4 Reasons Why We Must Focus on the Next Generation
I remember learning from a young age what is often titled “The Lord’s Prayer.” I used to recite it religiously on a daily basis. I even have tender memories of praying it together with my dad at nighttime before going to bed, or whispering it under my breath while riding the bus to school. Yet when I was a young adult the paradigm of my understanding of the Lord’s Prayer was awakened. Rather than simply reciting it from time to time, it began to revolutionize my relationship with Jesus as it provided a rhythm of how to pray in the very same way Jesus did. It is indeed the foundational model of what we call Scripture-fed, Spirit-led, Worship-based prayer. If that concept is new to you, I encourage you to explore another article that expounds upon this by clicking HERE.
In addition to reshaping the way I pray, the four rhythms of the Lord’s prayer have greatly influenced why I believe we must focus on the next generation. Take a moment and slowly read Matthew’s account of Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.
Notice the personal plural pronouns. This not only emphasizes the priority of a corporate expression of prayer, but also, I believe, an experience of prayer that is multigenerational. From this paradigm we have not only four movements of worship-based prayer, but also four reasons why we must focus on the next generation.
REASON 1: Looking Upward…Because God Commands It!
As we look upward at who God is and how He has made Himself known to us in the Scriptures, we can see clearly what God focuses on. God’s commands are a reflection of His character. So perhaps another way to state the reason of why we must care about the next generation is because God does. We were all at one time in the category of the “next generation,” and we are all here today because of the way others from preceding generations cared about us. In other words, we have all been recipients of the care and focus of older generations.
This is the way God has designed it. The very heart of heaven is multigenerational. God built within the DNA of the family construct a deep care and focus on the next generation. God as our Father has adopted us in Christ to belong to a host of other spiritual brothers and sisters. In Christ, we have a familial obligation to care for and focus on discipling our younger siblings.
The very heart of heaven is multigenerational. God built within the DNA of the family construct a deep care and focus on the next generation.
REASON 2: Looking Downward…Because the Kingdom Depends On It!
How did God bring the kingdom of heaven to earth? He sent His beloved son Jesus to build His church with a small bunch of ragamuffin young adults. In fact, Jesus Himself would be considered what we call today a next-generational leader. Since He began His public ministry around the age of 30, we could even call Him our Millennial Messiah!
It’s interesting to note the age of the disciples that Jesus selected. His selection wasn’t arbitrary, but divinely intentional. There’s a lot of evidence that would lead us to conclude that Jesus’ disciples were what we would call “young adults.”
First, most disciples were younger than their rabbi, which would put the rest of the disciples at an age younger than 30. Secondly, in Jewish culture a young man’s discipleship training under a rabbi would usually begin between the ages of 13 and 15. If this pattern was consistent with the followers of Jesus, some of them may have joined Jesus as early as age 13 and would have still been teenagers at the time of His death, resurrection, and ascension.
Now to be sure, God does not need anyone to accomplish His purposes. But while He doesn’t need us, he wants us. God, in His wisdom, set up life in such a way that He gets more glory by involving us in the process of the fulfillment of His purposes. The same is true in the church today. The next generation doesn’t just contain future leaders of the church, it also contains present leaders in the church. We must involve them in church leadership in the present in order for them to be equipped to lead in the future, and we must do this because the kingdom depends on it!
God does not need anyone to accomplish His purposes. But while He doesn’t need us, he wants us. God, in His wisdom, set up life in such a way that He gets more glory by involving us in the process of the fulfillment of His purposes.
REASON 3: Looking Inward…Because They Crave It! (And Need It.)
The statistics are sobering. According to a recent national study conducted by the Barna Research Group, only 10% of Christian twenty-somethings have what they would call “resilient faith.” Yet, as a millennial myself who has had the privilege of working and ministering closely with other millennials and Gen Z’ers, I can tell you that they long for meaningful multigenerational connections. What better place for that need to be met than through the local church!
One of the aspects I love most about the next generation is that they dream and believe big. Sometimes they can be a little overly idealistic, but it’s inspiring! However, the next generation needs mentors to apply wisdom to their idealism. They also need models of worship that are a lifestyle and not just an event. Jesus didn’t say to His disciples, “Come and listen to me.” He said, “Follow me.” You and I have a unique opportunity to invite a younger generation to follow us as we follow Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Jesus didn’t say to His disciples, “Come and listen to me.” He said, “Follow me.” You and I have a unique opportunity to invite a younger generation to follow us as we follow Jesus.
REASON 4: Looking Outward…Because There’s a Battle Waging For It!
There’s someone else who’s focused on the next generation of church leaders, and his name is Satan. He is always seeking to thwart God’s purposes, and one of his tactics is to inflict us with a generational myopia, where we are consumed by self-focus. God’s kingdom and church are beautifully diverse, and one of the expressions of that diversity is that it’s multigenerational. Yet Satan seeks to silo the church in their neat and comfortable compartments. Satan wants to segregate, but the Holy Spirit wants to integrate.
So there’s a battle waging. The enemy is focused on the next generation, and has schemes to steal, kill, and destroy. Millennials and Gen Z’ers are literally clicking and scrolling their way into inclining rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. The enemy has launched an onslaught of distraction, comparison, and compromise to the coming generation.
But Jesus has a plan, and a better one, too. I believe Jesus is raising up a remnant among the next generation who will be a part of ushering in spiritual awakening and revival in our land. You and I have an integral part to play as God calls, equips, empowers, and releases praying disciples and pastors with a laser-like focus and commitment to seek first the Kingdom of God above all else. This is not about hype or emotionalism; rather, I see a holy and humble hunger for the Lord in this next generation and we can partner with Jesus in helping raise them up!
You and I have an integral part to play as God calls, equips, empowers, and releases praying disciples and pastors with a laser-like focus and commitment to seek first the Kingdom of God above all else.
In fact, this is what Strategic Renewal is all about. Building 6:3 disciples, becoming 6:4 pastors, who together are believing for a 6:7 awakening. So this week, begin to notice and pray for the young people in your home, church, and community and watch as the Lord opens up new opportunities to encourage, equip, and empower them toward their God-given purpose.
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