Girls Ministry: Legacy of Faith
- 2011 1 Dec
Judges 2:10 paints a picture that may be prophetic of the state of the church today: "After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel."
These findings from Thom Ranier in his book The Bridger Generation, show the decline of evangelical Christianity among each successive generation. Here's the percentage of born-again believers in each generation:
Builders (born 1927-1945) 65 percent
Boomers (born 1946-1964) 35 percent
Busters (born 1965-1976) 16 percent
Bridgers (born 1977-1994) 4 percent
These numbers are haunting and should be motivating youth workers today to pursue the kingdom of God and be intentional about loving students into relationship with Jesus. Here's what strikes me about these numbers: If it's true that many Builders and Boomers have a vibrant faith, then it's imperative that the older generation intentionally look for ways to pass along their faith to Busters and Bridgers. Twice in the past two weeks I've had the opportunity to watch both a Builder and a Boomer pass along faith to our newest generation, Generation Z.
My students and I walked into a gospel church on a Sunday morning while we were doing mission work in Washington, D.C., for four days. We sat scattered throughout the pews, and I was placed right behind a grandmother and her granddaughter who looked to be about 5 or 6. The little girl was dressed for church, and was actively engaging in the worship. At one point, the pastor was offering a prayer over the congregation, and the little girl was fidgety in her seat. The grandmother turned to her and said, "Now you listen, and receive the words that pastor is speaking, place your hands with your palms up to the Lord; you are receiving this prayer over your life," to which the little girl turned her palms up and immediately stopped fidgeting. I had tears in my eyes to watch a little girl worship—and at the wisdom and guidance of the grandmother, teaching her granddaughter to sit under the pastor's authority and receive what God has for her from her pastor's prayer. It was a beautiful display of a Builder pouring her legacy of faith into our newest generation.
On Thanksgiving Day, my aunt's home is filled with smells, sights and conversation that never cease to be beautiful to me. Once dinner was prepared and all 30-something of us were seated and eating, I found myself between my cousin's little girl and her grandmother, my aunt. As soon as this adorable pre-schooler took a bite of her sweet potatoes she said, "Oh my! These are gooder than God!" to which most of us laughed. However, my aunt used the opportunity to teach.
"Stella," she said, "These are very good aren't they?"
"Yes," Stella replied. "Well," my Aunt said, speaking directly into the eyes of her granddaughter, "I want you to know that nothing is gooder than God, not one thing in the world, all of this is His; it was His idea!"
Stella sat and thought for a minute, then said, "God made this so good then!" We all laughed, and it was a beautiful moment—another opportunity for a grandmother to take a moment out of life to teach the abundance and goodness of God—to leave a legacy of faith for generations. Stella, I'm sure, will teach her grandchildren the same lesson: Although Aunt Susan's sweet potatoes are delicious, they were God's idea and every good thing comes from Him!
Would you notice in the following psalm that David requested that God would sustain him long enough so he could leave a legacy for the next generation—to all who are to still to come? He was not thinking about himself or his ease. He was determined to declare his faith to those who would follow him. This theme of one generation passing along a legacy of faith to the next is found throughout Scripture. Psalms 78:4-6 states: "We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children."
This particular Scripture sinks into the deep places of my heart. Legacies of faith don't only have to be passed down person to person, but can work from church to church, from church to child, from teacher to student, youth worker to student. God blessed my growing years abundantly by placing me in a church that poured into my life consistently. My family and I attended a church in my town that met on Sundays in an old warehouse that eventually God turned into a bigger place where people came to know Him, love Him, learn about Him and grow in their relationship with the Lord and their relationships with each other.
Several students in my generation from our church are strong believers, love the Lord, love people and consistently seek ways to serve God with our whole hearts in everyday life. Many work for ministries full time, have Christ-centered marriages and are serving the church in various capacities. Although I no longer attend this church because God called me elsewhere to be in full-time youth ministry, I love going back to see what He is doing in that place!
This past Sunday as I was visiting, I was overjoyed. My pastor a few weeks ago said to me, "A church shouldn't be known by it's seating capacity, but rather it's sending capacity." As I thought about that comment this past Sunday and was in worship with people who "grew me up in the faith," I saw glimpses of the kingdom of God. This is a place that poured into me during teenage years when other people bailed, that was interested in my family life and my social life, that now asks how ministry is going and is happy to let me sit in the very back pew on a crowded Sunday to worship, and then leave—to receive from the Lord in a place that continually pours into me—regardless of whether I'm there from week to week. This is a church that defines legacy of faith. Ministries of the church are pouring into grandparents, parents, teenagers and children, from Sunday worship to small group Bible studies throughout the week—they get it. They're working hard to ensure God is seen in all generations.
Acts 13:36 says this about David: "For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed." Are you serving God's purpose in your generation? In Psalms 71:18, David wanted to stay alive long enough to leave a legacy: "…till I declare Your power."
Complete this sentence: God, allow me to stay alive until I _____.
• What do you still want to do?
• What kind of legacy are you leaving?
• Who are you pouring into?
• Who is your church pouring into?
• Will your church be known as a church that pours into all generations?
• Does your student ministry actively seek to involve parents and grandparents in the spiritual development of their children, your students?
God, allow me to live until I...