Group Life 2008 – Jon Peacock – Reaching Postmoderns with Unfiltered Reality

Breakout A

Description: This generation doesn’t play church. Shattered and broken, this generation responds only to the unfiltered love of Jesus, delivered with authenticity via communities on mission. Willow’s Axis Community has seen more than 100 postmoderns come to faith in Christ over the last two year. Join a dialogue and gain insight on the breakthroughs that facilitated those transformations.

Speaker’s Bio: Jon Peacock has been on staff at Willow Creek Community Church for 4 years, first as a division leader with the Sports Ministry, then as a Community Pastor in Neighborhood Life. In the fall of 2006 Jon was hand-picked to lead the re-vitalized Axis Ministry. With the role Ministry Director of the Axis Community Jon provides strategic oversight, teaching, and the development of his staff. Jon was raised in the Chicago suburbs. His college experience included playing Division One baseball at both the University of Kentucky and Illinois State, where he excelled on the field and not so much in the classroom. He’s addicted to Americano’s and wakeboarding in the summer. Jon is married to Kelly Peacock, and as most say “he’s completely out-kicked his coverage”, Jon emphatically agrees.


Without vision, people perish.

Without vision this generation will perish. I think they already are. I think we’re up against a huge mountain.

My dad was a senior pastor. I grew up in a good church. There were a lot of great things about it. I went to college and played sports, and that’s when my life went in a whole other way.

I went back home and there was nothing for me at church. I made a lot of bad choices as a freshman and there were no answers at church. They didn’t speak my language, and they didn’t care about me.

Near the end of college I graduated, and God rescued me out of a lot of things. I went back home and started a ministry with some friends for people our age.

What is your vision. What are you driving towards? What are our ministries moving towards.

The vision for Axis – Known by love, live by faith, and bring hope into a broken world.

What’s your vision? Have you prayed through this, searched the Scriptures, thought about this?

You’ve got to know where you’re going. You’ve got to have your destination figured out. Otherwise you’ll confuse a lot of activity with progress.

“Current Reality” – this can be very painful. Where is your church/ministry right now?

What is the current reality of the church and this generation (18-30) overall.

Americans in college/20s are least likely to attend church. 3 of 10 attend church weekly (compared with 4 of 10 for 30s and 5 of 10 for 40s and up). There is a 42% dropoff between 18-25. 5x% by the age of 29. That represents 8 million people. If that doesn’t mess you up, we’ve got other issues.

52% of freshman entered college attending services, 29% of juniors.

Only 4% of those in their 20s are serving in their local church. They feel overlooked.

College students are extremely prone to emotional disorders. There are more counseling centers on campus than ever before.

We all have individual contextual things, but this is the reality for all of us.

Have you ever had one of these mornings where nothing works out? About 6 months ago I woke up late, was totally dissheveled. I’m a huge fan of the bean. I drink a lot of coffee. I wake up, run to the kitchen, make some coffee, about to run to the shower, get a shower, get my clothes on, get my hair done, go to get my coffee. There is coffee everywhere. It’s all over the counter, the floor, spilling over everywhere.

I let the coffee cool and then went over to look at what I had done. I put cinammon in the grounds because I like that, but when you put too much cinnamon in the grounds it clogs the filter and overflows.

We were designed to receive the love of God. He has this abundance of love that he wants to pour out on us.

God has key streams through which he wants to pour out his love. Those streams have been blocked. There’s too much cinnamon.

  • Church (and by this I mean weekend church services)
    • Blocks to this stream
      • A polished, perfect program with no room for God to work.
      • Lack of trust – 20s just don’t trust.
      • Come and see – Come and check us out just doesn’t work anymore. Quit trying to impress them. They can get it on YouTube. They can go to the Coldplay concert. Admitting this is hard. I’m a big advocate for when the body comes together in a big group God will move in a way that he won’t with a group of 5.
    • Solutions
      • Trust – get people to trust the church. If you’re not careful your ministry can become toxic. Even people who are already Christians can question. Try to build trust within the senior leadership in your church. People have been burned by authority before.
  • Family
    • Blocks
      • Person after person I meet is from a broken home. My retreat for Axis staff/volunteers had around 18 people. We had everyone sit around and share their lives. By the time it got around to me, there were only two other people besides myself (one of them being my wife) that came from a healthy home, Three of us. From 1960 to 1980 the divorce rate grew by 300%
      • Intergenerational discipling isn’t happening.
    • Solutions
      • Taking the time to hear people’s stories. This sounds so basic, but people need to be reminded of that. We get busy and don’t listen to people’s stories. When you uncover people’s brokenness, you can do something about it.
      • Intergenerational mentoring – maybe an eigth of our community expereinces this.
      • Encouraging people to seek reconciliation with their parents. Friends in Axis in AA say that the making amends step is the most powerful. This encourages people to take on a mentoring mindset rather than a victim mindset.
  • Groups
    • Blocks
      • Facebook – Facebook can be a good tool, but it isn’t community. We’re not taking the mask off. You can be who you want to be instead of who you are
      • We create groups that are spiritual nurseries, spiritual care centers, but they’re not changing anything in the city.
      • Credibility – Church people have no credibility. Pastors cheating on their wives, stealing money, etc.
    • Solutions
      • Mission – Train up leaders to mobilize their neighborhood. Want groups to be cause driven not care driven. When I say that to people, they think I’m cold, but when you have a community that’s wrapped around the Kingdom of God, they’re going to be cared for and experience more care than anyone else. People will reconcile their disagreements because they see that there’s too much at stake.
      • Empowering Leaders – High accountabilty, Low control. Remember 4% of 20s are involved in the church. Would you want to be involved in something that you have no voice in? Train them, don’t empower them before training them. I probably empower them to a fault. God’s teaching me not to do that. Make sure they’re on the right track before you empower them, but then do that. Get down in the trenches with your leaders and know their stories so that you can empower them

Audience Comment: Get in the schools. I substitute teach and see where the pain is, the drugs, the sex.

Audience Question: What do you teach?

Answer: Talk a lot about Jesus. Teach the Sermon on the Mount all of the time. We have to bring this generation into a much bigger story about subverting the kingdom of this world. Try to get people to understand the Bible. I talk about Jesus as much as I can. We’re doing a series called “Road Trip” based on three words of Jesus “Come follow me.”

Something that I’ve been thinking about over the last year is that when people come to faith we get excited, but we forget that they’re coming with this western worldview which is a problem sometimes. We take this western worldview and just tack on Christian behaviors.

Audience Question: What should I do with all of the people at my church that just want to be intellectual/traditional?

Answer: Don’t be afraid of the intellectual. Do you know what you believe and why you believe it? When I went to college, no one discipled me and taught me what I believe and why I believe it, so when I got hit with my first philosophy class it rocked me. Are we producing high school graduates that are firm in their faith?

Audience Comment: 20s want authenticity and see through hypocrisy. Don’t try to sign people up for something; invite them.

One thing we all need to wrestle with every day: is the vision we are striving for alive in us. Is it in our fibers is it part of what we are trying to become?

Audience Question: What are you using to empower and train your leaders to reach the people they have influence over and not make them feel like they are projects, not a bait-and-switch.

Answer: It’s hard and messy. Get together with them. I can’t meet with everyone. It’s too big. I have to be able to reproduce myself in other people. One-on-ones are huge. From a staff side, this is huge. If you have a team, maybe that’s yourself, maybe that’s more than yourself. You need to know your leaders, and they need to know you. Meet with your leaders consistently.

One thing we do here is map things out from September to June. You may do things different, but this is our ministry season, so we map it out. What is this person trying to do.

Community Developer: Someone who is a little bit older who meets with them every other week. That’s primarily soul care.

Check Ins: Day after phone conversations for people who are leading our communities. We call them. It can be 5 minutes or 30 minutes. We ask what’s going on in their group. We end those conversations by praying with them. We didn’t have that last year, and it’s really going well. It’s really helping a lot.

The Conversation: Once a month leadership follow up. We get all of our leaders together in one room. The focus is equipping and inspiring them. It’s great. We have food. It’s something people want to be at. We go through people’s highs (and lows?). We have an equpping piece. We break out into team time. The four to six people who are leaders/apprentices in a group get together and make a 30 day plan.

Audience Question: Aren’t there different needs among married/single 20s?

Answer: Intentional community – When do you stop splicing things up? Why can’t single and married people hang out? Exchange among diversity.

Posted at 9:45 AM on October 17th, 2008
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