The Next Generation

This article, and the new column that shares its title, was birthed in the form of a challenge. The challenger, Gary Veldink, encouraged the challenged (pastors like me) to take up an important task: write something for the youth.

“Easy for him to say,” I thought, as I sat there with a group of workshop speakers at this summer’s RYS convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Who has time to add another responsibility to an ever-growing list of things to do?

But it was the challenge I needed. One thing I’m slowly learning in the Christian life is that, well, life isn’t about me, and here’s the bad news: it’s not about you either! Actually, that’s good news. This is a lesson we are all slow to learn—and it’s a lesson even easier forgotten—but only a life of service to Christ and others is worth living.

My purpose in this column is to write about issues and topics that you wonder about and questions that you have but might be scared to ask. Why do we have an evening service? Is it a biblical requirement? Why are there so many rules? Is Reformed worship the best worship? What can and can’t I do on the Lord’s Day?

This column will look at topics you’re concerned about. Does God care about Facebook? How do I discover God’s will for my life? How do I overcome sexual addiction? What about cutting? And what about dating (or is it courtship)? What does the Bible say about that?
Those familiar with the RYS convention will know that the workshops are arranged topically and cover a myriad of different issues. I suppose you could say this column will seek to do the same.

Many times I will be writing the article. Sometimes other pastors will be chiming in. Together, we hope that you will benefit from a column directed at you. I think I can speak for all your pastors when I say that we want you to know what you believe and why you believe it. (Thanks, White Horse Inn!)

Forgive me for sounding cliché, but, believe it or not, you really are the next generation. It would be both selfish and dangerous if we, your older brothers (and sisters), did not take the time to thoughtfully engage you truthfully, honestly, and practically.

Not long from now, you will be our pastors and fathers, our elders and deacons, our mothers and teachers. And we are unwilling to assume that you’ll just know what to believe, what to fight for (and not fight for), and how to take the torch into the future.

We are not immune to the heartache of Judges 2:10: “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.” How does a situation like this happen? By assuming the gospel. By assuming that just because you’re there in church, there at youth group, and there at convention, you’re automatically there with God. The goal of this column, therefore, is to stop assuming and continue pursuing. Continue listening. Continue teaching.

If you are a parent, youth leader, pastor, or teacher, I encourage you to make use of this and future articles and engage your kids. Ask what they think. Answer their questions. Get their feedback. Study their hearts. Point them to Jesus. Love them with the truth.
And finally, because we want this to be for and about the youth, I challenge you, young people, to e-mail me your feedback and even your ideas for future articles. What are your questions? Your concerns? Your ideas?

May the God of all grace bless this column, that we might see a generation who loves the Word even more than we do and knows both what they believe and why, and from the Scriptures, they believe it.

One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
And I will declare Your greatness.
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
And shall sing of Your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.
The Lord is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works.
All Your works shall praise You, O Lord,
And Your saints shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom,
And talk of Your power,
To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts,
And the glorious majesty of His kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations
~Psalm 145:4–13

Rev. Michael J. Schout
is the husband of one (Naomi, who gets the credit for the title of this column), the father of three, and the pastor of Grace United Reformed Church in Alto, Michigan. He can be contacted at mikeschout@gmail.com

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