A Cry for the Next Generation

The teens in our churches are walking out the doors right before our eyes. Research from the Barna Research Group found that over 60% of teens raised in the church leave before adulthood. These are young people who said they attended church regularly and even went to Sunday school often. And a new poll out just this past month shows that Millennials are leaving the church in historic numbers. So what is happening?

The Problem

The answer is actually quite simple. During the formative teen years, their faith was bombarded by messages from the world and ultimately it did not stand against the attacks.

Let’s consider for a minute the day of an average teen. When they get up, many instantly access social media on their phones. Their news feed is packed with stories and posts, but what are the messages they are receiving from them? Then, as they get ready and head to school, teens often listen to secular music on the radio. Music with messages often celebrating the very sins that Jesus died to set us free from. At school, they hang out with friends all day who are a huge influence – good or bad – on them. The majority of church attending teens go to public schools where believing that God created the world in six literal days is called “anti-science,” the religion of secular humanism is being taught under the disguise of evolution; marriage is redefined, and genders are eliminated. After school, there are sports or other extra curricular activities, and while not bad in and of themselves, they can often become the very center of what teens live their lives for. Finally, they head home where, after they finish their homework, they sit down and relax in front of the TV, which is another avenue that normalizes and celebrates sin and the “life is all about me” mentality.

Do you notice what is missing from their day? God. For the majority of teens, God is relegated to one hour a week on Sunday and perhaps a daily chapel service if they attend a Christian school. Such a slim amount of time to counter the constant, never relenting attacks of this world! And while this is not every teen (there are always exceptions), it is many of them.

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This wave of worldliness is powerful and while we hope the teens we know and love can weather it, the statistics show that almost two thirds of them do not. Tonight, look at your children sitting at your dinner table. Can you imagine if half of them walked away from Jesus Christ? This is the worst imaginable thing that could happen to them because it has eternal consequences!

We’ve got to do something. We’ve got to fight back for them.

So, what is the solution?

What We Can Do

We need to prepare and equip the teens with the power of God’s Word and not just for an hour once a week. No, if their faith is going to stand against the attacks, they need to regularly be in their Bibles. We need to be teaching them how to look to God for answers to their questions. We need to talk (often) about the issues of our day and show them how God’s Word is still as relevant and powerful as it ever was. We need to confidently stand with the authority of God’s Word on issues like creation, marriage, and the family. Teens need to be shown that God created them for a purpose, that he loves them like crazy, and that he has a plan for each one of them.

Then, in addition to constantly pointing them back to the truths in Scripture, we need to show them what it means to follow Jesus. We don’t just sit back, enjoy our salvation, and live our lives like the rest of the world (with a few more rules). No, since our hope is secure, we live for what is to come and our lives are devoted to accomplishing God’s calling to "go" (Matt 28:18-20). Are we modeling this for the teens? Do they see that we are willing to stake our entire lives on the fact that we know God is who he says he is?

This is a big task so we as the body of Christ need to support and encourage one another as we walk alongside the teens. That is why we feel God has led us to start Chosen Gen Teen Ministry. God has put a love in our hearts for this next generation of the church and we believe the best way to reach them is through you, the people God has already placed in their lives. Chosen Gen is all about outfitting teen discipleship. It’s about praying fervently for our young people; it’s about rallying the church to rise up and invest in this next generation; it’s about supporting and encouraging parents as they navigate the teen years with their children.

There is Hope

This battle requires that everyone get involved in some way. Unless the people of God rise up to fight back, we are only going to see more and more young people exchange a real life in Jesus for a fading one with the world. But there is hope because:

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4

We believe God is moving in a big way. Not only can God call our young people back to him, but he can raise up the next generation in a way we’ve never seen before! Can you imagine the impact on our world if the next generation rose up to shine the light of Jesus Christ in this increasingly dark world?

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

Teens have passion; they have energy; they have time and flexibility. Think of what God can do with a generation of young people who are willing to risk it all for God and his glory!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21

We couldn't be more excited to share Chosen Gen Teen Ministry with you and we pray that everyone will step out and fight for the next generation of the church. Let's go; God has got this!

Monday, Monday, So Good to Me

As much as I love weekends, Monday morning brings with it the hope of getting back on course and the chore of doing so! Monday means returning to the routines of the coming week. If we work outside the home, we organize our time around the work schedule, family, children, home or aspirations. If we choose to stay in the home, our pace is set according to what we hope to accomplish there. No matter our particular life, Monday lays before us choices for the week ahead. What choices have you made today? Have you thought ahead or are you just waiting for your life to happen? In Titus 2, Paul lays out the results of choices that women of God can make, and the specific reasons for doing so.  Ever since the words were penned to Titus, women have a guide for living each day in God’s way.

Let’s take a look. Paul says to teach older woman to be reverent and respectful in their choice of words and behavior.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Titus 2:3

The outcome of reverence, a word which implies love and respect for God, is a willing desire to teach younger woman. The list of choices here is to be loving to husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, kind, and respectful of the role God has assigned husbands as the head of the household.

Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands  Titus 2:4-5

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When I was in my twenties, the Lord called my husband to start a school in California. We were 1500 miles from home, far away from family and friends. During that time my wise heavenly Father began my preparation for what I was to become. He arranged several mentors to walk with me on this journey, various men and women who loved the Lord. Each encouraged me to live out my unique life for God’s purpose.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, one of those mentors was a seventy-five year-old man named Mr. Haynes. He had a first name, Irv, but I could not bring myself to call him that because I respected him so much. During our twelve years of friendship, Mr. Haynes taught me how to garden, how to build furniture, how to appreciate classical music, how to enjoy poetry, how to respect my husband and understand him. He also taught me the names of every native and imported plant in California, among many more valuable skills.

Mr. Haynes had been a Christian minister, and then life moved him on to being a human resource director at a very large company in Los Angeles. I met him after his retirement, at our back fence, as a neighbor. He knew the name and uses of an exotic fruit bush growing on our adjoining properties. He also possessed a keen understanding of what humans need to improve and develop. I guess I needed help, because I became his project.

Mr. Haynes understood my faith, and yet he saw the immaturity and lack of skill in putting my faith into action. I had head knowledge and no practicality in putting what I said into action. Through the years he patiently helped me learn. Looking back, I now see that he was instilling this attitude in me: You are what you are becoming.

Here’s what I learned in a nutshell. If you want to become a gardener, be one now. If you want to become knowledgeable, study your topic thoroughly. If you want to become loved and respected by others, be loving and respectful to others. Not rocket science, but I was a wannabe and a lost little soul without direction. He helped me see myself and my future more clearly by teaching me how to focus on it now.

How about you? Can you imagine yourself in thirty to forty years? What will you be doing? Who will you have become? What will family, friends and peers be able to say about you? Will you be living out your life’s purpose?

These are tough questions to answer because they lie in the future. The truth is, only God knows the answers to what your life will be and how you will live out your purpose. However, God’s Word gives a glimpse of where to focus. Through faith, we can pursue a life worthy of the gospel, confident of the results. A great place to start is found in Proverbs. Here we see the outcome of a believing woman’s life, a life lived God’s way.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:25-26

Would you like to be this woman? Take a whirl in Titus 2 and Proverbs 31. God has work for us to do and attitudes to instill as we are becoming more like Christ. A skeptic might read and ask, why are we encouraged to be reverent, loving, pure and kind? Look for the answer in Titus. To give glory to God; so that others around us will not malign the Word of God, but see our lives as an open book. Our character is a witness to the truth of God’s love for us in Christ. It’s our high calling as God’s girls.

Whether you are a younger or older woman, can your choices this Monday and every day be more focused on becoming a Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 woman? With God’s help, and with his encouragement to live out our lives for him, the answer is yes. Yes, we can confidently set our hearts on “being what we are becoming”, women of faith and women of purpose, reverent, loving and respectful.

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