Reaching The Next Generation | Dr. Chip Bennett
Just Take The Next Step | Week 10
If you're my age, 26 — just kidding. If you’re my age or a little above, a generation above me, you probably have sat in the middle of a conversation — maybe you led the conversation, but you've definitely probably talked about it, where you sit around, maybe it was somebody else that led the conversation and you just heard about it, or you've listened to it somewhere along the way, but people will start talking about their kids, or they'll start talking about grandkids, and before long you'll hear something like this — and maybe you've said this. Maybe your spouse has said this. Maybe somebody you know has said this, or maybe you've been in these conversations. Someone will say something like, “What kind of future are we going to leave to our children and grandchildren?”
You probably have had that conversation, at some point or the other. As you sit around in these conversations and talk about these things, as these things come up, another question that somebody might have said, or you might have said this, or you might have heard, is this: “Will our kids and grandchildren grow up to have any understanding of morality?”
A lot of times, when that question's asked, it's asked right after somebody says, “Society is changing so fast. I mean, wow.”
Or maybe you've been around, and somebody talks about something like this, or brings up something, or maybe you've done this: “What will the economy be like for our kids or our grandchildren?”
Maybe those things have been things that you've said, and maybe they're coming from a great place, a good heart, and all of those good things — and I am by no means trying to say that those aren't conversations that people should have, need to have, or whatever else. But what's interesting is when I've been in those conversations, and I've been around them — and I'm a pastor, so I'm always thinking about things from a pastoral standpoint. I'm always thinking about things from a theological standpoint. What's interesting — and I'm not saying that my experience is the only experience. I’m just telling you this has been my experience. When those conversations are being had, people get going, and sometimes they get fired up about this stuff — and they get mad, you can tell, and then they start lobbing bombs about everything else — one of the things, if I raise my hand, say this, or whatever, I've never heard, in those conversations — and I'm not saying that they don't believe this or they haven't thought about this, but in those conversations, the thing that I haven't heard, and then when I raise it, it's like, “Ah, okay.”
But this is the real question. And I'm not saying those questions are bad, but this is the question that we should be asking: “Will the next generation know Jesus?”
I mean, this is the question. Oftentimes, when we get real spun up about other stuff — and I just want to lay this out. People don't take this as — I'm not snarky. I'm not trying to give anybody a hard time, but I want you to hear me here. If you and me got the answers to all of those questions that I just asked, but we got this one wrong, we haven't moved the needle for one person as far as eternity is concerned. And that matters to me. It matters, as a pastor.
So, we're in a series called “Just Take the Next Step,” and I want to encourage you, I want to challenge you, I want to inspire you — I want to do the same for me and for our church — to take the next step in realizing how important it is to reach the next generation for Jesus. How important it is. Listen, if you're my generation or above, that does not mean that this church doesn't love you or doesn't want you. No. Don’t somehow think that this is like one is more important than the other. That's not what I'm saying. Don't hear what I'm not saying.
What I am saying is that passing on our faith to the next generation is a very big deal biblically, and it should be something that's in our hearts. Many times, we're a little bit more concerned about certain things, maybe, than we are about sharing the Gospel and Jesus to the next generation. Not that that's not important to us, but it might not be the most important thing. That’s why, as your pastor, to the point of where sometimes people have been mad at me, the reason I focus so much on preaching Jesus and preaching the Gospel is because I don't want our church to get it wrong and, somehow, not pour into the next generation. We’ve got to keep the main thing, the main thing.
So, I remember — and maybe you're like me, maybe you're not like me. A lot of times, I've read the Bible, and I’ve read it. But then, sometimes, it reads me. Many times, I've read the same passage over and over again, and then I'm like, “How did I miss this?”
You probably don't have that experience. You probably just walk with God your whole time. I mean, I get it. I'm up here to just tell you how I am. I've read the Bible many, many times, and studied these books many, many times, and sometimes I’m going, “What translation was I reading 15 years ago?”
So, I remember when I read this passage of scripture — what I should say is when it read me — and I remember it was a sobering moment. It was one of those where you just go, “Oh. I’ve got to really take a moment here and think about this.”
The passage I'm going to read you — and we'll do a little bit of a different message than I normally do, this weekend. You’re going to hear a little bit more of my heart on some things. I want you to hear your pastor and his heart for that next generation. I'm going to read a passage out of the book of Judges. The book of Judges is an interesting book. I'm not going to go into the whole details here, but it's an interesting book because it is a cyclical book. It it's a cycle, over and over again, where the people of God don't serve God, they get themselves in a big mess, God raises up judges to get them out of the big mess, and then they get themselves going after other things again. They get themselves in a big mess, God raises up a judge to deliver them, and then they go back to the big mess again. It’s sort of this book that's almost a little depressing when you read it. It just shows the heart of people. Even the judges get worse as they go through. It’s sort of like, “Wow, this is not the greatest book, but it exposes our hearts and how we can stray from God.”
But in Judges 2, it's ending. It’s sort of putting an end to this person's life whose name is Joshua, who followed Moses. You guys remember Moses. Charlton Heston, right? Remember him? Okay. So, he followed Moses, and it's summing up Joshua's life. I want to read it to you, and then we'll talk about taking some next steps to make sure that we reach the next generation.
It says, “And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua,”
In other words, everybody was serving the Lord as long as Joshua was alive. When Joshua wasn't alive, even the people who were around that outlived him served the Lord.
“…who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years.”
I was thinking he must have died somewhere between Sarasota and Naples because that's about the average age between here. I'm not quite sure. Just a little side note here, or whatever. But he died at the age of 110 years, and then were told that they buried him, and all this stuff. Then here's what we're told in the verse after.
“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers.”
In other words, that generation, man, they knew God. They had seen God work. They’d seen all the works of God. I mean, God had got them into the promised land, had done all kinds of stuff, and everybody ended up in heaven. It sounds great. If that’s where we ended, it would be fantastic. I remember when I read the next verse, I'm like, “Oh, man. That’s a challenge because this was a pretty awesome group of people.”
It says, “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord…”
Man, hold on. Joshua's generation? That generation that was so great? How did that happen?
“…[they] did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.”
It's like, “Wow.” That's like one of those where go, “Man, what happened here? That generation who walked with God and saw God, how did that not happen? I mean, what went on? I think it sort of speaks to you and me that we really need to think about how we are going to reach the next generation. What do we need to do? So, I put together a little bit of different message, but I want you to hear my heart, I want you to listen to what I have to say, and I want you to lean in. I want you to know that you do not have to agree with everything I say. There are times in scripture when Paul goes, “Hold on now. This isn't really the Lord. This is me talking.”
Okay? You’re just hearing the heart of your pastor. You can go “Chip, we like some of your heart, but we don't like your heart on this next generation thing.”
That's okay. It's fine. I mean, I'm not that person who thinks everything that I say is right. I just want to have a conversation because what I can tell you — and we'll get to this in a minute — is that based on the data that we have, we're not doing a very great job, right now, of reaching the next generation as a church. Here we are. We're doing a good job here at Grace, thank God, but I want us to think about this. I want it to be a point. Let's talk about taking some next steps in reaching the next generation. I want you to lean in here, and I really want you to pay attention because I think this is important.
First of all, taking the next step in reaching the next generation will force us to realize that no matter how great a generation might be, it can fail. This was a great generation, Joshua's generation, but here's the reality. The one singular imperative of passing on the faith did not happen. You have to stop for a moment and go, “What happened?” because we're told that all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. Everybody won. Everybody went to heaven. They had a great generation, but there was another generation after them who did not know the Lord, and the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. A lot of times, when you read the Old Testament in Hebrew, the way the Hebrews wrote it, a lot of times they say things to get you and I to think. Sometimes the text is there to spur questions and to make us think about things. I started thinking to myself, “How do you not pass on your faith to the next generation?”
Especially when you're the people who got it right. They went to heaven, and they gathered with all their fathers. They’re part of the covenant family. It's like, “What happened?”
I can't tell you for sure what happened, but I can give you some ideas of maybe how we, as this generation, we, as a church, could get focused on some things that are maybe good but not God. Sometimes there are distractions that keep us from the main thing. The main thing is making sure people get to know Jesus. Oftentimes, we can get distracted, and the distractions are not necessarily bad things. Many times, they're good things.
As I put this list together, I was reading my own mail. I was having to deal with some of my own stuff, thinking about, “Chip, how can we, as people who know God, who love God, who serve God, who do all these, fail, sometimes, to pass on Jesus to the next generation?”
I started thinking that it’s probably, a lot of times, because we get distracted. We get distracted with things rather than being focused on the main thing. Let me give you an example. You probably have done this. If you haven't done this, I'll own it. Put it on me. Put it on my shoulders. Blame your pastor so many times. Because we have a young staff. You know that, right? We have a very young staff. Oftentimes, I'll get frustrated. You may say, “Chip, you're not supposed to walk on water. Don't walk on water.”
Sometimes I’ll get frustrated with the next generation. I'll be like, “Man, where did their work ethic go? Who trained them?”
And these are my kids. Like, “Mindy, what did you do?”
So, do I believe Christians should be people who work harder and better at their job than anybody else at the job? I do. I think we should be the best. We should be working to the Lord, not unto man. But listen to me. It's so easy, when you start thinking about the next generation, to get sidetracked and distracted on things that aren't necessarily bad, but they're not the most important thing. I started realizing that the more I push you all — I mean, even today, I got onto one. I'm like, “You didn't do a good job.”
I'm thinking, “I'm just getting ready to preach this tonight. What's wrong with you, Bennett? Golly.”
But let me tell you something. When we focus too much on that, we might get the next generation working hard for success, money, and things rather than ministry, evangelism, and souls. I'm not saying this is what anybody's doing. I'm not trying to say this. I'm just having a conversation. Is it possible, at times, that we could get focused on things that are maybe important to us, but they're not the most important thing?
How about patriotism? We say, “This next generation, man, what are they doing? Do they understand how great they have it, and everything else?”
Listen, I don't want you to hear that I'm not happy to live in the country that I live in. I'm grateful. I'm probably like many of you. When I hear Lee Greenwood sing, “I'm proud to be an American,” I'm like, “That’s a great song.”
But can I tell you something? I want you to lean in here and be honest with me. If we focus too much on that, we'll get people loving their country more than the heavenly city, and we don't want to do that because we want to get people to Jesus. We're not trying to get people to our country. We're trying to get people to Jesus.
I'm not trying to say these are bad things. I'm just asking if it’s possible that we could get distracted, as people, on things. Or what about selective morality? Did you know that when the generation that's leaving the church in droves is asked, “Why are you leaving the church?” one of the number one things that they say is, “Well, the people in the church just pick a couple of things that they're against, but they're not against things that are important to me. They’re not against things that are important in the Bible.”
I’m telling you, as your pastor, that this is true. If you were to look at one issue that goes from the beginning to the end of the Bible, that is absolutely the heart of God — and if you don't get this one right, you're missing God. It may be something that you're not aware of, but it is all through scripture. Do you know what it is? It's the concern for the poor. It's all through scripture. The younger generation is going, “It doesn't seem like anybody is concerned about the poor. They're just concerned about doing this or doing that.”
What happens is when we get on our high horse, and we decide to choose a couple of things that are more important to us than anything else — and you all know how this works. Somebody's got this as more important, that as more important, or this is more important to this person and whatever, and then it becomes a fight for which the issues is the most important. Oftentimes, what can happen is that certain issues become greater than the Gospel, and we're more known for all the things that we do.
Or how about the economy? You sit around with a lot of Christians, and we like our isms. That went over really well, I can tell. But we do. We like our isms. You get around and talk to people enough, and you'll hear it, the isms and everything else. But the bottom line is like, “Is that the focus?”
Because when it is, production takes precedence over people. And we don't want to do that. All I want you to see is this. Let's be aware that every generation passes on something, but we cannot afford to miss passing on the singular most important thing, which is Jesus.
I know. You were like, “I didn't like some of that, but he's sort of right. Delayed response. We're going to have a tough conversation in the car on the way home.”
I get it. But I am telling you, as your pastor — and I don't mean this in any other way than humility. I mean this sincerely. I'm not wrong when I'm telling you that the most important thing that we can pass on to the next generation is our faith and a relationship with Jesus. That is the most important thing.
Second: Taking the next step in reaching the next generation will require us to embrace the truth of society's biblical illiteracy. See, we just think that everybody knows our words. We just think that everybody knows what we mean when we go, “Brother, are you washed in the blood?”
They're like, “What? What kind of craziness is this? I think I've seen some movies before with…”
The point is that society doesn't know the Bible very well. I don't know. Maybe, if we went back, we never knew the Bible very well, but I can tell you that this generation doesn't know the Bible. The stories that you and I know, if you're my age or older, many of the younger kids don't know it at all. They don't know who Sampson was. They don't know who David was. They don't know who Noah was. It's like a joke. It’s in Sunday school. Johnny's back there messing up, and the teacher's like, “Johnny, do you know who built the ark?”
He says, “No. Uh…”
She goes, “Correct.”
But the point is that oftentimes we don't know. Society's so biblically illiterate that we're saying words and phrases and stories that they don't know. They have no idea. You see this in the passage. The people of Israel served the Baals, which means that they knew more about Baal than they did Yahweh. I'm telling you, many of the next generation know a lot about a lot of things, but they don't know a lot about the Bible. So, to reach them is going to really require a lot of us to get outside of our comfort zone because we sort of like the bubble that we live in where we can just talk about the stories, share the stories, and teach the stories. They’re like, “That ain't doing nothing for me. Why should I believe that book? I don't even believe there's a god.”
And then we don't know what to do. Listen, the Southern Baptists did a study. They’ve got 10+ million people who affiliate with that denomination. They did a study. This is like, “Wow.”
Seventy percent of churched youth in America walk away from their faith within two years after graduating high school. You go, “Huh, I don't believe that number. It's 30%.”
Well, it's 30% more than it should be.
“Well, I don't believe 30%. I think it's 2%.”
Well, it's 2% more than it should be. The bottom line is that this is like, “Wow.”
Do you know what? It means that we have to be mature enough to ask the tough questions. Why are they leaving? What are we doing? Why is the next generation leaving the church in droves? What’s up? It’s tough to ask the tough questions because what's really tough is to realize we can't afford to be sold out to our methods or preferences, but we’ve got to be sold out on getting people to Jesus. We like our methods. We like our preferences. We like our things the way that we grew up with and what touched our hearts. We can flip on the TV. You’re probably like me. I can flip on the TV — I mean, he passed away not too long ago, but I could flip on the TV and see Dr. Charles Stanley. It was integral to my growing up as a Christian, watching that man. I used to be like, “Man, I would love to be able, one day, to teach the Bible like that man.”
Or seeing Billy Graham in stadiums full of people. I get it. But what happens is we get sold out to these things, and we sometimes fail to realize that some of the things that we do are not necessarily critical to the mission, but they're just things that we like.
I took a long time here to write this down, and I want you to hear it. It's a little profound, it’s long, and it's lengthy, but when it comes to church, I want you to think about this because I just want you to think about this. It's long. You’re going to be like, “What’s he saying?”
Just follow me here. When we talk about methods and preferences, and how, sometimes, we don't do it exactly the way that it was when you grew up, or whatever else, listen to me here. Please listen to me. Not using words that some are used to hearing or not doing things that some are used to seeing simply means we aren't using words some are used to hearing and we aren't doing things that some are used to seeing. Let me put it in a different way here. Different doesn't always equate to doctrinal heresy. Creativity does not always equate to compromise. It just doesn't mean that. For many of us who grew up in church, we're like, “Why are we not doing altar calls here?”
Can I tell you something? You may not believe this, but a lot of the people that come here who have never been in church, if I were to say, “Come down front to meet Jesus,” they would think He’s actually going to be here to meet them. See, we have a different vocabulary. Some of you all, you know this. I'm not trying to be difficult. I'm not trying to give anybody a hard time. Some of some of you know this. You come out of traditions where the altar call was the thing. It was the thing. It was the thing. I mean, the bottom line is that every church service was sort of judged by how many people flooded the altar. There are people in here who come out of different traditions and backgrounds. It's the thing about Grace Community Church. We’ve got everybody in here. I mean, we are a mutt, theologically. I mean, we’ve got it all in here. Okay? Everybody's in here. Everybody's in here. Some of you all came from traditions — and you know this because I came out of some of the same traditions. You know this. You come out of some traditions where when somebody comes to the altar, you're going, “Yes! I've been waiting for this young man to do an altar call for the last six years. In my purse, I’ve got my anointing oil that I've been holding because I can roll down and slap that on that young man's head.”
When you do that, it's weird. This generation doesn't understand that. When I grew up in church, I understood that. I just saw it all the time. It was okay. It was just sort of normalized. It's not anymore.
Or a hymn. Singing hymns. We still do that here. I mean, I push for that. But hymns spoke to you and me. They're not always, necessarily, speaking to the next generation. You may not believe this, but back when we were growing up, there was music that the older people, who were older than us, didn't like either. Music's never liked by the generation above.
Before you get mad at me for saying that, some of you all were at Woodstock. You were there. You were rebellious, you did all that stuff, and you turned out okay. Now you're a Christian, you're going to heaven, and everything's there. I'm just saying don't necessarily think that it has to be done one way or the other. I'm not suggesting going to Woodstock. I'm just saying that the bottom line is that some of you all were just as rebellious and rambunctious, and your mom and dad's Jesus wasn't reaching you. Do you follow what I'm saying? You go, “Oh, well, no, Chip. Jesus is the same.”
Yes, He's the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. Hebrews 13:8. I know the passage. I'm there with you. But I'm saying the way Jesus gets presented, at times, can be a little bit different. Sometimes the way we say it, like Acts 17, when Paul's at the Areopagus, he says, “Hey, this is to the unknown god.”
He doesn't say, “Let me tell you about Jesus. Let me tell you.”
No. He uses what he can use to reach those people. He's not compromising. He’s not doing any of that. Or choir. I don't know if people know this, but the choir happened in the church world because, oftentimes, you didn't have the ability to have musicians that were on staff. So, the whole church sort of participated in the musical endeavor. I go to church periodically, when I go to North Carolina, where my mom grew up on a mountain. I’ll go to that church, and this is what they do. There are only like 30 or 40 people. When they get together, do you know what they do? Everybody goes up into the choir loft, you get a choir book, and you sing. A few people maybe sit out there, but everybody sings. I'm not saying that's bad. That’s cool. I enjoy doing that, but if we did that here, and somebody came in who wasn't — they'd be like, “What?”
I'm just saying? Or even the Sinner’s Prayer. People are like, “Chip, you’ve got to do the Sinner’s Prayer.”
Look, please hear me here. Please hear me. Please hear my heart. The Sinner’s Prayer is not in the Bible. News flash. Some of you are like, “Really?”
The Sinner’s Prayer started a few hundred years back in the Plain's Revival in America. It was never done before. It was always done in those revival tents where they would have people come down and say prayer. The Bible nowhere says to ask Jesus into your heart. I'm not saying it's bad. I'm okay with the Sinner’s Prayer, I'm okay with choir, I'm okay with hymns, and I'm great with altar calls. I'm fine with all of that. I don't want you to hear what I'm not saying. What I'm saying is, though, that sometimes you’ve got to realize that things that we like aren't necessarily the same thing as the Gospel. The Gospel is what we’ve got to preach, not the methods or the preferences. This is tough. This is probably a little strong. Just love me here afterwards. Nostalgia doesn't equal spirituality. Okay? I just want you to hear that because I want to reach the youth of this generation. They’re in desperate need. Desperate. Look out there. It’s an ugly place today, and I don't want to see our youth go astray.
Third, taking the next step and reaching the next generation will require shifting from primarily doctrinal instruction to developmental mentoring. In the past — isn't this crazy? When I was growing up, you could put me in a Sunday school class, and I could sit there, for 40 minutes, and listen to a teacher teach. I can't get my kids to sit on the couch for 10 seconds. We have these things called phones and tablets. They're constantly stirred. They're constantly being ADHD’d. Okay? So, we're going to have to figure out ways to reach youth in the next generations a little differently than the way that we did it growing up. The bottom line is it's going to be less cognitive and more whole person. Let’s be honest, anyway. You know this as well as I do. A lot of the fruit of sitting people in a room and teaching people stuff is that we got a lot of knowers, but not a lot of doers. I always say that the average Christian is a couple hundred scriptures overweight. You go, “What do you mean by that?”
Well, you know scriptures that you don't do. Come on. Come on. You know that. We all know that. We just do.
“Yeah, you're right.”
I could probably read some scriptures, and you’d go, “Yeah, I'm not doing that.”
I mean, I'm not saying you're not a Christian, I'm just saying Jesus didn't say, “Blessed are you if you know.”
He said, “Blessed are you if you do.”
Do you follow what I'm saying? So, where I'm coming from here is that — and this is uncomfortable for many of us. Many of the things in the next generation will be caught rather than taught. They'll see it as we do. That's why we're intentional neighbors here at Grace. See, I believe that if you can get the youth and the next generation out doing good things and being around some of the older generation — because you're needed. We’re needed. They'll ask questions. They'll want to know why, and that's the instructional moment that we have. It may not be in a classroom. It may be at a dunk tank. But the bottom line is if we want to reach the next generation, we need to be willing to go where they are and speak to them in ways that they can understand.
I know I'm preaching better than everybody's letting on. I mean, I'm telling you, this is a good message. Okay? Fourth: Taking the next step in reaching the next generation includes owning that Christianity's always one generation from extinction. God does not have grandchildren. He only has sons and daughters. That's it. We’re always one generation away, and we see it here. It’s scary. There arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that He had done for Israel. So, let me real quickly give you a couple things. These are just some things to think about. Again, if all I've done is just got a little bur in your saddle where you're uncomfortable, that’s good. Talk about it. Pray about it. Seek God about it.
Let me give you a couple things here, some practical steps as a church. Some things I'd like to ask all of us to think about, especially people my age and older. Just think about this. How about, first of all, you find someone in the next generation and just take them to lunch. Just take them to lunch. Find somebody that you know is in that next generation and take them to lunch. Talk to them. You'd be surprised. They may be different than what you think. They may have reasons for why they do things differently than maybe you have assumed. Take them to lunch. And don’t take them to lunch and give them their bill and your bill. Pay for it all because they don't have any money because their work ethic is suspect. I'm just playing. I'm playing. I'm playing. I'm playing. I had to liven you all up. Man, I’ve got to get this place up and moving. But take them to lunch.
Secondly, learn to cheer for the next generation rather than criticize them. They need somebody in their corner. I mean, it's an ugly world out there. I remember, one time — if you know me, I am so — I need prayer. I’m just so picky and everything has to be just right. OCD doesn't work for me. It's CDO. I have to alphabetize it. That's how bad it is. I like everything to be just in order, proper, and everything. My kids will tell you. They’re like, “Don’t get in dad's car. He doesn't even want you in his car. You might breathe in his car, and it dirties his car.”
Maybe not. Well, they'd probably say it is that bad, but I don't think it's that bad. It might be that bad. Anyway, I like everything to be in order. So, when I come in the house, the first place I get is one of my daughter's rooms. I walk in and it's a bomb. It's a bomb. I mean, it looks like somebody tossed a grenade in there. I walk in and say, “Hey, can you clean up your room?”
Mindy grabbed me one time, and she's like, “Listen, you only have X amount of years with her. Do you want her to know you, as her dad, that every time you walked in, all you did was criticize her room? Or do you want to walk in there and ask her how her day was and what's going on?”
I'm like, “Yeah, but when I walk in there, what she's wearing isn't even good.”
What I'm saying is it’s a challenge. I'm saying that to you because it's a challenge, sometimes, for me, but we've got to learn to cheer them. They need to hear that we love them because they don't hear a lot of love out there in the world. They're bullied, they’re shamed for their weight, they’re shamed for their looks, they’re shamed for all kinds of stuff. They don't even know what to believe. They need somebody. Can you imagine if the church was known throughout America as the champion for the youth and the young adults in this country? That we just champion them in every way? That doesn’t mean you have to accept everything that they do, but we love them. It would be incredible.
Third: Let's make sure we listen to them more than we try to talk at them. That's hard, isn't it? Is anybody like me and likes to talk more at them than listen? I'm sure y'all are more spiritual. The 11:30 service will be with me. They're my homies. They’re like me. Anyway, that's the way it is. Okay?
Fourth: Let's see them as people and not projects. We want to shape them and mold them, but sometimes we’ve just got to realize these are people. Lastly, let them see our investment in them, that we're willing to invest, that we're willing to put money where our mouth is. Time, treasure, talent. Let's really think about that. I mean, I believe with all of my heart that God loves these young kids. You and I were frustrating to our moms and dads. At least I know I was. I just want us to have a heart for the next generation. Maybe I didn't say it exactly the way you liked it, or maybe I poked a little bit at something that you didn't like or whatever. It's fine. I'm just your pastor trying my best to go, “Hey, we've been given a golden opportunity. We have hundreds of 11-year-old kids who show up here every weekend. We have hundreds of young adults. We have hundreds of youth running around this church. God gave us that. Let's steward it. Let's make sure that we love on them. Let's make sure that we don't just come to church for ourselves. Many of us, we're going to heaven. We're going to heaven. Maybe what we need more than anything, right now, is to get outside of what our preference is, outside of what our comfort zone is, and maybe really pour into that next generation because they need it.
As we sing this last song, I just want you to think about your salvation experience, about when you met Jesus, what He’s done for you, and how important it is for that young man or young woman who doesn't know Jesus. I think about the nearly 150 people who raised their hands at Easter, and the 40+ people who were just baptized. It was great. I think 7 or 8 to 73 were the ages from the baptismal. It was multi-generational, as it should be. Families got baptized together out there. A whole family was baptized. It's incredible. But I want us to have a heart to see that it's not just about what we want, but it's a heart about those young people. Let’s not be a great generation that somehow forgot to pass on our faith.