faith Posts

Reaching the Next Generation

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Hezekiah is a fascinating example of a guy who’s not willing to enter into the mess of the younger generation in hopes of developing, training or discipling them. Because of his pride of showing off all of his treasuries and his kingdom and his storehouse, he is told that his sons will be taken captive. Yet his response is, indeed, the word from the Lord is good. At least there will be peace in my time (2 Kings 20:13-19).

What I never noticed before is what happens after that. Hezekiah dies and his son Manasseh takes over. And when you read 2 Kings 21, you see all of the junk that Manasseh led the nation into. It’s an incredible wickedness that had not been seen in Judah to that scale previously. It had in Israel but never in Judah. Because of Hezekiah’s arrogance and selfishness of not wanting to enter into the next generation, he forsook the next generation, and the next generation took the excesses that were common in the culture and multiplied them.

When it comes to reaching the next generation, regardless of which one you’re in, the next one will always be perceived to be not as good as yours. They will always be perceived to be not as committed, not as faithful, not as biblical, etc. And yet the irony is that’s not necessarily the case. As we look at this current generation that’s now coming up, we’re really dealing with a group of people who, as we’re finding, are deeply committed to the things of God and open to the things of God. They’re just not committed to our systems or structures that people have found so much comfort in religiously.

If we’re going to reach the next generation, there has to be a sense where we recognize, yeah, I know the dude’s growing a beard, I know he’s rocking a beanie and it’s 100 degrees outside, he’s got skinny jeans and the whole hipster vibe going, okay, cool. But what’s at the heart? And if we can enter into the diversity a little bit, enter into the distinctions even of style and music and language, and recognize that this next generation is going to carry and steward the gospel moving forward, we can understand their world enough that we can get to the heart of the next generation and begin to disciple them.

We don’t have the option of pulling away and saying, “at least there will be peace in my time,” because what happened in Hezekiah’s day will happen in our day. If we are so uncomfortable or stubborn that we fail to enter in with the next generation, we fail to sit with them and disciple them and hear them and get to the heart of what God is doing in their lives, then the same type of excesses we saw in Hezekiah’s day with his son Manasseh, we’ll see today.

I would challenge any of you who might look down your nose a little bit at the next generation, as if somehow you’re better than them, to recognize that your calling is to serve them and disciple them and mentor them and train them and enter into their world enough that they recognize you care about them. Only then, when you’re telling them about Jesus, will they understand it’s coming from a heart of love and a heart of discipleship and a desire that, regardless of what generation we call our own, there could be a shared sense of the foundation of the gospel and of what Jesus is doing in our lives.

Hope Fresno: One on One With Pastor DJ Criner

In February, The Well hosted a multi-church panel discussion on local race issues called Hope Fresno. The intent was to learn from others and start to understand what goes on in our city, and it was a candid conversation seasoned with grace. While we may not have necessarily left in full agreement on everything, it was a valuable time for everyone, as there is a longing and desire in all of us to see the gospel played out with the unity of diversity.

After the panel, I met with some of the pastors and leaders in attendance to hear more of their perspectives and personal stories.

Am I a Racist?

Am I A Racist

Seek first to understand and then to be understood. –Stephen Covey

 

I grew up in Clovis. I went to the rodeo. I had mostly white friends. And then I found the world of athletics. Athletics thrust me into a multi-cultural environment.

When I hear someone say you’re the beneficiary of white privilege, to me it sounded like you were saying I had a silver spoon in my mouth, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It sounded to me like there was an assumption that everything I had had been given to me and by the way, you’re a racist.

And that bothered me. It bothered me for a lot of reasons. I worked my backside off for everything I got. I fought my way through school, my degree, on the football field. I was raised in a single parent home and it wasn’t easy. How could you say I benefited from white privilege?

So I dismissed it before I even really understood what they were saying. Then someone told me white privilege is not saying you’re a racist that’s had a silver spoon in your mouth. Whether I knew it or not I was a part of a system that was biased towards middle class white dudes. I don’t appreciate that or want that, but it’s not about me, it’s about a system that lends itself that way.

To be honest, I still didn’t quite understand it. Then I read an article about “What Riding My Bike Taught Me About White Privilege.” You know I’m a hobby junkie and one of my hobbies was riding. When you ride you know that you are riding in a world that is biased towards automobiles.  Our roads are designed to benefit automobiles. If you aren’t in a vehicle, people don’t even see you. It’s not that that driver is anti-bicycle, he just doesn’t even see you.

And you can’t win on a bike. People are mad at you if you’re on the sidewalk and they are mad when you’re on the road and that’s what I’m learning about white privilege. It doesn’t mean I’m racist, but it does mean there is an unintended bias towards middle class white people. The bias is changing and diminishing, but not fast enough.

Listen, I’m not a civil rights activist and I’m not the savior. I’m a white dude trying to understand the black narrative. From my lens I don’t see it. I don’t get it. It doesn’t mean I’m ignorant, it means I don’t understand, so I need to seek conversation to understand.

When these issues of discrimination and injustice are more than national headlines, when they are stories from your friends, the whole issue gets personalized. These are not simply racial constructs of a bygone era nor impersonal issues of those we have never met, rather these are stories of injustice from people in our community who matter deeply to God. They are right here—where we live, where we work, and where we play.

Unfortunately, injustice is a reality. This side of heaven we will always battle sin and it’s devastating affect. Though the Gospel unites us we must fight to understand one another and celebrate the diversity that God has created.

If we’re going to be serious about helping people connect to God and to each other in every neighborhood, then we need to learn more about our neighborhoods. God has given us an opportunity to provide leadership in our city and allow the gospel to influence how we interact in our community.  And that’s why Hope Fresno is so important to me.

Come with me on a journey, with a teachable spirit, in humility.  You might not agree with everything you hear, but you need to come and hear it all. I need to hear it all.

Will you put yourself in a situation where you can hear? Can you suspend judgment and put opinions aside and for just a moment, listen to what our African American friends can teach us?

 

Hope Fresno-Blog

Hope Fresno- in partnership with Faith in Community (FIC)