The Emerging Generation: Theology and Methodology
This blog post is aimed to shake thinking that has resulted in structures, offices, and methodology that reflect an educational system bearing little or no reflection to theological foundations for raising a generation. Even small groups can continue to devise their own methodology, and try to put Biblical small group values within it. Many might be seen as “successful,” but how much more successful would they be if they returned to God’s clearly given mandate?
So what does the Bible say?
Children and young people belong to the basic Biblical community. Not the peer culture we have cultivated as the mainstay of their church life. Nowhere in the Bible do children or teens “progress” because of age. But rather are integrated in small groups/community of all ages, staying right at the heart of their families. E.g. the Biblical words: everyone, all church, community, all the people, household, etc., include every generation.
The Bible has only two sets of people who are commanded to take the next generation.
One generation is responsible for the next.
Parents are responsible for their children.
Titles, callings, departments, and special appointments for the emerging generation are nowhere to be found in Scripture. But rather, we are all to be actively engaged with the next generation, and parents with their children. Unity is generational as well as peer-driven (Psalm 145:4; Deuteronomy 29:29; John 17).
The Biblical edict is that our goal should be every child and young person discipled by his or her parents.
The responsibility is not to be abdicated to a small group leader, or those with “special gifting,” nor is there any Biblical basis for the church to distract from this command by constantly removing children from their parents and dividing families (Joshua 24:15; Joel 1:3).
A parent should disciple their own children before discipling others, family is a Biblical priority.
It is not healthy for a parent to disciple or mentor a peer before discipling their own children, otherwise “not discipling their children” will multiply. And they will disciple others in disobedience of family priorities. But rather, build the value into the church’s equipping and inspire and equip parents to disciple their children effectively before peer relationships.
It is all our responsibility to go after a lost generation, not to be primarily focused on children and young people from Christian families. It is our responsibility to empower children/teens from Christian families to go (with us) to win their generation and make disciples for Jesus.
The word “discipleship” with the emerging generation is a lifestyle, experiential and interactive. It is not a set time, place, or small group, though these may play supporting roles. Misuse of the word has contributed to this lack of understanding of “discipleship.” Rather, it is the day-to-day interaction, the building of memorials, the answering of questions along life’s way. The Biblical model of discipleship of children is a day-to-day lifestyle in the home. It cannot be sustained even in a small group (Deuteronomy 6:3-10).
Returning to Biblical Theology and methodology will take a radical shake up. The church has slipped into reflecting an educational model over the past 2000 years. The Church with small groups as its DNA can turn this around BUT we must have a complete “makeover” of our terminology, paradigm, structures, and culture.
Are you up for the challenge?
Very few Scripture references are given here. Radical Discipleship gives Scripture references on nearly every page.