Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Intergenerational Inspiration

"Not by might nor by power, but my Spirit says the Lord Almighty." Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)

Today's Christian church needs to understand how to lead young people in order to prepare them for the future. When I say young people, I am speaking of youth (middle school children & teens) and young adults (18-30). During the Obama campaign, some have dubbed what I am calling "young adults" the Joshua Generation.

The Bible speaks clearly to how this should be done in many instances. The Books of Wisdom (Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes) share insights into how to train children and direct them in a life that pleases and honors God. Solomon's writing of Proverbs opens with a directive to his children in obtaining wisdom, especially Proverbs 1:8-9. Yet, I offer some more practical passages that may aid those serving in our local churches with today's youth and young adults.

Titus 2:1-5
Paul assigned Titus in Crete to straightened out what was wrong and to appoint elders among the believers (Titus 1:5). In offering more specific directives, Paul shares in chapter two of this pastoral epistle, how Titus should train his people. This section of the epistle deals with what I would consider intergenerational interchanges. Older women working with the younger women and older men training the young men, all along with the pastoral leadership of Titus in place. Oddly enough, the pastor just can't assign or appoint someone to lead the ministry or implement the program without being involved with it in some capacity.

Ephesians 4:11-13
Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus a letter that shares a lot of how-to knowledge necessary for being the church. In fact, Colossians is a Pauline epistle that very reflective of the content of Ephesians. The passage referenced here deals with the spiritual gifts provided by the Lord for the individuals within the church to edify those within the church so that the entire church will be at work for the Lord's purpose and plan as well as positioned and prepared for the Lord's return to reclaim His church, which is His body of believers. In essence, it is about being positioned for a purpose established by the Lord Himself.

What does that have to do with youth and young adults? Paul never says for the church is only supposed to train seasoned saints 65 and older. he never said that only adults will be trained and taught, built up for the work of the ministry. he said saints. The point of VBS and all of that other kids' stuff in church isn't for the sake of not having them occupy the pews in the back of the church where they stick their gum and write notes to one another on the church bulletins or sermon outlines. The point of it all is to have them taught and trained for the work of the ministry according to the Lord's purpose.

Our churches, church leaders, and youth pastors, even young adult leaders, need to see God's purpose and intent behind having us in place. We need to ensure that what we provide our people, including our youth and young adults, prepares and positions them to please and honor God.

There must be an intergenerational interchange that leads to infusing youth and young adults into the ministry and the work of the church itself, not just putting the kids on program on annual youth Sunday. If your annual youth Sunday services leave you wondering why some youth don't seem to get it when it comes around to that one particular Sunday you have designated as their time, you also have to realize that you have never worked with or trained these same people all year either. Thus, in essence, you failed to prepare them for their time to shine.

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