Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Reaching the Next Generation

Luke 15:7

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

RayMcDAs we near the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 – I’ve mentioned a focus for the new year. That focus is reaching the next generation. Our church is mainly made up of aging saints. The medium age of Laurel is 35 and our medium age at First Church is probably closer to 55 or higher. We have an awesome church – but – if we do not reach the next generation with Christ – in 10-30 years there will not be a First Church. I say that not to scare us but to bring into focus what the problem is as we make plans to reach the next generation.

Many churches focus on the membership of the church. I can see where this is important for sure. It is the membership that pays the bills – it is the membership that accomplishes the work of the church. It is the tried and true saints that help to keep the church functioning. Yet – without a constant influx of new people and new ideas – it is very easy for a church to grow stale and eventually die.

John Wesley once said – I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. –Journal, June 11, 1739. The founder of the Methodist Church felt he wasn’t bound to parish boundaries. He felt like he could preach wherever he found himself. We should feel this way today – that our parish is not bound to those inside our church – but our parish is all who will hear.

First Church took a giant step forward toward reaching the next generation by hiring Taeron Flemming. Taeron’s primary task is to help us reach the next generation. He will be working with our young adults and making plans to draw others to First Church. Our task it two fold – 1) to support Taeron in any way possible – and 2) to welcome the young adults as they begin attending First Church. Taeron’s efforts will be lost in the shuffle if we do not support him and his work and if we do not welcome the new people that come to First Church. Taeron along with Russ Wilson – our youth director – will be instrumental in our church reaching the next generation.

Today’s passage speaks volumes about our focus for 2017. Here’s today’s passage in partial context. Luke 15:1–7 – 1  Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Our focus – in reaching the next generation – should not be to make them look like us or even act like us (us being the 55 and older crowd). Our focus should be to bring them to Jesus and let Jesus transform them after His likeness – not our likeness. What can each of us do to help our church reach the next generation? Are our children followers of Christ? If so – and they live locally – why don’t they attend First Church (if they don’t)? Everyone would love a vibrant children’s program. Everyone would love a vibrant youth program. But without the young adults – neither of these are possible (it is the young adults that have the children and youth).

I’ll be 62 in a few months. I might have 3-10 years of active ministry left in the tank. I want to spend it well as I know others at First Church do as well. Let’s help to transform the lives of young adults in our community by being used of God to bring them to Christ!

Just something for us to think about as we go on our way today!

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December 28, 2016 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Reblogged this on Making Disciples in an Emerging Culture and commented:
    Excellent blog!

    Like

    Comment by Pastor Chaney | December 28, 2016 | Reply

    • Thank you William. Be blessed as the new year approaches.

      Like

      Comment by raymcdonald | December 28, 2016 | Reply


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