The Next Generation

The Next Generation

Almost everyone loves a baby. Welcoming several into our church family through recent dedications has been inspiring. We readily stand as a church family and pledge ourselves to pray and to support the parents as they do the hard work.

Then the teen years arrive and the wrestling for independence. What do we do with the next generation – especially when so many of them get busy and start caving to peer pressure? Researchers are optimistic and see this group as the most “connected, educated and sophisticated generation in history.”

Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak, in their book Marching Off the Map, remind us that today’s students are unique in that they “put technology in the same category as air and water.” With that access the next generation is ‘down to earth, distracted, distressed, discerning and determined.’

In 2020, we have six distinct sociological generations living together – negotiating for space. The Builders (1929-1945); The Boomers (1946-1964); The Busters (1965-1982 Generation X); The Millennials (1983-2000 Generation Y); The Centennials (2001-2018 Generation Z); The Next (2019-)

Anthropologist Margaret Mead says “WE are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet.” (p. 69)

Clearly, the next generation is anxious about the fragility of the environment, about the untrustworthiness of their governments, about the uncertain nature of truth, about their financial prosperity, about their long-term housing stability, and about the temporary nature of love and relationships. How do we speak hope, life and peace to them so they don’t get overwhelmed?

Too often, we’ve left our children to get their answers elsewhere – in school, on-line, from their peers. Christian adults need to nurture relationships with the younger generations so that trust and truth can be established and embraced early. Youth don’t see the same need to belong and are disengaging from political parties, churches, and traditional organizations. They care more about opportunity than about loyalty. They care more about what’s trending on social media.

As influencers of the next generation this is a time for authenticity – acknowledging what we do know and what we don’t know. Our youth are navigating a world filled with mental health challenges, growing suicide rates, escalating addictions, gender confusion, fake news, ethnic diversity, changing cultural and social values, etc. Who will walk with them?

Our world promotes ‘speed, convenience, entertainment, nurture and entitlement’ (p. 73). Students are left thinking that slow, hard, boring, risk and work are bad. How do we in the church give the next generation a different sense of who Jesus is for them in the midst of all the changes they face?

While 2020 is still young, this is a time to be on our knees for the next generations. It is also a time to intentionally be reaching back to provide whatever support, encouragement and relationship is needed. Just as God has not abandoned us, those who come after us need daily reminders that he has not abandoned them. Regardless of which generation you are growing with, remember you are loved more than you could ask or imagine. Pastor Jack

impatience and stubbornness?

This morning I look out at the winter wonderland, snow covering the whole city, and I am so grateful for my cozy slippers and steaming cup of coffee. Honestly, I hate snow, but unfortunately for me my kids love it.

Earlier this week they all woke up eager to go outside and start playing. I delayed as long as possible but inevitably I got everyone bundled up, a thermos full of hot chocolate and some cookies and we headed over to the park. I stood at the bottom of the hill, my toes shivering counting the moments until it was reasonable for me to say its time to go home. Then I felt my youngest son tapping on my leg, “Watch Mummy,” he said. He then proceeded to jump head first down the hill like a penguin in the artic. He slid all the way down yelling belly slide and giggling. As he reached the bottom of the hill he looked up at me  and said “ Me love the snow, this is the best day ever, ever.” I smiled and looked up to the top of the hill where the other two came barrelling down the hill laughing uncontrollably. I had been so busy waiting to leave that I almost missed enjoying the pure joy my kids were experiencing.

After a long day of school, play, cooking, cleaning, diaper changing, naps, workout, reading, refereeing and so on I was anxiously awaiting bed time. Bedtime was the conclusion of the day as “mom.” Once everyone was in bed and settled, I was off the clock. I had successfully made it through another day and I could have a few moments to my self. The younger two were asleep, my oldest was settled and I was just tucking in my daughter, who is notorious for bedtime excuses. I gave her a kiss and said good night, she grabbed my arm and pulled me closer. “Mama,” she said, “do you know something…” Oh, great I thought, here we go. I just want you to go to sleep so I can have a break. I turned to her and prepared to tell her to go to sleep. Then she said to me, “ I love you mama, more then anything else. I’m so glad Jesus gave me a mommy like you.” My heart felt warm and I smiled at her and cuddled in beside her. She continued to talk through her day and shared her ideas and thoughts with me. She finally drifted to sleep and I was able to sneak out. I plopped down on the couch and smiled. I was so busy trying to get them to sleep I almost missed a precious moment that I will treasure in my heart for ever.

One last story, today my son was playing with a drill set. He was happily sitting on the floor drilling the screw in and out. He got to the end and began to get frustrated because he had no more screws left. I told him there was more in the playroom. But he sat there crying and angry trying to find more under the couch, under the table, and in the train basket. I continued to remind him that they are in the playroom. After about 20 minutes of frustration he finally conceded and went to retrieve the extra screws in the playroom. I thought, wow he is so busy being stubborn, he just wasted so much time.

I know not all of you have kids and so these stories may seem pointless, but stick with me for a minute. How many of you have been so focused in one direction, you missed the elephant on the road in front of you? How many of you have tried and tried to do what you thought was right, only to find out God had different plans?

On Sunday pastor spoke about Abraham. He tried so hard to have a baby his own way with Hagar. Although Abraham and God had the same goal, Abraham was trying to achieve that goal with his own impatience and stubbornness.

I have my own goals, my own ideas about how things should go, whether it be in a day or an evening, a month or a year. God used small events, like sledding and bedtime this week to remind me to stop holding onto my plan so tightly. If we are determined to do things our way we may delay the great blessings God has in store for us.

Sometimes the plan God has for us feels scary. When I was a child, I used to ask my mom almost every day, “What are we doing today?” I probably drove her crazy but I always wanted to know what was ahead. As an adult you would think I would have that control, but God has other ideas. He has placed me in a situation of unknowns. It’s a painful place to be at times. Anxiety so easily grips my heart. I have a plan, my own ideas about how the future should look but God wants to keep me utterly dependent on him as he unravels his plan for me.

Whether you are a control freak like me, or going with the flow comes naturally to you, God has a plan for each of us. As I have been challenged this week, I share with you…Keep your heart open to what God is doing in your life. Let’s not be so busy trying to get where we think we should be that we miss where God is directing us!

 

 

[quote title=”” Text=”Whether you are a control freak like me, or going with the flow comes naturally to you, God has a plan for each of us” name=”April Bakundukize” name_sub=””]

What Else Is Out There? Don’t Read This – part 2.

Being a parent seems to be getting more challenging all the time. We’ve hardly got our children walking and we’re being warned to “stranger proof” them at the same time we’re trying to socialize them; we’re encouraged to get them into SMART start but not to expose them to too much social media or television; we’re trying to teach them good values, reading, language, colours and sharing while connecting them to social settings where other families have other ways of doing things.

Now, we’re being reminded that we need to “porn proof” our kids. We’ve got them ready for earthquakes and fires by warning them about the danger and then teaching them what to do if the event happens. We are always looking for the way out. How do we do that with pornography when so much happens away from our awareness?

In the near future our church will be having a workshop for parents on the massive impact of sex trafficking in this city but one thing is clear. As parents, we hardly take seriously enough the things our children are being exposed to. We don’t realize how enticing images draw young minds into forbidden channels where they are exposed to illicit scenes which awake latent desires.

Children should be reminded that they have a feeling brain and a thinking brain. The imagery and emotion of pornography are centered on our feeling brain in such a way that our thinking brain doesn’t do its job of warning us about future consequences. For them to label images out loud “that’s pornography” will keep them alert so they can make wiser choices. Finding ways to distract themselves when images pull at their senses is a helpful way to protect their mind from long term memories which will impact them in relationships and self-care.

Sometimes, parents fend off the idea of how vulnerable our own children might be by thinking that the girls or boys who get caught up in sex trafficking or pornography are from other countries or they’re here without stable family support. The reality is different.

A large percentage of those youth pulled into the industry are born in Canada. The government claims 90% of known individuals caught up are Canadian. The internet, social media, the mall and even dog walkers have been used to troll for vulnerable victims. Girls even younger than 13 are being targeted.

Many of the young girls involved still come home at night so parents don’t catch on. Some of the things to watch for include longer periods of time where their presence isn’t known; changes in routine; having more than one cellphone; getting expensive things; unexplained absences from school and deep weariness.

As parents, please ensure your children are supervised when in public spaces. Be aware of their social media activity. Know where your child is and screen any potential older friends. Talk to your child about what to do if they get into a difficult situation with someone. Give clear instructions on how to handle themselves in social settings of all kinds. Pray without ceasing for this child’s protection.

Are you staying connected with other parents so you have a support network? What is God saying to you in his own efforts to protect you from the dangers around you?

Have you reached that age yet?

There’s something about us that likes to think we’re at an age different than we are. If we’re younger we like to feel and act older. If we’re older we like to think or act younger. Maybe that’s only me and the people around me.

It takes a certain level of maturity to be who you are and to be settled with that. Discipleship and mentoring grow out of that stable foundation. Once you are settled with who you are you can start investing in others.

In our cross-cultural training we were asked the question: “Do you want to be the hero or the hero-maker?” In our team building times we say do you want to be the discipler or the one who creates disciple-makers who make disciple-makers?

The generation after you needs someone who will reach back and encourage them upward on this climb through life. That’s true whether you’re in your twenties or in your eighties. God has given you experiences and wisdom that was meant to be shared and God has created someone who needs to learn what you know.

Have you ever had a mentor – someone who took an interest in who you are and what you’re doing? Someone who listened just a little more and stayed in your corner just a little longer? We all need someone like that and we all need to be someone like that for others.

Regi Campbell, in his book Mentor Like Jesus (pp. 39-40) says “Great mentors know who they are. They get great joy in seeing their wisdom, knowledge, and experience live on to help others… When a person knows who he is, he’s comfortable in any situation. He doesn’t spend energy wondering what the other person is thinking. He can spend all his energy listening and trying to understand.”

Maybe there’s someone in your own family circle who needs a mentor – or maybe not. Maybe God has someone in our own church family ready to glean from your supportive encouragement. I recently watched a senior supporting a single professional over a period of months and the rally of a discouraged heart was obvious to anyone who knew her. Both of the women benefitted from the engagement.

Make this a prayer as you prepare for the next months ahead. Lord, if there’s someone I can encourage and share my life with (in a mentoring way) please set up a divine appointment and a significant conversation so I don’t miss it. Keep me alert and ready to share your heart wherever I am.

Bless you as you pour yourself into the next generations.