Posted by: pastortomvabeach | June 20, 2017

Thought for the Week June 25, 2017

We have been discussing the core values of Christian Chapel. Do you remember what they are? We are Christ-centered, people-focused, relational, authentic, prayer-empowered, and relevant. There is one more that is essential if we are to keep this expression of the local church thriving into the future.

That is, we are future-minded. This doesn’t mean we fix out hearts on a future world and romanticize what it will be like. It means that we aggressively invest our resources to establish the faith in the next generation because we want the good news of Jesus Christ to continue after we are gone. Think about it. The preceding six values will have no value at all if our children and their children no longer embrace the faith. If we fail to pass on our love for God, our faith in Jesus, and our love for others, we have failed in our mission which is to Make Jesus Known.

The great commission, Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20), doesn’t only apply to strangers and those outside our family circles. The logical first disciples we should make are our own children. The second commandment, love your neighbor as yourself, doesn’t only apply to non-family members. Our nearest neighbors are our children.

One may say that is the job of parents. True, parents are the first ones responsible. But did you know that the Bible says that raising up the next generation involves more than the parents? It takes others in the community of faith who come alongside parents and families. Near the end of his life Paul writes to Timothy, the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others (II Timothy 2:2). Timothy’s faith began at home with his mother and grandmother but blossomed in the larger community of faith and reached maturity through Paul’s mentoring.

In Psalm 78:1-6, we read, My people, listen to my instructions…I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—stories…our ancestors handed down to us…We will…tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders…For…He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them—even the children not yet born—and they in turn will teach their own children. I want you to notice He is not speaking only to parents. “My people” is addressed to the whole faith community, the whole church. And “My people” means people who have a personal relationship with God, who seek to have His character in their lives. Again, this is not only parents but everyone in the church.

The command God gave was to teach everything they had experienced to their children because the next generation needs to know and experience the same things if they are to pass it on the their children. And we all have a part in this. Older Christians are not absolved from this command because their children are grown. There are always younger adults and other children who need their years of experience and wisdom.

Beloved, we believe that our children are the most important asset this church has. They are more important than the pastor, the staff, the deacon board, the facility, or anything else. All of those things are getting older and if we don’t have someone in the wings to continue after us, we die! I can’t stress how vital it is for every member of our church to become future minded and accept the responsibility of passing on Jesus love to emerging generations of children, teens, and young adults.

Do you know that one of the generational traits of Millenials (born 1984-2000) is that they strongly desire older people to mentor them. They want to gain wisdom about parenting, marriage, finances, Christian service, etc., from those who have been there and done that. The difficulty comes when many of those in previous generations have decided that they should just sit back, rest, and enjoy all they’ve learned. Older believers need to get energized and motivated and stay in the game. We are losing young Christians by the droves and it’s our fault!

There is some very sad commentary in the Old Testament that relates to passing the faith to the next generation. Joshua 24:31, reads, The people of Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him—those who had personally experienced all that the LORD had done for Israel. On the surface that sounds encouraging. They were doing what they were supposed to, passing on the name and presence of the Lord but one has to read the opening verses of Judges to get the rest of the story: after that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel (Judges 2:10).

It’s almost difficult to believe that after seeing countless signs and wonders and winning so many victories that Joshua’s generation and the next dropped the ball and failed to leave the legacy of faith to the next generation. What happened? The Bible doesn’t say exactly. Maybe they were so pleased with what God gave them that they were just basking in the blessings and didn’t take the time to introduce their children to the Lord. I don’t know, but I don’t want that to happen to us.

So how to we flesh out being future minded? My thought would be that every adult who is in any way mature, especially those who have served the Lord a long time, should be actively involved in serving, teaching, mentoring, or some way pouring what God has given you into someone younger than you, especially into children and teens. Our church should never lack for people to lead the children’s and youth ministries. The adults in our church now outnumber the children. If you are not giving at least one week a month to pass on the faith, I urge you to see our children’s and youth leaders and find out how you can sign up. Seek out a young parent or young married couple and offer to give them some wisdom about how you made it. Be willing to give up your favorite spiritual entertainment (Bible study, worship, DVD series) so that you can give back what God has given you. Let’s all be future minded! Now that’s a lot of thoughts. Still love me?

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