Say YES to the Next Generation

say-yes-next-genOver three dozen names of people who believed in Paul, discipled him, and went on journeys with him.  Paul couldn’t make his statements in a vacuum. It was molded by people.

If we want to say yes to the next generation, we must say yes to building churches of people that matter.

Programs don’t disciple people. People disciple people.
Programs provide the way for people to enter into relationships.
Are our programs just keeping people busy or are they bringing people into relationship?

1 -Make disciples

What if we made sure our structures serve people? This is about MAKING disciples, not finding them. We can’t just go find disciples, we make them. This means hard work. We must organize our time, resources, and energy around this.

People mattered to Jesus and they felt it.

  • Fishermen became followers
  • Tax collectors became philanthropists
  • Political powers became servants

Paul understood it was about being invited into a story bigger than his own.

In Romans 16  Paul shared about the people who shaped him.

Who has shaped you?

Whose list is your name going to show up on? When kids  and teens walk out the door and the credits roll, whose name will be on their list? We have the ability to be able to control that. Who will tell their story and include your name? We’ve got to build the Romans 16 list for our kids and teens.

2 – We also have to name their potential

What if we could draw out the person Jesus created each kid and teen to be?

This is more than words of inspiration or admiration. Our words matter. We’ve got to see things in kids and teens that they may not even see in themselves.

  • When Samuel looked at David, he didn’t see a shepherd he saw a king.
  • Jesus saw Peter not as a fisherman but the rock who would build the church.
  • Paul saw Timothy not as a punk kid but an example for all believers.

We have got to name the potential we see in kids’ lives. We can’t control the choices they make but we can control the words we say.

3 – Brave their mess

We have to say yes to stepping into this mess they will create or find themselves in.

Community is messy. Always has been and always will be. But sifting through the mess can be the catalyst for growth.

We say yes to mess from the time they are in diapers and drool. If only it could stay that clean.

Illustration: 
While sitting on the third base line watching the Nationals I get a text message from a teenager. She’s confused and frightened. Two innings later, she confesses that she thinks she may be pregnant. So after the game, let’s  find a CVS so we can get a pregnancy test. We sit together to find out what her future would be looking like.

We have to say yes to the mess. Sometimes the mess are sins they have committed or sometimes the mess are sins that have been committed against them.

There’s life mess. Family mess. How will we respond in the midst of it?

We have got to brave the mess and speak life into it.We’ve gotta say yes to stepping into the mess.

Remind kids and teens: Mess is not final and fatal. This could be the incubator for growth. Brave the mess. God does not leave them in the middle of the mess; it can be for their growth and God’s glory.

Saying yes to the mess means inconvenience and shifting priorities.

4 – Tell them a story that is larger than their own

It’s one thing to explain grace, another to experience it. We have got to find ways to make kids and teens experience grace. We have to create spaces where grace lives.

It’s one thing to believe a list of statements and rules to follow. It’s another thing to see a person who lives it out. What if we told stories of grace over and over? We’re not going to win by statements. We have to lead with conversation not condemnation. It’s not rules to live by but a calling to live for.

Let’s look at two great preachers, Wesley and Whitfield. Both left tremendous sermons in their wake. Whitfield was the better preacher, but Wesley also spent time and energy building up other preachers. Wesley left an entire generation of people who created a movement.

We may not be able to control the messes kids and teens find themselves in, but we can control the people in their life. We may not be able to control what the world tells them who they are and should be but we can make certain they know who God says they are.

If we are going to say yes to the next generation, we cannot let Jesus’ last command become our least concern. We must provide a safe place to present the Gospel and invite kids and teens into a story that is larger than their own.

We have to invite them to experience grace.

Are we ready to Say Yes to the next generation?

Are you willing to be part of a story bigger than you?


Adapted from a sermon presented by Heather Lempel , Discipleship Pastor & Campus Ministries Director of National Community Church in Washington D.C. at the Orange Conference 2014 Main Session 2.

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