“The church is always just one generation away from extinction.” This is a phrase used by leaders all over the world as they describe the future of the church. Many also say that children are the future of the church and others argue that children are not the future; they are the church of today. No matter where your position is on this, one thing seems apparent; the church today does not live and act like it is one generation away from extinction and that young people are critical to its future. A brand new study of a large denomination indicates that more than ¾ of all clergy and laity believe the church needs to do something to attract more young people and nurture their faith. However, the same study indicates that less than 1/3 believes that the church needs to change its priorities, budget and ministry style to achieve this. Most of us live like Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20: 19. Isaiah tells him of the destruction that is about to come to his kingdom and Hezekiah asks, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?” Isn’t that just like us? We wonder about our own comfort, security, and desires and let those who come after us deal with what ever comes their way.
Leaders like Walt Mueller, Perry Noble, Andy Stanley and George Barna indicate that if we are going to establish a church for the next generation it means doing whatever it takes today to bring them in and nurture them. It means putting a priority on making sure that we live out what Deuteronomy instructs, “… to talk about our faith with young people at all times and in places.” It means welcoming children in a way that engages them. That is much easier to say than to do, but from Abraham to Jesus we see God’s care and concern for the next generation. So as you look at your church ask yourself these questions:
How do we demonstrate that the next generation is a priority for us? (e.g., budget, time, style, ministries, etc.)
How are we preparing for the next generation like David in Psalm 78:1-8 and Psalm 71:17-18?
How are we living out Mark 10:13-16? (Let the children come to me…..)