How many of you have heard statements such as, “We believe in the next generation,” “This is the future of our church,” “We need more young people to lead us,” or, “We want to empower the next generation for the future.” I have grown up in church hearing these, but I have not seen many of them put into practice in order to become the reality.
There is a huge gap between the generations within churches. Churches will have strong children, youth, couples, and senior citizens branches, but what about those college-aged and other young adults. These are the ones that will be leading the church in the next ten years. Are we as not only churches, but Christians, really making an effort to reach them? They grew up with one of the most fatherless generations and they are turning their backs on the church. They didn’t find any hope but they saw church leaders wearing a mask of a different message that they preached from the pulpit. This is what I have heard young people say, not just throwing out random words. They hear the statements and know the truth, but don’t see evidence of this truth being lived out among other church leaders.
I have heard countless stories about how pastors received their calling as a 20 something, then another pastor who believed in them gave them the opportunity to grow in their calling by walking through life with them with encouraging words, mentoring, internships. Have we lost the ability to affirm and give opportunities to young people to fulfill and sharpen their God-given gifts? Are we lazy? Have we lost hope for the younger generation? Are we afraid that they will do better than us? My prayer for me even at the age of 26 is to have someone in the future do everything I do a hundred times better. I know for a fact someone will do better than me in everything I have and will be able to do and I am excited to see that happen. I actually look forward to that day. Because I know they’ll reach more people for the kingdom than I ever could because they saw the change that needed to happen to bring many more people to Jesus.
I know many pastors and elders say that we have no respect for our elders and respect is a term that has lost its meaning in the younger generation. We grew up in a culture and society that does not know respect as a whole. You watch the news and see disrespect, hate and immaturity all the time. It’s a part of who we are because its how the was when we got here. My generation needs to learn what respect is. So, please don’t turn a younger generation off because we haven’t fully learned or seen respect in our lives like generation before us did. The world has changed. I am thankful for a mom that taught me respect despite the other ways of life around me. I want to say sorry on behalf of my generation for showing disrespect to our elders but please don’t turn us off or away. Those actions, in many ways, is a cry for help. It is a cry to teach us the way. We need our church elders to show us and teach us the way since we were never taught like they were. This is where I am in life. I have stepped away from serving in ministry to just focus on growing personally as a man. I attend a men’s group on Wednesday now because I need growth and transparency in my life. I don’t need a DVD and a book to follow along and fill in the blank. I need real men that will open up to talk about real life and real situations and real mistakes and real victories and real transformation in Christ. I have seen enough fake and have seen some men but are still boys. I need men that have been in the pits and come out better because of Jesus. Men that are men defined by God that aren’t afraid to push and challenge me to make a man of God to someday bring up other real men of God as well. I am afraid that my generation won’t ever reach manhood because we have no clue what that looks like. We need to develop into manhood. A DVD and fill in the blank book won’t develop me into manhood. We need people who will share their mistakes and show us how they changed to become a better person. My generation and I need the stories of the elders. We need the seasoned people that have been married fifty years to teach us. We need you!
So, here I am crying out for forgiveness and asking elders to rise up. Reach your hand out to a lost young adult generation but don’t reach if we aren’t willing. We have had enough broken promises and so-called “men” come and go out of our lives. We need stability. We need realness rooted in Christ. That is our cry! Help us be heard. Help us take the tape off our mouths. This is our cry. Are the elders ready to hear the cry and reach out?