And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
Joel 2:28 is the verse we usually hear in conversations about reaching kids–expressing how revival needs to come to the younger generation. We eagerly anticipate when that will happen. Many people say, “Yes, I want my church to be part of God’s outpouring over the young generation.”
Instead of concentrating on that part of Joel 2:28, I want to draw your attention to the “old men will dream dreams” phrase.
I used to overlook that phrase most of the time, because I was so excited about young people getting fresh vision. I thought, “I’m not going to be old for a long time, so I’m not going to talk or think much about the old men dreaming dreams.” However, it’s not about me and my lifestyle. It’s about the older people in our society, including most of you reading this, who dream dreams for the younger generation; and so it must be the older people in the church who dream dreams and engage with and care about the younger generation.
They Didn’t Ask for This Garbage
When we think of the culture barrage hammering our teens, whether it’s the things being sold to them, what is being written to them–movies and music–or the point-and-click pornography that’s available to them, there is one thing we can all agree on: Our children are not the ones who invented these things.
Every one of these social influences, whether media entertainment, technological inventions or opportunities on the Web that are destroying kids, were dreamed up by the older generation. In many ways, the older dreamers prey on young people. If they appeal to young people’s corrupt desires, they can get them to empty their pockets. The fact is, the kids didn’t ask for this garbage; people trying to take advantage of them sold it to them without any thought to the moral consequences. But our teens are stuck with negative affects from their actions. Sure they tell us, “If people didn’t buy it, we wouldn’t make it” as if it’s a moral obligation to sell people things that will destroy them just because they will buy them.
As a result, kids think, “I want my MTV.” Is it really “their MTV” or is it somebody else’s MTV that they are being told to find their identity in? They say, “I want those pants and that new CD.” Somebody else made them feel important by doing something “just for them.” As a result, teens absorb and digest lyrics, values and a lifestyle that completely destroys them. And they’re being told it’s fun!
You Must Be the Dreamer
Dreaming a dream to rescue the young generation is not just an obligation. God is at work and He wants to pour out His Spirit. He is waiting for someone to step up with a dream for our youth.
Strategizing for the Next Generation
Yet, even if you think you’re not cool enough to reach youth people, let me tell you a secret: If you look at the executives that run MTV (you can pull them up online), you’ll see they look like any other executives. They’re the strategists, they’re the thinkers, they’re the smart ones, and they’re the ones plotting how they can get maximum influence on as many millions of young people as possible. We need to be the Christian counterparts to these secular teen strategists. We, as pastors, leaders, and elders, need to be the ones that rally around the younger generation and say, “We’re going to make it hard for them to go to hell. We’re going to find out where they’re at, what they’re into, and how to reach them.”
Just like MTV execs hire cool people to do their work on TV, our job is to hire cool youth pastors and 20-something college-aged students to mentor our kids and implement the strategy we have helped design in going after them. Just like MTV hires people to discover new teen trends, our youth team needs to know how this generation thinks and how to communicate effectively to the youth. It’s up to you to rally your church around the youth.
It’s inherent of the job of the leaders of the church to pass the baton of the gospel to the next generation. Therefore, you must see yourself as the chief strategist for ensuring the propagation of the gospel for future generations.
This article corresponds to the message in Ron’s latest book, Re-Create: Building a Culture in Our Homes That Is Stronger Than the Culture Deceiving Our Kids. This book will give you, as a church leader, practical tools to culture-proof your church by helping you train parents to culture-proof their families. For more information, visit www.battlecry.com.