The words in this post have been stirring in my mind for several months now. I love the next generation. And I believe the next generation has much to offer the church…right now. This is not the generation of the future…it is the generation of now. The younger generation has the talent and gifts to impact the world. Not tomorrow. Not sometime in the future. Today.
But there are always weaknesses. And we are all better for knowing our weaknesses. Self-awareness. It is a powerful tool. But only if it is used.
It is my hope that your passion and desire for change will never die. It is this passion that draws me to the next generation…and gives me hope for the future.
So, I want to give you 6 things the church desperately needs from you, next generation.
1.) Don’t wade In the kiddie pool…get plugged in.
Yes, it is counter-cultural to most of your generation. But I want to challenge you, next generation. I want to challenge you to get plugged in to a local community of Christians. Going all in for Jesus is not possible without going all in with a community of believers. I understand it is easier to visit a different church every Sunday. You get the best of everything. The best preacher. The best worship, etc. But what you want and what you need are often in conflict.
Plugging into a community of people can be scary. People will actually know you. And not just the good parts. Your failures will be exposed too. But stop believing the lie that vulnerability and weakness are bad things. Jesus would tell you differently.
Transformation occurs when a community of believers knows you and you know them. Your sins are exposed, and you are held accountable. The church needs more men and women who desire to be fully known.
Hang out in the kiddie pool if you choose. There will always be people there. But most of those people are scared, cynical (more on that…just hold on), and cowardly. And the water tends to change colors if you hang in the kiddie pool too long.
It’s time to hop out of the kiddie pool and dive in to a local community of believers.
2.) Don’t run to the next “big thing”…be consistent.
Again I am going to push back against a cultural norm. But I want you to see my heart. The next generation has a passion to help the hurting and marginalized. Praise God for that passion. But you also have a strong desire to leave as soon as times get hard.
Someone disagrees with you. Someone disrespects you. You are gone. The world needs a group of men and women who work to gain the trust of a circle of people. This happens over time. Not over night. The world needs more consistency. People who won’t leave. Won’t run. Even if times get hard.
I am worried the next generation wants to change the world, but really has no desire to transform lives. And those two are not mutually exclusive. Changing the world happens by changing lives. And changing lives doesn’t happen overnight.
Leaving to pursue the next “big thing” every year might leave you feeling good about yourself. But it rarely results in transformed lives. And you would be surprised how much your life will be transformed if you decide to plant somewhere for a long period of time. It is always better to grow roots deeper rather than wider.
3.) Stop moving forward without a rear-view mirror…respect the past.
The wandering of the Israelite people. The rise and fall of the Kings of Israel. The words of the prophets. All of these paved the way for Jesus’s time on earth. In the same way, the faithful ministry of those before us has paved the way for the next generation today. Please stop throwing out the generations previous to you as “out-dated” or “irrelevant.” Jesus constantly referred to the words of the prophets before him. And the next generation could learn a lot from the wisdom and experiences of previous generations.
In a car, it is impossible to move forward if you constantly look in the rear view mirror. But driving a car without a rear view mirror is very dangerous. In the same way, the church can’t move forward if we are clinging to past successes (or failures). The church also can’t move forward if we allow long held traditions to hinder us from reaching the lost in front of us.
But the church will never fully grasp the timeless mission if we continue moving forward without respect for the past. Those who have gone before us have a story to tell the next generation. And it needs to be heard. It is not irrelevant. It is not out-dated. Because it is the gospel transforming lives. And that message is timeless. The next generation (and the church as a whole) would do well to grasp this.
Those who have gone before us have a story to tell the next generation. And it needs to be heard.Click to tweet
4.) Don’t allow your works to outweigh your relationship with God…have more balance.
Micah 6:8. “Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God.” I am not sure why we are this way, but Christians always swing on a pendulum. It’s one way or the other. All grace or none. Read the Bible literally or figuratively. And I ask, “Why one or the other?” Why can’t the answer be, “Yes!” Why can’t there be a third option…A and B?
There is a tendency in the next generation to view good works as an idol. It is the lense through which many tend to view the church as well…”That church is doing a lot of good things in the community, I want to go there.” And please understand me. It is our responsibility to seek justice.
But not at the expense of a relationship with God. We can do good things for the world every day of our lives, but never forget these two points…
1.) We can’t save the world
2.) All the good works in the world without a relationship with God are nothing more than philanthropy.
You see what drives us into the world for the glory of God is…the glory of God. Oversimplified? I don’t believe so.
God desires for you to walk humbly with Him. The church would benefit greatly from trying to stop figuring out which side of the pendulum God desires us to be. And start figuring out how to land the pendulum in the middle. I am getting exhausted going from side to side.
5.) Stop being cynical…it cripples transformation.
Alright this is not just a call to the next generation, but the next generation is finding faith in a culture built on cynicism. And it is dangerous. Just remember that you will NEVER find a perfect church. That’s the point of Jesus.
And your goal is not to come in and change a church culture. Only God can do that.
And your job is not to be a referee, constantly pointing out the wrongs in every church, but never actually being involved in the game. Stop thinking your job is to critique. And stop being cynical about the preacher’s sermon, or the children’s ministry, or the direction of the church. It serves no useful purpose.
Cynicism will eventually cause the collapse of our culture because it is founded on nothing. No substance. And it drives our thoughts, conversations, and decisions. Men and women gather for “prayer meetings” only to spend an hour talking about everything wrong with their church. And everything wrong with the people in it. Shame on us! We all should repent of our wickedness!
Cynicism hinders transparency and cripples transformation. The world has plenty of cynics. Don’t be one of those. The church needs men and women who will serve and love like Jesus. Men and women who will allow their words and decisions to be saturated with love and encouragement.
6.) Stop running a marathon like a sprint…think about tomorrow.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day”…or however the saying goes. Look, I understand where you are, next generation. I am speaking this to myself as well. But we must slow down. I know God has placed great things on your heart. Ideas that will change the world. But you must understand you will never finish a marathon if you run like a sprinter (unless you are a professional…but who lives in the world of technicalities?). The goal is not to start the race…we want to finish.
Changes are good, but they often take time. And remember, patience is a fruit of the Spirit. The church needs you, next generation. The church needs you to be as faithful and passionate in 30 years as you are today. Taking breaks is not evil. Utilize a regular Sabbath. Have some hobbies. It will prepare you for the marathon that is ahead.
The same is true for your decisions. Think about the future. Don’t make decisions without being cognizant of tomorrow. The church exists today because King Jesus reigns. The church will exist tomorrow for the same reason. Your actions are valuable to the church, but the church is not dependent on you. Yes, you are awesome…but not that awesome.
I want to hear your feedback. Did I leave something out? Is there something the world needs to know about the next generation I did not say? Is there something about the previous generations the world needs to know? Comment below and let me know what you think.