When I look around, I see spaces. There are many spaces of people who once sat next to me, and people who once dreamed of Jesus, ministry, and the Kingdom. Where have they gone? Where are they now? I sit in a pew with no one my age, and many who have never heard the stories of Jesus.
I talk to mentors and friends of an older generation, and there is great concern. Who will pick up the mantle? Who will carry on the churches? Who will embrace the challenge, step up to the plate, and live what they believe? My mentors talk a lot about a younger generation stepping up, but where is the place? Many in my generation want to minister, but they sit on a pew for years until they cannot sit there any longer. Many have talents and gifts, but they are not allowed to use these gifts because an older generation has a hard time “letting go.” And we wonder why my generation is leaving. They are leaving, because they feel unwanted.
As I think about my generation, I think about the many compromises which have been made. I think about friends who act and look completely different. I wonder why they have chosen the path they have taken. I see their lives so different from what they once thought they would live. Dreams have died, marriages have collapsed, children live in divorced homes, drugs have taken their toll, and it seems like those who have left are in a dark vortex in life. I sit with people daily who are struggling and in pain. I see addictions which have left emptiness and hurt. I see the false promises of the world, but the harsh reality of brokenness, loneliness, and bitterness. Those once gospel preachers are now the silenced, depressed, and lost.
All of these concerns and questions lead me to make a few assessments and inquiries.
First of all, my generation has compromised to some extent because they have been taught rules without the foundation of principles. My generation has not been encouraged to question. Many of the people in our lives come to “church,” but there is no depth. Many sob, cry, tear, and jump around but they do not know Jesus. In the last days, some will say to God, “Lord Lord,” but Jesus will say “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23). Many have an image of God, but it is not defined by the Word of God. Media, false doctrine, and other ideologies seek to define God. Many want Jesus to be their healer, their blessing provider, and their cheerleader; but few want Jesus to be their task-master, their King, and their Alpha and Omega. My generation lacks commitment. My generation lacks obedience. My generation does not understand the principles and foundation of doctrine. We have been told to “do,” rather than to “be,” and now we are suffering the consequences. You can only “do” church for so long before you burn out, and realize it is much better to “be” the Church.
Second, my generation needs a space and place. I have seen many in my generation leave the church, because they feel unwanted. They want to be used in Church, but they are not given the space to practice their gifts. Yes, there are those exceptions where younger ministers who most likely have come from a pastors or missionaries home are given the space to practice, but there are so many in my generation who are not given these opportunities. It seems to be all about “networking” rather than “Holy Spiriting.” Some of them fight and fight and fight to be used and heard, and then eventually they give up trying because others are more concerned with church politics and popularity. Give someone a chance. Give someone an opportunity. Give them a step, because really that is all they are asking for. Give me a hand, before you try to give me the keys to the Church. My generation needs help.
There have been many compromises, and there will continue to be compromises until my generation steps up and does two things:
1) Forms a real and living relationship with Jesus Christ, and becomes more concerned about being in relationship than “doing” church. Learns the principles of doctrine, rather than the rules.
2) Finds a place to minister and be used in their giftings and talents. Is allowed some freedom and mentoring by those who say they are concerned about our generation.
A movement can die in a generation. Where will we be in a hundred years?
Copyright 2014 Crystal Schmalz