Stayin Alive….Stayin Alive

I’m not a big John Travolta fan.

The 1970’s hit movie Saturday Night Fever is not among my DVD collection.

I never cared for disco music.

I don’t own a white suit and I can’t dance….just ask my wife.

Oh yeah….and the song, “Staying Alive” sung by the Bee Gees is not in my CD collection.

But the phrase, “Staying Alive” has been playing through my mind quite a lot lately. Thankfully, I’m not ill or under a death threat or anything like that.

The reason the phrase has been dominating my sub conscious is simple. I’ve been contemplating with my Oakhaven Church family about what it will take for us to remain alive, relevant and engaged with our community.

We are a congregation much like others across America, who find ourselves struggling to keep ourselves from “graying” into extinction.

We have a marvelous church. Filled with exciting, talented and passionate people. In my estimation, we do some great things in our community to tell the message of Jesus in word and action. We are seeking to be contemporary in our worship style and open to new ways of sharing our faith.

We struggle to keep our ministries relevant in a culture which increasingly speaks more fluently in the language of experience than academic or intellectual terms.

To some degree, this is nothing new. Since this church was first planted in 1976, it has been noted that people first become affiliated with a church more on the basis of relationship and experience than doctrinal positions or dogma.

In time, people who initiate a relationship with the Oakhaven family begin to ask questions about the what, the why and so what’s of church doctrines and practices. That is as it should be. We are not, after all, a social club. We have beliefs. We have reasons for worshiping and living as we do. We are guided by a moral compass which points to the “true North” principles found in Scripture.

But with these things intact, we find ourselves lacking in our efforts to reach out to the young adult/young professionals in our community.

If we fail at finding ways to emerge in their culture, we face the reality that we could see our embers fade and cool and go out with the passing of my generation. The Oakhaven family has been clear that we have no intention of wringing our hands and doing the desperation dance while the next generation looks on to see if anything will emerge from us.

I’ve just returned from a two week journey to three Christian University campuses speaking to young adults/young professionals about joining our efforts. This is the first phase of a two year plan to address our need to keep our church alive and relevant.

We are not asking people to move here to do our outreach for us. But we know that young seekers from our community will be much more likely to engage in dialog with others their own age.

For those of you who read this blog, I ask you to pray for our efforts. If you know of young professionals who might be interested, have them get in contact with me. We have a plan which will provide support and assistance to those who might be interested in this missional opportunity. God is already blessing us in unexpected and extraordinary ways. We look forward to what comes next.

A point of clarification is perhaps in order here. I don’t want to be misunderstood on this point :

Oakhaven is not a dying church desperate to keep breathing. We are a healthy church determined to stay alive.

We serve a great God.

We embrace our challenge with
His promise,
His power
and His purpose.


My first paragraph and reference to a 1970’s movie is grossly out of touch with the young adults of our new millennium. Those in their early 20’s will hardly identify with the movie reference I used. If you picked up on that, good for you. You get it. I look forward to partnering with those who will help me communicate better with a language which connects and communicates.

About Gary Cleveland

An old chunk of coal waiting to become a diamond some day. I spend the bulk of my time focused on spiritual development. I teach, preach and stand by the hurting and wounded. I believe our heavenly Father offers us daily opportunities to discover who we are and what we can yet become. I serve as a bringer of good news in and around the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
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1 Response to Stayin Alive….Stayin Alive

  1. preacherman says:

    I added you to my favorites which I should have done a long time ago. I am sorry brother. I have good days and bad days now. On the good days I get to spend time with the boys, wife, and blog. 🙂

    Your blog is great.
    You bost is wonderful.
    I understand where you are coming from and are at right now. I want to encourage you brother to stay strong in the Lord and keep trusting Him. Keep focused on Him at all timses. Pray. Spend time in His word. Not just for sermon prep. But for yourself. Study it. Feast upon it. Listen to what God wants from you. Sometimes his voice comes in a loud voice and some times it is in the gentle whisper. Listen. Be still and know that he is God. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life. Don’t limit it. Don’t put it in a box. Free it. Let it loose: in your life, in your family, fianances, ministry and most importantly your relationship with God. The Holy Spirit will feel you up and allow the Holy Spirit to feel up up brother while you working on sermons. Pray in the spirit. Allow the Spirit to move you. Allow it to guide you from text to text. Allow it work in your ministry of prayer. Allow it to work in all aspect of ministry including outreach. I pray this brother upon you and your life.
    If you do this you will stay alive. Believe me!

    Remember and understand that Christianity is all about our relationship with God.

    I am looking forward to future posts brother.
    God bless your ministry in a powerful way. I know that God has great plans in store for you, your ministry, family and your life. Trust Him will ALL of your heart, leaven NOT on your OWN underststands and he will make your path straight.

    In Him,
    Kinney Mabry

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