RAJPUR, INDIA -- The crisis is feared by most Christian parents, analyzed within every Christian educational institution and being discussed at every Christian leadership conference. The crisis? There is a prevalent belief that this is the last Christian generation!
The question is posed, “Are our kids embracing true Christianity?” Josh McDowell expresses this concern in his latest book, The Last Christian Generation, “But most admit to a fear, deep down, that their kids, having been raised in Christian families and having spent their childhood and teenage years in the church, will, nonetheless, walk away unchanged. They fear that they are the last Christian generation and that their children will depart from the true faith. That fear has become a reality.”
There are two primary responses to this growing fear that Christianity is losing its youth. FIRST — The need for a true revelation. It’s as if somehow we might be able to rearticulate Christianity into a more palatable, more understandable belief system. I disagree with this as an effective answer. We don’t need another “Christianity 101” course. What is needed is a true revolution and this can only occur through a person — Jesus. SECOND — Proponents express the need to communicate with a different methodology in order to resonate with the postmodern youth. With this I do agree, but this is simply answered by practicing one thing — authenticity.
Unfortunately, I believe all attempts to save Christianity or to repackage it so that the youth or postmoderns will be able to resonate with it, tends to miss the point. The real resonating power that can and will transform lives — young and old, old-fashioned or postmodern — is Jesus, simply Jesus. I share the same fears of Paul when he said, “I am afraid, just as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, that your minds might be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” This is not a devotion to the theological systems that have been wrapped around the name of Jesus. This is a devotion that is focused on simply Jesus—Jesus plus nothing. To add on to Jesus makes Jesus something or someone else and drifts into the spirit of anti-Christ (literally, anything that is “instead of” Christ).
THE MENTORING MODEL
In the midst of all of the debate within Christianity, there is a greater generation on the horizon — pure, authentic and more powerful than Christianity could ever be. You see, on the positive side, the religious system of Christianity has reformed a lot of people and communities, but it has never been able to transform anyone.
This greater generation that is emerging while the “last Christian generation” is upon us is what I call the 21st Century Jesus movement. But more pointedly, it is a dramatic return to the first Jesus generation as Jesus taught those early disciples.
Two weeks ago we traveled into northern India. Mike Buskey (a businessman and friend) and I saw and experienced something more unique than we had ever imagined. We saw something you only read about in the Gospels. It was as if we had been parachuted into an “upper room” meeting with Jesus’ disciples in the first century and had the opportunity to interview them while Jesus was out of the room.
Now, picture this. We are having dinner with eight young men, all Buddhists, who are being mentored/discipled to follow Jesus. I’ve never seen anything like this. These young men are taught daily the principles and teachings of Jesus by their mentor in a family setting at the House of Peace where they live together. The difference in this setting is that they not only learn Jesus’ teachings, but also apply them in a most remarkable way.
Just as the early disciples of Jesus spent several years learning from the Master, Himself, these young men are doing the same. They are truly followers of Jesus. This is the most unique discipleship dynamic seen in modern times. Eight young Buddhists are being mentored in the teachings and principles of Jesus. After a minimum of 5 years in this process, the eight men have been named Mentors. These men, in turn, walking two-by-two are mentoring 2-3 “mentees” in the same way.
In fact, the Tibetan government and the Dalai Lama have honored these four pairs of disciples. They have been awarded the position of ambassadors. They were named Ambassadors to the Poor in the Spirit of Jesus of Nazareth.
Now, as the word spreads about what is happening with these young men, several other nations want to do the same thing in their countries. You see, these young men were broken men in society, but now are healing agents for their people. What is needed now is a second House of Peace where internationals can come and be mentored in the same manner and take the process back to their respective countries.
It’s important to note that this mentoring approach materialized when a “Christian missionary” was moved by the Lord to cease from trying to “convert” the people out of their Buddhist culture into a “Christian” culture. He found that genuine conversion is not cultural, but personal. Furthermore, conversion is not generated by a class, a sermon or a “Christian” church service, but only by a personal encounter with Jesus and His Spirit’s work in the heart.
THE LOVE-IN-ACTION MODEL
Coupled with this amazing transformational mentoring process is the love that has been expressed by building housing for an entire Tibetan settlement in Rajpur, India. Forty quads (160 homes) for the poor Tibetan families to resettle into their own community was constructed in love and given to the Tibetans with no strings attached whatsoever. It is a remarkable, tangible act of love for these dear people — all in the name of Jesus. They are enthused, grateful and empowered by what has been provided for their families and they are well aware of the Jesus connection. Discipleship is occurring within the settlement, too. And, a few have even been baptized in the name of Jesus.
Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim or Christian must be seen as cultural, religious backgrounds. Not one of these cultural backgrounds must be forsaken in order to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus trumps it all! He is all-inclusive and isn’t owned by Christianity. I love what Brian McLaren wrote in A Generous Orthodoxy, "I must add, though, that I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all?) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts. This will be hard, you say, and I agree. But frankly, it's not at all easy to be a follower of Jesus in many 'Christian' religious contexts, either."
I believe it all comes down to the power of personal transformation through Jesus. Two words that continue to change individuals, families, communities and countries are Jesus’ words — “FOLLOW ME!” A watchword of the 21st century Jesus movement as the first Jesus generational process returns is followship. No amount of religious teaching, educational modules, political discourse or cultural traditions has ever been effective in changing a person’s heart. Transformation comes through life on life — through a person. His name is Jesus! He is the reason for the positive transformation in the lives of wayward, broken boys among the Tibetans. He is the reason for international leaders seeking in Him the peace, love and hope for themselves and their nations.
© 2006 ASSIST News Service, used with permission