I am deeply appreciative that Mike Cope was willing to field some questions about his ministry with What Really Matters. God has really equipped Mike for kingdom work and it is a blessing to be able to learn from his perspective. He is a great thinker, communicator and is humble about how God has been able to use him for the kingdom. I was curious about Mike’s transition from preaching at Highland to working with and ministering with young adults through the What Really Matters ministry. Here is what Mike had to say:
After years of preaching, what motivated you to make the change to para-church ministry with What Really Matters:
The main motivation was a vision cast by Landon Saunders, one of my closest friends—and a man whom I’ve looked up to since I was 19 (and a student at Harding). Landon’s great concern is for a young generation—especially those who are farthest away from faith and faith communities. So often in ministry, I’ve found myself isolated from those very people. I wish I knew during my decades of preaching what I know now after a couple years of sitting down with so many of these young adults.
Your new ministry focuses on growing faith in young adults, how has this generation of young people given you hope for the future?
Even those who are so far from Christian faith have a deep interest in community and in helping the world. And it isn’t that they’ve said “no” to everything spiritual. Many of them are at a great place for faith discussions to begin.
What challenges do you believe lie ahead for churches in reaching this generation of young adults?
For the most part, churches will have more luck with those who are already Christians but who have “taken a break.” But for those who are truly outside, I’m guessing that creative, organic church plants are going to be a much better option. The young adults I know will have little interest in churches trying to get big or trying to perfect a worship service. They are, however, interested in sharing lives, understanding others, the needs of the world, and prayer.
What is the biggest lesson they have taught you while ministering to them with What Really Matters?
The church needs to leave the building.
What is one lesson you believe young people today need to hear and embrace?
For starters, they need to know that their life must be lived in community with others who will share beyond “what happened today.” Then they need a vision of the good news and the kingdom that is broader and fuller than saving myself from hell. (For more detail, see Scot McKnight’s King Jesus Gospel or N. T. Wright’s Simply Jesus.)
How can churches tap into the resources you are producing with What Really Matters or partner with your ministry?
I’m working on what the future of the nonprofit ministry will be, now that I’m about to start working full-time for Pepperdine, but I’m anxious to continue connecting with these young adults. Some resources are available at www.reallymatters.net