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Life Skills Your Church Can Teach the World

What if it’s as much a matter of skill as it is a matter of desire?

Here are eight areas in which you might be able to teach people how to do things, not just what to do.

Money — Teaching people how to save and give are now countercultural. People are drowning in debt. Maybe it’s not that they don’t want to give. They just don’t know how to give. Two years ago at Connexus, we embarked on Thrive, an initiative designed to help people live with margin and live on mission. Working with Joe Sangl and Casey Graham, we launched the Financial Learning Experience to help people pay for their vacations with cash, save for their kids’ education and for their retirement, and give. People loved it, and are better off financially. We also cast vision around giving. Now 70 percent of all our giving happens online, and we have seen, literally, hundreds of thousands of extra dollars each year come for ministry. If you want to launch a similar initiative, you can download the (free) Thrive export kit for your church here.

Sex — Teaching people sex is for married people is deeply countercultural. Few people teach this better than Andy Stanley. Later this year, we’re going to do the New Rules of Love, Sex and Dating series at Connexus. The series is the finest explanation of why sex is for married people I’ve ever heard. You will save people’s marriages and years of counseling if you teach this stuff to your kids and to young adults.

Family — Teach families how to spend a quantity of quality time together. Every week, you send home material you hope will provoke a meaningful spiritual conversation between parents and kids. And you’re frustrated because most parents don’t do it. Maybe most parents don’t know how. They work, they run the kids to activities, they crash and do it all over again. At Connexus, we’ve started something called the Great Family Experiment. Several times a year, we teach families how to spend time together by doing something together. You can download three sample Great Family Experiments here for free for your church. Teaching families how to be families can help them become families.

Father Figures — Help children find another adult male voice saying the same thing their dad would say. So many families are single parent homes. And so many families who have dads ‘present’ actually have dads who are absent. We’ve lost the skill set on how to be a spiritual leader in the home. You can teach a family how to be a family (see above), but another thing you can do is load up your preschool, elementary and student ministries with male leaders who are willing to invest in the next generation. Don’t get me wrong; women who serve in these ministries are incredible. But they would be the first to tell you they want men serving alongside them. Still not convinced? Ask any 20- or 30-something adult, male or female, if they wished their dad or another healthy adult male had spent more time with them. They’ll tell you.

Confession — Help people learn to say sorry in an overaffirmed world. I’ve noticed something in under-30s. They really don’t say sorry easily. I love millennials and love working with them. But as a parent myself, I wonder if we’ve raised an overaffirmed-I-can-do-no-wrong generation. It seems the default alternative to zero self-esteem has become an “I’m never really wrong” approach to life. Confession is so healthy, because it leads away from despair and pushes people toward change and hope. Hey, if you’re wrong — own it. Take responsibility. The sun will rise tomorrow. It will. I promise.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.