Don’t buy the press about the next generation. After being in the trenches with the church of the future, its clear Jesus is still on the move. In short, be excited; the future is bright! God is raising up the generation behind us to go beyond us for His glory.
Millennials are not the future anymore.
Millennials are running for office, starting companies, and leading churches. Generation Z and beyond is the future. Churches still trying to cater to Millennial consumer habits will soon encounter a generation more concerned with theological convictions, global mission & Biblical justice.
The next generation won’t have cultural power, and that’s ok by them.
They will follow Jesus as a minority. These disciples live in the wake of the culture wars of the early 2000s, where sexuality, gender, and human life itself are defined in ways that conflict with Jesus. I see them ready to face up to this reality, because they continue to hold their convictions with compassion in a culture that cancels them. The Spirit may help this next generation witness as a prophetic minority, one which does not compromise their convictions to gain cultural or political power.
They will slow us down, and reclaim spiritual formation in our churches.
The digital world made them more informed, but it doesn’t help if—like us— they can’t sort and process the facts. Many of them are Biblically informed. Now they need a Kingdom framework to connect the dots. Churches that sit in the tension of information overload, cultivating a slower process of spiritual formation, will thrive. This may mean that churches grow smaller in the future. Spiritual formation requires a smallness that large manufactured discipleship avoids. Would you rather have a city filled with 20 megachurches at 5,000 casual Christians each, or 1,000 churches of a committed 100? If revival came in a city, the more churches, the better.
The next generation will connect Biblical conviction with Biblical justice.
They will lead the Church beyond a consumer model crafted to reach a single demographic towards a movement that bridges social divides by the gospel. Some helpful context: this coming generation stands on the shoulders of giants who fought to preserve first order doctrines like the inspiration of Scripture, the atonement, and the Lordship of Jesus. The next generation will carry the mission forward to advance Jesus’ great commission into new, previously inaccessible places. Along the way, they may revive abandoned territories too, where Jesus’ great commandment has been forgotten. They will reconnect compassionate love of neighbor with the uncompromising truth of Jesus. For them, this isn’t a resurgent social gospel, or a smuggling in of secular social justice agendas, but a profound outpouring of faith in Jesus‘ Kingdom agenda. They will read the command “make disciples” in its context: “baptizing them” (inclusion) and “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (participation).
The future of the Church is in good hands. Not yours, not mine, not theirs. The future of the Church rests in the hands of King Jesus! Chin up. Let’s help this generation behind us take the gospel beyond us for His glory.