A new breed – a new generation!
I have been in ministry for over 37 years and was raised in a Christian home. This is the background to my observations regarding the development of our Christian faith over the centuries.
From a political point of view there has been obvious decline, rejection and liberalization in most of the western world. The outlook would seem bleak, with no hope and no future. In fact, to many, response to the mission call is a waste of energy and not worth the investment of time and effort.
This is absolutely wrong. I travel a great deal and this is not what I have observed.
Let me go back to when I was a young boy at home with my parents. It was after WWII. Much of Europe lay in ruins. Cities were bombed, with many losing husbands, sons and home. There were no jobs to be had and Germany was in crisis. But this was a generation of men and women who did NOT give up. They started to rebuild – cities, hopes, and relationships. They also had a great hunger for God to help them.
Missionaries and evangelistic groups from the US came to preach, teach and reach out to the people with a message of reconciliation, forgiveness and love. My parents received Christ at an evangelistic meeting in Berlin with Youth for Christ. These precious people came from the US with music, testimonies and the word of God. Churches were built and grew strong. Outreach was a natural part of the church and the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit a normal experience in people’s everyday life.
The next generation was privileged to take over what the past generation had planted and built. They continued with the same spirit they had experienced firsthand and learned from their elders. But there was a slight slowing of pace from 3 meetings on a Sunday in 3 different villages – with all expecting a different message! – and the customary meetings 5 nights a week.
This became the model for the third generation. When they took over in the late 80s, the Jesus People movement had already passed into history and people had become skeptical of many moves around the world. Young people who came out of the Jesus Movement were often criticized for not working hard enough, for making mistakes, for doing everything differently and so, by definition, wrong. It was no surprise that they lost confidence in themselves and confidence in the power of God. They had been given responsibility, but no authority. It was like a relay runner handing the baton to the next runner, but NOT letting go. It slowed the runners down and no one won.
The main focus of the church then became preserving and maintaining, instead of proclaiming. Cell groups where established, not primarily for evangelistic purposes, but to have fellowship, grow and enjoy one another. There certainly is nothing wrong with fellowship, but when people were asked to go out to evangelize and do outreach, the inevitable response was that the times had changed and outreach no longer was effective. Evangelistic efforts were minimized and reduced to what proved to be wishful thinking – one-to-one witnessing only. However, the fact was that there was no training and people were so overwhelmed by the challenge that they simply did not do it.
Wonderfully, there is also an eternal truth that cannot be disregarded. It remains a fact that the Holy Spirit has been poured out and is looking for empty vessels, men and women, boys and girls – people who make themselves available for HIS purposes.
Through outpourings like Toronto, Pensacola, CfaN Fire Conference in Frankfurt and many others, something has been ignited and has triggered a new wave. The youth of the past have become the mature leaders of today, and many are following.
Here is my current observation. For some years now I have seen this new breed, this new generation. It is a generation with a great desire to see and experience again what they have heard of. Faith is growing in them and they go out willingly. They witness without being asked and they believe without being forced – and they are starting to experience what the Apostles experienced. There are testimonies from teenagers who go and pray for the sick on the streets and they see people healed and delivered. Drug addicts are being set free as we experienced it during the 70’s. Many other wonderful miracles happen today on our streets in Europe, all because of this Holy Spirit-driven young generation. This is what I experience and see.
This is my plea to the older generation:
Let us stop criticizing, obstructing or getting in the way of the young generation. Let us rather learn how to mentor, coach, train, encourage, disciple, love these wonderful people.
When we learn to understand, we run together, allowing the young to pick up speed, run alongside for a time and then take over the baton. The important thing is to LET GO and run behind them for a time, encouraging, cheering them on and being a role model for them of fathers and mothers in Christ!
By God’s grace we will one day finish our race. From heaven we will cheer them on, crying “Keep going, don’t give up, you will make it!” In this way, the baton will not be dropped and the past generations will not be failed.
Let us pray for our young people and rejoice when they do better than we did!
There is a mighty move of the Holy Spirit and I want to be a part – not a hindrance!
Pastor Siegfried Tomazsewski
April 30, 2015