– His name was Matt. Matt was one of those teenagers with an attitude. He typically rebelled against authority not for any particular reason but because he could. His mom would often throw up her hands not knowing how to handle him. Matt came to our youth group because of the cute girls and as he heard the gospel he understood he was a sinner needing forgiveness and he accepted Jesus Christ.
– His name was Bobby. After a few months of Matt’s salvation he would bring Bobby to our youth group. Bobby was a kid in need of attention. He had coke-bottle thick glasses, terribly skinny frame and very low self-confidence. One time Bobby approached me in blunt conversation and said, “Pastor Dave, am I an orphan [his word was “bastard”]?” The reason Bobby would ask such a question is because he heard other teens call him that since he didn’t know his father and his mother barely cared about him. Our church fed, clothed, and loved Bobby. Because of this he would later pray to receive Jesus Christ as well.
– His name was Tommy. Tommy was a kid from a good family. His mom would often be the lone youth leader with me with 30+ teenagers in my first youth ministry. Tommy was shy, reserved and seemed like his faith only stayed on the surface. About 4 years ago I received a phone call from Tommy. He knew I was a YP and he asked if he could do an internship with me to learn more about the calling of a pastor. After almost a year long internship Tommy enrolled in seminary and he’s studying and praying to either be a church planter or missionary with his wife.
– Her name was Shannon. Shannon was part of another youth ministry I led. She was outgoing, loud and honestly a bit obnoxious. However, she studied the lives of my wife and I and she realized we not only talked about faith but we lived it. She allowed us into her life. We found a teen girl longing to be loved. Her mom was an alcoholic and barely around. Her dad was around but not a great influence. He forced his 3 children to smoke pot so they could have the experience. Shannon was in a desperate situation. I am unsure where she is physically or spiritually today.
I could go on and on listing the names of young people who have crossed my path. The reason I share them with you today is to remind you that what we do as a church with the lives of young people matters. It matters in how we personally invest in them. And it matters in how we organize a plan for ministry with them.
Over the last 5 years God has impressed upon me a phrase to that has identified my personal calling. That phrase is “growing godly generations”. What does this phrase mean? As I am continuing to grow in life and understanding ministry I believe it means for me to be part of a greater movement of influencing not just young people but even to future generations. In other words, I want my ministry to not only influence the current generation but to have an impact that the gospel is carried unto multiple generations in the lives of families. Could we be such a church?
EXAMINE Mark 9:42, 10:13-16
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea… And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”
Jesus loves and wants to bless multiple generations.
In talking to the disciples, Jesus warns those who bring down children. Those who cause spiritual harm to children will be condemned to judgment. A “great millstone” could be anywhere between 4’-5’ in diameter. In the Gospels, Jesus is seen welcoming and affectionate of children. He embraces them, prays for them and cares for their needs. When the Disciples attempt to push them along thinking they are not important enough for Jesus, Jesus becomes indignant. He gets angry!
When God gave Moses & the Israelites the 10 Commandments, he promised multi-generation discipline to those who disobeyed and multi-generation reward to those who follow.
Exodus 20:5-6 “I am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
God told Abraham
Genesis 12:1-3 “1 The LORD said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
God desires His people to share His heart for the next generation
Psalm 78:4-7 “4 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. 5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, 6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. 7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
Matthew 28:18-20 “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Acts 2:38-39 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Quote Guess: Show quotes and ask congregation to guess the source, through multiple choice.
Studies have shown that parents are the primary influence on their children’s choices and decisions… and that is why we’re proud to offer help to parents. Recognizing that parents have the greatest influence on their children’s decisions, the Family Talk program helps… by encouraging open, honest communication between parents and children. Anheuser- Busch Beers
Nearly three out of four parents believe their children’s friends and classmates have the most influence… Yet contrary to what parents think, kids say mom and dad have the biggest impact on the choices they make. Coors Brewing Company
So you’re between the ages of 13 and 24. What makes you happy? A worried, weary parent might imagine the answer to sound something like this: Sex, drugs, a little rock ‘n’ roll. Maybe some cash, or at least the car keys. Turns out the real answer is quite different. Spending time with family was the top answer to that open ended question… Parents are seen as an overwhelmingly positive influence in the lives of most young people. Remarkably, nearly half of teens mention at least one of their parents as a hero. MTV (Music Television)
These quotes are from secular organizations yet they recognize an important spiritual principle: Parents are the primary influence on their children. It is sad to know that alcohol and secular companies understand this principle and will pour countless resources into marketing their ideas and worldview into the children of our homes. When will our homes and churches realize the need for a true partnership to grow godly generations? It has been said, “Whoever wants the next generation more will get them.” Parents and church leaders alike must answer, “Do we want them more?” If so, our actions need to follow our words.
Josh McDowell in his book, The Last Christian Generation (p.60) says, “Parents carry more weight – for good or bad – than they give themselves credit for. How a child thinks and acts is still molded by his or her home life, which means the crumbling foundations of the faith among this generation is as much a parental problem as a church problem, if not more so. If we’re going to reclaim the next generation, then the home and the church must join forces together like never before.”
How do we harm or hinder children’s spiritual growth?
o By not effectively resourcing ministry to children
o By over resourcing ministry to children
Valuing programs & buildings over the relational investment it takes to reach children & families
Where are those who have the indignant heart of Jesus for children’s injustices?
o SPBC can do better in our CM & YM
o SPBC can have God’s missional heart for our community: SP, Baltimore, etc.
Today we celebrate those who share Jesus’ heart for blessing multiple generations.
o Rick Fisher & Judy Myer Jim Cline
WEE Teachers Sunday School
Today, we also remember that Jesus wants us to receive God as our Father and follow Him as children. Feel free to ask a church member of Pastor about how to begin a relationship with God today.