I gave my life to Christ at a young age. I remember sitting in a Sunday church service and hearing the Gospel preached. I had heard this preached before, but something different happened this time. The Spirit of God drew me to Himself and the good news of Jesus hit my heart like a ton of bricks. Later that evening, I began to ask my Dad questions about Jesus. After hearing my Dad explain the Gospel more to me, he prayed with me to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
‘Lord AND Savior..’
In the church, we use that phrase often, and sometimes don’t think much of it. It wasn’t until many years later as a teenager that I began to truly realize what it meant to live like Jesus was not just my Savior, but also my Lord. I knew He had saved me from my sins and given me eternal life, but I don’t think I was quite ready to live in the reality that Jesus was also meant to be Lord of my life, meaning He now called the shots in my life, not me. I was used to saying the word Lord in church, but it was often just a word to me, not a lifestyle.
Luke 6:46- “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
It is a very difficult task to train up the next generation in a way that shows that being a Christian is truly only one lifestyle: one of surrender. I’ve been to a lot of youth events, camps, retreats, and worship services, where there is a high atmosphere and environment put in place that seems to help compel and move students to respond to Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think those things in themselves are bad and God works through them, but I think when we put more energy on those things than actually equipping and training students to live a lifestyle of surrender, we are missing it. In order for students to graduate high school and not become a statistic that falls away from the church, we need to make sure the Gospel is being preached and demonstrated with the truth of Jesus being Savior AND Lord. Let’s not forget, He gave His life for us first.
Here are a few thoughts on how we can build ministries for the next generation around Jesus as LORD and Savior:
#1 Teach the Bible
The Bible is hard to take in and difficult to read at times. But, if Jesus has truly saved us from sin, death, hell, and has been faithful to us, His Word is faithful as well. It’s inerrant, accurate and meant to be studied well in context. We must teach the next generation to value and treasure the Bible as absolute truth, even as we wrestle with the difficult issues.
#2 Foster an environment of discipleship
Discipleship is a word that we hear often in the church, yet many don’t have an accurate understanding of what it means. Discipleship is simply becoming more like Jesus and living life with others as they do the same. It’s real, raw, relational and destroys isolation. It’s living in a true, genuine community that faces the difficulties of life head-on with Jesus and each other. Students need to learn to live in relationship with others through discipleship.
#3 Be real with them
I realize that this one is tough and takes wisdom and discernment, yet it needs to be done. When we avoid the difficult, awkward issues and ignore those tough conversations, we can set the next generation up for failure. So later on in life, when they are faced with a tough situation, they have no idea what to do because they weren’t prepared for it. Now, I know that you can’t always prepare for everything. Life just happens; but, there are some things though that can be done to prepare the next generation for the realness and challenges of life. This requires a realness and openness about the valleys and mountaintops of life.
#4 Walk with them
The truth is, we can’t shelter our students. They are going to be faced with things that remind them how dark this world really is. We should do all that we can to prepare them to face these challenges, but do it while depending on Jesus. Jesus said that “in this world we would have trouble..” When we walk through life with them, it will not only help them in the present but pay off in the future. We must model what it looks like to live as a child of God despite what life brings.
#5 Inspire them to make a difference
Jesus didn’t just say that we would have trouble in the world, but he also said, “Take heart! I have overcome the world!” This world is dark, but we are the light! The next generation is the light! They can and will make a difference in this world. They are the future! We must inspire them, remind them, and reassure them that they are valued, loved, and gifted, and that God wants to use them and has an incredible plan for their lives.
These thoughts and steps aren’t the end all be all, but I do believe they will help. They take hard work and intentionality, as we train up the next generation to live under the Lordship of Jesus!