By Dr. Steve Horn, Executive Director, Louisiana Baptists
The Imperatives of Reaching the Next Generation
Why is it imperative to reach the next generation?
Command of God from the beginning is to reach the next generation.
The first reason that it is imperative to reach the next generation is to recognize that “reaching the next generation” is a God-given command from the beginning. Consider with me a few key texts.
- Deuteronomy 6:7 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
- Joshua 4:21-24 21 Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; 23for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, 24that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”
- Judges 2:10-11 10 When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel. 11Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals;
As we read the Old Testament, the failing of Israel was not that the first generation disobeyed, it was that they failed to pass their faith to the next generation. As has been said many times before me, “We are only one generation away from extinction.”
So, we must find ways to reach this new generation.
Compassion for this Generation
If we believe that Heaven is reserved for those who place their faith in Jesus and Hell awaits for those who refuse Jesus, how could we not have compassion for the next generation?
Again, listen to the Scripture:
- Ezekiel 3:18 18 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.
- Proverbs 24:11-12 11Deliver those who are drawn toward death,
And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.
12If you say, “Surely we did not know this,”
Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?
He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?
And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?
If we believe in the reality of Heaven and Hell, how could we not be willing to do whatever it takes to make sure we communicate effectively the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
This generation can be the catalyst for reaching the world.
As each of us grows older, some sobering realities begin to be evident. One of those sobering realities is that our time is running out to reach the world. The progression of the text in verse 18 is that we take this message to the next generation, then to everyone who is to come. Here is how this text speaks to me. If we are going to reach the world, some of us have to admit that our best chance is to reach the next generation. It will be them not us that reaches the world. If we are going to be faithful in doing our part to reach the world, we must reach the next generation.
When I think about our task of reaching the next generation a relay race comes to mind. In the relay race, the most important part of the race is not in the running, but in the passing of the baton. Pray with me that it won’t be under this generation’s lap around the track that we drop the baton in passing our relationship with Christ on to the next generation.
A Word of Caution about Reaching the Next Generation
The key will be integrity!
In establishing the foundation of reaching the next generation, we have to this point spoken exclusively in regards to the “why.” Let’s take just a moment to understand an incredibly important point in regards to the “how” of reaching the next generation. I believe there are lots of ways to reach the next generation. I don’t believe there is just one. Some churches do it with non-traditional ministries; other churches do ministry with what might be considered more “traditional” ministries. (Whatever those words mean to you.) Regardless to style that is preferred, I am absolutely convinced of this: The next generation will only be reached with integrity. This generation sees right through that which is not authentic. In short, we must practice what we preach. That’s how our children will be reached.
By Jeff Ginn, Pastor, Istrouma Baptist Church
Imprint: Marking the Next Generation
- The imprint of a previous generation marks my own. I have given thought to some believers whose faith imprinted mine.
- But the man who imprinted my life more than anyone was _______ (parent or another).
- I thank God for _________’s imprint on me and pray that I, too, can leave an imprint and mark the next generation for Christ.
- Deuteronomy 6:4-12 tell us how we can imprint the rising generation. Let’s stand in honor of God’s word as it is read:“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.10 “And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
- God commands us to leave an imprint on the rising generation. What will it take to make that happen?
- It will take at least three things.
- First, we will have to listen intently.
- Second, we will have to love intensely.
- Finally, we will have to lead intentionally.
- Listen intently
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one (6:4).
- Verse four begins the Shema. It is the best-known Old Testament passage to all practicing Jews. Children learn it as infants and many repeat it each day of their lives.
- It begins, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
- If we are to imprint the next generation, we must, first, hear from the Lord.
- Who is it that is to hear Him?
- Targeted audience
- The targeted audience is Israel. They owe the Lord a hearing! He has every right to expect a hearing.
- He rescued them. He is, according to verse 12, the one “who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
- He sustained them.
- He promised them. He is the one, according to verses 10-11 who, “brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant.”
- This is a new generation standing before a new geography and God says, “Listen!”
- I don’t like it, but I understand if a stranger doesn’t listen to me, but I expect that my children will hear and heed my voice.
- Insert example of someone who listened to you.
- Oh that I listened to and obeyed the Lord like he did that day! The good thing is that the Lord never commands us amiss!
- The Exodus generation is passing. The Deuteronomy generation is rising. Their most desperate need is to “Hear.”
- The targeted audience is Israel. They owe the Lord a hearing! He has every right to expect a hearing.
- Theological affirmation
- The initial command is that they listen. The content is a theological affirmation. Before he talked about duty, he talks about doctrine. The primary truth we must imprint on our children and congregations is not a list of behaviors, much less is it a methodology. It is theology.
- “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” It is a reference to His unity and his uniqueness.
- Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, “Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness.” And Gen. 1:31, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
- Isaiah 6:1, “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[a] of his robe filled the temple.” And Isaiah 6:8-9, “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go….”
- Listening can be a matter of life and death.
- On April 26, 2018 in Gorakhpur in Northern India, a train collided with a small bus full of children. 13 were killed. The wreck occurred because the driver was distracted. He wasn’t listening or, rather he was listening to the wrong thing. He had on head phones. He didn’t hear the train barreling toward him or its blaring horn. He didn’t hear the crossing guard shouting. He didn’t hear the cries of the children. He didn’t listen. And 13 children died.
- Listen and live!
- To mark the next generation, not only must we listen intently, we must love intensely.
- Love intensely
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (6:5).
- We are to love him with all our heart, soul, and might. It is interesting that that list of three varies in order and even number as it is recited in the NT.
- Perhaps the more important word is the little word all. With all that we are. With all intensity and sincerity, we are to love the Lord. With all our mind, with all our wealth, with all our days!
- Love Him with the totality of who you are.
- “Jesus condemned the Pharisees because, although they were very religious and honored God with their lips, their hearts were far from Him (Mark 7:6-8). They kept their religious rituals, but lacked a love relationship with God. If we’re not careful, it’s easy to fall into going through the motions of being Christians outwardly, but all the while, we’re not loving God on the heart level.” Cole https://bible.org/seriespage/10-raising-godly-generations-deuteronomy-61-25
- Love as affection
- He did not say, you shall obey the Lord your God.
- He did not say, you shall fear the Lord your God.
- He did say, you shall love the Lord your God.
- Love must always be more than affection, but never less.
- Rev. left your first love. Rev. 2:2, “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance . . . But then comes verse 4, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”
- Is there anything better than puppy love. Yes, old love. Mature love.
- Love as action
- This is the summation of the law.
- Loving God is not just a matter of having warm feelings about Him, although we should feel love for Him. Genuine love for God results in obedience to His Word. As Jesus said (John 14:21), “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” (See, also, John 14:23; 15:10, 14; 1 John 5:3.)
- 1 John 5:3 is very clear on this! “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
- I could borrow the well-known phrase, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”
- You can obey without loving, but you cannot love without obeying.
- Lead intentionally
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children (6:6-7a).
- Lead by illustration
- Verse 6 precedes verse 7.
- Before we can “teach them diligently to [our] children,” God’s words must be on our hearts! That is we must embrace and live them if we are to imprint them with any effectiveness on the next generation.
- Moses chose to refuse the King’s
- 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents [Amram and Jochebed], because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
- Moses was not afraid because he had learned from his parents not to be afraid!
- Lead by instruction
- When? At all times
- Verse 7 says, You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
- Every second moment time
- Proverb before school
- Blessing every night
- Where? Every sphere place
- 2 Tim. 1:5, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
- In 2008 the Olympic Games were held in Beijing. The track and field events were held in the famous “Bird’s Nest” stadium. The US 4×100 meter relay teams were heavy favorites to medal. But in a 30 minute span the hopes of eight runners and an entire nation were dashed. The women’s team botched their baton pass heading into the anchor leg. Not to be outdone, the men’s team did the same.
- In relay events, the race is won or lost often in the passing of the baton. Do it well, you win. Do it poorly, you lose.
- The continuance of the Christian faith depends upon one generation successfully passing the baton to the next. Leaders must make sure their disciples grasp the faith.
- When? At all times
- Lead by illustration
- Susana Wesley—her imprint upon the church through her sons, John and Charles.
- Insert a contemporary example of someone who is imprinting the next generation.
- Our children, the rising generation at church.
- Imprint. Listen intently. Love intensely. Lead intentionally.