"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." Matt.28:19a
The whole notion of discipleship is very well known among church folks, since the bible clearly addresses this important concept through the life of Jesus. So, my sole purpose is not to talk about discipleship in a way that we might be familiar with, but to address it from a deeper perspective, which mainly relates to the younger generation.
As we carefully study the life of Jesus and what He specifically did with His twelve disciples, only then we can come to these clear observations:
Jesus spent quality time with His disciples.
Jesus shared His heart and passion.
Jesus rebuked, corrected and encouraged them.
Jesus was fully transparent.
Jesus was always their for them.
Jesus continually discipled and trained them.
Jesus portrayed strong and captivating characteristics of leadership, which created a deeper appetite from His disciples to follow Him and to listen to every word that He said.
Jesus was never tire of hearing their moaning and groaning complaints.
Jesus understood the value and need of creating a strong bond with those who will eventually influence the whole world.
Jesus sacrificed His time, sleep, appetite, leisure and comfort in order to pour out His best into those whom He dearly loves.
Jesus' love for His disciples was genuine and without hypocrisy.
Jesus gave opportunities for His disciple to grow and to make numerous mistakes, as He would constructively teach and train in the process.
Jesus was willing and eventually did lay down His live as a living sacrifice to confirm and re-assure to those whom He mentored for those three short years. This was the ultimate demonstration of an individual who lived out what He was preaching on a daily basis.
We can easily get carried away with Jesus' powerful and life changing teachings, which transformed the lives of His disciples, but miss out on another important factor where Jesus invested quality time with His disciples on a daily basis. If we can quickly lay aside the fact that the disciples left everything to follow Jesus, which practically gave them a 24/7 access to the so of God might not be similar to us all when it comes to discipling, coaching and mentoring the next generation, since most of us are very busy with our daily life.
So why is it so vital to disciple and to mentor the younger generation? Isn't the church already doing that! Don't we already have enough youth programs! And why even stress this matter at all? The fact of the matter is that the church is way behind in many ways and our children and youth are being discipled to on a daily basis through their peers; through the social media; through their classrooms; through those who surround them and influence them. And this is why I'm so stirred in my heart to sound the trumpet for us as parents and church leaders to witness a cultural rift that is drastically impacting and transforming the hearts and minds of our youth.
What I would like to address and point out is that we should not brush aside the importance of investing our time, energy, finances or other resources in to the next generation! What do I mean by this? I'm sure that just about every church has some kind of youth ministry department or a program and many churches have a full time youth pastor on staff. This is great, but I would like to take this opportunity to shed some light on some of the most missing aspects that are often times overlooked or misunderstood.
Yes, we are considered to be Gods children and are also the disciples (students) of Jesus, so it may seem that discipleship making should be a norm in our local churches. But that's not the case! We have become good at attracting the masses or creating attractive youth programs or implementing specific methodologies though our outreaches and evangelistic initiatives. This is all great, but then what?
I'm sure that we can all agree that the age bracket of 15-25 is one of the toughest to attract to our churches or to our church events. And this same age group is also the ones that are dropping out of the churches by the masses. Yes, their are many factors to the reason why, which I will not address here, since my main focus is to try to share from my personal ministry experience of having been a youth pastor for more than ten years. In those ten years I was blessed and often times surprised by the Lord on how much potential, passion and inner drive that the younger generation had to which I was privileged in discipling and shepherding.
The younger generation wants to be heard and they also want to desperately express themselves to which we can witness thorough the phenomenon of the social media. I often times like to call Facebook as Expressbook, because that's where we get an opportunity to express our thoughts; our feelings; our emotions; our success & failures; and our everyday boring life.
With that said, even though the younger generation may be full of ambition, energy, enthusiasm, and endless creativity, that all can be diverted in the wrong direction and the enemy of their souls is desperately craving to captivate the hearts and minds of these precious young souls.
I have witnessed too many spiritual casualties, which could have been prevented on the most part if only my heart was more open and discerning to the deep inner needs of that particular youth. But, being focused on my programs or ministry vision at times has blinded me from seeing the bigger picture or from allowing the Holy Spirit to show me things that required more love; more passion; more prayer; or more patience.
If only I could turn back the clock of time, then I would have done many things differently as it pertains to youth ministry or towards the younger generation. And I'm sure many of us feel the same way, but we cannot get stuck on our past failures or continually pound ourselves in the chest with regret, but to only learn from our past mistakes and to take the baton of our current divine assignment and to pass on to the next generation everything that our Heavenly Father has equipped us with.
As I wrap up my final thoughts, I would like to encourage every parent, every adult, every pastor and everyone who is involved in any type of ministry work to know that greater days are yet to come. And I sincerely believe with my whole heart that the generation that is rising up with usher in the greatest revival and outpouring of God's glory and power on this earth like no other generation. I have been sensing a strong inner hunger from within the hearts of the younger generation who are eagerly awaiting to be released for Kingdom purpose and to release every drop of God's divine purpose and potential that has been birthed in their spirit-man. But in order for this to occur, we play a very vital role by discipling, coaching, mentoring and equipping them with the Kingdom tools, so they will effectively influence their peers and everyone within their circle of influence.
Questions to Consider:
1. What role do I play in impacting the next generation?
2. What am I currently doing now to bring Kingdom influence into the lives of the younger generation?
3. Am I currently discipling, coaching or mentoring someone?
4. How much value or worth am I bringing into my local youth group?
5. Are you the forerunner or the spokesperson for your youth at your local church? Or are you the complainer and the road block to the advancement of your churches youth ministry?
6. Are you sowing your time, finances, spiritual gifts or any other resources in the lives of the youth?
7. When was the last time you sat down and had an open conversation with one of your youth or teens from within your local church?
8. When was the last time you bought a happy meal or did something good to a teenager around you?
9. What can you currently do right now to bring more life; more hope; more changes; more advancement; and more fire into your churches youth ministry?
10. Find at least one area of weakness or struggle that you may be aware of, which relates to your child, neighborhood kids, local youth group, school students or community and then volunteer yourself as a agent of change by allowing God to use you in a powerful way to transform the lives of others!
If you are passionate about impacting the next generation for the Kingdom of God, then I would like to suggest a resource tool that will bless & challenge you by become an influential role model or a spiritual figure in the lives of the younger generation!