Several years ago my friend, Gina McClain, posed a question in one of her blogs that has stuck with me. She asked, “What if this generation of kids will be the one to fulfill the great commission?” What if? Undoubtedly this generation has more access to travel, communication, and technology than any previous generation. What if the kids sitting in your ministry and/or at your dinner table are the ones God wants to use to reach the remaining parts of the world that haven’t yet heard the gospel?
If this is the generation that has that type of potential, there is a more pressing question.
Are we doing all we can to prepare this generation to share Jesus to the ends of the earth?
What do children and youth need to prepare them to live out the Great Commission?
- They need a solid faith that will stand when faced with the terrible realities of unreached countries. They need a faith that is more than “believe in Jesus, be good and be happy.” They need a genuine relationship with a Savior that can stand up under the hard questions of disease, persecution, depravity, and other seemingly impossible situations.
- They need to know their Bible. They need to know doctrine so that they know the truth as they encounter alternate beliefs. They need to be so rooted in it that the can communicate truth.
- They need to memorize Scripture. Many third world countries are oral cultures. They are not literate. Communicating the Bible through story and from memory will be extremely valuable.
- They need a faith that can lean on God in the loneliness of ministry in a foreign land with limited access to other believers. We know how important community is, but even more important is a relationship with God that is so vital it can be independent of others.
- They need multiple experiences outside of their normal context in which they can serve. They also need experiences that are multi-cultural and in which they interact with people from all different socioeconomic statuses.
- They need exposure to the needs for the gospel all around the world. Kids and teens need awareness of unreached people groups, the persecuted church, and the lostness right on their own street.
- They need leaders in their lives who not only love them but exemplify servanthood and being in the trenches of mission. While they need to see leaders who are theologically trained and are excellent communicators, they also need to see leaders who love Jesus and can fix a generator or can use a hammer and nails. In his book, The Insanity of Obedience, Nik Ripken says, “Perhaps the apparent shortage of young, single men on the mission field is linked to our current model of ministry that emphasizes polished presentation more than towels and washbasins.”
- They need spiritual disciplines because they will be their lifelines when living on mission, whether at home or somewhere else. Prayer, worship, Bible study and more will be independent and not driven by others.
These are big ideas. Are they really appropriate to focus on during our kids’ childhood and teen years? I believe yes. I believe that creating environments and families that lay these foundations will develop kids who are more likely to share their faith and to share a burden for the nations.
On the other hand…
- If we create church experiences that are primarily focused on them – their entertainment, their comfort, etc.. are we embedding a selfishness that is in conflict with the selflessness necessary for a life of gospel work?
- If our lessons are light and inspirational but limited in spiritual depth, are they developing a faith that can face disease, poverty, persecuted believers, and other seemingly impossible situations?
- If all they know about worship are perfectly produced with a high priority on comfort and entertainment, will they be able to honor the people and the worship that occurs on concrete, dusty floors, wooden benches, no air conditioning, and no sound system?
I want to process these ideas a lot more. A lot is at stake. I believe how we lead these kids really does matter in the long term. I would love your thoughts and for you to process this along with me. Let’s work together to develop a generation that can fulfill the Great Commission.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8