Fulfilling the Great Commission by raising Christ-centred disciples to plant vibrant, biblical churches in our cities and countries all over the world

REACHING THE NEXT GEN By Ps Torch Leung

The eternal purposes of God for His church are unchanging. They have remained the same since the day of Pentecost 2000 years ago. God expects His church to worship, to evangelise, to fellowship, to edify believers, to serve the needs of people and to do missions & multiplying churches.

The Great commandment and the Great commission are non-negotiable. Any church that fails to fulfill these purposes is not really a biblical church. While God’s purpose for His church never change, each new generation must rediscover those purposes in their churches. And the methods that are used must change with every new generation.

The Bible tells us “David had served God’s purpose in his own generation.” (Acts 13:36). He did the timeless in a timely way. He fulfilled the eternal in a contemporary setting.

As a church, we are to likewise make an intentional effort to do how to do church with a new generation of youth and young adults. Our goal is to take the timeless and express it in a timely fashion.

There are some values that are always relevant and always effective regardless of the target group you minister to. They are timeless values that appeal to every generation. But each generation must develop new expressions of these values.

The question remains “Are we willing to do whatever it takes to reach our generation for Christ?”

If our answer is YES, where should we start?

Although many churches have several programs that meet the needs and likes of an average middle-aged person, they often have little that meet the needs of the average youth and young adults (Gen-Y).

While not every church is called to start a targeted program to draw in Gen-Y, I believe that every church is called to minister to all members of its community, including today’s youth and young adults.

In the last couple of decades, most church ministry has been aimed at the legions of Baby Boomers (1946-1964). Just as Boomers demanded attention in the late 1970s and 1980s, now members of Gen-X (or Xers – 1964-1980) are demanding the church’s attention. And coming up quickly after them are the next generation of young adults, who we are referring to as the Gen-Y (1981-1994; 15-28 years old).

However, unlike Boomers and Gen-X, Gen-Y are unique and distinct from the previous generations.

Most importantly, they are RIGHT NOW the movers and shakers of our society and the world! For example, it’s said that these generations constitutes the most unchurched and unreached in different parts of the world (even the entire world)!

This isn’t to suggest that these young people aren’t spiritual. However, they hold a very different idea of what it means to believe in God. In addition, many of them have less than positive opinion of the church.

One of the difficulties in reaching this generation is to fully comprehend their natures, characteristics, communication styles, ways of life and social attitudes. Furthermore, there are many subgroups within this demographic, which have some differences among themselves.

They have splintered into many more subcultures. Ministry that reaches one group may miss the mark for another. With so many variables, it can be quite hard to know where to begin.

The following three essentials would greatly help us create a Gen-Y ministry framework, which assists us to better reach & minister to them.

1. Real (Authenticity):

Authenticity is the key word here. Not only must our ministry be credible and trustworthy, but we must be also. They don’t expect us to know all about their life issues, nor do they want us to embrace their lifestyle/ culture.

They are simply seeking understanding, and respect. If our ministering has a hidden agenda, or we are less than transparent, it will be seen. This generation can sniff a phoney from a long distance.

Today’s youth have access to the most advanced technology, movie special effects, and video games with which we can never compete. But the good news is that they are not impacted by slick presentations. They don’t want a rehearsed talk, or a manufactured spiel. The more spontaneous and interactive we are in the classroom, the less intimidated, and more open they will be.

They are drawn to authenticity. We are to be authentic – real and genuine.

2. Relational (Partnership):

Programs are frameworks in which a ministry exists. Programs don’t minister but people do! It is not programs that will change lives but relationships that will be remembered and have the greatest influence on people’s lives.

Our Christian faith is sealed in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We are building Jesus’ Generation! – People who are imitate and follow Christ! (Col 1:15, Eph 5:1) Jesus stepped into our world to identify with us: to walk as we walk, to experience what we experience, to talk and relate to us in relationship!

“Disciple-making is not about the program but people!”

3. Relevant (Contexulisation):

It is essential for us to discover their area of interest. But the style, as well as the content of our message must be relevant to a generation who are visually educated and entertained.

There is no point in giving music to a friend on a cassette tape if they only have a CD player, or on CD if they only use MP3.

Similarly we must research in the most appropriate format for those we are reaching. So in understanding the communication styles of our target cohort we will be better equipped to reach them. Remember that relevance is using what is cultural to say what is timeless

These three essentials would help us thrive to create a suitable Gen-Y ministry model and approaches. However, as you are on your journey of formulating them, it is good to keep in mind your local church context, culture and vision.

I don’t know about you. But for me, I believe that for such a time as this, God has called me to win this generation for Him. And one day I want to be able to say to myself that I have served God’s purpose in my own generation!

What about you?

Torchie KL
Ablaze Ministries International
[email protected]
http://twitter.com/torchiekl