How do we reach this new generation with the message of Christ?
Their thought patterns, their cultures, the basis of their decisions, their perspective on life and death, their outlook on spirituality, it has all changed dramatically in the last decade here in America. The established church, in many ways, is grasping at air as they keep implementing their tried-and-true programs and techniques that seemed to work on the previous generation.
The Multi-Cultural & Multi-Generational Key
We will reach this new generation with the same Holy Spirit-empowered message that has been the key for 2,000 years since the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost.
The programs and techniques of yesteryear never were the key. They were man-made methods and constructs that only functioned if the Holy Spirit was involved. Our programs and techniques, sadly, often were barriers to the gospel, not bridges.
The Apostle Paul spoke clearly and succinctly of the key to reaching any generation and any culture in any country:
“And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spiritʼs power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on Godʼs power.”
( 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 )
Window Dressings in the 21st Century Church
What have we been relying upon that has seemed to lose its power? Eloquence of modern speech? A new and better systematic wisdom for self-help? Bright lights and loud music as the only bridge for the message that we offer? These are just window dressings, there is nothing wrong with them unless we are relying upon them to make the critical impact for the conversion of a soul and heart to Christ.
The Power of God in the 21st Century
In the country of Togo, West Africa, some missionaries conducted research to discover what factors were key to Muslims converting to Christ. Was it marketplace evangelism with worship music? Distribution of 4-color glossy gospel literature? Compassion ministry to the poor? Supremely edited and produced radio programming?
What they discovered was exactly the same as what the Apostle Paul had spoken clearly of 2,000 years earlier. For 9 out of every 10 Muslims who had converted to Christ, the key factor in their conversion was a supernatural miracle, a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power either in their life or the life of a family member.
The Hunger of this New Generation
This new generation in America is primed for the gospel! They are hungry for truth, for an “authentic” (as they put it) reality, and nothing will capture their attention more than the power of God. They have had their ears tickled by too many groups (crooked politicians, greedy ministers, fake entertainers, deceptive gurus, et al.), they don’t want to just hear something, they want a truth-encounter that rocks their world. They long for something that is far greater than their fears, their hurts, their disappointments, their dissolutions, their broken relationships, and their emptiness of soul.
If we are going to reach this new generation, it is going to be with a demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power. If we are going to collaborate with the Spirit, and even be conduits of His power, we need to once again become a praying people. We need to subject ourselves completely to the living God, the same way that we hope and pray this new generation will.
Each doctrinal camp in the Church has their own belief as to how the power of the Spirit works and what it looks like. Pentecostals, Charismatics, Southern Baptists, Reformed Lutherans and Methodists, Church of Christ, (to name just a few), we all have our own concept of how the power of the gospel and the power of the Spirit works in evangelism, and what it might look like.
“Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done—by the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God.
So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone elseʼs foundation.”
( Romans 15:17-20 )
“To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before…”
One thing we can agree upon is this: we need to pray, long and hard, for the power of the gospel and the power of the Spirit to be mighty in our generation just as it was in Paul’s generation. We need to venture into this new generation and present the gospel where there has been no gospel. Just as Paul’s ambition was to “boldly go where no one has gone before” (to borrow a phrase from Star Trek), let our ambition be the same, doing so with the empowerment of the gospel and the Spirit.
This is how we will reach this new generation, the same way that the Apostles and the early church of the Book of Acts reached their generation.
See you at the altar of prayer. There are souls awaiting an encounter with the power of God that will manifest if we will pray, pray, and pray as we go.
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