How Can We Reach the Next Generation?

“He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.” (Ps 78:5–8)

I have been reading through the Psalms as part of a program to read through them all 150 in a month. In this morning’s reading, I came across the above passage. In it, we are told that generational ministry is important. Whatever else we are doing, we need to see the importance of reaching the next generation for Christ.

How do we do it?

(1) It begins at home

If you want to reach the next generation and you have kids, you need to start pouring God’s Word into them. Start early and young. Get in a routine of reading the Bible with your children, even if it is a paraphrased version. A favorite at our house is the Jesus Storybook Bible. It is a great beginner Bible because it introduces them to the storyline of Scripture in a non-moralistic way.

You can also start memorizing Scripture with your kids. This is something I have started doing lately with my oldest. His mind is a sponge at this age, which means it is a good time for him to start hiding God’s Word in there. I am using the Fighter Verses App, and we are working through the Foundation verses for kids.

(2) It continues in the community

If we want to reach the next generation, we have to make ourselves available to them. As well as we need to seek to build relationships with them. We need to show interest in the things in which they are interested. Be an encouragement to them. Let them know we are a resource to them.

(3) It continues on into the church

If we want to reach the next generation, we have to recognize that the things that reached our generation are probably not the same things that are going to reach the generation or two or three after us. Their preferences are different. How they interact with the world is different. What they expect and want out of the church may even be different. We need to be willing to remove any obstacles to them coming into the church. As well as we need to look for ways to serve them.

But, and this is huge, we need to remove obstacles and serve the next generation do in any way we can without diminishing the gospel, and the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. The gospel changes everything, we need to make sure it is central. Life change happens as the Word of God is driven into our hearts by the Work of the Holy Spirit. Watering down its message, changing it, or diminishing the centrality of God’s Word in any way our ministries will not result in us truly reaching the next generation.

The Psalmist tells us it is the truths of God’s Word that we are to teach our children to set their hope on, not fun and games, musical preferences, TedTalks, community service, etc. It is God’s Word that produces fruitful people who are ever seeking to glorify God with their lives, so we must keep God’s Word central, while at the same time removing any preferential obstacles in the church.

Question for Reflection

  1. How else can we reach the next generation?

Why should we contend for the faith? – Part 2

Why do I need to contend for the faith? Before I answer that question, let me encourage you by saying,

You don’t have to, nor should you, contend for the faith on your own.

In the middle of verse 3, when Jude says,

“I found it necessary to write to appeal to you to contend for the faith” (Jud 3b)

When Jude wrote that, he didn’t have one person in mind. The “you” in this verse is plural. So instead of reading it as saying, “you, by yourself, alone, contend for the faith”, you should read it as, “you guys together contend for the faith” or as we might say down in Georgia “ya’ll contend for the faith”.

Contending for the faith, then, is not something you do by yourself, just like Jessica didn’t finish that race by herself (see last post). She needed help. She needed Laura to finish that race because she wouldn’t have struggled on by herself. In the same way, we need others besides us so that we might continue to contend for the faith.

Yes, contending for the faith is going to take a lot of work, but you should be encouraged to expend the energy knowing you don’t have to do it on your own. We should be running beside one another, encouraging one another to contend for the faith. A single soldier doesn’t fight a war, and single Christian doesn’t contend for the faith. We do it together.

But again, why contend in the first place? It seems like something that is difficult, it seems like something that I am going to have to work at, even if I have others working with me. So why do I need to contend for the faith? Baked into that question is the beginning of the answer. It has to do with the two word phrase “the faith”.

 What does “the faith” represent?

Everything found in Scripture falls under the heading of “the faith”. It’s the whole body of theology and doctrine found in Scripture. It is the teaching that God has given in His Word. It is the truths about man, the gospel, God, Jesus, the church, the Christian life. Everything found in Scripture falls under the heading of “the faith”. That’s what we are to contend for.

We must contend for the faith because of false teachers.

Look at verse 4,

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jud 4)

Jude tells us that false teachers have staged a covert operation to infiltrate the church and deceive church members, leading them astray and away from Christ. Notice the “certain people” — false teachers — “have crept in unnoticed”. That’s the idea of the covert operation.

This is not a hypothetical instance

Jude is bringing up but something that is occurring right then in that church. There are people who have crept in unnoticed with the intention of deceiving Christians.

But here’s the thing,

This is not an isolated event.

  • In Galatians 2, Paul highlights the idea that false teachers secretly slipped into the church to to try to lead them astray.
  • In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter warns that false teachers have and will seek to “secretly bring in destructive heresies”.
  • In 1 John 2:18-27, John tells us that false teachers rose up in the church, have left, and are seeking to take others with them. He is warning the church not to follow them.

The idea that false teachers are covertly infiltrating and trying to influence church members is not an isolated event. The churches to whom Jude, Paul, Peter, and John wrote all had to deal with some form of false teaching and teachers, who were secretly trying to destroy the health of the church and lead people astray.
Just as it happened in those churches it can happen in ours.

The apostles predicted it would happen.

Look at verse 4,

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jud 4)

Look at verses 17-19

“”But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” (Jud 17–19)

False teachers sneaking into the church in an effort to mislead is nothing new. It is nothing out of the ordinary. It is not an isolated event. It happened in the first century and all throughout the ages since then. It can happen in our church as well. In fact, it is predicted that it will.

Knowing that false teachers can and are trying to infiltrate the church, we must contend for the faith.

That is why we put forth the effort, that is why we expend the energy, that is why we are constantly on guard. Because false teachers are actively seeking to infiltrate the church, and there may be some here already.

I know what you’re probably thinking,

“I know my church, I’ve been there for a while, there are no false teachers. We have structures and systems in place to keep them out, to guard against it.”

You know, that might be true. You might know your people well. You might have systems in place to help keep false teachers out. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try. That doesn’t mean they won’t get in. That they won’t infiltrate your church.

Even if false teachers haven’t physically infiltrated the church, that doesn’t mean that their false teaching can’t or hasn’t infiltrated your church

We live in an age where we are constantly bombarded with messages from all over. Some of the messages we hear and our people hear very well could be a false message. Facebook is full of them! You or your people may unintentionally bring that message into the church as you discuss things one on one with someone, dialogue in Sunday school, or discuss in Bible study. Just because a false teacher hasn’t physically infiltrated the church, doesn’t mean that their false teaching can’t. So we have to be vigilant

We have to run everything through the grid of Scripture

Everything we hear in conversation, we read, we are taught in Sunday school class, and even from the pulpit, we must run it all through the grid of Scripture. We can’t assume anything.

But in order to run the messaging, we hear through the grid of Scripture,

We have to know scripture.

We can’t even begin to guard or contend for the faith if we don’t know the faith — if we don’t know our Bible’s. This is why we have to constantly read Scripture. Not just alone, but we need to read scripture in community with other people. Whether that be Bible study or one-on-one discipleship, we need to read scripture, and we need to read it in community.

But in order for us to do that:

We have to prioritize times of Bible study.

I believe this is where many of us fall short. We are willing to prioritize all kinds of other things in our life, but we aren’t willing to prioritize the Scriptures. Instead, we let other things consume us, things that have no lasting impact. Things that pull us away from the Bible and community with others. So we must prioritize the text in our own lives and we must study scripture in community with one.

We must prioritize times of Bible study and we must lead our people to do the same because:

Our life and their life literally depends on it.

False teachers don’t want you to know and believe the true gospel. They don’t want that for your people either. They want nothing more than to lead us away from the life-giving message found in God’s Word. So we must prioritize the text in our life and we must study Scripture in community with one another and we must lead our people to do the same, so that know their Bible.

I know this isn’t always easy. So how?

How do we motivate ourself and our people to prioritize the text in their life and study with one another in community?

We must be motivated by the gospel and we must motivate our people with the gospel. We have a God who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us, in order to draw us back into relationship with Him. He’s given us His Word in order to tell us about that so that we might be able to experience salvation and know how to live in this world. We must see the value of Christ. We must help our people see the value of Christ. We must present the Word in such a way that they are captivated by Jesus, that they are drawn in by Him so that nothing else matters except Jesus.

We must be motivated by the gospel and we must motivate our people with the gospel.

Resources

[1] https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/03/health/fast-food-consumption-cdc-study/index.html

Post developed from my sermon: Why do I need to contend for the faith?