There was a time in Israel’s history, after King Solomon, when the people forsook the Lord and His Word. Each generation turned away from God more and more. You can’t forsake God without consequences. Ultimately, they were conquered by Babylon, the city and temple were destroyed, and the people were exiled from the land. After 70 years, God began to bring his people back to Himself and to their land. He used Nehemiah to lead a group to return to Him and to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls.
The destroyed walls represented the state of a society that had forsaken God. It was a visible parallel to the broken values and morals that needed to be rebuilt for a new generation. It parallels our day of a culture that is broken. God has been kicked out of universities, colleges, schools, government, culture, and even a lot of churches. The walls are broken and the gates are burned. How do we keep the next generation from forsaking God?
Here is what Nehemiah wrote after he saw the condition of Jerusalem. “After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Neh. 4:14). His instruction to not be afraid and to fight is what we need to do today.
Those in Gen Z were born between 1995-2015. They are currently ages 7-27, making up 1 of 4 in the population. There are about 74 million in America. Statistics show that 2 out of 3 have left or are leaving the church. This generation is twice as likely to be an Atheist. Only 3% of this generation read the Bible. It is a generation in isolation, spending approximately 4 hours a day on their smart phone. Research done by Barna shows that roughly 66% of church kids stopped attending regularly during the ages 18-22. Perhaps the stat that is more alarming is that only about 35% of those who leave the church will ever return. First, we have to acknowledge there is a problem and then realize that it is really an opportunity!
Liberty is making some enhancements to our Kids and Student Ministries. Our goal is not only to minister to students during their middle and high school years but to equip them for a lifetime of following Jesus. The verdict is still out on them like it is me and you. We have not crossed the finish line. There are no guarantees that we will finish well. You want to be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). But it will not happen unless we “fight the good fight of the faith…” (1 Tim 6:12). Just like Liberty has a plan, ask God what you personally can do for the next generation. How can you be involved in rebuilding what is broken?
In Nehemiah 1:4, we read that Nehemiah fasted and prayed to God over the situation at hand. When Nehemiah learned the condition of Jerusalem it broke his heart. The condition of the culture and our country should break our hearts. Here are a few places to start in prayer:
- Pray for them to fear the Lord. (Ps. 34:11 – Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.)
- Pray for them to be surrounded by favor like Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon. (Ps. 5:12 – Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.)
- Pray that God would bring the right friends and influence into their lives and remove the wrong ones. (Prov. 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.)
Pray for their teachers, coaches, and friends. We fight on our knees. This is a spiritual battle. Pray spiritual warfare prayers over your family and the next generation!
Parents, I am asking you to prioritize church (Heb 10:25). The Psalmist said, “I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the house of the Lord.” Kids need consistency. I never once had to ask my parents what we were going to do on Sunday. Parents or not, we can all help develop the next generation. The older teach the younger. Be a mentor. Take a young person to breakfast, lunch, coffee, or let them know they can call. Who influenced you? What did they do? Focus on your real legacy. Life is a vapor. No one remembers their great, great grandparents. It’s not that they are not valuable. They are. Life is short. You never met them. That is why we must reach the NEXT generation, and the NEXT, and the NEXT. We can all do something!