Monday, June 10, 2013

The Next Generation: The Hope of the Church

Much has been written about how the next generation is abandoning the church. Though this is a very real issue, what has been under reported is that those young people who are remaining in the church are more passionate than ever about their faith. That came to mind when I read from 1 Samuel 3 yesterday in my morning devotions. I have listed selected verses below for us to discuss.

1 Samuel 3:1, 7, 10, 19-21

1 The boy Samuel served the Lord in Eli’s presence. In those days the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread. 7 Now Samuel had not yet experienced the Lord, because the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 10 The Lord came, stood there, and called as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel responded, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 19 Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and He fulfilled everything Samuel prophesied. 20 All Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a confirmed prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear in Shiloh, because there He revealed Himself to Samuel by His word.

In the first verse we see that Samuel was only a boy, yet served the Lord. Somehow we have come under the false impression that young people are the church of tomorrow. We must accept the reality that they are the church of today and can serve the Lord today. They may lack the polish and maturity they will have in the future, but they have much to offer the church right now, if we will let them be the church of today.

Notice that the second half of that of that verse says that special words from the Lord were not common in Samuel’s day. Yet, the Lord was about to reveal Himself to a boy. I believe the same is true in our day. It seems that many churches have lost the powerful touch from God they once had. Yet, young people are experiencing God in powerful and personal ways. They may be the very ones to help the rest of us understand the Lord in a deeper way.

Verse seven reminds us that Samuel had not yet experienced the fullness of the Lord, though he had often been in the Lord’s presence. But that was about to change. Samuel was about to have his first powerful experience with God. The rest of his life would be characterized by such powerful moments. As I consider the young people who are in church today, many of them long to experience the fullness of God. That is revealed in the passion they show at youth camps and Christian concerts. But they have not yet come into their own. They are on the edge of something great. I look forward with great anticipation to seeing how they soar like eagles with they step off the edge.

Verse ten reveals that the Lord spoke to Samuel. Those who know the whole story may remember that the Lord actually spoke to Samuel three times. Since Samuel had never had that experience before, it took three times for him to realize it was the Lord. But when Samuel finally realized who it was speaking to him, his response was correct, “Lord, Your servant is listening.” Young people today may not always hear or understand what the Lord is saying when He speaks into their lives. But they will figure it out eventually, and I am confident that when they do, they will listen to Him and follow Him to accomplish great things.
The final three verses I highlight show how Samuel began to serve the Lord. The entire nation knew of his faith and was impacted by his ministry. That was a long way from being a confused kid in the temple trying to figure out what God was saying, but he made the transition. I believe that in the pews of today’s churches there are young people sitting who will be used by God to accomplish amazing things for the Lord. Those young people are the hope for the future of the church, and I am excited about what God is going to do through them.

To help churches reach the next generation, Dr. Terry Dorsett has written this informative book. Filled with practical ideas and powerful testimonies of churches making significant impact on the next generation, this is one of the "must have" books for people who care about the next generation. Order your copy at:

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