Winning the Next Generation for Christ

Sam Rainer

June 18, 2007

The church needs to be in crisis mode. At the Southern Baptist Convention last week I learned a scary statistic. Of the “Builder” generation (those that fought in WWII), about 65% were Christians. Of the “Boomer” generation, about 35% were Christians. Of GenXers, about 15% are Christians. And of the youngest generation, it is estimated that only 4-8% are Christians.

I think we can all admit that we could do a better job of reaching the world. But quite frankly, we aren’t reaching our own children for Christ in our own homes. Recent research shows that teenagers are more confused than ever about what it takes to get to heaven. As with many churches, the smallest ministry in my church is our college ministry. We simply aren’t conveying the gospel message in a relevant, clear, and uncompromising way.

The church needs to refocus. We cannot be content with losing more of the next generation to the world. And in many ways the church has become its own biggest enemy. At times, unnecessary tradition can supersede much needed relevancy. Our complacency overshadows our boldness for the gospel.

But hope remains. Our optimism as Christians should shine bright – we can be eternal optimists proclaiming the greatest news to a dark and confused world. Methods may have to change; we may have to converse in a different vernacular. But the gospel of Christ is unchanging, resolute, perfect, and always culturally relevant.

Yesterday, I baptized a seven-year-old girl. Her parents had been faithful in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with her from a young age. I also dedicated three babies to the Lord yesterday. The challenge to the church and to the parents was simple – raise these children in Christian homes so that they may hear the gospel message as much as possible. When I dedicate a child to the Lord, I write them a letter to be opened after they accept Christ. I hope one day to hear that they read my letter and that they want to be baptized. Nothing would make me happier as a pastor than to baptize someone whom I dedicated to the Lord as a child.

There’s always hope. Just because we’ve been losing a battle over the next generation doesn’t mean that it has to continue. This battle is fought in our own homes as well as on the mission fields of the world. We must be faithful about praying with our children, having family devotional times, and telling our children about Jesus, His message, and how He saves.

*At the Southern Baptist Convention last week, no one was more passionate, more direct, and bolder than Ed Stetzer about how SBC churches (though applicable to all churches) should reach the next generation for Christ You can view his message here (scroll down to “Challenge”). I encourage you to watch it.

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