Ever wonder if you will be able to continue to communicate effectively to younger people as you get older?

I hate that the church world seems to suggest you have to be young to communicate well to young people.

So I put together the top 10 ways to communicate to and engage millennial…ensuring your future as a communicator. (This stuff works in any setting.)

  1. Be Yourself.
  2. Be Concise.
  3. Communicate Purpose.
  4. Speak To Their Dreams.
  5. Be Transparent And Share Your Story.
  6. Inspire Them To Help Others.
  7. Speak Relationally.
  8. Talk About The Why.
  9. Define The Main Point Clearly.
  10. Make Your Message Flow.

The above are ten things you have to be thinking about when communicating to millennials, but the most important thing to focus on in communication to millennials is this: focus on authenticity.


  1. Be Yourself.
  2. Do Your Talk.
  3. Be Emotionally Authentic.
  4. Be Intellectually Authentic.

Great communicators aren’t born. Every communicator you wish you could speak like works hard on their craft. They think about it all the time. That’s how they got there. You can get there too.

Your voice matters.

Josh Ott is lead pastor at Grace Free Church in Cressona, PA. He is also a speaker, coach and creator of the The Speaking Course for Pastors, Speakers and Church Leaders.

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I’m convinced that the temperamental Mr. Wesley would spontaneously combust if he were alive to see what’s happening in the movement that was birthed through his influence. 

The United Methodist Church has fallen on hard times. With the hopes of being more inclusive and open-minded, their recent theological stances have had just the opposite effect. Their numbers are decreasing and many life-giving evangelistic churches are closing because the foundational truths of the Gospel are absent. They no longer believe in some of the truths found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Nevertheless, with that being acknowledged, I will forever be grateful for what was the Stone Drive United Methodist Church at the bottom of my street in Kingsport, TN. This little church was a bright light in my youth.

It was there that I saw my Dad transformed into a new man. It was there that two youth pastors, Bill Fry and Brad Scott, patiently loved me and my neighborhood hooligan friends with a kind of love that only Jesus could give. It was also there that I was given two crutches to lean on as grace-gifts; the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy” and the Apostles Creed.   

“Holy, Holy, Holy” was my go to every time I was fearful. Bill, the one mentioned above, once told me that he sang it when he was in a spiritual battle, so I figured it would work for me too. I must’ve repeated it 1000 times in my head before I overcame my fear of planes.

The Apostles Creed has proven to be another grace gift. In actuality, it was one I almost forgot to use. For years I didn’t value it. The churches I served weren’t creedal churches and since I don’t have a very formal bent, I never saw the need to pull it back out and use it as a teaching tool. Until recently.

A friend gave me The New City Catechism, which is a teaching tool being used to teach children and congregations some very foundational biblical truths. I was skeptical about it at first, for reasons not worth mentioning, but I can at least say I admire the effort and commend churches trying to pass on the truths of the faith.

Question 49 in the Catechism asks, “Where is Christ now?” And the answer is, “Christ rose bodily from the grave on the third day after His death and is seated at the right hand of the Father, ruling His kingdom and interceding for us, until He returns to judge and renew the whole world.”

What believer wouldn’t want their child to be able to recite that? What pastor wouldn’t want their adults to be able to recite that?

The answer is true and it also has a triumphant tone.   

The same can be said of the Apostles Creed. Below is the version I learned. Read it aloud if you can’t recite it.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Saying these powerful truths aloud – in triumphant tone – is a good idea. I’m so thankful for the Methodists at Stone Drive UMC who taught it to me. 

This weekend, of all weekends, I encourage you to restate your belief in the risen, reigning and returning Jesus. Recommit yourself to pass on these truths to as many people as possible.

He is Risen!




* The word “catholic” means “relating to the church universal” and was the word used in the original version of the Creed. It does not mean the Roman Catholic Church, but the church, the body of Christ, as a universal fellowship.


What seems impossible actually happens sometimes.

Every year, the national news conversation leans toward the NCAA college basketball tournament. The overall experience is called March Madness. Sports analysts go into high gear, the words “Tournament brackets” become part of everyday vocabulary for millions of people and even everyday casual fans seem to go kinda berserk during this season.

March Madness fits as a title not just because of the hoopla, but because every year, major upsets happen on the court. Top teams from storied schools get beat by unheralded lesser teams. Every spring, Goliaths fall.

Just last night, what was arguably the weakest team invited to this year’s tournament stomped the best team. UMBC beat the University of Virginia. You’re wondering who UMBC is, right? That’s the point. March Madness.

The unthinkable happens.

It happens in the world of sports and it happens where it matters so much more, namely the spiritual world. This matters because this is where our souls are fed.

There are times when we look at things in the world or in our own lives and we think, “How can anything good come out of this?”

It’s precisely then that we need to remember, the unthinkable happens.

Just as sports fans annually enjoy March Madness, each and every year the Church gets to celebrate the Lenten Season, which, when engaged fully, represents a roller coaster journey that ends with victory. There’s never been a greater triumph, a more unpredictable upset than the resurrection. Death was the ultimate Goliath, but then Jesus did the unthinkable.

With what’s left of the season, let me encourage you – don’t just jump to the end of the empty tomb and celebrate the big win. We rob ourselves of some incredible and important lessons if we don’t embrace the full story of Jesus and His followers during this season. The journey to the empty tomb reminds us of what to expect in this messed up world. It helps us re-center our minds, our hearts, our lives for what we walk through on the way to Glory.

The full story reminds us that the road to Glory is marked by struggle. Jesus, the Lord of Glory Himself, suffered like no other. He came to live as a man and to defeat the curse of death by dying. His bloodied, lifeless body was placed in a dark tomb.

Nobody knew then what we know now; God was, in the darkest moment of human existence, actually accomplishing redemption. 

God often works through unthinkable situations for His glory. We know that victory requires challenge and miracles require a mess. It’s important for us to remember the story and remind ourselves of this when life is hard.

There is no promise we will understand everything, or even half the things that happen either to us or around us in this world. But we know this – He is trustworthy even in struggle and darkness. Our “darkness” creates no confusion or fear for our Lord. He’s proven that.

In darkness He spoke light. To darkness, Jesus came. In the outer darkness of the curse for our sin, He hung alone. He still won the battle for our souls.

Even in the dark places of our lives where we are confused and hurt, we will not be ultimately overcome. That’s a great message to remember with others this Lenten Season.

Let this excerpt encourage your heart…

“It will often look as though Christ is defeated…If China was closed for forty years to the western missionaries, it was not as though Jesus accidentally slipped and fell into the tomb. He stepped in. And when it was sealed over, He saved fifty million Chinese from the inside – without Western missionaries. And when it was time, He pushed the stone away so we could see what He had done…When it looks as though He is buried for good, Jesus is doing something awesome in the dark. The world thinks Jesus is done for – out of the way. They think His Word is buried and His plans have failed. But Jesus is at work in the dark place…He lets Himself be buried and He comes out in power when and where He pleases. And His hands are full of fruit made in the dark.” Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad, p. 65

Praying for your heart to be encouraged!



Like most pastors, I desperately want to see every person connected with our church being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Unfortunately, I found that most of our approaches to discipleship led to being informed, but not transformed. Most of what I read, and most of the people that I listened to seemed to believe that information would lead to transformation. So everything we did when it came to training was about teaching people and hoping they would apply the lessons that we taught.

A few people would apply the truths that we shared, however most of our people remained spectators, and understood the life of Jesus, but failed to live it. We came to the conclusion that discipleship needed to be not just informational, but must also include healthy lifestyle rhythms that we would hold each other accountable to walk in.

One particular book that was helpful as we tried to process healthy rhythms for discipleship was Surprise the World by Michael Frost. Because it’s rarely a wise move to copy and paste rhythm‘s for discipleship from one context to another we thought through the contents of the book and then came up with some of our own rhythms that we knew would be helpful to our people. We use these rhythms in huddles of 2 to 4 people of the same sex and allow them to shape dialogue over coffee or lunch and hold each other accountable to living this way of life. Here’s what we came up with:

We use the acronym REACH.

REST – I am going to slow down and rest with God today through prayer and listening/meditation on truth. What is God saying to me? How is he calling me to live into His words?

EAT/ENGAGE – I will eat with and engage people relationally this week. Who am I eating/hanging out with? Does this include people from outside of the church? This could be a meal, cup of coffee, golfing, watching a sporting event, etc. anything that builds relationships.

ACT OF LOVE – I will bless others/be a blessing to others this week by doing something loving. Am I blessing people within my community? Am I blessing people outside of our community?

CONFESS – I will confess to someone this week some area in my life where I feel like I fell short, screwed up, or am frustrated with myself. Humility bonds us.

HOME – We will grow as a family this week (This could include your family, roommate, or close friends). Here are some ways to grow as a family: learn something together, bless someone together, have a family fun night, have a date night, ditch the technology, eat at the dinner table.

We have found that these types of meaningful conversations in smaller huddles of people creates an energy around living a dynamic sort of life that is entirely shaped around imitating the lifestyle of Jesus.

For the past four years we’ve hosted a training (Missional Action Group School) to help individuals and churches think strategically and intentionally about discipleship and mission. This is not just a training, but also an experience. We enjoy creating an atmosphere where we can dialogue around these topics, eat good food, and allow people to connect relationally.

MAG School is not only an opportunity for a one-time training, but an invitation to a longer journey as friends who are attempting to make disciples and reach people who don’t know Jesus. We provide coaching for anyone who is attempting to be more effective in their local mission field.

Mark Fesmire had this to say about our coaching, “Any paradigm shift requires intentional focus.  After hearing 3 different presentations on missional living and small groups I was very motivated to create a missional group. But I didn’t manage to create a group that was missional. When I asked to be coached, the steady conversations helped peal back the layers of my old paradigm allowing me to look at what I am doing now with fresh eyes. I keep learning in each conversation.  I would say from my experience that without consistent coaching it is impossible to break entrenched patterns. I firmly believe in the coaching process for anyone attempting to lead a missional small group or trying to help numerous small groups form.”

If you are interested in being a part of our MAG School this year on April 13-14 please contact me at michaeljarrell@me.com. The cost includes the training and most of your food, but we don’t want cost to be a reason you can’t make it, so let me know if that is prohibiting you from attending and we’ll see what we can work out!

Mike Jarrell was a youth director in the Philadelphia area for a few years and loves teens. He left youth ministry convinced that the best way to impact teens is to reach families. Mike then became the senior lead pastor at Cornerstone Christian Church in Duncannon PA. After about 5 years at Cornerstone, Mike and his family followed God to start a missional church in Enola, PA. The Narrow Road Church has been around for 3 years. NRC is a movement of missional communities that follow Jesus on mission and grow in community.


Love cannot live where there is no trust.

Edith Hamilton

I never thought I had a problem with trust because I’ve been fairly trusting in my interactions with others throughout most of my life. However, a number of years ago I crashed into a situation with someone I deeply cared about and discovered that I had been lied to repeatedly. As I tried to process my frustration, anger and hurt, I discovered that my struggle with trust was not focused just at the individual who betrayed me, but also at God. 

I found myself asking, “Are you REALLY good? Can you REALLY be trusted? My head knew that the answer was “yes,” but my heart kept whispering “no.”

What I learned through that situation, and have continued to believe since then, is that because God is ALWAYS love, He can ALWAYS be trusted. Coming to grips with that reality has changed my entire outlook on life. Love and trust go together, and starts with a belief that God’s love is good and that He is always for us. Because He loves me, He will use every situation in my life to grow both my love and trust for Him.

Let me explain what I mean. There are many circumstances in life that are hard, in fact very hard, and they can cause us to question the love and goodness of God. We tend to question God’s existence and care in the hard times, while at the same time neglecting to thank Him during the good times. It’s interesting how easy it is to blame God, and how hard it is to thank Him for His love and care. Our actions stem from a wrong view of love and trust. Because we believe that God’s love is conditional our trust toward Him becomes conditional. Ultimately, that belief system taints our ability to love and trust others.

We need to remember that God can’t ‘fake love.’ His love is always real and genuine. He is absolutely committed to our good, our growth and His glory. The circumstances of our lives are always opportunities to grow in our love and trust of God which in turn, help us overcome mistrust in our relationships with others.

That situation that I mentioned earlier was really hard; it caused much dissonance in my life and built a wall in my relationship with that person. I was cautious in my interactions after that point with that particular individual and asked God to give me discernment in how to recognize truth. I wanted to be smart in how I trusted. 

But the bigger issue was that I was able to maintain an overall attitude and perspective of trust because my beliefs became even more deeply rooted in the truth that God is love and He can be trusted. 

When situations are hard and people betray you, will you run to God, your good and perfect Father to allow Him to renew your love and trust?

Deb Hinkel is the Director of Spiritual Formation and Family Ministry at Hershey Free Church. She joined the church’s staff in 2015 after spending fourteen years as an assistant professor in the Church and Ministry Leadership department at Lancaster Bible College.

Deb holds a Master of Arts degree in Ministry from Lancaster Bible College; and prior to her work there, she spent fifteen years in church ministry, developing programs in Christian education, children’s ministry, and women’s ministry.

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