A New Generation

One of the most challenging things for any generation to do is to pass the things that are near and dear to them along to the next generation.  Parents and leaders often dream of providing something for their children or followers that they themselves never had.  Great parents and leaders want to see their children and followers surpass them; accomplishing more and having greater success.  This is noble and it is biblical.

Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren (Proverbs 13:22)

Home and wealth are inherited from fathers, (Proverbs 19:14)

Children shouldn’t have to provide for their parents, but parents should provide for their children. (2 Corinthians 12:14)

The church, especially the charismatic, Pentecostal, or full-gospel church, has traditionally not done a good job raising up the next generation.  Most of our denominations and non-denominational churches were born in or around a move of the Spirit of God.  Many times we are unable to transition to the next stage of growth or the next movement or emphasis of the Spirit.  As a result new churches and new denominations are built when the next move or emphasis of the Spirit of God comes.

There is nothing wrong with new churches, but the unfortunate byproduct is a lack of discipleship for new believers.  We become so focused on what God is doing in our services that we do not build believers.  Christians are not made mature through church services alone.  Prayer, ministry, lots of biblical study and teaching along with self-sacrifice, living life and experiencing God are the things that make us mature (I’m sure there are other things too).

The essence of the Great Commission is not “Go ye into all the world have people pray the Sinner’s Prayer.”  The Great Commission is, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:19-20)  The key to a living growing church is new converts who become disciples who in turn bring new converts who in turn become disciples ad infinitum.

I am going to use the term “Sending Church”.  This term has been used by many others and for good reason.  The true measure of a church’s maturity is its ability to send.  Are we releasing the disciples we have made to fulfill the call of God upon their lives?  Are we planting new churches?  Are we sending missionaries?

The truth is we cannot be a “Sending Church” until we are a discipleship church.  We cannot release those who have been raised up until they have first been raised up.  Look around your church who is the next generation?  Is it you, your children, the usher, the nursery worker, the greeter; maybe it is the person who gave their heart to Jesus last Sunday.  Is there a mechanism in place to replicate the faith and knowledge of those leading your church into those worshipping at your church?  If not, why not?  If yes, are you participating?

Every believer needs to be able to lead others to the Lord.  In order to do this we need to know what we believe and why we believe it; we need to know the Bible.  A new generation of believers needs the same scriptural and spiritual foundation as every generation of believers has needed.  The challenge for us in the Spirit-filled community is to teach the basics, the doctrines, line by line, precept by precept things.  You know the things that don’t make people shout.  Yet it is these things that are the foundation for faith, the foundation for church ministry and the foundation for becoming mature in Christ.  When you get the chance check out the Statement of faith that is on this site; these are the things that new believers (and all believers) need to know.

Worship music changes, styles of preaching change and thankfully the décor of our sanctuaries change, but the Gospel remains the same, the doctrines of the Bible remain the same and God does not change.  We can be confident in establishing a way to pass on a spiritual and scriptural inheritance to each new generation of Christians.

My child, find your source of strength in the kindness of Christ Jesus. You’ve heard my message, and it’s been confirmed by many witnesses. Entrust this message to faithful individuals who will be competent to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:1-2)

The time between spiritual generations does not need to be long.  Believers begin to mature almost instantly.  Many new believers give witness to their faith immediately even when all they know is the experience they have had with Jesus.  The key is for believers to be connected to other believers and for them to be given the opportunity to grow and learn.

Society would be highly offended at parents who bring children into this world but have made no provision for them.  With natural human babies we have about 40 weeks advance notice.  During this time we have baby showers, we make nurseries, we buy cribs, diapers, bassinets, car seats, strollers, baby clothes, Veggie Tales, and lots of things the babies don’t even need.  We even buy things for the parents.  We take classes to prepare for birth and we read books to prepare for raising the child.  It is a significant event that is taken pretty seriously.

Think about the preparation and planning we put into the results of an altar call.  Here are some of the most frequent things I have seen:

  • We write the name and personal information down on a decision card
  • We given them a Bible, devotional or mini-book
  • We take them into a back room to pray with them and answer questions they may have

The church of the modern age has seemed to struggle with what comes next.  How do we assimilate these new Christians into the body of Christ?  How do they connect with us and how do we connect with them?

Is there preparation at your church for new believers?  Is there a plan for what happens when someone gives their heart to Jesus?  Is it working?

The scary thing is if the answer to these question is “no”.  Are we neglectful parents?  Are we creating fatherless believers because we simply want to give altar calls and never execute as fathers and mothers in the faith?  One could possibly say this is as bad as wanting to father a child but not raise a child (Amen or Oh Me).

“Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6)

The current generation is responsible for establishing the next generation.  The church that desires new believers in its midst has a divine responsibility to raise its children.  As a pastor, preacher, Sunday School Teacher, Small Group Leader, parent or Christian we should be spiritually reproducing ourselves.  This is not a speaking engagement or a prayer at the altar only (that’s the fun part).  We must be willing to invest in the dirty diapers, 3 am feedings, endless crying, etc. that comes along with new life.  We must care for them, carry them, train them, discipline them and eventually release them.

I want to see this generation of Christians establish a generation of discipleship that establishes a continuous cycles of growth.

I want to keep writing about this, but will save it for another message.  Let’s wrap this one up:

  • Christianity is not an event it is a permanent, enduring experience
  • Churches should be releasing and sending those who have been raised up in their midst
  • In order to be a “Sending Church” we must first be a discipleship church
  • Giving birth to new converts without a plan and preparations to turn them into disciples is like fathering children you never intend to raise.

My prayer for you and your church is that you would be great soul winners who make disciples and those disciples produce results greater than you can imagine.  The King is coming; we must prepare the earth for His arrival.

Things are coming down, things are coming down I can tell you
Beautiful the sound of things coming ’cause I heard him say

Division is coming down, I saw peace on a white horse riding
Love is spreading around, the most contagious disease we’ve ever known

I will drink from the well of the One who gives me life
I will eat of the bread of the One sacrifice
I will breathe of the breath of the body of God
I will dive to the depths and raise a new man

Racism is coming down, not from law but a change in perception
Revival’s spreading around, I hear the sound of reapers already say

I will drink from the well of the One who gives me life
I will eat of the bread of the One sacrifice
I will breathe of the breath of the body of God
I will dive to the depths and raise a new man

Our knees are going down, to the One who brings far to my every bone
His Kingdom’s reigning down, who can stop the plans of the Lord I say

I will drink from the well of the One who gives me life
I will eat of the bread of the One sacrifice
I will breathe of the breath of the body of God
I will dive to the depths and raise a new man

(John L. Cooper; Kenneth D. Steorts)

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