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

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.