When you look at your life do you ever wonder if there are specific moments that God has created for you to step into? I believe that God is actively working to accomplish his will and there are moments, divine moments, when we realize that God has positioned us, created us for these moments. We can watch them go by or we can step into the CS Lewis’ closet and into God’s Narnia! I wonder if God is presenting the Vineyard with one of these moments.
Although children and young people have always been a priority with God they have not always been that way within the Christian Community at large. I think God has chosen this season for the Vineyard to lead the way by investing in this next generation, making it our top priority. We were born as a movement seeking to know “what the Father is doing.” Could this be it?
The Vineyard is right where God wants us to be. The favor of the Lord is on us to make a huge difference in this generation. I believe God has been preparing us, the Vineyard, for such a time as this. I think we have all the pieces to invest in this generation. We have an amazing dedicated and talented pool of young people in the Vineyard willing and ready to go. I think God is making us an amazing offer of joining with him in this vision.
I’ve titled my teaching series on this topic “Ignite.” Why Ignite? Lighting the fires of a generation gives each one of us a part to play in the grand scheme of what God is doing. Now for a little soap box moment! A very “unhelpful” analogy of transferring leadership to the next generation has been the “passing of the baton.” The implication is that once I hand off that baton I am done running my race. Perhaps this is why so many of us older leaders hang so tight to our roles and positions, afraid if we give it away we are done, set aside and put on the shelf. At the same time we have a young generation waiting in the wings wanting to get in the game. If we make them wait too long they may not be around when the time comes to pass that baton. No one to give it to?
What if we became “Torch Bearers” and Fire Starters, lighting and relighting the fires of this generation over and over again? This makes us older ones needed and relevant to the end of our lives. Our roles may change, but this young generation needs us to keep our fires burning. They don’t make it without us and we don’t finish well without them. What makes us think that when the day comes and we have finished creating our calling, mission and ministries that this generation would even want to inherent what we have created? I think we are fooling ourselves if we believe that.
But what if… we created the future together starting right now? Welcoming them into the process now and not later! Perhaps this younger generation won’t feel the need to go somewhere else to fulfill what God has put on their hearts do. We are an integrated family and that means we move into the future together as multiple generations. David prayed for God to extend his life so he could impart the glory and power of God to the next generation. Wow, what a great request!
Our strategy in all this is five-fold and one in which everyone really does get to play! Imagine the synergy of people with various life experiences, different gifts and passions coming together on the same team. I never stop believing that we are always better together. It takes a village to raise up a generation of world changers. A Vineyard Village? Over the next issues and weeks I will unpack the limitless possibilities for the churches to become mobilized in “Igniting the Fires of this Generation”. Our Vision…
Rescue – What if this generation of kids and youth who are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty, violence, abuse and hopelessness were rescued and given a chance at a new life? The recent events in Connecticut remind us that every child is at risk and we must act now before the next child has to needlessly suffer or die. We need to seek God and take a hard look at that landscape and come up with answers. God’s answers.
Reach – So, what if every child had the opportunity to come into a life-changing relationship with Jesus? If most people come to Christ between the ages of 4-18 that makes this generation ground zero for our evangelistic efforts. Sadly, many churches today see no pressing need to evangelize their own children until it’s too late. It is critical to see every kid as a gift from God, offering them the chance to know who Jesus really is, to accept what he offers and know him personally.
Roots – What if every child had a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and were deeply rooted in authentic Biblical faith? A faith so real and vital that they will not lose or walk away from? This generation desperately needs a Biblical worldview that they won’t get outside the family and church. The competition is overwhelming for their time, devotion and affection! Building up our families is a key part of this strategy.
Release – What if we equipped, empowered, and released this generation to do everything God has called them to do? I believe God wants to use our young people in special ways. They are not just the next generation in the pipeline but they are this generation ready now! The Bible is filled with story after story of God using kids and young people to accomplish BIG things and fulfill his mission. If children and youth don’t get to play then our Vineyard slogan “everyone gets to play” seems a bit hollow!
Resource – What if we give them the resources to get the job done? What if we gave them the best of our time, energy and resources that the church has to offer? We need to back up the “I believe in you” statements. Action really does speak louder than words. Maybe it’s time to take a look at our budgets and reexamine our priorities.
So, which of these areas flip your switch? What one chips away at your heart? Let’s raise up champions in each of these areas as we take an integrated approach in lighting the fires of this generation. Over the next few weeks I will attempt to go deeper and unpack each of the R’s in our vision and I would love to know where you see yourself fitting in. Send me your stories so we can encourage and spur one another on in the journey.