Positive Persecution

In a recent study by the Barna Group, it was found that younger generations of Americans (those between the ages of 18 and 44) are more accepting of Pentecostal and Charismatic beliefs than older generations. Younger generations also believe in the Holy Spirit at higher rates. These results reflect the increased spirituality of younger generations.

While these numbers are encouraging, other results are not. Although the young adults are more accepting of the Holy Spirit and other Pentecostal beliefs, they are less likely to understand these beliefs and to put them into practice.

David Kinnaman, the president of the Barna group, interpreted the results this way: “The charismatic and Pentecostal community in the U.S. has reached a conflicting social status – its numbers have established the group as a significant social and spiritual force, yet generational changes and the diffusion of Pentecostalism across many denominations have made its beliefs, behaviors and identities much less focused. For millions of the youngest Christians, the charismatic, Pentecostal and Spirit-filled labels are not as divisive as they were to their parents’ generation. The Mosaic generation in particular is removed from many of the long-standing debates about the validity of spiritual gifts, the role of expressive forms of worship, and about the need for receiving personal direction from the Holy Spirit. As a consequence, the next generation of charismatic and Pentecostal Christians spends less time defending their views to others, but also seems much less certain what they believe or how to put their faith into action.”

Is the Pentecostal church being lulled to sleep by the acceptance current culture? Is persecution good for the church? The results of this study seem to indicate this.

There is an inverse correlation between acceptance and spiritual discipline. When the culture accepts our beliefs with less skepticism, young adults are less likely to practice spiritual discipline. In other words, the more we’re accepted, the less we practice discipline.

In previous generations, when culture wasn’t so accepting of our beliefs, there was a need to be prepared to defend our faith on a daily basis. When someone is throwing rotten tomatoes at you or threatening to hurt you, you’d better be sure that this is the way you want to live. Or maybe persecution served to concentrate the population of Pentecostals, so that only those who were 100% committed to the biblical plan of salvation remained in the church. In the parable of the sower, if the sun would have never come out there would have been twice as many plants at the end of the parable.

So what does this mean for Pentecostal young adults? Kinnaman goes on to say, “It raises the question of what will define the next generation of young charismatics and Pentecostal believers in the U.S. Facing less criticism from within the ranks of Christians, they must focus on being grounded theologically and finding a way to live faithfully within the broader culture of arts, media, technology, science, and business.”

The article on concludes by stating: Kinnaman also pointed out that because younger Christians are open to the Holy Spirit and to spiritual gifts but hold contradictory beliefs and behaviors, there will be a premium on the theological and spiritual development of the next generation. “Just like young Christians of various traditions, young charismatics are less likely to adopt their beliefs and practices based on deep, considered theological reflection. The future vitality of this portion of the Christian community will depend in part on connecting young charismatic and Pentecostal believers to better training on theology and doctrine.”

In a world where acceptance is high, it seems that there are few challenges to externally force spiritual discipline into young adults. Instead we must find a way to motivate ourselves internally. The future of our movement depends on young adults that transcend the knowledge of spiritual discipline to the desire for spiritual discipline.

We must not see this time of acceptance as a reprieve from discipline. This should be a time when we take advantage of cultural attitudes to push ourselves, and our churches, to explore this wonderful gift that we have been given.

Joel Gray

panorama - hyphen community meeting notes

Hyphen How To’s from The Community Meeting

At the Panorama-themed Community Meetings in August, Adam Shaw and Kristin Keller presented an overview of this generation of Hyphens, Millennials, and ways that Hyphen leaders – pastors, young adult leaders, and lay leaders – can lead this generation of Hyphens well. Some of the main topics include:

  • Hyphen’s key demographic
  • Characteristics of Millennials
  • Implications for social media
  • How to prepare yourself to lead Millennials
  • Things you can do to foster healthy relationships between young adults

Check out these two resources below:

The Community Meetings Hyphen Session – Adam Shaw

Hyphen Session Notes – Adam Shaw


The Anti-Christ Culture

2 Thessolonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed , the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already wor : only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

Daniel 11:37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

I have never been a big prophecy guy. Sure I think it’s interesting, but I’ve always held to the “just live right, go to Heaven and everything else will take care of itself” philosophy. So while others discussed tribulations and red heifers, I devoted my time to the investigation of culture. However, recently I have come to see an interesting intersection between these two philosophies. A symbiotic relationship between end time prophecy and cultural studies has become glaringly obvious, and at the focal point of this juncture exists a man, who at this point, is only known by the title of the “antichrist”.

To many young adults, the antichrist shares mental shelf space with the boogie man and Bigfoot. He is an apparition used by preachers to scare us into good behavior, but we have trouble fixing him in the reality of our day-to-day lives. However, in the book of 2 Thessalonians, Paul gives a concise description of the antichrist and the context of his appearing. He starts off by saying that before the antichrist makes his appearing, there will be a great falling away. It is safe to say that this falling away is the precise reason why ministries like Hyphen were created in the first place. This falling away is happening right now, and we are doing everything possible to stem the tide.

Paul goes on to say in verse 7 that the “mystery of iniquity is already working.” In other words, he is saying that there is a hidden force of sin that is moving in our world. The agenda of sin has always been to lead people to hell, but what if sin also has a veiled purpose – to bring about the time for the antichrist to appear? What if the changes we are seeing in culture aren’t just byproducts of carnality, but instead are targeted issues meant to create an atmosphere in which the “son of perdition” could be elevated to power? If this is true, then we should see specific spirits being advanced in our culture that would fall in line with the antichrist’s characteristics.

This is where Daniel 11:37 comes in to play. Daniel gives three qualities of the antichrist. He says that:

  1. He will abandon the God of his fathers.
  2. He will not desire women
  3. He will not regard any God, and will magnify himself above all

Many theologians agree that Daniel is saying that the antichrist will be a homosexual, apostate Jew with a healthy ego. So what does this mean for our culture? It means that for the antichrist to be accepted we must live in a world that will celebrate secularism, homosexuality and narcissism, and this is exactly what we are seeing in our world right now.


The abandonment of God has been the central fixation of the church for quite some time now. Since the early days of the postmodernist movement, the idea that a divine metanarrative can explain the universe has been under attack. Being an atheist is no longer a marginal view point, in fact it is celebrated in many circles. A recent Barna group study found that less than 0.5% of millennials have a biblical worldview.  Secularism isn’t a new movement, by any stretch of the imagination, but it has never been celebrated the way it is today.


If you are unaware of the heightened acceptance of homosexuality in our world in recent years, then you have been living under a rock! What once was seen by the majority of Americans, even those who weren’t overtly religious, as a perversion, has now become a normal part of society.  At least part of the rapid increase in approval has been credited to the positive portrayal of homosexuality in the media. It is no longer just a punch line, it is now front in center on all forms of media. Recently, college football player and NFL hopeful, Michael Sam revealed to the world that he is gay. Potentially he could be the first gay, professional football player. Many expressed disbelief that an NFL locker room would be receptive to a gay teammate, but an ESPN survey found that 86% of players would be OK with a gay teammate. It’s safe to say that if a football locker room would accept a homosexual player, then this is a spirit that has been firmly entrenched in our world.


Lucifer may have been the originator of pride, but social media has elevated this sin to an art form. Sites like Facebook have allowed us to create pages that we fill with all the details of our lives. In order for social media to work behaviors that would have been considered narcissistic 30 years ago, are now practiced daily. To post anything on social media you have to believe that people are sincerely interested in the details of your life, and that what you have to say carries merit to others. In effect, we have created online shrines to ourselves, and we get disappointed when others don’t visit our temples. In fact, narcissism has been elevated to the point that sociologists have labeled it an epidemic. This spirit is wreaking havoc in arenas that stretch from the church pew to the workplace.

So what does all this mean? It means that the time is right for an atheistic, homosexual politician to arrive on the scene and garner millions of followers on twitter. Even if you aren’t a prophecy person, this should arrest your attention. The rapture isn’t some mythological event in the far off future, it is real and it is soon approaching. As we instruct our young adults about Christian living, we need to remind them that God is coming, and that eternity is real. We are living in the last days, and it isn’t something we should just gloss over. You can teach that we should be more than a fan, and encourage them to experience crazy love, but don’t allow Heaven and Hell to become outdated concepts.

Paul called the work of these spirits a “mystery”. This word means something that is hidden that only God can reveal. We need to pray that God would reveal the true work of these spirits to us and our churches. It is only through the renewing of our minds that we will be able stand in these last days.

- Joel Gray, Director of Resources & Training

IG Dates

Have You Been Stamped?

The Hyphen Tour is a boutique event that allows for relationship building, purposeful interactions, powerful worship, and focused preaching and teaching. It is a life-changing experience!

This year we are asking Hyphens everywhere a simple question: “Have you been stamped?”

What does it mean to be stamped?

Hyphens need God’s stamp of approval and anointing on their dreams, ministry, career, education, image, pain, finances and relationships. These are all big topics young adults are tackling while in their twenties. Hyphen wants to empower them with the realization that their whole life is a mission field, and they need to enter that field stamped.

Why is that important?

When a young adult allows God to stamp their ordinary, everyday life with His seal of approval, they are moving from simply existing to being activated for a mission. In one God-moment, they can be changed from being an ordinary young adult, to being a Hyphen, one who serves as a connector between two parts: God and their world. You see, a banker is just a banker, but a banker who has been stamped is a Hyphen. A student is just a student, but a student who has been stamped is a Hyphen. The act of God stamping their life for a mission turns them into a Hyphen because it prepares them through the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish the call He has for their life.

What’s the biblical case for it?

Ephesians 1:13 (Amplified) says, “In Him you also who have heard the Word of Truth, the glad tidings (Gospel) of your salvation, and have believed in and adhered to and relied on Him, were stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit.”

Every experience, success and failure, when stamped by the Holy Spirit can be powerful witness of God’s grace and power.  We are not our own, we have been bought with a high price for a specific purpose. We exist in our world to reach our world! So, we ask, “Have you been stamped?”

Postmodern Me

Postmodern Leavers

One of the books that I am currently reading is Generation Ex-Christian, Why young adults are leaving the faith…and how to bring them back, by Drew Dyck. I highly recommend this book to all pastors and young adult leaders.

In one passage, the author discusses some lessons he’s learned in talking to postmodern leavers. These are young adults that have grown up Christian, but have left the faith, instead choosing to adopt a post-modern mindset. These are lessons that he says that he learned through trial and error.

1. Tell your story

In the postmodern culture there is distrust for meta-narratives. A meta-narrative is and overarching story that everyone is expected to fit into. Christianity is an example of this. We believe that the gospel applies to everyone, but postmodernists do not. While they are skeptical meta-narratives, postmodernists hold the personal experience sacred. This gives us an opportunity to share Jesus through our testimony. The common trap is to use our testimonies as a sermon. Postmodern leavers are familiar with church, and can smell a canned testimony coming a mile away. We have to be willing to be honest about our struggles and our triumphs in order to create an atmosphere of honesty. Tell them what Jesus did for you, and the process He brought you through, but include defeat as well as victories

2. Re-enchant the gospel

Postmodern leavers often have a very stale grasp on the word of God. They have reduced it to a handful of threadbare arguments. It is up to us to present the gospel as a beautiful and vibrant story of love. In order to do this, we need to know more about the scriptures than they do! The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ parables, and the accounts of Jesus’ relationships with believers and non-believers all give us plenty of opportunities to share the love of God while at the same time presenting the word in a fresh way. Remember that these are former church kids, and they are familiar with the process of salvation. They need to be reminded of the love of Jesus, which, hopefully will lead to a renewal of salvation. We must be passionate about our relationship, before they will take notice.

3. Build trust

Trust or the lack thereof, is a crucial issue in the minds of many leavers. Many have been hurt through experiences that have happened in church. The C.S. Lewis quote that I blogged before this article, is used by the author to make his point. The image that many postmodernists hold of Christians is one of ambivalence. In short, they think that we don’t care about them as people that we just want to convert them so that we can fulfill some type of cosmic quota. The old saying that my grandfather used many times was, “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” This statement has never been more applicable. We have to be willing to reach out in compassion and build a bond of trust with postmodernists. They know how to argue against every one of our tenets, but they can’t argue against love. Examine the teachings of Jesus and you will find a consistent principle of love. This love is the simple thing that has been chosen to confound the wise.

4. Invite them to serve

Postmoderns prefer to discover truth through experience rather than reason. Most also have a strong social conscience and a willingness to serve the poor and oppressed. This gives us a perfect opportunity to use their strengths and at the same time help them to rediscover Jesus. Traditional evangelism has placed belief before belonging, but when it comes to serving the world this order doesn’t have to be set in stone. We understand that it is important to protect and honor the doctrines set  forth by the bible, but Jesus made the statement “Follow me”. He took 12 men, who knew nothing of Him or His doctrine, and asked them to follow Him until the truth was revealed to them. Postmodernists are perfectly suited to be plugged into the service ministries of your church. If your church doesn’t have service ministries, start some. Help them re-discover the love of Jesus, by being the love of Jesus to others. Not only will they be doing a great ministry, but they will also feel more connected to your congregation and therefore more open to instruction

Jesus did all of these. He told beautiful parables, and communicated the truth in vibrant and passionate ways. He invited people to follow Him, and learn from experience. He built relationships and forged bonds of trust with his followers. Culture may have changed, but the relevance of our Savior never will. Post-moderns don’t have to be written off as unsalvageable. We don’t have to just resort to praying for them in secret, hoping that they have an epiphany about God’s love. These strategies are also good for helping to ensure that our young adults stay in church! We can be proactive in our quest to regain the lost.´

— Joel Gray, Director of Resources & Training



Here’s a little tip. The next time you’re at a party, and the conversation starts to lull, bust out this little philosophical gem, “Does a fish know that it’s in water?” On second thought, unless your party is severely on the nerdy side, you may want to keep that question to yourself. However, it does bring up a good point. Does a fish realize that its natural environment is water? I believe that the appropriate answer to this query is: not until it’s gone. Fish aren’t that smart, but I have to assume that when a fish is flopping on the shore, it is acutely aware that something is different.

Hopefully if you’re reading this you are smarter than a striped bass. You understand that surrounding you is an atmosphere composed mostly of Nitrogen and Oxygen, and if you were to try to stay underwater too long bad things would happen. But are you aware of the cultural atmosphere that you’re swimming in? Are you aware that right now there are societal and cultural mores that serve to govern what is acceptable in our world? Don’t believe me? The next time you go to a nice restaurant try eating everything on your plate using just your hands. The dirty looks you receive will be cultural norms at work.

The Germans have a great word for this cultural atmosphere. They call it zeitgeist, and it simply means the spirit of the times. Cultural zeitgeist is at once fixed and fluid. It is constantly changing, but somehow it tends to repeat itself. Paul referenced this concept of zeitgeist in Romans 12:2. He warns us to not be conformed to this world. The Greek word interpreted as world is aion. It is meant to give us the idea of all the temporary expressions of worldly culture that is swirling around us.

Cultural philosophy goes a long way in determining how we see the world around us. One generation may dismiss what another embraces. The radical juxtaposition of cultures between older generations and today’s young adults often leads to chasms of communication. The spirit of the age leads us to see the world through its lens.

Paul addressed the issue of cultural divide in 1 Corinthians 9:22. He said, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” Nowhere in the scriptures does it say that infallible biblical truths must be married to a certain style or cultural philosophy. It is important to present the gospel in the way that communicates best to the targeted group. This is what Hyphen seeks to do – communicate timeless truths in a way that resonates with today’s young adults.

Why have we taken up this mission? The answer is quite simple. We are tired of seeing apostolic young adults abandon their walk with God and leave the church. Depending on which study you read somewhere between 60-70% of young adults will completely disengage from their faith in their 20’s. This rate is unacceptable, and depressing! A more hopeful statistic, published by the Lifeway group, tells us that of young adults who stay active in church until the age of 22, 94% will never leave the church. The future of our local assemblies depends on the retention and reclamation of young adults.

Hyphen seeks to connect 18-30 year olds to service, with purpose, through resources for a mission. We want to see a generation that is equipped and empowered to communicate Jesus with their world. A generation that, through the anointing of the Holy Ghost, has risen above the zeitgeist and been transformed by the renewing of their minds. We want to see the Kingdom continued.

— Joel Gray, Hyphen Director of Training & Resources.

IG Stamp

Get Stamped: Tour Theme 2014

At current market value, if you owned 33.4 grams of gold it would be worth approximately $1371. This seems like a lot of money, especially if you’re a college student, but if this same 33.4 grams of gold were stamped with a Saint-Gaudens double eagle, it would be worth closer to 8 million dollars. The right stamp makes all the difference.

We’ve all been stamped in some way. Our decisions, lifestyle, worldview and behaviors all work together to present an image to those we meet.[1] Be it the mark of a hard-working college student, an ambitious new employee or even a slacking twenty-something, your mark reveals who you are. There can be value in our marks, but no matter how desirable, and well defined our personal image is, there is a stamp that is even more valuable. We must bear the stamp of Jesus.

In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul counsels Timothy to “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” At the time of the writing of this epistle, Timothy was around the age of thirty, and serving as the pastor of the church at Ephesus. He was a young adult with a big job, and it was likely that some would take a negative view of his age. Timothy had to rise above any criticism, and the best way to do this was to become an impeachable example of Christian living.

In the above verse, the word example means, “a stamp struck by a die.”[2] It connotes the image of an object being struck repeatedly, so as to leave behind a pattern. It is the same type of process that occurs in the minting of coins. The starting material is struck, and an image is left behind. The finished product is an example of what the original pattern looked like. What Paul is telling Timothy is this: the more you allow the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to impact you, the more people will see the image of Jesus in your life.

When we spend time interacting with Jesus, His character will become stamped onto our lives. People should be able to see the pattern of Christ through our speech, conduct, love, faith and values. His nature should be imprinted on everything we do and say.

In Ephesians, Paul remarks that we are marked with the seal of the Holy Ghost.[3] The infilling of the Spirit serves not only to give us power to overcome sin, but also to change us, so that we become a light to those around us. It is the imprint of God on our lives that gives us power to be witnesses.[4] When Jesus stamps you, your world becomes a mission field. You go from being just a bank teller, to being a missionary to that bank. You transform from a struggling college student, to a source of light to other college students. You go from just doing life, to leading others to everlasting life.

So be an example. Let others see the image of Jesus in your life. Get stamped.

- Joel Gray, Hyphen Director of Resources & Training

[1] In Mark 12:30, Jesus said that loving God with our hearts, soul, mind and strength is the greatest commandment. These are the ingredients that make up our total person.

[2] I don’t always speak Greek, but when I do I use sites like this:

[3] Ephesians 1:13 to be exact. Try the NIV version, its divine.

[4] Acts 1:8


Playing the Game of Life

Have you ever wondered why people make the decisions that they do? Have you ever stepped back and looked at your own life, and thought, what in the world am I doing? What makes some people sever their relationship with God and the church, while others can overcome obstacles and keep going? As I was getting ready for our Nexus conference this year, I was mulling over these questions. We know one of the biggest challenges that we are facing in young adult ministry is that many are making the decision to leave the church, but why? I think the first step is understanding how decisions get made.

In the study of the psychology of young adults, there is one group that has spent more money than any other when it comes to determining how young adults make decisions. That group would be advertisers! Some of the most defining studies in the field of young adult psychology were done in order to figure out how people born between 1977 and 1994 spend their money.

One day I happened upon one of these studies. And as I perused it I realized that the findings not only applied to simple market consumerism, but they applied to all decisions. Whether it’s deciding to buy a pair of shoes or to get married, there is a cost to every decision that we make. Luke chapter 14 reveals one of Jesus’ famous lines, “Count the cost”.

Luke 14:28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate.

Every decision requires a payment. If you decided to go out to eat for lunch, you have to pay for it. If you decide to go back to school not only is there the monetary cost, but there is also your time and effort that has to be considered. Ending a relationship may give you more freedom but there will be other forms of payment that will be required of you.

Psychologists determined that there are eight basic styles of decision making in young adults:

1. Perfectionist, high quality conscious consumer

2. Brand conscious consumer

3. Novelty-fashion conscious consumer

4. Recreational and hedonistic shopping consciousness

5. Price conscious consumer

6. Impulsive, careless consumer

7. Confused by over choice consumer

8. Habitual, brand loyal consumer

For my purposes, I took these eight decision making styles and I changed the definitions to reflect more than just material consumption. This is what I came up with.


This group is willing to pay a high price in order to obtain the highest quality out of life. Their quest is quality. We might consider them type-A personalities. These are the students that will sacrifice a social life in order to get the best grades, so that they can get into the best grad school. They get what they want out of life, but it does cost them greatly.

Brand conscious

I like to refer to this group as image conscious. In the consumer context, they will only buy name brand items because they feel that it is important to have that brand name in order to project a specific image. This group is the most influenced by advertising. People in this group are careful to make decisions that only let others see what they want them to see. This is an unfair negative criticism of a lot of Pentecostals. The problem with this group is that although they are willing to pay a high price, they are not necessarily buying quality. They believe that a brand equals quality, but sometimes a brand is just a name.

Novelty conscious

This group desires to be different and cutting edge. They want to wear the latest fashion before anyone else. They get pleasure from being different than the status quo. Young adults in this group thrive in the margins. They have to be different, and it makes them happy when they are recognized for their eccentricities. This group often pays a very high price, but the quality of their decisions fluctuates greatly.


Consumers in this group shop for the fun of it. They enjoy the hunt. For them, life is a quest for fun. Their decisions are based on what is going to bring them the most enjoyment. For this group price and quality aren’t even issues, as long as the end result is entertainment.

Price conscious

Price conscious consumers are defined by one question, “Is it worth it?.” Their desire is to get the most bang for their buck. They will consider the cost for a long time before making that final decision. Because they are more concerned with value than quality, they will be content with settling for lower quality if the price is right. Someone in this group might make the statement, “I’d like a college degree, but I don’t want to spend four years of my life to get it.”


These consumers do not plan their shopping at all. They make decisions solely based on what is in front of them at the time. This group is less concerned about price than any other, and as a result their decisions often cost them greatly. Someone in this group might suddenly decide they don’t like their job, and quit on the spot without another job lined up. This decision costs them a lot, and doesn’t bring much quality into their life. There is often much regret in this group.


This group has the desire to make good decisions, but they see so many options that they freeze. They have difficulty choosing, so they put off decisions in hopes that things will just work out. They are afraid that if they make a decision it will be the wrong one, so they just never decide.


Habitual shoppers buy the same products at the same stores, and very rarely vary their routine. They are happy with the way their life is, and see no real reason to change. This style can be positive or negative, depending on the habits in question. Someone who has good habits will be seen as faithful and committed. Someone with bad habits will be seen as self-destructive and unwilling to grow up.

It goes against the grain of post-modernist thinking to be defined, but I think that if we are all honest we can admit that there is one of these styles that a good portion of our decisions can fit into. There may be more than one that you can relate to, but there will be a dominant style. So the question begs to be asked, where do these styles come from?

The way we make decisions comes from the way we see the world. This is known as attitude. Yes attitude, that good old word from your younger days. I remember being a young punk, and my dad telling me that I’d better change my attitude. But attitude isn’t just a concern of a rebellious teen; it is what determines our perspective on life. It sits right below the surface in our brains, directing the traffic of our decisions. This is why two people can hear the same statement, and one person will take it as a positive thing, and the other will be offended. Our attitude determines our perception of the world.

So, where does attitude come from? I found several psychological studies that show a direct link between attitude and our personal values. Values are what is and what isn’t important to us. For instance if someone puts high importance on having warm relationships with others, then their attitude will be one of seeing the world as a place to make connections and their decisions will reflect this.

There are many effective psychological and social variables on decision-making style. One of these variables is personal values in that the basis of individual’s consumption behavior is the personal values. Why and how a person purchases have to do with the personal values. This variable is regarded as the power directing person throughout his or her life (Pitts, Canty, Tsalikis, 1985). For personal values, culture and social norms have important roles. The people learn these values from the society in which they live. In fact, there are the same values in each society or culture. However, since everybody has different psychological world and the social environment then the formation of the values differ. Personal values consist of establishing good relationships with others, enjoying life, being successful, social prestige and so on (Kahle, 1985). The values guide and affect attitudes, behaviors and judgments (Gutman, 1982). Thus values become both cause and effect of behaviour.

Through the process of analysis, a list of values was developed as a tool to help with psychological analysis (Kahle, 1985; Kahle et al. 1986). This list includes the following values: Self-respect, security, warm relationships with others, sense of accomplishment, self-fulfillment, being well respected, sense of belonging, fun and enjoyment in life. Your personal outlook on life, and eventually your decisions will be greatly affected by the importance of these basic values in your life.

This concept should not be foreign to Christians. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that as a man thinks in his heart, so shall he be. Read what Jesus says in Luke 6:45:

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Who we are on the inside will determine who we are on the outside. This is holiness 101! But we still have one level to go in this rabbit hole of psychology and faith. Now we have to answer the question, what determines our values?

According to Kahle (1985), human values develop in the process of socialization. These human values change according to different position and experiences in the social structure. In other words, your values are determined by your relationships. Values gain or lose importance to you, because of your place in your social structure.

Think about this for a second. Imagine a young man that has no relationships that demand anything from him. He is a son, and maybe a brother, but these relationships do not place any type of commitment in his life. His parents and siblings are not dependent on him. To this young man, having fun may be the most important value in his life. This causes him to see the world as a place of freedom, and so, he can best experience that freedom, he buys a motorcycle.

Fast forward five years. Now he is married and has an infant daughter. His role in society has changed. There are now people that depend on him. This causes his values to change. Now security might be the dominant value. He sees the world through the eyes of doing what is best for his family, and as a consequence the motorcycle ends up in the front yard with a for sale sign on it.

Your decisions don’t just happen. They start deep in your heart and they will reflect the things that are most important to you. So, if our decisions are determined by our relationships, then there can be no more important relationship than the one we have with Jesus Christ.

By having a relationship with Him and His word, our values will be influenced. These values will set our attitude and give rise to our decisions. With respect to the psychologist who authored this study, I would like to add one more decision making style – Godly.

So in this time of your life don’t factor God out. I see young adults making decisions that are taking them away from God and the church, and it’s easy to be surprised and feel that the decisions just came out of nowhere, but the truth is the decision came about because of a change in their relationship with Jesus. My first question to these young adults is when was the last time you had a consistent prayer/study time in your life? At this stage of your lives, you are making decisions that are going to shape the rest of your life. Make those decisions Godly! Pray, read the word, listen to your pastor and your elders, stay a member of your church and get involved as much as you can, and let your values be shaped through these interactions

Colossians 3:17 say, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

This doesn’t mean that you can make bad decisions and slap the name of Jesus on them, and they will be good. This means that we are to represent the character of Jesus Christ in everything that we say and do. Representing the character of God with our actions is outward holiness. Outward holiness has to start with a relationship, which leads to inner holiness, which leads to the outward holiness. If we try to short circuit the process, then we create situations where the behavior is correct, but the motivation is messed up. They only way that we can glorify God in everything that we do, is to define our role in this world through Him.

1 Corinthians 10:31 so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

A relationship with God = Godly values = Godly attitude = Godly decisions = Godly life = More relationship with God.

— Joel Gray, Hyphen Regional Director