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?

What must believers do to persevere through persecution? – Part 2

Almost every night the boys and I wrestle with one another. Apart from trying to beat me down to the ground, one of the things they like to do is run full speed down the hall, into the living room, and right into me. Thankfully, at least for now, I’m able to resist them from knocking me over by standing firm. Just as I stand firm against the kids blows, Peter tells us we must stand firm against the devil, resisting his roar of persecution.

(3) Believers must resist the devil by remaining firm in their faith

In contrast to me wrestling the kids, we learn that we aren’t to resist the devil in our own strength. Instead, we resist him by faith. In other words, resisting Satan doesn’t involve herculean acts of strength on our part. It involves continued faith in God’s mighty hand.

Admittedly, continuing in faith is easier said than done, especially when you’re staring a lion down. Peter knows which is why in the next two and a half verses he works to provide the motivation we need to stand firm. He begins in verse 9 by telling us that: Persecution is a common occurrence for the Christian. Look at what he says in the second half of the verse,

“knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1 Pe 5:9b)

While we might feel isolated when we are standing before the mighty roaring lion of persecution, Peter tells us that we aren’t alone. There are others all over the world experiencing persecution. The implied idea seems to be that they are standing firm, resisting Satan’s attack. If they can do it, so can we. Not in our own strength, but by humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God, trusting that He will provide us what we need in order to persevere.

After telling us we aren’t alone, Peter continues to motivate us to persevere by telling us that: Persecution will not last forever. Look at verse 10,

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Pe 5:10)

One of the ways I like to get my exercise is to run. While the part of Texas in which I live is generally flat, the area right around my house. There aren’t any mountains, but the hills right around my house are deceivingly steep. When I’m out running, I like to push myself to run those hills as fast as I can. Starting out its easy, but there is always this point about half way through where I’m ready to throw in the towel and slow down. While the struggle is real, what allows me to push through and make it up the hill is knowing that the end is near. Peter wants us to see the same. He wants us to see that suffering, though painful at the time, isn’t going to last forever. It’s going to end. We might experience the end at some point in the future.Or we might not experience it until Jesus returns. Either way, persecution is not going to last forever. God will finally and fully deal with it at Jesus’ return where we will be vindicated.

But until that time comes, God will cause to persevere. That’s what Peter is getting at with the four rapid fire verbs he uses at the end of verse 10. While each are slightly different, they all combine to make the same point — God will strengthen and fortify us so that we persevere until the end. We not only learn that in verse 10, but we also learn the same at the beginning of the letter. Starting in verse 3 of chapter 1, we read:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, [and here is what I want you to see] who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pe 1:3–5)

Notice that God causes us to persevere through faith. Faith, He mightily works in us. That’s an important point to get because it tells us that we don’t persevere in our own strength, but through God’s strength as He works the faith needed for perseverance in us.

God is able to cause us to persevere because: God has dominion and control over this world. Look at verse 11,

“To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Pe 5:11)

This verse is a doxology — a written praise to the Lord — but Peter includes it here as a means to strengthen our faith. Knowing that God is sovereign and in control of this world, that nothing happens outside of His sovereign control, that He is not blindsided or overpowered when we face persecution, should give us the confidence we need to press on in resisting the devil by exercising faith in God.

Conclusion

So we see that persevering through persecution requires us to: humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, remain clear-headed and alert to the devil’s plan, and resist the devil by standing firm in our faith. If we do those things, we will be successful in persevering through persecution.