The Next Generation

posted Jul 17, 2012, 9:03 PM by Ginger Bowman
Last Sunday we began our study of the book of Judges in College Sunday School, Judges chapters 1 & 2.  Maybe you did too if you’re using Lifeway’s Explore the Bible series.  There are no super exciting stories in Judges 1 & 2 and in fact, it’s not very uplifting reading.  The Israelites did evil in the sight of the LORD.  They forsook him for other gods.  This was our main text.  In fact, we jumped in at this point at verse 11, and then I discovered we had missed what was probably the key verse in the whole chapter. 

Joshua leads the people and the Israelites serve the Lord all of those days.  But things change after Joshua dies.

Judges 2: 10.  10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.

You see the problem really began with the first generation.  No one passed on to them the things of first importance.  The first generation failed to train up the next generation to know the LORD and what he had done for Israel.  What happened?  Why wasn’t it important enough for them to pass it on to the next generation? 

Maybe they just assumed the next generation was “catching it.”  Maybe it seemed like a given that they would serve Him.  Maybe they were too busy.  Maybe somewhere along the way, they too had forgotten what the Lord had done.   Maybe. 

There’s been a lot written about this collegiate generation.  Most of it is true.  And yet, as Tim Elmore often reminds us, they didn’t get here by themselves.  Somewhere along the way there was a disconnect.  Leaders assumed if they would hear the messages, they would catch on.  Parents thought the church was discipling them.  Families were busy.  Maybe parents, and other influencers had also forgotten the LORD and what it means to truly know Him.  Maybe.

As we lead this generation of collegiates, as we read and study about them, let’s not forget they didn’t get here by themselves.  Many youth ministers have discovered that the daily constant influence of parents and family life far outweighs those of a weekly encounter of a church leader.  The values and priorities that these students bring to college are deeply rooted in who they are.  Change will not happen overnight.  But, by the power of the Holy Spirit, change can happen. 

With these things in mind, as you disciple:

  • How can you help students examine their lives and their stories in such a way that they see the places in their lives where their thinking about God is flawed?
  • How can you help them to love and value their parents while helping them to see the places they need to walk “in their own way” before the Lord? 
  • How can you help them to identify those places in their lives where they haven’t been trained, and be part of training them in those ways?  

If we want things to change in the next generation, what will we do now to help? That the next generation would know the Lord and what He has done for us.  

Ginger Bowman is Collegiate ChurchLife Specialist for Texas Baptist Collegiate Ministry.