If you’ve ever wondered what you and your church can do to better reach out to the next generation, you’ll want to tune in to today’s podcast. We’re sitting down with Jonathan “JP” Pokluda, teaching pastor at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas and leader of The Porch, a young adult ministry. The Porch serves millennials from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area along with satellite groups from ten other sites across the nation. JP joins us today on the podcast because he cares about the future of the church and longs to see a great awakening in the next generation.
- If you’re not reaching the future of the church, then you’re not reaching the future. // It’s a common phrase, but it’s more than a sentiment—it’s a reality. JP wishes the truth—and the simple mathematics—of this concept would be more obvious to the greater church community. He describes the format for a typical Tuesday night at The Porch and discusses the reasoning behind the somewhat shorter sermons. JP also stresses the significance of surrounding the millennials who come to those Tuesday night meetings with people who can answer their questions soon after the Bible lesson is presented. Along with the other leaders of The Porch, JP hopes that this service acts as a front door to the church and that those who come will assimilate into a local church body.
- Authentic leadership and relevant opportunities are the keys to success. // What JP sees is a lack of authenticity in the church. The spirit of inauthenticity within the church at large doesn’t make sense to him because he doesn’t see it reflected in the scriptures. JP openly discusses the challenges he struggled with before coming to Christ and points out that people respond and connect with truth, which makes leading out with our own struggles even more crucial.
- The biggest mistake the church makes in trying to reach millennials is dumbing it down. // Armed with this knowledge, The Porch doesn’t water down their sermons or provide “gospel-lite” offerings on their menu. From JP’s point of view, Jesus had high expectations and huge demands for his people; likewise, we are both called and need to call our people to live with reckless abandon for Christ. We need to expand our vision and give our younger generation something to assimilate into.
- Deploy people into ministry. // JP’s vision for ministry emerges in his personal catchphrase: we don’t want to do ministry to people but through people. JP points out how we are called to go beyond consumerism Christianity and put our living faith into real, live action. What does it look like to hand true service roles to people? At The Porch, people don’t usher or hand out programs; they are trained to be equipped for out-of-the-seats, into-the-streets ministry. The Porch has a full suite of offerings, from a food kitchen to short-term discipleship trips and a monthly mission trip within the city. JP also discusses the ways his ministry hands over management responsibilities to volunteer-led groups in order to equip them further for meaningful ministry as well as the training aspects all volunteers go through. JP sees a generation rising that wants to change the world, and he wants pastors to call them to something greater than themselves.
- Take note of your sacred cows. // The problem with sacred cows is that they sit and graze in blind spots. What are your sacred cows? It could be your day of the week, your time of teaching, or whatever offerings you aren’t willing to give up. JP poses the question: what did Jesus do when it came to ministry? What Jesus did falls into the category of what we need to do, what we must do. JP maintains that everything else around that is a tactic or a strategy that may not be working along longer. When certain traditions or approaches to ministries just aren’t working anymore, you need to let them go.
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Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: House Right