Stewards Of The Next Generation
If you’ve ever seen an actual relay race, you know how important it is to pass on the baton to the next runner carefully and smoothly. In fact, it’s just as important as having runners that can run fast. This was the critical difference in the 1996 Olympics. The clear favorite in the relay race, was the United States team—this race has been won by the U.S. team 75 percent of the time in modern Olympic history.
The U.S. always puts together four of the fastest sprinters in the world. But in 1996 the U.S. team lost to the Canadian team, because they had trouble passing the baton from one runner to the next. And Olympic history shows that the few times the U.S. has lost this race was because of that same problem—the inability to pass the baton from one runner to the next.
The Bible and history, is filled with examples of glory days of blessing and fruitfulness whenever a generation received proper training from the previous generation.
But there are not only Glory days, there are also GORY DAYS—when a generation experiences spiritual defeat and decay, because the parents and leaders of a former generation neglected to train next generation for their turn in the relay race of life.
Our children are always our children as long as they live, and we are their parents, all the time, not just when it’s convenient. We lead by example, and by giving our children Godly principles and values which will help them in making their own decisions and choices in life.
We do not stand alone, in our own power. God’s Word provides for us a curriculum and a standard for shepherding our families, His Holy Spirit gives us insight and understanding. God’s wisdom for the task, is ours just for the asking.
As parents, we pray that with all their getting, our children will get wisdom and become people of faith in God.
Since the time God called his people from Egypt, he has given us instructions and encouragement about passing on our faith to the next generation.
My purpose here today is (First)To sound a warning to each and every one of us that, even if we are like Joshua and his generation, who knew the Lord and experienced His power, this is no guarantee that our children and the next generation will follow in our footsteps. (Second) To exhort each of us to play a significant role in helping to pass on the baton to the next generation with great care, because the race could easily be lost if we fumble things in passing the baton.
(Third) To give practical tools to all who are called into this task, on how to pass on the baton of faith to the next generation—that they might run and win the race.
David writes in Psalm 78:1-7 “O my people, hear my teaching, listen to the words of my mouth. v2, I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old. v3, what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. v4, We will not hide them from our children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power, and the wonders He has done. v5, He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, v6, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. v7, So that they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands”.
Imagine if two-thirds of the church nationwide, went home on Sunday and never came back to church again. Now, stop imagining, because that's exactly what is happening right now across the country as teens and college students are transitioning from adolescence to adulthood.
The national statistic is that over 70% of those between the ages of 18-29, who grow up in the church are leaving the church. And the scary thing is they aren't coming back. What are the things that are shaping, distracting, competing, and changing our children's view of Christ and the church?...
The church is always just one generation from extinction, which means that each generation is the guardian of the next….One of the problems is that we can become so focused on just making it through ourselves, and keeping it together, that we default on the stewardship that has been assigned to us by God for the next generation coming up in the church…..
When Jesus told the first disciples, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”….. there was a generational mandate imbedded in this commissioning by the Lord….as guardians of their generation….
Let me give you some statistics that give a good consensus of what the future holds, if we do not reach the next generation…..
There are six generations currently living in our society…. Those born between 1901-1926….Those born between 1927- 1945….Those born between 1946-1964…. Those born between 1965- 1980….Those born between 1981-2000….And those born after 2001….
The current population of the United States is 320 million…The
population of Millennials now number 75.3 million and will soon become the largest people group in American society….They will influence every aspect of our lives and will greatly influence who is in congress and who is our next president…..
49% of all those born in 2009 were Hispanic. The most common last name in the US, used to be ‘Smith’ but now it is Rodriguez.
Over 40% of the Millennials (those born after 1982) are African-American, Asian-American, Latin American, or of racially mixed backgrounds.
There are now 2 times as many Millennials, (those born after 1984), as there are Gen-Xers, (those born between 1965 and 1984), and there are already a million more Millennials than Baby Boomers, (those born between 1945 and 1965).
These statistics don’t take in to account, the 30 million illegals who have entered the country and are now part of the mix….
Socially, culturally and spiritually, Millennials, those from 18 to 34, are remaking and redefining our society…
A college freshman was explaining to a senior citizen, why it was next to impossible for the older generation to understand his generation. He said "You grew up in a different world, actually in light of all the modern technology, it was almost primitive one !" The young people of today grow up with television, jet planes, space travel, men walking on the moon, our spaceships have visited Mars. We have nuclear energy, electric and hydrogen cars, smart phones, computers with DSL, BPS, and light-speed processing .... and”….. at that point, the Senior citizen interrupted and said, "You're right, son. We didn't have those things when we were young, so we went ahead and invented them for you guys. So, what is it that you guys are leaving for the next generation?"
Good question…. What are we leaving for the next generation?...
David while writing Psalm 78, extols the works of God, and realizes that the knowledge of God, reverence for God, and love for God must not be just for his generation, but must be transferred to the next generation as well.
He says…”We will not hide these things from their children, we will tell the next generation”.
Judges 2:7 tells us “So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua….” But then we read in verse 10, “When all that generation [i.e., the generation of the elders] had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD….”
Another verse which describes how this came about is found at the end of the book of Judges.. chapter 21:v25 “In those days there was no king (no Godly rule) in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes”. (that sounds like nothing but trouble to me) It sounds a lot like Noah’s day before the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah before it’s destruction and a lot like our day today)!!!!
Economist are telling us that our national debt will be left hanging over the heads of the coming generations, to be repaid by those not yet born.
But, the financial disaster is not the only legacy we are leaving to the Millennials and their unborn children. There is a dark side to what is happening to this generation:
According to Doug Stringer, founder of Somebody Cares, and author of the book, Who’s Your Daddy?
“Millennials are an “at risk generation”: One-third of the mellennials (25 million) have been drunk in the last month — One in four (19 million) uses illegal drug — out of the One million pregnancies, 1/3 of them (or 334 thousand) will seek an abortion. — and over 1,500 Millennials each year commit suicide”.
Doug’s book title, “Who’s Your Daddy”, came from an experience which his friends had while ministering to Millennial street kids in Brazil. While walking the streets of Rio one day, they stopped to talk to a young man and when they ask him who his father was, he replied with the name of a demon, that was well-known in the folklore of Brazil.
Our challenge and assignment is to change the answer to that question, ”who’s your daddy”….to say that “Jesus” is their Lord and Master!!!
Max Jukes lived in New York. He did not believe in Christ or in Christian training. He refused to take his children to church, even when they asked him if they could go. He was a role model for the ungodly….
Jonathan Edwards lived in the same state, at the same time as Jukes. He loved the Lord and saw to it that his children were in church every Sunday, as he served the Lord and lived it before them, to the best of his ability. He was a role model for what a Godly man could become.
Jonathan Edwards had 929 descendants—430 were ministers, 314 were honored war veterans who served with distinction, 75 were authors, 86 were college professors, 13 were university presidents, 7 were congressmen, 3 were governors, and 1 became Vice-President of the United States. His family never cost the state one cent but contributed immeasurably to the life of plenty in United States culture and society.
Max Jukes has 1,026 descendants—300 were convicts, 27 were murderers, 190 were prostitutes, and 509 were alcoholics and drug addicts. His family, so far, has reportedly cost the state millions of dollars. They have made no contribution to society that is of any good benefit.
The Psalmist David, gives us a strong mandate, that we all have a responsibility as stewards to the generations to come.
While 15-24 year olds make up 20% of our population, they are only 10% of the church population.
Today the average worshipper in US congregations is 50 years old. That’s 6-years older than the population average. Our churches are increasingly older, and increasingly out of touch with this current generation, and the greatest proof is their absence.
The following is some humorous statistics on the Boomer Generation… (that’s my generation)
It’s called “What a Difference a Generation Makes”...
In 1970 it was about Growing pot, In 2015, your belly is the pot…
In 1970 it was going to a new, hip joint, 2015, it is getting a new hip joint
In 1970 it was the Rolling Stones, In 2015, it is Kidney stones
In 1970 it was Passing the driver's test, In 2015 it’s the vision test… In 1970 it was about the Keg, In 2015, it’s about the EKG,
In 1970 emphasis was on Long Hair, In 2015, it is Longing for hair.
In 1970 it was about Acid Rock, In 2015, it’s about Acid Reflux !
How quickly we forget!
Dan Kimball wrote the book, They Like Jesus But Not The Church, based on his interviews with Millennials. Many of them perceived the church atmosphere to be judgmental, narrow, exclusive, too rigid, and hypocritical.
While 60% of older adults claim religious affiliation, only 18% of Millennials say they belong to any religious group. It is not that Millennials don’t want to know God, it’s that the church as we know it today is failing to connect in a meaningful way. One pastor expressed this dilemma in marketing terms, he says, “It’s not the product they don’t like, it’s where they are told they have to go to get the product, that they don’t like.”
Why is it that we aren’t doing what David says about reaching the next generation with the good news of Jesus? 1. Could it be that we haven’t really tried? 2. Could it be that we don’t feel we can relate to them? 3. Could it be that we feel that they would change things too much? 4. Could it be that we are unwilling to give up our way of doing things? 5. Could it be that we don’t want to actually be recognized as radical, sold out, Jesus is Lord, Christians?
Millennials as a people group, consume more information and goods than any generation before it. They are not resistant to God, they are just resistant to our way of understanding, interpreting, sharing and exampling God.
Our challenge is to help the next generation find their true spiritual home and the this Generation is Waiting for whoever it is that will do that….and the language they understand is love, transparency and acceptance. They are waiting for someone to touch them in the name of Jesus. A lot of folks have built walls to see who cares enough to help them tear them down….
There is an entire generation, that is waiting for someone to touch them with the love of God. There is a generation of the brightest, most optimistic kids our nation has ever known, waiting for someone to connect with them, and touch them with the good news. If we were the only ones willing to make the effort to touch this generation for Christ, what would the long term outcome be?
The psalmist says —“so that the next generation would know, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. v7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep his commands”.
“When Jews around the world celebrate the Passover, at one point in the meal, a child asks the question…. “What does this meal mean to you?” Our children want to know how our faith relates to us personally. With the invasion of secularism and big profit making, which has become deeply embedded in our holiday celebrations, it’s easy to focus on how the holiday came to be as a matter of history, instead of what that means to you personally and to all of us in our family unit.
Developmentally, children are not fully able to make abstract connections until junior high school, so it’s very important that we help them to see things from a personal, experiental level, which connects the historical Bible record with the here and now of their lives.
When God gave the Ten commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai as a model for godly living,
He said in Deuteronomy 6:6-9"These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Demonstrate them with the work of your hands and imprint them on their minds. Display them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates".
God's Word, and how it impacts every aspect of our lives, is to be a constant topic of conversation between us and the next generation. We need to let them see God's fingerprints in every aspect of life.
After forty years of wandering the Wilderness, the Israelites were out of Egypt, but God’s biggest challenge was getting the Egypt out of them. He was preparing them to be people of faith before the next generation entered into the Promised Land to possess and occupy it.
Moses did not enter the promised land with them, and we may be asked of God to lay the ground work for many things we will not see and enjoy ourselves, but others will, because we were faithful to shepherd the next generation….
But even though Moses did not go into the promised land, he had some final words for his people as they were about to enter the land flowing with milk and honey. He told them that the power to choose blessing and cursing, life and death, was their own.
He tells them in Deuteronomy 30:19 and 20, “Choose life, so that you and your children may thrive in the land and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land he swore to give your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”.
Our kids deserve to see what we say we believe, demonstrated by our actions, each day, every day! Anything less is a disservice to the morals, the ethics, the integrity and the effectiveness of the next generation.
When we choose to be faithful in following God’s precepts, His principles and His life values, we demonstrate authentic faith to our family. We prove our love for God, our ability to hear His voice, and our desire to cling to Him by choosing to follow His direction, even when it is difficult and unpopular to do so.
Sometimes as parents, it’s difficult to watch our children struggle with their personal faith in God. Sometimes it’s difficult to be patient until we see faith bear fruit in their lives. But we can trust and rely upon what the scriptures say, when it tells us…
in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”.
When we have watered the seed of the Word of God with corresponding actions to what we believe, we can turn our children over to God and trust that he who began a good work in them will carry it on into completion!
Deuteronomy 30:2-3 “And when you and your children turn to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where you have been scattered”.
In the parable of the Prodigal son, we see the father waiting and
watching in faith, with open arms, for his son to return and take his rightful place, as the next generation of leadership. I believe it is a picture of this generation, in the church, believing, praying, watching and expecting, until the next generation of sons and daughters come into their rightful place.
Many of our kids are going through a challenging time, and will go through more difficult times. Some will wander for a season in the wilderness. But I believe that if we will continue to pray, God will use that wilderness wandering to bring them to a place of deep need—to a place where they realize that they need God. So keep praying.
It’s never too late to pass the baton successfully to the next generation.
When our sons and daughters seem to stray from the family faith and seem to reject all that we have tried to impart into them. We do not lose heart! God’s Word is powerful and it will not return void. The Holy Spirit is hovering over and incubating every promise of God you’ve claimed. The Father has promised to watch over it and perform it.. It is His greatest desire for entire families to serve Him for generations to come.
I want us to make a declaration today over the young men and women, who are the next generation of leaders, who will shape and define the future of our society and culture….
Job 22:27 “You shalt make your prayer unto Him, and He shall hear you, and you shall pay your vows. v28 You shalt also decree (gaw-zar….to submit an order for action in a specific area), and it shall be established
unto you and the light shall shine upon your ways”.
In Jesus name, I release a transfer of anointing…to the next generation. I declare that this generation, under the anointing, shall bring the gospel to the poor, heal and restore the sick and afflicted, proclaim deliverance to the captives, open blind eyes, set people free, and that the anointing will flow in God’s timing, plan and purpose. Therefore, I release the anointing that these things would follow them daily, as they walk in God’s timing, plan and purpose, In Jesus name.
I declare an anointing that will be like jumping into a deep pool of water. When they come out, everywhere they go gets wet. That anointing is like being covered with perfumed oil, and wherever they go the aroma of the anointing will follow. Therefore, I release the wetness and aroma of anointing oil upon the next generation, that they would drip with that special anointing presence and be a fragrance in the lives of many, in Jesus name.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit enables them to do what they cannot do in their own strength. This anointing, as described in the Bible, is “God on flesh doing those things that flesh cannot do.” Therefore, I release that enabling power of anointing, that they might accomplish those things which might seem far beyond their own strength, wisdom and ability, in Jesus name. The anointing will make their gifts operate more fluently and effectively.
God has given them gifts for service, as well as the anointing to allow those gifts to function with greater ease. Therefore, I release that greater fluency, function and freedom in the operation of all the gifts in their lives and all their interactions, in Jesus name. May God’s anointing on them be treated with honor and respect. Jesus paid the ultimate price just so that they could continue His work and ministry in the earth.
Therefore, I release holiness, which will manifest itself in a sacrificial life style in their lives, in Jesus name. We pass the baton of the anointing and the call of God to future generations.. May they receive their own clear calling and mandate, to be passed to their generations, should the Lord tarry, in Jesus name. I declare and receive this with a zeal for the Lord of Hosts, who was and is and shall ever be, the same. In Loving declaration, we the church of Jesus Christ do release it!