Marching off the Map

Are You Ready to March Off the Map?

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Marching Off the Map - Part 5

Are you ready to take the next step in reaching Generation Z?

Ministry and Generation Z

Generation Z has proved to be a challenging feat within the world of ministry. Technology is being introduced so rapidly and people's lives are changing so fast that our ability to invent new things outpaces the rate we can civilize them.

Kevin Kelly says, "These days it takes us a decade after a technology appears to develop a social consensus on what it means and what etiquette we need to tame it." If this is true, we need to prepare people, not just in their ability to adjust to the times and technologies but in their morals as well. Generation Z ministry is a big one, a necessary one, and a challenging one. 

Generation Y vs. Generation Z

Generation Y and Generation Z are two very different groups of people. As pastors and leaders, we cannot afford to lump them into the same category anymore. The biggest difference we need to be aware of is that we are no longer their greatest source of information. Therefore, we need to provide them with context for the content they are constantly absorbing.

Parental Shifts

One of the biggest changes I see necessary for parents is learning how to contextualize the information our kids have access to. Our job is to help our kids discern what is truthful and what is not and how to apply that information to their lives. It requires us to dig a bit deeper into relationship because trust is not automatic.

I think the pressure we feel as an older generation is to try to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology. But I don't think that is nearly as important as understanding the people of the day. They are looking for a place to belong, to connect, for someone who believes in them. We can build those relationships if we are real rather than cool and if we care rather than just knowing better.

Let's Get Started

I hope you are ready to create new maps to reach every available person, by every available means, at every available time. Let's start with loving others. If we focus on others and seek to love, encourage, and help them, we will be well on our way to reaching every available person.

Jesus had this focus and He told us to have the same - love your neighbour. His truths are timeless and they work, even with Generation Z.

If you haven't picked up a copy of Marching Off the Map yet, we hope you will grab one soon! It has profoundly affected us and has caused us to rethink our methods at every level. We need to continually relook at the way we do things and its effectiveness because we carry the most important message in the history of the world and it's too important to miscommunicate. The truth is the church is the hope of the world for every generation and we’re on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Revamping the Bible College

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Marching Off the Map - Part 4

Marching Off the Map has our heads spinning with ideas for improving the Bible College. We want to make it more effective than ever to reach the next generation of leaders. From online and virtual classes to internships, we can't wait to share with you what we have in mind.

40-50% of recent education majors have quit after their first year of work. According to Tim Elmore, we have three choices:

  1. Yell at the wind.
  2. Surrender to the wind.
  3. Adjust the sails.

At Victory Bible College, we are adjusting our sails to meet the needs of our students. The education system of old has got to go and we have begun making plans for aggressive changes. We really are marching off the map.

This book has caused us to shift our thinking a lot. One of my biggest revelations was the distinct difference Elmore made between the Millenials and Generation Y. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out Millenials yet here we are with a new generation on our hands already. We really have no time to waste. They are here now, in our churches, entering our Bible colleges, and soon to be entering our workplaces. 

Restructuring Online Classes

VBC has offered in-class and online courses for years. In beginning this time of revamping, the online classes and website need a facelift. Online classes are effective for students today because they want to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule. However, long lecture-style classes over the web hinder other ways people learn. Our presentation of each session needs to be rethought in order to make them more enticing to the students who will be a part of them.

Altering the In-Class Experience

Our classroom approach is in need of an overhaul. Students today aren't learning through just lectures so we need to adjust in order to better suit the way they learn. We are seeking to make the classroom a place for application and discussion while supplying information and material online. Creativity is huge and visual stimuli has come to be expected by Generation Z.

Killing the Campus Mentality

Our focus on the idea of a "campus" needs to change. I think the days of having the right facility and an attractive campus in the right location are behind us. Students have access to thousands of courses on their devices at home so they are not apt to spend fortunes on a degree they may or may not use. So as colleges, I feel we need to kill the campus and move classrooms into our churches, pursuing virtual classes that students across the globe can join and internships within the local church.

Our Approach

I don't want to reveal too much too soon because we are still in the initial phases of planning but we are working on a three-fold approach to education.

  1. Internships - This will allow our churches to raise young leaders locally. Students can learn "on the job" in a practical way, giving them ownership of the content.
  2. Updated Online Courses - Over the next five years, we are looking to give the current VBC online courses a considerable facelift. This would involve making them shorter, more interactive, and applying some different classroom techniques.
  3. Virtual Classes - This will allow students to have the classroom experience from anywhere around the world, complete with live interactions between the teacher and other students. By doing a virtual class, we can build relationships between students from all over which would strengthen our mission moving forward.

In 1 Corinthians 4:15, Paul says, "There are a lot of people around who can't wait to tell you what you've done wrong, but there aren't many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up." If the church can take this approach in caring for people and abandon the lecture method, the future is bright! I think the church could reposition itself as the center of hope within each community, not a place to receive a lecture, but authentic relationship. The church needs to become the hope of the world for every generation, on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Leading Generation Z

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Marching Off the Map - Part 3

Leading this up and coming generation can be a very daunting task. Parenting especially is vastly different than it was 10 years ago. For the sake of our children, it is crucial that we learn the best approach. On this episode, we are comparing some tactics for best reaching our kids and youth.

Connect, don't control.

These days, we as parents have become very good at protecting our kids but have lacked when it comes to preparing them. We govern their actions, schedules, and relationships to the point where we are no longer doing them any good. Studies show that parents who over-program their children's lives tend to breed children who rebel as teens. To counter this, we need to work on connecting with our kids, building deep relationships that are able to bear the truth when needed.

Achievement, not simply participation.

One of my pet peeves is participation awards. Not just because I am competitive, but because I feel that in an attempt to make people happy, we end up making it worse. According to the American Psychologist Association, healthy and robust self-esteem actually comes from achievement, not merely affirmation. So, in our attempts to protect our children's self-esteem, we are actually creating a new "at risk" child; middle class, affluent kids who are depressed because they never really achieved anything. Let's not assume that simply telling our children that they are special and awesome will build their self-esteem, but instead give them opportunities to work at becoming amazing!

Expose, don't impose.

Elmore says, "Imposing rules and behaviours on this generation carries negative baggage." But we've always found rules and imposed behaviours a favourite default in parenting. It can often be safer, cleaner, and easier for all of us, not just parents. When our children feel forced to do something, they don't take ownership of it and we are simply modifying their current behaviour without affecting their heart.

Make things enticing for your kids so they actually want to participate. In doing so, they will learn more effectively because they will own it. This works in every avenue of life; parenting, managing, leading, etc.

Jesus used this technique. He never imposed truth on people but instead exposed them to it by asking questions and leading them down a path of self-discovery so they could own the answers themselves.

Describe, don't prescribe.

We as parents have the tendency to map everything out for our kids. We are somewhat removing the need for kids to use their own imaginations and creativity. Elmore says, "Instead of prescribing what they should do next, try 'describing.' Describe an outcome or goal, and let them figure out how to reach it with their own ingenuity."

Be real, not "cool."

I think we are a generation of parents who are trying too hard to be cool. We so desperately want to be our kids' friends that, in doing so, we lose ourselves a bit and ultimately we lose them too.

Today's parents have strayed from the authoritarian approach of their parents in an effort to be different. We think that if we can be just like our kids, we will be liked by our kids. So, we try to dress like them, act like them, listen to the same music, watch the same movies and the list goes on. But in reality, grown adults can barely pull this off without being laughable.

Our kids aren't looking to us to be cool, but want us to be authentic. I'd encourage parents to relax and learn to laugh at yourself. Be self-aware, genuinely listen, speak in a tone that is believable, and don't focus on being cool; focus on being real.

People are searching for something or someone real. That's what I love about the Bible. It doesn't "sugarcoat" life, but depicts the raw and real aspects of it. I think it is time for the church to be real, unafraid to discuss some ugliness of this life. Authenticity is why our slogan, "No Perfect People," has had so much traction. The church needs to get where people are really living and reach them there because they need real hope. The church really is the hope of the world, and for every generation, we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Who Are Today's New Natives?

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Marching Off the Map - Part 2

Generation Y and Z are two very different groups of people. They have been influenced by different societies and, therefore, view things diversely. Today we are pulling apart the differences between Y and Z to determine how we can educate each generation effectively.

What began in academic circles as Generation Y has now been broken down into two separate groupings; Generation Y and Generation Z. Y individuals are those deemed "millennials," born between 1990 and 2010 and Z is the generation born after 9/11. Let's compare the two.

Generation Y

  • Grew up in a strong economy with high self-esteem.
  • Watches YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix.
  • Worried about growing their status and "likes" on social media.

Generation Z

  • Growing up in a time of recession, terrorism, racial violence, volatility, and complexity.
  • Doesn't want to be tracked so prefer Snapchat over Facebook because messages disappear.
  • Want to co-create, live stream and help make up the activity as they participate.
  • Worried about the economy and world ecology.

7 Shifts Between Generation Y and Z

Elmore discusses seven major shifts between Generation Y and Generation Z. Our challenge as pastors, parents, and educators is navigating these changes. Some of them are subtle while others are quite big. Regardless, it is vital that we as leaders make ourselves aware of them.

1. Confidence is morphing into caution.

People who grew up between 1990 and 2000 had very different childhoods than those who grew up between 2005 and 2015. The economy in the 90's was expanding whereas the past ten years have been marked with economic recession. The headlines have been constantly filled with terrorism and racial unrest since the fateful day of 9/11, nevermind the increase in gender confusion and other social debates.

2. Idealism is morphing into pragmatism.

Ten years ago, it was reportedly easy for Generation Y to get what they wanted. Today, money is a bit tighter and there's been an increase in multi-generational households. Many are forced to think practically and ahead, and optimism has shifted to cynicism.

3. From aggressively pursuing further education to hacking one.

Generation Z watched Generation Y become paralyzed with student loans and debt. So, instead of applying to multiple universities in search of a liberal art education, Generation Z has started to combine university classes with online certificates and real-world experience.

4. Spending money is morphing into saving money.

Generation Y has been known to spend money boldly and with few boundaries. In contrast, Generation Z's reality is forcing them to think ahead and prepare. This isn't necessarily bad though; it could help them in the future.

5. Consuming media is shifting to creating media.

Today, young teens prefer to create media posts as opposed to only consuming them. They desire interactive experiences where they can actually participate in their content's outcome.

6. Viral messages on social media are becoming vanishing messages.

Younger kids have witnessed the downsides of being tracked on social media by their parent's, teachers and future employers, now preferring messaging that evaporates, like Snapchat.

7. Standard text messages have now become icon messages.

Kids now choose to send emojis in place of words. They have strong filters and want content to be shared and understood rapidly.

Elmore's Suggestions for Connecting with Generation Z

Elmore suggests seven things we should do to connect with this upcoming generation. Here are a few that stood out to me.

  1. Keep it short. - Remember, Generation Z has a very short attention span. While they are capable of paying attention for long periods of time, the key is to engage them within 6-8 seconds.
  2. Feed their curiosity. - They want to discover new content and pass it on. So, we need to build a hunger for interesting facts and relay why the information is important to know.
  3. Give them ownership. - Students support what they help create. They'll value something they've discovered more than what's given to them without their effort.
  4. Offer them a cause. - Most kids want to do something important. They want to be a part of something meaningful, not hypothetical.

The deeper we dig into Elmore's book, the deeper we want to go in reaching this generation. This is not a "next year" thing nor a change in our vision, it's a reality check. Our move forward begins with our commitment. Why? Because the church is the hope of the world, and for every generation, we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

How Do You March Off a Map?

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Marching Off the Map - Part 1

The truth is, our modern school system simply isn't as effective as it could be. Students are disengaged and disinterested in learning. How can we as leaders, educators, pastors, and communicators better influence the generation we are trying to lead?

Welcome to the first episode of our Marching Off the Map series. For the next five weeks, Pastor Gene and I will be breaking down this insightful book written by Tim Elmore. We have found this book to be a much-needed roadmap for 21st-century educators, parents, coaches, and youth leaders. We would encourage all of our listeners to pick up a copy! You can order one here.

In Chapter 2, Elmore writes about three societies that anthropologist Margaret Mead describes in her works.

1. The Post-Figurative Society

Mead described this era as one that lasted for many centuries. Adults had already determined how life would be for their children, often deciding who they would marry, where they would work, what they would do and even how their children would continue the customs within their society.  This perpetuated the customs of the past resulting in very little change or innovation.

Careers were largely agriculturally based with many people farming crops or livestock. The critical element that differentiated you within this society was physical strength so the youth were heavily relied upon.

2. The Co-Figurative Society

This society was created during the Renaissance, otherwise known as the Age of Enlightenment. As a whole, society began to question its traditions, customs, and way of life. Reason ruled the day as opposed to physical strength. This levelled the playing field between the young and old.

Parents and their children were involved in making the decision of who the child would marry, where they would live, and what their career would be. Everyone had to adjust to change and new innovations, communications, and traditions.

The Renaissance birthed the Industrial Revolution during which new inventions were created to improve efficiency. Science and industry began to control society and access to machinery is what set people apart.

3. The Pre-Figurative Society

The Pre-Figurative Society is what Mead suggests we are living in now. Change is happening so rapidly that adults have almost nothing to offer the next generation in terms of how to deal with new realities. The youth often understand the changes sooner than most adults; they adapt to new technology and innovations far before we do. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for adults to lead the young and can cause leaders to feel irrelevant.

The critical element that differentiates individuals in our society is our minds. That's how most of us make our living and get things done. Mead wrote in her book People and Places: A Book for Young Readers, "In the modern world we have invented ways of speeding up invention, and people’s lives change so fast that a person is born into one kind of world, grows up in another, and by the time his children are growing up, lives in still a different world.

Our Schooling System

In my opinion, we need a new system for educating our students. The evidence for this need is everywhere yet we as a society are too slow in making those changes.

Horace Mann developed the school system we base our current system off of, however, he did so in the 1830's! His design was meant to prepare children for their factory careers. For example, the stereotypical school bell that we have all listened to at some point was first created to mimic a bell meant for shift work in a factory. While there is nothing inherently wrong with a bell, it is a good illustration to show how archaic our education system presently is. Maybe we could look at redesigning the system to better prepare our students for today's world?

6 Radical Ideas for Redesign

At the end of the second chapter, Elmore suggests six radical ideas for redesigning the system:

  1. Experience instead of test scores.
  2. Homework during the day rather than at night.
  3. Open book tests.
  4. Use of images to help retention.
  5. Creativity over compliance.
  6. Teachers in the role of interpreter rather than informer.

These ideas allow us to think differently, to alter our methods by focusing on our results. What if we started with a clean slate and asked ourselves, "If Horace Mann was alive today, what would he do to revamp the current failing school system?"

This is not just an educational issue but a problem we have in churches as well. We are in the education and communication business and our message is the most important one that the world needs to hear.

The message never changes but the methods must be constantly evolving. It may be uncomfortable but it is a necessity in order to keep moving the church forward. Why? Because for every generation, we know that the church is the hope of the world and we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches that unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.