When I think of helping the next generation get future-ready I think of preparing them to be better listeners and first-responders—to Jesus first and foremost, and then to the needs around them. I want them to be the generation who sing, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace” as loudly as “I surrender all.”

When I was younger, and the topic of the Lord’s Return came up, a common response was, “I hope Jesus doesn’t return until after I can drive, or get married, or have sex, or have kids, or have a successful career or have grandkids or, or, or!” Our lives are so full of distractions; many of them are good things that can easily become god things causing us to forget who we are and why we’re really here.  

As I continue to journey with this next generation I see and hear in them a longing for more!  If there were many voices to deal with while I grew up, today the voices seem to be in stereo. And yet, this generation longs for a deep connection and a desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves. 

They want to be called up, not called out. 

So how do we do this? How do we call them up? How can we get them future-ready? I believe those who walk alongside the next generation need to be men and women of faith, working intentionally to become better listeners and first-responders to Jesus and accessing his grace by faith themselves. Then, as we are deliberate about this journey, we give the next generation access to our lives, so they can see how our authentic faith in God impacts every aspect of our lives. They need to see us listening, trusting, and obeying God in all of life, not just on Sunday morning or during a midweek meeting. Let them see our struggles, our questions, and mistakes. They need to see that we still need grace as well. We need to give them a front-row seat to how Jesus is continuing to impact our lives. 

Here’s the truth, unless we intentionally give this next generation access to our lives and build authentic relationships with them, we will fail to have a significant place to speak into their lives.  

What if they ask me questions I don’t have the answers to? Go on a discovery journey together! The beauty of this approach is that we don’t need all the answers. In the Gospels, Jesus was asked 183 questions, and only answered 3. Why did He feel compelled to leave 180 of these unanswered? Maybe they weren’t the right questions. Maybe He was too busy refocusing their hearts and minds on the true nature of His Father’s kingdom by asking them 307 questions. 

Like Jesus, we too need to be good at asking the right questions, good at listening, and really good at helping the next generation combine what they know about God with action.

Here are three questions we can continually ask the next generation to help them become future ready: 

  1. How is God getting your attention (through His Word, trials, blessings, sermons, life)? 
  2. What do you think God is saying to you?
  3. What are you going to do about what He is saying to you?

True faith is not just knowledge, it’s belief in action, and a big part of our pastoral responsibility to the next generation is to help them hear the voice of God and then remind, encourage and challenge them until they believe it’s true and it shows up in their daily life.  

Jesus is coming back and I want my life of faith to result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed! I believe a life well-lived like this will always make an impact on the next generations who come behind us. 

Marty Bennett

Connections Pastor at Cross Connection Church Chilliwack, BC