Did you know that one of the top reasons youth stay in church as they become adults is that they have a relationship with someone of the older generation? This phenomenon is not exclusive to Christianity. We see the same thing in business, gangs and many other communities. Humans are relational beings. While our culture values individualism, our makeup still craves connection. Unfortunately, our relationships, particularly ones that cross generational boundaries, are often not that healthy.
When I was in business, there was a popular saying that needs to make its way into the Church. As the older generation, we need to find people and let them know that we want to help “make our ceiling their floor!” The imagery is simple yet profound. Picture it. The ceiling, or stopping point, for one generation, when properly leveraged and passed on, can be the starting point for the next. We must replace ourselves. When we give the best of ourselves to the next generation, we empower them to untold levels of success—not just financially, but spiritually, relationally, physically and more.
Likewise, the younger generation must look to the older generation for wisdom. There is a tendency to disregard older as outdated. While that is occasionally the case, I can assure you that as I have gotten older, I have only increased my respect for those who have come before me, their experiences and their wisdom.
Quick Wins: 1) Find someone in the generation above you and one in the generation below. Receive and pass on. Create a generational flow that leverages the spiritual, intellectual, relational and physical resources of one generation for the sake of the next and the next. 2) Study healthy relationships. Learn how to give and receive corrective criticism. Read The 6th Love Language to get you started.
One of the top three reasons people leave the Church is the appearance of anti-intellectualism within Christianity. While this is certainly not a fair representation of many groups, others have disregarded the significance of stewarding the mind and body—values that are not only important to this generation, but also to God. For decades, the Church has come across as hostile toward doubt and uncertainty, unwilling to take the time to articulate why we believe what we believe. For more on this, read Prove It: The Art & Science of Understanding & Articulating Why You Believe What You Believe.
Quick Win: Study culture and apologetics. Follow intellectuals on social media who will challenge the way you use your mind and the way you look at the world.
This one is probably the most important. God has given people great passions. He has given them great purpose. The church has unfortunately created an artificial divide between “secular” and “sacred” vocations. It doesn’t have to be nonprofit to be sacred. We need to help people see what God created them to do and empower them to glorify God through their gifting, whatever it may be. For more on this, read Why God Gave You That Brilliant Idea.
Quick Win: Explore who God made you to be. I am working on some materials for this. In the meantime: What gifts has God given you? What talents have you acquired? What problems are you passionate about fixing? What do you value? How can you leverage those talents and gifts to solve those problems? Start small. You don’t have to quit your job today to start working on those things. Volunteer with someone who is already doing something similar. Write about it. Begin planning.
If you want to know about our current culture, its values and its priorities, read Portrait of a Millennial. It’s not a pretty picture. We must respond across spheres of influence with beautiful, empowering solutions. We’re so close to being able to make an impact. The acceleration of technology and media puts influence at our fingertips. All we need to do is leverage those things to glorify God and empower people to do what he created them to do. By doing this, we will change culture organically through millions of people who simply know how to be who God created them to be!
Quick Win: Get educated as both a consumer and producer. Read Ekklesia Rising. Explore the links found in the article on 7 Mountains. Also, subscribe. I will be releasing more content like this over the next several weeks. We are even going to give away a free 20+ hour podcast series filled with private lectures!
We are under the misconception that the church is discipling nations. That’s a strong statement, but statistics show that people are not actually being discipled by the church. They are being educated by secular institutions. They have a closer “relationship” with celebrities they’ve never met than they do with their pastors and parents. For more like this, read The Antichrist Commission: Why The Church Is Losing Generations.
Quick Win: Just do what God made you to do. Institutional influence follows naturally from the previous four points. If you make an effort to engage in the previous four points, this one is all but guaranteed. Share this with your friends. Create a mastermind group that will help you with accountability and encouragement in your goals. Work together to grow, grow, grow to the glory of God!
This is not a small battle. But it is a worthy one! Consider making a shift in your life right now. Save this article. Use it as a template to enact change in your own life and then, through you, the world at large. God made you for a wonderful and glorious purpose. These tools are won’t cost you anything, but will give you everything. You can change the world!
Chris Townsend spent the first 26 years of his life as an atheist. He now leverages that background to help reach the lost and disciple the found. He has studied supply chain management and business information systems at Texas Christian University, theology at Christ for the Nations Institute (CFNI), church history at Liberty University, and apologetics at Biola. Chris is the president of Redeemed Royalty Ministries, a professor at Christ for the Nations Institute, and an itinerant apologist for weignitelove.org. Chris has written several books including Prove It: The Art and Science of Understanding and Articulating Why You Believe What You Believe and Ekklesia Rising: The Organization Formerly Known as Church. Connect with Chris at redeemedroyalty.org.