Why Reach the Next Generation?
I am a huge sports fan and am especially passionate about college football. Successful college football programs have multiple staff persons devoted to high school recruiting. They understand the importance of identifying potential players who will come to compete for them in the future. Every church can learn from this process and take a page from college football’s playbook.
Reaching the next generation is vital to the local church. While not an exhaustive list, here are some reasons to focus on the next generation.
The Gospel Matters
- The good news that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for our sins is still the greatest news and must be the paramount message of the church. Southern Baptists have discussed the decline in salvations for more than a decade, yet little has changed. According to recent studies by the National Association of Evangelicals and the Nazarene Church Growth Research, between 63 percent and 85 percent of all evangelical Christians made the decision to trust Christ between the ages of 4 and 14, a statistic that has become known as the “4/14 window.” The Great Commission compels us to share the good news of Jesus Christ, which is why we must reach the next generation.
The Church Matters
- The dropout rate in church involvement for high school graduates is alarming. In the book, You Lost Me, author Gabe Lyons states, “Overall, there is a 43 percent drop between the teen and early adult years in terms of church engagement.” While I don’t believe the numbers are as bleak as others suggest, there must be an effort to keep the next generation engaged in the church. The local church must focus on reaching the next generation and instilling in them the importance of the body of Christ. It is critical for the local church to teach Biblical doctrine on the importance of the local church, be intentional about reaching the next generation, and include the next generation in the everyday rhythms of the church.
The Next Generation Matters
- Look at the media outlets that surrounds you. Political campaigns, college admissions departments and retail companies constantly market their product to the next generation. The church must do the same. The next generation is looking for a place to belong. The church must open their arms and make sure these young people know that they are welcome, they are important and can fulfill places of leadership within your congregation. In his book, Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture, Walt Mueller emphasizes this point, “The church faces a moment of unprecedented opportunity. The youth culture is calling. If we fail to listen and faithfully respond, we’re effectively telling them we don’t care or we have nothing to say. We hold back the good news from those who so desperately need to hear. Perhaps saddest of all is that we don’t even know when we’re doing it.”
Reaching the next generation takes time and energy for the local church, but we have a responsibility to reach them with the Gospel and train them in a Biblical fashion. They are not just the future of the church; they are the present.
Billy Young | Next Generation Ministries, Lead Catalyst