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Jesus for the Next Generation

by Donna Lucas

My youngest daughter has crossed that bridge from cute child to tragic teen. Being thirteen is such a challenge!  Somehow, she went overnight from a funny, curly-headed kid to an argumentative alien who is invading my space.  She challenges me on everything.  While I try not to let her push my buttons, sometimes I just want to say, “STOP TALKING!”  But her culture says, “Question everything!”—and she DOES! An attitude of questioning everything is not necessarily a bad thing. But it can become a challenge to our kids’ growing in faith if they do not get good answers!

A second challenge is the agenda of the culture.  When my oldest entered junior high, public schools had a fairly subtle agenda. But fast forward ten years and two daughters and now there is nothing subtle about it; in fact, much of what we adults know as history is not only “politically incorrect”—it is not even mentioned, as if it never happened!

This shift became obvious as my youngest studied Early Civilization in sixth grade. I suddenly realized how desperately she needed to understand both the Bible and Jesus’ place in it, because her textbooks were just plain wrong about Jewish history! We had many discussions about the truth of the Bible versus the textbook. As we compared the Bible with the textbook, I could see the questions in her eyes: “Who is telling me the truth—the teacher or Mom? Textbook or Bible? Is there really only one thing that is true?” As early as sixth grade some teachers were letting kids know that “Christian” belief meant being intolerant or uneducated.  The cultural message has become, “If you are a Christian, you must not be very smart.”

And on top of the question-everything attitude and the cultural agendas come the distractions. As my second and third graders leave Sunday School, I wonder “Whose influence will win out next week? Tomorrow? This afternoon?” As soon as they leave the building, the world’s distractions begin to chip away at whatever they might have learned that morning.

The pundits tell us that we are losing this generation, that this generation is so different than other generations. But is this really true?  Have the internet or Apple, Google or Facebook created this problem? As much as we would love to blame someone, these things are not the villains.

When I was a question-everything high schooler, the “devil” was that newfangled thing called Cable TV. MTV was a phenomenon. Not everyone had cable, so we would get together to watch as a group. We watched that now-infamous Apollo launch and we all sang, “I want my MTV!”  (And now that you know how old I am, you are probably wondering, “How does she keep that youthful appearance?!” But the summer of 1981 was just thirty years ago. Of course saying, “JUST thirty years ago” . . . that is just what old people say!)

But back to the point, are we in danger of losing this generation? The question of who will win that battle is not a new one!  In fact, Henrietta Mears, founder of Gospel Light said, “Our youth are on the auction block being sold to the highest bidder.”

She said that in the 1930’s!  So as much as attitudes, agendas or media change, the distractions and attacks on kids do not change much and kids’ needs remain the same. We may need to communicate differently with this generation, but the truth of who Jesus is and the power of what He can do is no different than it was in the book of Acts. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever! When we hear that an entire generation (and ultimately the future of the church) hangs in the balance, we need to remember that EVERY generation has hung in the balance.

That is the reason we need to empower every Christian to tell the next generation about Jesus—it is not only the responsibility of the church or pastors or Sunday School teachers!  And that means more than our saying words from the Bible; even though it is through the Bible that we know Jesus better, those words must be coupled with changed lives, for when we have a deep spiritual relationship with Jesus, His Spirit will work through us to give His Word a fire and life that “preaches” loudly—it does not matter whether we are Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials or Generation “Jobs” (as in Steve)!

The best news in all of this is that as a leader at your church, great tools to help you do this are already available—Sunday School and VBS!  These programs are created to help you lead this generation to Jesus and into powerful, lifelong relationship with Him. That way, no matter what attitudes they may learn, what agendas may come against them or whatever distractions attempt to draw them away, they will be confident because they are truly experiencing the love of Jesus. Then when their faith is challenged, questioned or even ridiculed, that genuine relationship with Jesus will help the next generation walk through difficult times in triumph!

Fun is important—and the word can mean a variety of things to different people! But kids want more than FUN. For faith to be effectively passed on, kids need a teacher who knows their name, who cares about what is going on in their lives and who will tell them the truth, even if they question it.  They want someone to help them understand the Bible and to show them that God is real—by their own transformed lives as well as their words. Kids need people who will show them how it works, people who will give them Jesus—in both words and deeds.

In view of the attitudes, the agendas and the distractions out there, it is urgent that we reach kids for Jesus and nurture their relationships with Him! If you share this urgency, send me an email ([email protected]) or stop by the Gospel Light booth at CPC.  I would love to meet you and talk to you about what you are doing in your church to bring Jesus to the next generation!

Serving Christ through you,

Donna Lucas

Donna Lucas, a pastor’s daughter from New York, left the world of big-budget fashion shoots and world travel to serve VBS and Sunday School teachers as Gospel Light’s Publishing Director. She’s also head cheerleader (and laundress) for the Lucas Three, her amazing girl athletes. Married to her favorite athlete of all, Jack, for over twenty years. She also volunteers in Children’s Ministry every week at her church.

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