1. Let's talk about Fertility, Baby
Infertility is a growing issue especially in a day when more and more couples are choosing to delay having babies for financial and career reasons.
Here are some numbers from www.fertilitynz.org.nz:
- One in four New Zealanders experience infertility
- Women and men are equally affected
- A 28-year-old woman has a 23% chance of natural conception per month. The chances decrease to 8% for a 40-year-old women
- IVF has a less than 50% chance of success per cycle.
Anecdotally, it would be my observation that young Christian couples are far less inclined to delay starting a family for financial and career reasons than their non-Christian counterparts. However, having said this, there is in my view a very important discussion that pastors may consider to have with all young couples in his/her church. It may also be good to address this issue in a sermon series on ‘current issues’ especially the whole issue around the ethics of IVF which is a big topic and deserves a separate discussion.
2. Practicing Christian Millennials Maintain a High View of Scripture
Millennials (born between 1984 and 2002) have been, and continue to be, the focus of surveys, studies and comment—some of it quite negative. However, this article is good news and will definitely surprise you: https://www.barna.org/barna-update/millennials/687-millennials-and-the-bible-3-surprising-insights#.Vz5H0uS0dAM
3. “The Village Effect” …
… is the title of a Listener cover article last year. The article is based on a new book by Canadian clinical psychologist Susan Pinker called, “The Village Effect: Why face-to-face contact matters”. Atlantic Books $36.99.
In many ways it is telling us what most pastors and Christian leaders already know, however, I love it when secular academic research (whatever discipline) lands in the same place that we as Christians would, based on our biblical understanding.
Here is a quote from the article: “More than alcohol and cigarette consumption, stress, how much we weigh and exercise, whether we take flu shots, the strongest predictor for living a long and healthy life”, says Susan Pinker, “is social integration with a regular diverse group of people. Second is social intimacy—being with people you can depend on, the ones who have your back when the going gets rough.” [Emphasis mine.] She goes on to talk about the Internet and social media as that “bilious stew of envy and anomie that engulfs people who click through online signs of their friends’ achievements in the mistaken belief that such voyeurism is a form of social glue. It’s not.”
So here's the thing. This is where churches can shine really bright. We call it fellowship or community, and by definition it is face-to-face in nature. It is regular, it is life-giving and now we are told it is good for you, very good in fact. And when biblical community (village life) is happening, it has another powerful component added in, namely the ‘one-anothers’ of the New Testament are operative—hopefully!
Pastor you might like to do a ‘community life’ audit or review. What is the current temperature of your shared life together as a faith community? How many folks in your congregation are lonely and deprived of meaningful social integration? How are the social skills of your young people? Can you sight evidence of the one anothers of scripture working deeply within your congregation? If so, is there a testimony or two you could include in your church communications?
4. Gender Identity
Family First have written an excellent report on this new and disturbing message evident in many of our NZ schools. I would highly recommend this resource for youth pastors and parents of pre-adolescence children and teenagers. Actually, why not preach a sermon on this topic entitled ‘Let the boys be boys and the girls be girls’, or something like that. Then offer this resource/report to all families.
The report “BOYS GIRLS OTHER – Making Sense of the Confusing New World of Gender Identity” was commissioned by Family First NZ in response to an increasing number of ‘born in the wrong body’- type stories involving children in the media, and ‘gender identity’ guidelines and policies being pushed at schools by governmental groups and advocacy organisations. It warns parents and school leaders to be very wary of these guidelines and policies and that gender identity ideology is founded more on political ideology than it is in good science and experience.
To learn more about this issue and read the report go to www.familyfirst.org.nz: Boys Girls Other.