Someone showed me some statistics this week that really frighten me. In fact, my heart has been burdened ever since these stats were brought to my attention.
“Goals of Gen Next vs. Gen X”
(Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey, Sept-Oct 2006 as seen in USA TODAY)
|Be Community Leaders
|Become More Spiritual
I barely squeak by in the “Gen X” category, but we certainly don’t have stats worth writing home about. I guess the older I get, the more I ponder the legacy that I (and my generation) will leave behind. We have a catch-phrase around our church: “Whoever wants the next generation the most will get them.” Based on the figures above, the legacy we’re leaving behind is rather appalling.
In this generation, we’re encouraging college students to pick a major where the career yields the largest paycheck. We push the “American Dream” and encourage them to spend lavishly, drive an SUV and live the most comfortable life possible. Where is that found in Scripture? My Bible quotes Jesus as saying:
“Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake (emphasis mine). It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name (emphasis mine). Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
Doesn’t quite sound like the good ole “American Dream” to me. Probably not under Webster’s definition of “comfort.” No, Luke 21 is a picture of risk. Unfortunately, my generation isn’t made up of risk-takers, but of risk-makers. They risk the purity of the gospel for what is attractive and faddish and popular. They sacrifice future glory on the altar of instant gratification.
To be quite honest, it scares me to think what church leadership might look like in the next ten to twenty years. My generation seems to think they’ve got “church” all figured out, and it’s more experience and less explanation. It’s about coffee houses and conversations and “freedom” and feelings. It has less and less to do with what God’s Word says about the church and more to do with what feels comfortable to me.
I’m sick of hearing about people wanting to dialogue or converse. Why not get before God through His word and the illumination of the Holy Spirit and hear what He has to say? We let Hollywood define “entertainment.” We let designers define “fashion.” We let Donald Trump define “success.” We even let former presidents define “sex.” But we won’t let the God who created the church and sent His Son to die for the church define “church.”
Acts chapter two says, “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple (emphasis mine), and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (verses 46, 47). Hebrews ten admonishes us to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (verses 24, 25).
Granted, the methods and programs have changed over the years, but the message and purpose have not. Since when do we have the authority to sit around and look at Scripture asking one another, “What does this passage mean to you?” What happened to “God said it, that settles it”?
I’m afraid we’re on a slippery slope to complete ruin. My pastor always says, “What one generation does in moderation, the next generation will do in excess.” If my generation is looking at God’s Word through “me-tinted” glasses, the next generation won’t look at God’s Word at all. If my generation is so consumed with rethinking the church as a corporate body, the next generation won’t even have the word “church” in their vocabulary. Now you can understand my concern.
If you are a pastor or lay leader, pour into the “Gen-Nexters” around you. Teach them God’s Word without apology, model true Christian character and holiness and pray for them to have godly wisdom and discernment. If you are a “Gen-Nexter,” keep your face in God’s Word. Don’t settle for what someone else has said about God’s Word—discover the truth for yourself. Pray that you’ll be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves in this corrupt world. Ask God to keep you on a short leash and to make you incredibly sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
As for me, I want to be a risk-taker. I don’t want generations behind me (my future children included) to watch as I take the easy way out and live the most comfortable life imaginable. I want them to see me staking my claim on Christ alone and taking risks for His name’s sake. I want to live and die by Sola Scriptura and not by man’s opinions, dialogues or conversations.
“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,
by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
© Stephanie Thompson, 2007