How Not to Lose the Next Generation
Now that I’m in college surrounded by the next generation of leaders, it’s almost hard to believe that we are no longer the youngest kids on the block! It makes me feel old to think that there is currently a generation of teens doing what I did in high school, though hopefully getting better grades.
When considering this slightly younger generation, I thought about the fact that many of us are in positions where we get to mentor and lead them. We volunteer at churches, schools, and organizations that have the opportunity to make an impact in their lives. With this ability to impact in mind, here are a few things I think we should strive to do for the generation that we get the privilege to mentor.
Let Them Help
I recently overheard an older woman at my church whisper, “imagine if they were in charge” after listening to a highschooler sing a worship song that was, in her opinion, drastically modern and vulgar because the song’s writer had not been dead for two hundred years. I firmly believe that this negative attitude toward modern forms of worship is one of the major reasons so many young people leave the church. Their sports team lets them play, their clubs let them participate, but their church won’t let them help.
If you never exercise a muscle, it’s not going to grow stronger. Likewise, if you refuse to let the next generation serve the church, there’s a chance they are going to leave and go somewhere that can use them. It will also leave them ill-prepared for when they need to lead as adults. Nothing dampens someone’s passion for a cause like being told their involvement is a hindrance or a distraction. However, just as pushing away youth discourages them, the reverse is also true. Including them in leadership sparks a passion for the Church that will continue with them for life. Fortunately, at my church most of the elders believe in involving the next generation. When those kids and highschoolers are on stage or helping teach a class, their eyes are alight with purpose and they are excited to continue helping. The prophet Samuel started serving the Lord when he was child, as did many of the other heroes in the Bible. God called children to be involved back then and He calls them to now as well.
Do Not Disparage Their Youth
Just because someone is young does not mean they cannot serve the kingdom. I was young and immature in high school, but that did not stop God from using me and the rest of my mission team. God uses young and stupid people, just look at King David.
The Bible says that comparing ourselves with others is not wise, and this applies to different generations. Comparing the accomplishments of older generations to the younger generations is folly, instead we should consider all they can accomplish before they reach their adult years. I have several friends and relatives who died while in college. While heartbreaking, it is neat to see how they spent the time God had entrusted to them well and were continually mission-minded. The brutal truth is that not everyone gets to grow old, and if we believe the next generation cannot accomplish anything for Christ until they are adults, some of them will lose their only chance to be a blessing.
This being said, age does often bring wisdom and experience. Without the influence of my parents and grandparents, I have no idea how my salvation experience would have been altered. I’m not saying you should let a three-year-old pilot a jet fighter. Rather what I am saying is that they will never be the next Top Gun star if no one teaches them how to fly.
Our family of believers is not meant to be segregated by age, just as it is not supposed to be split apart by anything else. Mentorships are vital for the next generation. Just like Elijah asked for a double portion of Elisha’s spirit, it is our responsibility to train the next group of spiritual warriors. If we want more Billy Grahams in the world, we need to mentor them to even surpass what he did! The only way they will get there is with the help of those who have already lived life and survived the pitfalls they have yet to encounter.
At the end of the day, there are only two options for the next generation of believers whether they be millennials, zoomers, or some other random word. In fifty years, those kids will either be leading the Church or have abandoned it.