The first part of the book of Ecclesiastes talks a lot about working to achieve something only to die and be forgotten. Solomon is lamenting how sad it is to think that nothing we do here on earth will be remembered or appreciated. And he’s right. It is sad to think that. But Solomon was wrong in “declaring” that this the destiny of everyone.
Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” The key word in that verse is “imitate”. As leaders (and we are all leaders in someone’s eyes) we have to be actively present in the lives of others, giving them something to remember… imitate… carry forward.
Paul is obviously talking about Christian living and carrying on the mission of the Church. And we know how important it is to do that—to raise up a generation of believers who desire and seek out a personal relationship with God. We need to raise up a generation of believers who will lead their local congregations rather than just show up on Sunday. But how? How do we do that?
Live your life sharing your God-given talents and abilities with your brothers and sisters in Christ—including the young people. No, this doesn’t mean everyone is cut out to teach Sunday school or have a high school small group in their home. But it does mean you can interact with the young people in casual conversation, complimenting them for their achievements and their service to the church, volunteering to share a testimony with them, teach them a skill, or chaperone a youth event.
It’s a lot more than ‘just’ church
Taking an active role in sharing and passing on your faith is about a lot more than just doing church together. While it is definitely important to do that—worship, pray, serve, learn, and fellowship together—what you do outside of organized worship services and class times is where the real opportunities to learn to imitate happen.
I’m going to give you a few examples of what you can do and how to include the element of faith sharing into them. My challenge to you is to choose a couple of them to do. And trust me, you will be happy and blessed in more ways than one.
Sadly there aren’t many young people who know how to make a pie from scratch, bake bread, or even fry chicken. But they sure like to eat, so gather a group of young people in your kitchen or the church’s kitchen and teach them how to cook. While you are working and fellowshipping, talk about your growing-up years in the church. Talk about the adults who invested in you. Laugh about the meals you’ve botched and the talk about the joys of being able to share a meal with family and friends.
NOTE: You can do the same thing with other life skills such as sewing or hobbies.
Home repairs and maintenance
Young adults are usually eager to go the DIY route, but lack the skills to do so. If this is your niche, hold a few simple classes to teach the basics. Talk about how caring for our homes includes caring for them spiritually, as well. You could also guide them in using their newly-acquired skills to help an elderly person in the church.
Fun and games
Families don’t stay geographically connected like they did a few generations ago. This means there are likely dozens of children in your church unable to enjoy and benefit from hands-on grandparents. Sharing your faith and giving young people a faith they can imitate is easily done when you adopt a family and take on the role of surrogate grandparent.
Teach the children to play the games you played as a child. Teach them how to enjoy being outside rather than in front of a television or computer screen. Give Mom and Dad an occasional date night. Encourage them through telling Bible stories, singing the ‘classic’ children’s praise songs, and telling them about your life as a child.
Albert was a master storyteller. Well into his eighties he never passed up the opportunity to tell stories to the children and teenagers about his life growing up on the farm and as a young man. Albert also recalled for them the early days of our congregation—the hours of service and volunteer labor in making our building possible. Every story had a Jesus-message woven into it. It was wonderful to see him relate to them in such a special way.
On the day of Albert’s funeral, more than a few young people were in attendance. Dozens of parents had taken their children out of school for a couple of hours at their request. They wanted to tell Albert goodbye—proof that his investment was going to be paying off for years to come.
If you aren’t aware of the fact that kids are under a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed academically, let me tell you they are. And if you aren’t aware that academic competition is something that is being forced upon them, let me tell you it is.
Let the young people (and their parents) in your church know you are available for tutoring on whatever subjects you are proficient in. Even listening and helping an early-reader to enhance their reading skills (so they don’t get left behind) is something many parents would welcome.
Your tutoring sessions can always begin and end with prayer and you can remind them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image. In doing so you are building their confidence and tearing down the negative self-image that falling behind erects in their hearts and minds.
Rita scoured the paper every day looking for the names of the children in our church. Sporting events, academics, music, agricultural events…whatever. Rita cut out every single one of them for years. Then on Sunday morning she would congratulate the child and give them the article.
In taking the time to let them know someone cared and was proud of their accomplishments, these young people cared about giving back to the church.
Be accessible and approachable
Smile. Speak to the young people in your church. Drop in at youth events (bringing snacks is always a plus). Volunteer to share your testimony or present a devotion at a youth event. Open your home to them. Pray for them—and let them know you are doing so.
Passing on your faith to the next generation isn’t just about making sure they know the books of the Bible and that they know to keep their head bowed during communion. Passing on your faith to the next generation means to live a life that exudes the love and character of Jesus in such a way that those watching will imitate you. And when they do, you can rest in the fact that your life will have not been for nothing.
~ By Darla Noble
- How to Bridge the Generational Gap in the Church
- What Each Generation Can Bring to the Church
- Raising the Next Generation of Children in Today’s World