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The New Counter-Culture: 8 Surprising Ways Christians Can Help

The New Counter-culture: 8 Surprising Ways Christians Can Help

What if people in your ministry want to get better, but they don’t know how?

What if you as a leader hold onto a counter-cultural gold mine you can’t see (because you’re so used to it) that could change how people in your community live?

Let me explain.

Many of us are tracking what’s happening to our diets these days as more and more people become overweight. The problem stems in large part from more food being eaten at restaurants (fast food or otherwise) or as prepackaged products that you take out of a box and pop in the oven or microwave.

You can rail against how poorly people eat (and I’m guilty of it too at times), but there’s a problem underneath people eating poorly at restaurants and at home.

The problem? People don’t know how to cook. 

My wife and I are huge Jamie Oliver fans. Jamie is a British chef and we (okay, my wife Toni) cooks at home using his recipes many nights a week.

Jamie is also on a crusade. He realized that people don’t just need healthy recipes, they need to learn how to cook–cook as in actually buying whole foods and actually cooking from scratch.

If people can’t cook well, they won’t eat well.

Jamie even tells you what pots to buy, what spices to stock, how to use a knife and all the other things you need to learn to figure out how to cook, even if you’ve never boiled an egg.

Apparently cooking from scratch at home is now counter-cultural.

What if if there’s a similar thing going on in your church and community, not just about food, but about life?

Think about it. As a leader, you:

Long for families to stay together and thrive

Want people to be generous

Yearn for people to be in healthy relationships

What if it’s that they don’t know how? 

What if it’s as much a matter of skill as it is a matter of desire?

Here are 8 areas in which you might be able to teach people how to do things, not just what to do.

Money :: teaching people how to save and give are now countercultural. People are drowning in debt. Maybe it’s not that they don’t want to give. They just don’t know how to give. Two years ago at Connexus, we embarked on Thrive, an initiative designed to help people live with margin and live on mission.  Working with Joe Sangl and Casey Graham, we launched the Financial Learning Experience to help people pay for their vacation with cash, save for their kids education and for their retirement, and give. People loved it and are better off financially. We also cast vision around giving. Now 70% of all our giving happens online and we have seen, literally, hundreds of thousands of extra dollars each year come for ministry. If you want to launch a similar initiative, you can download the (free) Thrive export kit for your church here.

Sex :: teaching people sex is for married people is deeply countercultural.   Few people teach this better than Andy Stanley. Later this year we’re going to do the New Rules of Love Sex and Dating series at Connexus. The series is the finest explanation of why sex is for married people I’ve ever heard.  You will save people’s marriages and years of counseling if you teach this stuff to your kids and to young adults.

Family :: teaching families how to spend a quantity of quality time togetherEvery week you send home material you hope will provoke a meaningful spiritual conversation between parents and kids. And you’re frustrated because most parents don’t do it. Maybe most parents don’t know how. They work, they run the kids to activities, they crash and do it all over again. At Connexus we’ve started something called the Great Family Experiment. Several times a year we teach families how to spend time together by doing something together. You can download three sample Great Family Experiments here for free for your church. Teaching families how to be families can help them become families.

Father Figures :: helping children find another adult male voice saying the same thing their dad would say. So many families are single parent homes. And so many families who have dads ‘present’ actually have dads who are absent. We’ve lost the skill set on how to be a spiritual leader in the home. You can teach a family how to be a family (see above), but another thing you can do is load up your pre-school, elementary and student ministries with male leaders who are willing to invest in the next generation. Don’t get me wrong; women who serve in these ministries are incredible. But they would be the first to tell you they want men serving alongside them.  Still not convinced? Ask any 20 or 30 something adult, male or female, if they wished their dad or another healthy adult male had spent more time with them. They’ll tell you.

Confession :: helping people learn to say sorry in an over-affirmed world. I’ve noticed something in under-30s. They really don’t say sorry easily. I love millennials and love working with them. But as a parent myself, I wonder if we’ve raised an over-affirmed-I-can-do-no-wrong generation. It seems the default alternative to zero self-esteem has become an “I’m never really wrong” approach to life. Confession is so healthy, because it leads to away from despair and pushes people toward change and hope. Hey, if you’re wrong – own it. Take responsibility. The sun will rise tomorrow. It will. I promise.

Conversation :: teaching people how to disagree without being disagreeable. We don’t talk much anymore. We argue. We take positions. But discussion? Elevating small groups in your church at every age (including adults) teaches people to value dialogue and recover the lost art of conversation. You can disagree without being disagreeable.

Time with God :: helping people feed themselves spiritually.  It’s becoming abundantly clear to me that even many Christians do not know how to have a time with God. In the last 6 months, we have done two 40 day spiritual journeys (Bold and Your Next 40 Days), providing devotions for people on a daily basis. We almost didn’t run the second one because we thought it would be cliche. How wrong we were. We have had thousands of hits on our blog as people access the devotions, and the response to the second journey has been bigger than the first. I’m increasingly writing posts like this to help people figure out how to connect with God.

Maybe one of the keys to the future church will not just be helping people see what to do, but helping them learn how to do it.

What are you helping people do these days? What other skills do you see an opportunity to help people with?

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  • Carey, this is an excellent post but the resources you’ve linked to are incredible! Thank you so much for sharing freely.

  • Hi Carey,
    thanks for the post. As leaders we need to know what to teach. This is a great resource for me to begin to pin point somethings that I can work on teaching those I lead. thanks again

  • Hi Carey,

    Great post! I particularly love the Great Family Experiment stuff, and was wondering if those are the only three topics you focus on with families, or if there are other topics you’ve identified as key to helping “train” families.