Jon Steingard, former lead singer for Hawk Nelson, a Canadian Christian rock band announced his disbelief in God on Instagram at the height of the pandemic. Both his father and father-in-law are pastors,so his announcement sent shockwaves throughout the Christian music community. Steingard said he thinks there are three recurring reasons why people leave the faith: differing beliefs on gay rights, failed support for social justice issues, and political platforms using faith to advance certain polarizing agendas.
“I see the value in religious practices,” Steingard said, “even if I don’t believe in the metaphysical (divine) claims of Christianity (Christ).
Adam Hamilton is correct when he suggests we need to adjust our strategy for reaching today’s youth. Question is, what strategy will we adopt?
Back in the 80’s and 90’s I sold printing paper on straight commission. I couldn’t afford to fail. Most of the products I sold were on the high end. Our competitors sold quality paper, but their products were often of a cheaper grade and lower price. Many times I found myself tempted to drop my price in order to gain a sale.
I see this same tension in mainstream churches. Jesus is the better product, the best product, but too often we are tempted to diminish the value of his sacrifice (devalue sin) in order to “increase sales,” and gain new members.
In Jesus we have:
- an active, charity-oriented love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, gentleness, and faith in a Father and his Son who seek to give us an abundant life
- the wisdom of God and knowledge from God
- the keys to the kingdom of heaven
- authority to bind unclean spirits, sickness, disease, and death
- authority to give sight to the blind, loosen the tongues of the oppressed, break the chains of those imprisoned by addiction and affliction: even free those incarcerated (See the prayers of those for Peter when he was jailed.)
- dominion over the earth and the power to move mountains, roll back seas, and calm storms
- an advocate who carries our petitions before the Father
- the Spirit of God within us
- the ability to see unseen things in the heavenly realm
- and so much more…
The spirit of the world (1 Corinthians 2:12) sells a product based on:
We only need to watch the news (of both left and right persuasions) and what passes for entertainment to see evidence that the spirit of the world dominates our culture. The power of darkness preaches and reaches through the screen and ear buds.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” – Jesus (Matthew 6:22-23)
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)
In THIS age and the age to come Jesus offers life, hope, restoration, reconciliation, and a future more glorious than anything we can imagine. (Luke 18:29-30)
Science demands we believe in facts. Jesus calls us to believe in him.
Science studies the past. Jesus offers us a future in heaven with him.
Science is fine to a point, but science will never point us to Jesus.
Our natural eyes cannot see the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). For that we need spiritual eyes and spiritual vision that only comes from the Holy Spirit within us.
How do we reach the younger generation? The better question is how to reach our generation? Jesus said:
“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)
The seeds sown by our generation over the past 50+ years is the harvest we now reap. I do not have to imagine the heartbreak of Steingard’s father and father-in-law. I’ve lived it within my family. I bet you have as well. To a large degree our generation has failed to make disciples of Christ. Within the modern church we can’t even agree on who Christ is, what he said, and what he meant by what he said. It’s no wonder kids don’t want to come to church.
How do we reach the younger generation? Meet them at their points of pain: isolation, fear, fragile identity, desire for significance, and truth—real truth, not our opinion. (Kill, steal, or rape—3 of the 10 Commandments—and you can bet someone is going to seek justice.)
In Jesus we have fellowship, confidence, an identity (transformed into the image of God), purpose, and the very words of God burned into our hearts.
In Jesus we can change the world and our culture, but first Jesus must change our hearts.
God gave Adam and Eve sovereignty over the earth, animals, and themselves. We cannot override the will of another. We cannot force someone to believe as we believe. Goodness knows over the past 2000 years Christians have tried… and failed.
How do we reach the younger generation (and our own kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews)? The keys to reaching today’s youth is praying for them.
1. Pray that God would send laborers into their lives who would transmit the gospel in a way that is relevant to them. It is the Word of God that opens the hearts and transforms them.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38)
2. Pray that the Word would reach their heart and reveal God’s love. The revelation of God’s love is the most important revelation that one can receive. Love this person with the love of God.
“I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. (Ephesians 3:14-18)
3. Pray that the Spirit would convict them of their need and the gift of righteousness. This is not a condemning conviction, but a revelation of their ‘lostness’ and that Jesus is the answer.
“When he comes, he (the Advocate, Holy Spirit) will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me. (John 16:8-9)
4. Pray that the seed of the Word that already exists in their heart, or that will be heard by them, will spring up and grow in their life. Believe that the Word of God will transform their heart and mind.
“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”Mark 4:26-29)
5. Pray that they would have a revelation of God’s goodness. It is His goodness that leads us to repentance.
“Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4)
– borrowed from Barry Bennett
Others may have a different approach to reaching today’s youth, but for me prayer and knowing that God’s will is that none should be lost, leads me to believe that if I remain obedient to his word and pray his words back to him, his will will be done. The lost will be found. Those trapped in darkness will be freed. Those blind will see.
You get what you pay for.
We get what we pray for.
Pray the best for others. Pray Jesus.