In everyone's life, there comes a time when they are no longer the "next" generation. A time will come when we all step into the real world, and have to figure out what we are called to do. For some of us, this was 40 years ago, for others, it was last month.
Most pastors and church leaders are unsure how to relate to or create relevant messages to impact the next generation. It is my desire to help you as a pastor cross the generation gap, and create disciples who will carry the torch long after we are gone. So, how do you do it?
1) Explain the Cause
The next generation is a generation of action. They buy into causes they believe are larger than themselves. For example, Invisible Children Inc. produced the short film Kony 2012, an incredibly compelling video with the purpose of promoting a charity titled "Stop Kony". It exploded into popularity almost solely due to college and high school students sharing the video through social media and YouTube. Think what could happen if everyone in the next generation fully grasped the cause of Christ! The weak become strong. The hurting are healed. The lost are found. The Gospel is without a doubt the most compelling cause in the world. Unfortunately, many younger generations have never had the Gospel and cause of Christ explained to them. We must start by explaining and sharing the Gospel with the younger generation, trusting God will help them grasp the weight of Christ's cause.
2) Share the Steps
I was 15 years old when I knew I needed Jesus. I remember being in my room alone, confused, and honestly, scared. It was the first time I had ever read a Bible. I read the entire Gospel of John because someone said I should. I didn't know how to have a quiet time with the Lord, or even how to pray. I didn't understand the Trinity, community, or small groups. All I knew was I was and Jesus could fix me. I told one of the youth leaders at a church I had recently been invited to (he gave me the Bible in the first place) and he shared with me steps I needed to take. Soon after, I was baptized and began reading and praying daily. I share that story for two reasons: 1) I love sharing how Jesus saved me, and will never forget that moment. 2) After I was saved, I had no idea the next steps to take. An older leader cared enough to share how to grow closer to Christ! Take the time in your ministry to share with the next generation tangible steps they can take for the Lord. Then, walk with them through it.
3) Challenges Create Champions
1 Timothy 4:12 says, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." When I was younger, I lacked motivation because I felt little was expected of me. After all, I was young. What could I do that would matter? 1 Timothy 4:12 shatters that thinking. Challenge the younger generation in your ministry to live this verse out. Challenge them to set an example for ALL believers, both young and old. Expect more from the next generation. They will one day be the primary leaders of the Church. Your preaching can cross the generation gap. Your leading can cross the generation gap. Your vision can cross the generation gap. Explain the cause. Share the next steps needed to further the cause. Then, challenge the next generation, and watch them become champions of Christ's cause.
This post was written by our friend Craig Fatt of Fully Funded.