Discerning the importance of generational discipleship...
Watch the Generations
by Ron Hunter, Jr.
Let’s listen in on a conversation between God and Moses from Exodus chapter three.
The burning bush was nowhere near as amazing as the burning message God delivered to His servant and...well, all of us. If I can summarize His message, He said, “I am that I am.” And if that were not enough, He pointed out the obvious. He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
He did not stop with these patriarchs but said He wants to be the God of all generations. All generations. People who watched Jacob grow up surely thought God would want nothing to do with this guy. He acted nothing like his dad, and his grandfather would surely have rolled over in his tomb if he only knew.
Who Is Priority? Granddad or Grandson?
Notice in Exodus three, Abraham was the grandfather, but soon Isaac was the grandfather. Each generation prepared for the one coming after them. This preparation is not sequential but concurrent. It happens all at the same time.
Go into any church, walk through the classrooms, and you will note the obvious difference in learning styles. One class may lecture, others discuss, and some use technology while a white board still works for many. Which is right? Maybe we should ask which is wrong? None are wrong if they dig out truth from God’s Word based upon their generational learning styles.
My grandfather used a pocket-watch, my generation wears a wristwatch and most under age 35 today use the clock on their cell phone. Is it unprofessional not to wear a watch? Secretly I may judge, but if they show up to work promptly and manage their time, what does it matter? In similar fashion, each generation’s method of teaching in the church may vary. Our proven and longstanding studies from Bible Teacher and Bible Scholar convey truth for many seasoned members, while moms and dads opt for discussion with Fusion. While I personally prefer a watch with hands, I respect friends whose watches beep with digital numbers.
“All generations” are to be taught a relationship with God. I do not think God has favorites, but Scripture makes it clear that He is angered when we try to prevent anyone, at any age, from having a relationship with Him. The disciples learned that lesson all too well when they were rebuked for preventing the little children from interrupting Jesus. It is God’s priority that “none should perish” and “none” in my book covers grandmothers as well as the little ones that leave their handprints on newly painted church walls.
Respecting All Generations
So how do we span generations with the truth? Respect. It starts with valuing those who see things from a different perspective. Because we each learn truth differently, we respect various methods as long as the truth is taught. We are all at different places. My generation has a profound respect for those who came before us, but often we fail to show it. We occasionally change everything they did, unintentionally attacking their legacy.
While I have made my dad proud at times, sometimes he wishes I would do things differently. A deep respect creates a bond where he makes me stronger and I contribute to his strength in return. I still remember the first day my dad asked my advice. That validation resulted in a stronger bond as I asked for his advice even more. One thing I have learned about the 20-something crowd is probably true of most every generation. They expect those older to criticize them rather than see the value they can bring. Respect can encourage generational connections.
Blueprint for Generational Discipleship
Randall House asked some very tough questions about six to eight years ago. Questions like “Why are we losing our teens? Why is gray the predominant hair color of those who attend our conventions and meetings? Why are parents asking the church to do it all? How many people really spend time in God’s Word every day? How many parents want another chance with their kids?”
These heart-wrenching questions led us to the cornerstone of all that Randall House does today—a place in Scripture that is often neglected. Few read past Genesis and Exodus in the Pentateuch. I can’t blame them with the difficult pronunciations, genealogies, blood, and gore. But buried early in Deuteronomy we find a special command of God. Chapter six introduces God’s generational discipleship plan beginning with parents. In our day, the best way for parents to learn is in church and the best way for kids to learn is from a consistent parent’s example and teaching with the whole family in church and in God’s Word.
Today, Randall House filters everything it does through the lens of Deuteronomy six, where we are commanded to love God, love His Word, and teach our kids to do the same. God desires this love to be impressed, imprinted, and permanently etched on our own hearts, so we can teach our kids diligently what we practice. It takes church and home. It takes two or three generations working together—all seeking truth in their own learning style but still from God’s Word. Randall House is here to build believers through church and home, and it can only be done with all generations working at it.
I still prefer my wristwatch with actual hands. My son reaches for his cell phone to tell time. Only time will tell what methods we will use in 20 years. But in the end, we still measure minutes, hours, and days. I could argue with him over the many reasons for wearing a watch, but I would rather spend time building a relationship upon which to point him toward God and His Word.
Randall House is the publisher for all Free Will Baptist generations. Young and old alike are the audiences we serve—grandfathers, fathers and sons; grandmothers, mothers and daughters. Deuteronomy six, a multigenerational passage, gets everyone involved through generational discipleship.
About the Writer: Ron Hunter is general director/CEO of Randall House Publications. He has a Masters of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management from the University of Colorado. He lives in Nashville with his wife Pam and their two children, Michael and Lauren.