NETology part 4: Authentic NET grows Vibrant Communities by Dan & Suzie Potter
Justin said, “I would not be following Jesus today, if I did not have my M3”. Confused and unclear by his language, we asked for clarification. “What is a M3?” The young man smiled and reminded us that a few years earlier, at MTO (a camp we run for OM missionary teens) he was in “Men’s Group #3” or as we called it “M3”. This 15-year-old guy went home after camp and continued meeting weekly, as a NET, with a few local guys and an adult coach. That NET became his vibrant community of Jesus followers.
Let us begin by defining a NET? A “NET” is a young person’s small network of same age peers and adult friends, who together surround, support and regularly re-launch them towards a life authentically lived for Jesus.
Over the past 25 years, as we have helped to launch TeenStreet events in 10 countries and pioneered several next generation special events, we have always prioritized the NET. Everyday during an event there must be NET times. This allows young people to have a deeper connection with each other, involvement in the event and a chance to process the daily theme. We also prepare them to continue weekly in a NET back home. Thousands in NETs have grown through this vibrant community of Jesus followers.
As we live between distinct generations, we must realize that some needs have changed. In the past, many people wanted to belong to something big. Today young people do not desire to get lost in the crowd, but instead desire a simple, connected, and interactive Jesus community.
Adults must understand that this next generation longs for authenticity, so their faith must be connected to their daily life and community. Statics clearly show that the young person who does not have 2 or 3 Christian peers and at least 1 Christian adult coach in their life, will most likely leave the faith before age 25. But those who have a NET continue to grow in their faith.
We know of young people whose NET could not be found in a local church or where they live. So they weekly meet virtually across 3 continents in a NET that promotes a life authentically lived for Jesus.
Around the world, church youth groups are changing because of this intense need to know, be known and belong. The large weekly youth group programs are becoming a short 15-minute challenge to all, and then a 45-minute time for NET connection and processing.
You may be asking if this is the way of the future. Let us respond with a verse from the past. “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,” Acts 2:46 NIV
This regular spiritual gathering, like a NET, was a bit disorganized and uncontrolled. But people celebrated life together and there was food. This is exactly what the Next Generation desires . . . this authentic NET grows a vibrant community of Jesus followers for them.
By Dan & Suzie Potter – 11/22/16