Tag Archives: mentor

Dear Church


Dear Church,

On behalf of church leaders everywhere, I’m sorry.

The American church isn’t growing in most areas.  In some areas the growth that is happening is slow and often times fueled by births.  However, the death rate and rate of abandonment in churches is overcoming the birth rate and evangelism rate.

As I’ve been thinking about such a statistic, I’ve realized that this is largely our fault – the leaders in your churches. So, I’m sorry.

We teach weekly about the need for salvation for all.  We tell people what the scripture says about sharing their faith.  We show the theory behind the great commission, and yet we decline in numbers as a movement.

We evangelize.  We bring people to the churches.  We study with them in small groups and personal bible studies, and we even bring people to the Lord! But these conversions cannot overcome the rates of evacuation from deaths and people leaving the church.

As a teacher I should know better.  I have been taught the most effective way to train people.  Yet I fall into the same rut of the status-quo church expectations of mere teaching and preaching.  I try to lead by example, but this is done at a distance.  And, in effort to not offend anyone, I try not to put people on the spot as often as possible.

Yet I know that growth doesn’t come from mere information gathering or even casual observation but from intentional training.  Growth comes when I invite someone to walk with me and see, up close, what I do.  Growth comes when I begin to pass responsibilities on to the ones I’ve called to walk with me.  Growth comes when I stop talking and doing and let others take on roles in spreading the Gospel as I encourage, guide, and shepherd.

Jesus walked with his disciples for around three years.  How many preachers have taught the same people for over twenty years yet the churches are stagnant or in decline?

Jesus allowed his disciples to walk closely with him – watching him in his every movement and doing life with them that they may emulate him.  How many church leaders don’t involve church members in their everyday life?  How many church leaders are satisfied with their friends (many times often other church leaders), so the main part of the body wanders aimlessly with no physical examples?

Jesus gave responsibility and authority to his disciples a little at a time. This charge wasn’t by volunteer – they volunteered to follow Him.  This charge was a delegation, an encouraged expectancy hoping and watching for the disciple to grow through personal experience. How many churches are full of people, but it is expected that only a handful have the talents and abilities to continue the work of the church as it has always been done? How many church people have been turned away when they desired to volunteer because some leader wasn’t sure of their ability? How many church people have given up volunteering because of leaders that have to maintain control in spite of a lack of success or sometimes even effort?

Jesus eventually left his disciples in charge to make new disciples.  He didn’t stick around and micromanage them.  How many church leaders will only allow someone else to take over a ministry if it is done in the way THEY did it?  How many church people don’t feel empowered by the leadership?

Dear church, I’m sorry.

So what can we do to fix this?  How can we become a church that thrives and grows again?  We do so by following the example of Jesus beginning with our church leaderships.  We walk with people and invite them to join us in ministry.  We model for them.  We mentor them through encouraged involvement and responsibility.  When the time is right – before we are dead – we turn responsibility over to the next generation and/or encourage new activity and ministry within the church.  We actively seek to multiply the work God is doing through us by raising up disciples of Jesus who learn to walk in His ways by following the ways of His followers.

Learning can happen through listening, but learning and growing and maturing happens most often through modeling, mentoring and motivating.  These are actions.  The church is to be on the move, not stationary.  The people are to join in the work of God by actively seeking to spread the kingdom daily in their lives.

If you don’t feel that your church leadership is mentoring you in this way, ask them. Encourage them to take you under their wing. Watch what they do. If they follow Jesus, follow them. If not, look for a mentor who does. Then, as you grow in confidence in the Holy Spirit who lives in you, you go be the leader, the evangelist, the minister, the missionary, the disciple. 

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Parents: Please Read This

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I just spent four days with 13 students fourth through tenth grades. The majority of these students were junior high. We camped in tents and hiked around Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and Pedernales Falls State Park. We also did some rappelling down the backside of Enchanted Rock.

After spending this time with these teens and preteens I have some observations about us as parents. As you reed this I want you to know that I am with you in this. My oldest is 13.

There was an era in our nation’s history, in fact probably several eras, where the children were raised with certain responsibilities. They grew up respecting the adults they came in contact with, and the adults respected them in turn. The fathers worked to provide for their families, but they didn’t work so far away that they couldn’t teach their sons how to become men. The mothers worked in the home, and they trained their daughters how to be women. Society was much healthier then.

Nowadays we have a grand upheaval of the ideal way of life. Parents are now slaves to their jobs, and they are so physically exhausted and mentally drained that they give their parenting rights over to a black box with moving pictures on it and often wires coming out the front that their children are attached to.

Gone are the days where the fathers teach their sons to become men. Gone are the days where the mothers teach their daughters to become women. Gone are the days where the children show respect to anyone…even themselves.

I say these days are gone because the vast majority of students today do not have this way of rearing as they grow. Sure, there are pockets of this, but the majority of kids I see today come from families where their mom and dad aren’t married to each other – maybe they never were. Now they are growing up with step parents or often single parents. Many of these single parents are living with their “partner” who is not their spouse. The more I visit with teens, the more I see this, and the trend doesn’t look like it is going to slow down any time soon.

This weekend I saw preteens deliberately disobey their parent, and the parent did nothing to discipline them. I saw parents who did discipline their children, but they did so out of control, and their anger got the best of them. I heard from several parents, just in the last few days, that were asking what to do about how to raise their son or daughter.

Let me tell you what else I saw from the kids. I heard teens tell me that they were afraid. I heard teens tell me they were angry. This wasn’t just one or two teens, this was the majority. I heard them say they didn’t want to be angry or afraid, and they weren’t really sure why they were either. I saw kids disrespect each other then get upset when someone disrespected them. They didn’t even understand the concept of respect.

I was not on a trip with a bunch of kids from some detention center or other ostracizing facility. I was on a trip with normal kids. But the norm these days isn’t pretty.

I am used to seeing fear, and I see anger a lot. What struck me the most this weekend happened on the way back. Our group was mostly boys, so I had a great selection of boy-type movies for us to watch on the bus. I gave three options for the teens to watch: “Mission: Impossible”, “The Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole”, and one of my teens brought a movie so I just threw it out there expecting no other hits – “Where the Red Fern Grows”.

I had seen the last movie when I was a boy, and it was old then. I think it came out when my parents were kids. Yet, when I asked for a vote on which movie they all wanted to watch, the “Red Fern” won decisively.

For two hours I watched my teens get engrossed in a wholesome movie where the main characters were above reproach. The father led his son into rites of passage. The boy was hard working and kept his integrity and his word. There wasn’t a foul word in the entire movie. Even the antagonists were clean-mouthed. The teens ate it up! When the movie was over there was this short silence as if to soak in what they had just seen.

This is what they desire. They are looking for men and women to show them how to be men and women. They aren’t looking for gangsta guys and bi-polar gals to show them how to be dysfunctional. They already have that. They deeply want to be taught respect. They want to be taught to be valuable members of the world around them. It’s such a strange concept to the world they live in, however, they can’t put that desire into words.

Dear parents, if your family is dysfunctional – you know deep down if it is or not – it’s time to bring some healing for your children’s sake. These kids are looking for and needing men and women who will take them in and show them by example how to be healthy adults. If you have friends who have healthy families, then draw close to them so that your children can be influenced by their presence. If you don’t, then get involved with a church where families are investing into the lives if children.

One of the greatest things I do as a youth minister is bring my children (3, and 5) along on trips like the one we went on last weekend. The teens get to see how I interact with my kids. They see when my five-year old is acting more mature or behaving better than they are. I don’t have to say it; they see it.

If you’ve read this, and your children are grown, then please get involved in helping the future generations of our society. If you are a parent whose kids are much like the ones I’ve described above, or your family is like the norm these days, then please get involved with others who can help you mentor your children into becoming mature, healthy adults. The biggest deficit in society today is dads who father their children. Get involved in a place where men are investing. Moms, you work hard and do the best you can. I thank God for you. It’s time you got some much deserved help.

If there’s anything I can do to help you get connected with others who would be willing to help, then please contact me at 245-1611 or at jddobbs@verizon.net. The Nichols St. church of Christ is dedicated to helping kids grow in all areas of life, and I am proud to be blessed to work there with the teens in our area. Let’s work together to help the future generations grow healthy and stop the decay of the family and society. God bless you all, and I am praying deeply for you.


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