Embracing The Next Generation
The long-term success of any church, ministry or movement, including this revival, surely includes the need to pass on its anointing, platform and values to the next generation. Allowing their ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’ in the faith to stand upon their shoulders and take things to the next level is a must for the pastors and leaders of today.
But how can we do this? What do young people need? How can they be trained to take responsibility? How do we go about discipling inexperienced and immature youth into anointed ministers of the Gospel?
Lead Them To Healing
Just as much as we need to be healed ourselves, we need to lead them into healing of their hearts and emotions. Before they give, they need to receive.
The process of sanctification, I believe, is really the process of healing and freedom. In Luke 4:18 Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:11-12 declaring that he came to set people free from broken-heartedness and to comfort them from the abuses of life. Indeed, this freedom comes only through Jesus, as we continue to let the power of the cross minister deeply into our lives.
So many youth of today have had their basic abilities to trust destroyed by the onslaught of negative experiences in life. They have written off the mothers and fathers around them, erected walls of protection and decided to try to make it on their own, resulting in an independent spirit which is evidenced by a belief in “rugged individualism.” Why?
Many of them have been subjected to unrealistic performance expectations, physically and sexually abused, pelted with angry criticisms or abandoned through divorce. Others have been simply lost in the shuffle of a busy life and have never received the love and nurture they needed from caring fathers and mothers. We live in a society where often both parents work, and the kids are left far too often on their own to be raised by TV and unhealthy peer groups. That necessary bond that comes from parental nurturing and time spent together is either too weak or perhaps not there at all. This leaves a young person with a guarded suspicion towards adult authority figures which is often projected onto God. The independent spirit that then develops forestalls their ability to fit together and take their places in the Body of Christ. If these character issues are not healed, they will emerge later on as issues of control, abusiveness or sexual problems which bring both hurt and reproach upon the Kingdom of God and also in their own lives and marriages. Healing enables the young person to walk in the Spirit in sonship and servanthood to the heavenly Father.
I have watched this over and over again with our School of Ministry students who come to us from all over the world. We make sure they learn to know that God the Father really loves them. The Father’s love is the foundational, grace-based truth that sets them free as they allow Him to go deep into their hearts to heal the hurts, fears and shame of life’s past experiences.
Being healed frees them, and then the Holy Spirit is able to move more powerfully through them. They become powerful ministers of the Gospel in a very short time.
Secondly, young people also need an entry point, an opportunity to get involved in ministry that includes opportunities to preach the good news of Jesus Christ and begin to pray for the sick and see healings, signs and wonders happen when they pray. They need to learn as we did, by doing, by trial and error, that God wants to use them and indeed can and will use them in surprisingly powerful ways.
There needs to be healing of the heart, equipping with ministry gifts and then opportunities to preach, teach and pray for others. Experience needs to be accompanied with good mentoring and relational accountability.
Mentoring is all about good modeling. There is simply no substitute for parents apprenticing their sons and daughters. This has been the way youth have learned for thousands of years regardless of their parents’ occupations. The dads taught the sons everything they knew, and the mothers, the daughters. As a beginner, the young person began to not only get the theory of what to do, but he acquired ‘hands on’ experience first learning the simpler, necessary tasks, and then gradually working his way into full productivity and responsibility. Quality and quantity were gradually improved along the way, all under the watchful eye of the parent, so that the children learned how not to waste family resources.
So it is with learning effective ministry. As essential as theology and sound doctrine are, it is not enough to send young people off to seminary and fill their heads with the theory only. They need to catch the values of compassion for people, and a servant’s heart, not to mention the skill, confidence and ability that comes only from doing and doing again repeatedly.
Raising Up Capable Ministers
It thrills me to watch the senior team that works with Carol and me at TACF. They have all grown into very strong and capable ministers through years of watching and learning from us and other leaders. They are then becoming involved in every aspect of ministry, and over the years, they have become able, anointed leaders. Here at TACF as we host revival, there are so many avenues of ministry to learn: worship leading, hosting the meeting, interviewing the testimonies, planning and organizing the meetings, preaching the messages and leading the ministry time. As we follow the Holy Spirit and flow in the gifts God has given us, we learn by doing it over and over and over again.
Wesley, Whitfield, Roberts, Seymour
Leaders of previous revivals were younger than we imagine. John Wesley was thirty-two when the great revival of 1730’s and ‘40’s began. He had already been to the mission field in Georgia. George Whitfield, his close friend and associate, was 21 years old when he first crossed the Atlantic to preach. He drew crowds numbering in the tens of thousands. Evan Roberts, the leader of the Welsh Revival in 1904-1906, was 24 years of age and his sister, the main song leader, was sixteen. William J. Seymour, the leader of the Azusa St. revival of 1906-1909 and beyond, was about 31 years of age. I am amazed at this, especially since I’m now 61 years old. I was 53 at the time the Holy Spirit first fell in our meetings.
However, young people are much more willing to take risks and pursue new paradigms and innovative ways. Their traditions do not run so deep but that they will launch out into new things and go to distant places. Following after God means always doing new things because He is never in a rut. How awesome it is to run after God, doing new and effective ministry alongside youth. We need their vigor and they need our steadying, reassuring hand of experience.
Everyone Should Have A ‘Timothy’
I believe every pastor, evangelist, missionary and indeed everyone in full-time ministry should have a “Timothy” or two to whom they are teaching all that they know and mentoring them in the process.
Paul the apostle had Timothy, his own son in the faith. Timothy was first trained in the word of God by his own mother and grandmother. (2 Timothy 1:5-6) Later on Timothy was mentored by the great apostle Paul who took him along on several ministry trips and eventually put him in as senior pastor of the great church in Ephesus which some believe to have had about 50,000 members. You might even consider having as many as twelve “Timothys” like Jesus had. Imagine if every senior leader passed on what he had learned over the years to his sons and daughters in the faith, teaching them his values, priorities and practices. So, all you “young-uns” in the next generation, find yourself a mother and father in the faith that will pass their platform, character, values and anointing on to you!