows for early warnings to come for most situations. Inevitably, a few people will chose to ignore the early warning signs.

Imagine a situation where 99.9% of the population ignored the early warning signs instead of the other way around. The death toll would be catastrophic! I contend that the American Church has been given three Early Warning Signs. Currently, the masses are choosing to ignore these signs. God’s work is never in jeopardy. His purposes will be accomplished whether or not the American church decides to open its eyes. However, my hope is that by pointing out these Early Warning Signs that God will use this information to motivate His people to rise up and Commit so they can Engage. God, please make it so.

Early Warning Signs:

  1. Diminishing Biblical World View- In 2007 the Pew Research group conducted a survey studying the beliefs of Americans and of Evangelical Christians across several age groups. The study was conducted a second time in 2014 to see what results had changed. Between 8 and 9 percent of American young adults aged 18-24 and aged 25-34 have a Biblical world view. The number improves slightly for those 35 and over to 13 percent. Overall, numbers continue declining for Evangelical Christians and are declining even faster for mainline church attenders. Bottom line, many Christians do not understand or truly own the beliefs of the faith they claim to hold. A steady rise in Christian behavior conforming more and more to the world’s cultural norms can be seen in almost every challenging arena.
  2. Disappearing Teen Responsibility- I know, some will be quick to say that teenagers and young people in general have always been challenged in this area. Others will rush to pull out quotes from Aristotle and others who wrote of adolescents’ irascible behavior. I found it interesting, however, to read Leslie Patton’s Bloomberg Business post on November 5th that explained how fast food chains are now hiring an increased number of senior citizens. Two reasons this trend has occurred include, 1) older people are found to be friendlier than the younger generation and 2) they have a more dependable punctuality. The older generations have soft skills that far surpass the raw soft skills found in teens and young adults. The obvious conclusion, teens and young adults need to sharpen their interpersonal skills. Once upon a time this transpired in school classrooms, at church youth group gatherings, and in public arenas like entry level jobs (fast food, etc.). Today, less opportunities exist for teens to grow their responsibility. What happens when young people who have not been challenged to make and keep commitments, lead small groups, or speak publicly are suddenly asked by a church to make a financial pledge, join a leadership team, or (pause to shudder) become a church member.
  3. Catholic Priest Tragedy- It started in Pennsylvania as priests from 300 different parishes were found to be involved in the sexual exploitation of young people. As expected, state prosecutors have been coming forward one by one to share the grim results investigations have uncovered. Those in Protestant Christianity cannot sit back for a minute and think that this tragedy will not have impact beyond the Catholic Church. A distrust for what some call institutionalized or organized religion has already been climbing for decades. The Catholic Priest Tragedy has allowed people to feel justified in the anti-established religious beliefs that so many people already held. How long will it be before even more people come forward to share about impropriety that occurred in their Protestant churches beyond the few stories that have emerged?

These cultural Early Warning Signs send a message. This message causes me to stop and say well, is there any good news? Absolutely! First, we must never lose hope as our trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Proverbs 3) Second, I am thankful to serve with Christian Endeavor, a kingdom ministry daily making a small impact to help young people Commit to a deeper following of Christ and Engage to build God’s kingdom while having accountability on the journey. God, help Your church to Awake and Arise by heeding these Early Warning Signs.

Tired of the Division . . . 3 Steps to Build Unity

by Dave Coryell.

Even as people prepare to go to the election polls in the US, the World lacks exactly what God expects of His people . . .  UNITY! Here are 3 steps that can begin to make a difference.

  1. Pause before you React– people’s statements inspired by media will begin to create anger or confusion in your mind. Before you fight back with a post, speak out in a conversation, or use your T-shirt, picket sign or bumper sticker, take a mental Time Out. Remember Unity! Think about the broader audience you might reach with your message. Consider who actually wins if you make your comment. Proverbs 15:1 explains that a “gentle answer turns away wrath.” Before you speak, consider whether your desire is to turn away wrath or pick a fight. Remember Unity!
  1. Everyone is Not Like You– This is Coryells’ First Law of Leadership. My kids can quote it to you as well as many people close to me. If everyone was exactly like you, the world would be boring. Understand, God has made you amazing with brilliant talents, gifts and experiences all rolled into the incredible package called YOU! What makes you incredible, however, is that you are unique: “Fearfully and wonderfully” made as Psalm 139 explains. Because everyone is not like you, you are going to encounter numerous people who look at life extremely different than you do. The next time you meet someone with a religious, political or social view extremely different than your own, instead of shaking your head in disgust or anger, thank God for the brilliance of His creation. This can build Unity! Use these encounters to make your image of God more magnificent and frame your life encounters through this lens.
  1. Build Bridges– Through my work I have traveled thousands of miles by plane. I frequently meet people with views different than my own. At the same time, my family has many neighbors who also have views different than ours. My goal is to love whomever I come in contact with. I want to show genuine concern for these people and their stories. I will attempt to share about Christ because He has been such a meaningful part of my story. However, I will attempt to do this in a manner that is gentle and shows respect (1 Peter 3:15). It has been so much fun receiving business cards from people on airplanes who think differently than me but appreciated my attitude. We enjoy taking Christmas cookies and other things throughout the year to neighbors. God has placed them next to us so we try to do little things to kindly reach out and build Unity! Being divisive is easy and takes little effort. Building bridges of Unity requires intentionality over time. Invest in Unity!

Enough people, committed to these three godly steps, can begin to change the world. Maybe, just maybe, we will see UNITY!

5 Steps to Creating an Effective Youth Ministry

by Dave Coryell

Observing youth ministry on five continents (don’t worry Australia, I’ll get to you at some point, Antarctica- not a chance!) provides a kaleidoscope youth min perspective. So many options, so many opportunities, but I have also recognized five key steps that make youth ministry effective across cultures.

  1. Equip People- A Youth Worker-Centered approach does not work long term. Finding a lead volunteer or hiring a youth pastor can be effective when this person develops a discipleship process the overall church embraces. The person also needs to see leadership development among young people and adult leadership as primary. In summary, LAY DOWN THE PRIDE AND BE BIBLICAL.
  2. Consistency- Effective youth ministry programs do not meet once a month or every other week. They meet every week and are not cancelled due to holidays, major church functions, or anything short of cataclysmic natural events. People are too distracted to remember which date is which. They need to meet every week without fail to find a rhythm and eventually invite others to come with them.
  3. Christian- Duh! The youth ministry meeting must be Christian. Seems common sense, but incredibly some well-intentioned youth workers water down their gatherings and eliminate or diminish the very substance that young people need to grow closer to Christ. Make your gathering unapologetically Christian- always with prayer, always with a Bible reading or study component.
  4. Socially Acceptable Atmosphere- Burn the moldy couches please! Never again should I enter a youth room that reeks of musty furniture. Play welcoming music that connects with young people. Create a socially acceptable setting for the youth you are serving in your setting being aware of all five senses! This can be in a home (that is cleared in advance), a church room, a park, or whatever works for the young people in your area; however, it must be socially acceptable TO THEM.
  5. Loving Atmosphere- Communicate all are welcome. All are valuable. All are affirmed. Eliminate favorites, put downs and sarcasm. Turn ministry over to the young people for effective welcoming and follow-up ministry.

Want to learn how to take these steps well? Desire to establish an effective discipleship plan that builds young people as leaders? Reach out to us info {at} CEworks.faith

The Founder

Riding home on a plane from a whirlwind tour, I came across a movie released about a year ago called The Founder. The story unfolds the McDonald’s franchise empire and how Ray Kroc made this happen. At first I was connecting myself with Kroc. He saw an organization with incredible potential and dreamed of what it could become. I felt the same way about C.E. He worked tirelessly during his early McDonald’s years. My investment of time and energy to Rebirth C.E. and expose more people to this ministry has also been challenging. However, that is where the comparisons end. Ray Kroc became obsessed with building the McDonald’s empire. He coveted control, power and even another man’s wife. Scripture tells us, “What good is it if a man gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul?” Mark 8:36

Let’s contrast Ray Kroc’s life with Truett Cathy, 1967 Chick-fil-A founder. Cathy centered his life on biblical principles. He enjoyed sixty-five married years to his wife Jeanette. He also built his restaurant into the largest fast food chicken restaurant in the USA. Some people want to vilify businesses as if they are inherently evil. God allows us the ability to do business so we can work. We work just as He did when He created the world and does as He continues working in and through us today. Kroc and Cathy are two visionary business men who knew what they wanted. Kroc wanted a fast-food empire and all the fame that could come with it. Cathy wanted to honor His God and do this to the best of his ability while he worked hard and loved his family.

May God help us to test our motives against His Word as we consider the steps we should take. After doing that, may we build His Kingdom instead of creating our own version of a McDonald’s empire.

Best intentions for VBS: 3 Ways to Make it Worth your Time, Money and Resources

Great time and money are invested in your church’s Vacation Bible School (VBS). Did you ever ask if it is worth it? Your best intentions for these programs take hundreds or thousands of dollars with countless volunteer hours. Take these intentional steps and see your VBS be worth all the resources you put into it!

Intentional Relationships: Make a REAL contact following the event- Children attend your VBS that do not go to your church. You may not know their family, whether the family goes to another church, or if these people have any connection to God at all. Form a team that will call and then stop by homes (addresses collected at registration) with a simple gift. Be prepared to thank the families for allowing their child to come to the safe and uplifting environment of XYZ church. Explain that you enjoyed having their child at VBS and that they are invited to attend a regular worship service. Have the team prepared to ask if the family has any questions about the church or faith in Christ. In a relationship-starved society, this extra step can pay huge dividends.

Intentional Programming: Develop clear events that can be publicized so families have additional easy entry points into your church. Examples are a Kick-Off Sunday as the school year is beginning, Harvest Parties in October, and Christmas parties. Working ahead on your planning will allow families to be informed about these events occurring throughout the rest of the year. Use your VBS contacts and inform people about these upcoming events.

Intentional Development: Most churches believe they have a plan to develop young people as Christ-followers. They come to this conclusion because the church uses a set curriculum or has developed age specific objectives. Unfortunately, these items are not sufficient. Finding children’s workers and raising the children’s ministry budget is not the answer either. Churches lack an equipping plan that puts ministry in a child’s daily life. We do not live in a program driven culture any more but churches continue to act this way. Christian Endeavor (CE) exists to help churches implement an intentional growth process that impacts kids, teens, young adults and entire families. A church that uses CE across all ages recently was shocked when asking their children at VBS how they could live for Christ daily- the young children articulated the Simple, Biblical, and Relevant CE principles.

May your church’s future VBS event intentionally build God’s Kingdom! Peace!!

Planning A Positive Pandemic

Last post said, “Warriors, Suit Up!” What steps have you taken to more deeply fall in love with God? What steps have you taken to align yourself with building God’s Kingdom in every part of your life?

December 2017, I played the collaboration board game “Pandemic” for the first time. Players work together in Pandemic to pool their intellect and strategic planning as well as the resources they have from their game cards. The objective involves curing four viruses before they proliferate. Sometimes, no matter what a team does, the game will win. Other times, with solid planning and teamwork, competitors experience victory!

The last time I looked at a Pandemic board layout, instead of being drawn to view where impending disaster could strike, I started picturing C.E. on the board. Knowing C.E.’s origins as a movement, I asked what needed to take place so this attitude and experience could be witnessed again? There are several possible answers to this question, but one involves young people learning about and picking up local church Mission objectives. Next, the young people begin carrying out these objectives.

Soon the children, teens and young adult ministries will begin to be seen and felt as if they are the pastor’s right arm. They will receive this reputation as they build relationship with the pastor, learn about the church’s local mission focus, and carry out tasks to tangibly advance the vision.

Two obstacles exist. First, many pastors abdicate their responsibilities as true front-line ministers of and with the young people. C.E. won’t be the right arm for anyone who forwards any messages about young people to other staff or volunteers without considering the relationship he or she has with young people. Second, the church actually needs a mission focused identity (this can include items such as a clear mission or purpose statement, written values, programming objectives). Extreme difficulty ensues when passionate young people cannot take growth steps because the adult part of the church lacks focus and urgency.

So, ask whether your church’s lack of organized mission planning is preventing a positive “Pandemic” from out-breaking through God moving in young people. Get focused, and set the young people free!

Warriors SUIT UP!

Sixteen days pouring my life into lovely godly people from India and Lebanon (as well as one dear brother from Jordan) leaves me with this message: Warriors . . . SUIT UP!

Those who have known C.E. for some time have started to notice a change. A few of you will attempt to say I’m just being optimistic; those close enough to front-line Ministry know better. I’ve felt this before. I know what it is, and I know where it comes from. Sure, God moved and allowed powerful Biblical leadership training and C.E. equipping to take place. But during the breaks there were heartfelt confessions, soul-searching, identification of gifts available for God’s use and excessive encouragement. Along with this, strategizing for growth was taking place so young people can come to Christ and mobilize local church Mission.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have felt this before, and it comes from when the Holy Spirit begins to move. Godly, talented, passionate, humble leaders were all over the room in both Shillong, NorthEast India and Beirut, Lebanon. Warriors are suiting up because a spiritual battle is taking place, and lately our hind parts have been getting kicked hard by our three fold enemy: Flesh, World, and Devil.

The Biblical book of Matthew tells us the Kingdom of God is forcefully advancing and forceful men take hold of it. It is time to suit up. I need Warriors who want to make a difference for the Kingdom from every corner of the Earth. I need US Warriors longing to crush Christian complacency. Hear me, WARRIORS, SUIT UP!! Now! Today we advance. Begin! Release young people for action!!

Next month you will see where this begins. But as you SUIT UP!!!!! I’ll give you a clue: you will need to check your pastor’s right arm.

Give Me Advice

Imagine you had the opportunity to give one piece of advice to a new Christian. What would it be? Advice is available from sources leading people in every possible direction. So how can you know what to say? How can you know that your advice is solid and worth listening to?

A wise English man several hundred years ago was asked this question. His response, “Watch and pray continually against pride.” He went on to write, “Beware even the appearance of pride! Let there be in you that lowly mind which was in Christ Jesus. Be clothed with humility. Let modesty appear in all your words and actions. One way we do this is to own any fault we have. If you have at any time thought, spoken, or acted wrong, do not refrain from acknowledging it. Never dream that this will hurt the cause of God – in fact, it will further it. Be open and honest when you are rebuked and do not seek to evade it or disguise it. Rather, let it appear just as it is and you will thereby not hinder but adorn the gospel.”

John Wesley wrote these words. They challenge me to own my inadequacies, embrace my deficiencies, and confess my transgressions. God is fully aware of who I am. Even more humbling, He knows what I am capable of doing, thinking, and becoming. By God’s grace I am saved through faith in Jesus Christ. Wesley’s advice to “watch and pray continually against pride” provides deep and nourishing wisdom.

Within Christian Endeavor we direct people to God’s Word, the Bible, to know God and His ways more intimately. Find the book of Philippians in the Bible and turn to chapter two. You will receive even more advice in dealing with our battle against pride.

African Journey: A C.E. trip to Nigeria and Egypt

NIGERIA

My journey began Tuesday, January 2, 2018 as I boarded a plane for Frankfurt, Germany that after a layover would transport me to Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria boasts Africa’s largest population and plentiful natural resources. Southern Nigeria welcomes Christian teaching while Muslim practices dominates Nigeria’s North (90% Muslim). Christianity’s explosive growth has especially occurred amongst charismatic congregations. Christian Endeavor truly holds a non-denominational position in Nigeria as pastors from various backgrounds follow C.E. because of its biblical platform. Currently about sixty churches connect with C.E. and a whole new region is opening that could greatly expand this work in Nigeria and a few churches over the border in the Republic of Benin.

I was greeted at the airport by Bishop Rev. Dr. Joseph O. Adeosun, C.E. Nigeria’s President as well as Dr. Toyin, VP for Nigeria. Bishop Adeosun has been the catalyst with the C.E. Nigeria efforts. The first C.E. Leadership Academy started on the evening of January 4. About one hundred and fifty people filled the church hall as Dr. Adeosun and I both offered welcome messages in between interpretive dances and praise worship choruses. After three hours together we all retired for the evening. The next morning approximately sixty people gathered to start the training. This number grew to about eighty by mid-morning. A format including lecture as well as small group interactive discussion was used. A longer break was taken at lunch but we covered significant material from morning until ending the day with dinner. The teachers included Bishop Adeosun, VP Modou Kanteh, and me.

Attendance was light at the start of the next day. We were confused that only fifteen people were present. We learned 98% of the Nigerian churches hold weekly prayer and worship services from 11PM to 4AM. Yes, you read that correctly! By 11AM most of the group had returned. Our day concluded at dinner time again. The sessions we planned seemed to truly impact the participants. In talking with VP for Africa Momodou Kanteh, he plans to identify several key leaders from the group and follow up with them to continue processing the material. We are hopeful that this will help them to further reinforce the messages with their people. I am receiving messages from participants that God used the training in a powerful manner.

Long range planning- developing parts of the world are starving for this level of training, however, they barely have the resources to pay for transport to the event. Considering lodging, food, and training materials makes this kind of event financially out of reach. An offering was taken one night and it amounted to $12! Recognize the average worker makes $50 per month here. We are called by God to make disciples of ALL nations. We are also called to Consider the Cost. Please pray with me as we live in the tension of carrying out C.E.’s purpose while living in the reality that we are a tremendously underfunded ministry. This event took place mostly because of a scholarship gift. Events beyond the Feb/Mar event in India and Lebanon may need to have funding from various donors to take place.

On Sunday we visited two C.E. churches. One was in Nigeria and the other was in the Republic of Benin. Both churches welcomed us with song and dance. Next we drove sixty kilometers to a new Nigerian C.E. “Zone”. This drive took over two hours. The roads have virtually fallen apart. Riding in the van can be compared with white water rafting. One person drives while others look for the rocks and pot holes that could break your axle like many other cars alongside the road. When we arrived there was a great ceremony. We were introduced to the regional King who was a pastor before taking on his monarchical role. He concluded our time together by explaining he has a plot of land to use for educating children and youth. Since twenty churches have closed in the area he sees young people not being trained for Christ. Then he asked us to think about receiving this land to start an education project. This was a generous offer. Unfortunately it is outside the scope of what we currently are able to do. We must covenant to pray about this need, however, because a Christian school in this region would touch numerous lives for Christ.

To close the Nigerian experience, it was humbling in many ways. When an airport guard asked for a bribe to allow the training manuals to clear immigration, I was humbled when a female police officer rescued me just in time. I was humbled to ride in the middle of the van for the safety of myself and the other passengers because spotting me could cause us to be targeted by criminals. I was humbled to sleep in a hotel room with rolling power outages where I needed to lock and bolt the door answering only for my contact as criminal activity and kidnapping are rampant. Finally, I was humbled by watching ten Nigerian children play soccer on a small church concrete pad with a tennis ball. The game continued with both sides displaying incredible skill until the ball split in half. The children ran away to find another game. I walked over to the “ball” only to discover it was actually an unripe orange that had fallen from a tree. Finally, I was humbled to meet so many wonderful servants of God involved with C.E. Nigeria. Dr. Adeosun and his son-in-law took special care to ensure my safety and the safety of those involved with the event.

EGYPT

Egypt’s one hundred million people mostly connect to Muslim teaching. Prayer chants rang out three times a day from the local Mosque’s loud speakers reminding me of the country’s vast spiritual need. The majority of Christians are Coptic which is a very traditional group resembling Catholicism. Coptic Christians have little emphasis on outreach.

I landed in Cairo and was transported three hours to Alexandria. I had productive meetings with my contact there during the next two days. The first day focused on explaining C.E. in great detail. The entire C.E. process was described so he could understand how it works in the local church. I had gone through the process with him with a ZOOM connection (online tool) but the personal connection allowed much more to be understood by him. He will be sharing about C.E. with his church but he thinks C.E. could assist refugees across the Mediterranean rim and across Europe because no one is giving refugees discipleship method assistance. Egyptian churches are slow to think about “OUT” as an important function of their ministry so C.E. could be slower to grow in Egypt.

The following day we focused on his ministry. He has a significant ministry with refugees in Turkey that speak Arabic. I have not mentioned his name for his protection as he makes several trips per year into a region that is 90% Muslim. His travel name is Joseph so we will use this to describe him. One of his functions is networking people who are doing refugee ministry. So I plan to connect him with Raffi Messerlianand, C.E. President in Lebanon, as well as some people in Germany who are reaching out to refugees through their local youth ministries. My time in Egypt was very short but the relational connection was well worth it. Joseph has also agreed to translate the Quick Start Manual into Arabic which means we will have an Arabic description of the C.E. Principles (Up, In, With, Out) and the pledge/promise in Arabic as well. This will not have the iPledge and TEAM Work Manual documents translated, but I am thrilled that the first step will be taken by translating the Quick Start.

Observing Christians in Nigeria and Egypt that face daily persecution brings deeper perspective to Christian commitment. Praise God for all the saints God has reached and connected with C.E. so together we can take steps to make God’s name great among the nations. Peace!

DC
Dr. Dave Coryell
General Secretary

Do You Still Trust Me?

OK, I’ve strung you along for three posts. It’s time to reveal where this is going. Do you Trust God? This simple question has numerous answers. What appears to be a Yes or No response is actually much more complex.

You might say “No” because you believe God exists but you are not sure you can put absolute faith and belief in something or someone who allows you or others close to you to endure pain. This is a fair response. People have wondered for centuries how a good God can allow evil to exist in the world He created and sustains. Please recognize this approach assists people in trusting the god of self. It tacitly communicates that the person’s agenda and viewpoints are more keen and on target than any views that could exist outside of self. We say that we should not have physical difficulties because a good God will not allow that to happen to us. My loved one should not have died because that is not what I wanted. I would have passed that test if God would have helped ME. I do not mean this next statement to be taken with a mean spirit. You are the “god” of your life. You are only using “God” as a place to channel the hurt and pain you have experienced from difficult life circumstances.

Another response to “Do you Trust God?” could be to say, “I don’t believe in God!” This approach means you have chosen something else to put your trust in. Maybe you believe a life force exists in all living beings that is supernaturally synced together like James Cameron’s “Avatar.” Another possibility is that you have placed yourself at the center of your life. Your trust is in yourself and you alone. How is that working out for you? The next time you experience hardship, heartache or loss remember this post. Relying upon self provides short-term sustenance and long-term wanting. Self cannot fill the void people have because all of us are wired for relationship.

I choose to Trust the Lord. Life continues to send encounters my way that create confusion. I will never be haughty enough to believe I have the answer for every question life creates or that my finite mind can handle all the information I would need to reconcile these many questions. The evidence God has provided in the Bible and through the experiences of my life are more than enough to over-shadow the questions I have not figured out and may not determine in this lifetime. May God give you the courage and faith to make the Lord your Trust. Trust me, it will be the best decision of your life!