This article was written by Josiah Kennealy, a College Pastor of EveryCampus partner, Chi Alpha.
Something I experienced at a conference a few years back has stuck with me ever since. Maybe it’s because that was one of the last conferences I went to pre-pandemic. Maybe it stayed with me because of something more—a deeper reason. Either way, it was the closing talk and Andy Stanley got up and shared this closing question. He asked: “What is the faith of the next generation worth?” After a pause he said these three words. I can’t shake them. “It’s worth everything.”
I believe with every fiber of my being that the faith of the next generation is worth everything. Worth living for. Worth dying for. Worth giving your life to. Why? For at least three reasons.
-History Outlines It.
If there was one Bible story in which I would like to have been, even as a fly on the wall, it would be Jesus calling the twelve disciples! Can you imagine what it would have been like to witness it firsthand? Luke 6:12-16 is the closest we get to that. We see Jesus pray all night and then bring his followers together and select 12 Disciples.
Think about it. Jesus could have chosen anyone, yet He chose young adults to be the front-line followers and workers of the harvest! Doing miracles, healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead. He said things to His disciples like “Let the little children come to me” (Matthew 19:14).
Scripture outlines in many accounts how God is a God of generations. Look at the genealogies! These are not meant to be flyover passages. If we get nothing else out of genealogies, may we at least realize that the people of God have been passing the faith on from generation to generation successfully as far back as the biblical records.
I like this saying: “The wave always starts in the student section.” Students don’t even sit down for several hours at a time. They have energy to be on their feet. The same can be said about the revivals and Great Awakenings throughout history. Young people have been at the forefront.
A quick look at the last couple of Great Awakenings. . .
The First Great Awakening is said to have taken place around 1730-1740 and a few key people were George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards who visited the American colonies from Great Britain.
The Second Great Awakening mainly took place in the Northeast and Midwestern parts of the United States during the years 1800-1840. Reading one of the biographies of Jonathan Edwards, one of the things that stood out to me is that “hellfire and brimstone/damnation preaching” was the method of this awakening.
The Third Great Awakening is said to have taken place in the years 1850-1900 or so. D.L. Moody’s ministry in 1858 throughout America launched a Bible college, a publishing house, an iconic church, and a radio station that all exist to this day. Also came out of this was many of the justice ministries including the YMCA!
Another great example of a wave starting in the student section is the Jesus Revolution that took place in the 1960’s-70’s, starting out of California. Some people refer to this Jesus Movement as The Fourth Great Awakening. I’ve been reading the story of Pastor Greg Laurie’s life. To think that by the time he was 17 his mom had already been married seven times, she was often too drunk to realize Greg was experimenting with drugs himself. At the same time in Costa Mesa, CA, a couple went to Huntington beach and came home with a burden to reach Hippies for Christ.
Chuck and Kay Smith started a Bible study, their Calvary Chapel Church quickly doubled in size, a wild druggie named Lonnie Frisbee and his wife got radically saved and began ministering to hippies. Somehow, 17-year-old Greg Laurie stumbled his way into one of these church meetings, surrendering his life to Jesus and immediately began sharing his faith.
When you look at the contemporary Christian music movement, the 1,400 plus Calvary Chapel Churches that have been planted, not to mention churches like Harvest Christian Fellowship—where some of the next generation of young ministers of the gospel like Levi Lusko (who leads Fresh Life Church)—have been sent out of. This is truly 2 Timothy 2:2 kind of multiplication from generation to generation.
GOD HAS TRANSFORMED UNLIKELY GENERATIONS BEFORE AND I BELIEVE HE CAN DO IT AGAIN TODAY!
Every generation matters to Jesus. There are no favorites. We do want to make sure there’s no one missing when we get to heaven, though. Most often, the younger generations are the missing age gap in church. In fact, some recent research from The Barna Group showed that after the age of 30, your likelihood to respond to the gospel for salvation was less than 4%. In other words, people who are giving their lives to Christ and Lord and Savior are doing it while still in their teens and twenties.
We can become students of revival and prayer warriors, however revivals cannot be dissected, explained, or predicted. It is important, however, to hear what Leonard Ravenhill once said: “The church is dying on its feet because it’s not living on its knees.”
-Now Cries Out For it
Habakkuk 3:2 shows us this prayer: “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” I’ve heard this verse called the revival prayer. I love to pray that: repeat them in our day, God!
Look at our world. I believe whether we realize it or not, our souls long for another revival. Another great awakening. The transformation only God can bring to an unlikely generation!
Only one third of young adults believe they know a caring adult who believes in them. 96% of Generation Z is missing a biblical worldview. The list goes on! We seem to see the data and the research trending in the other way. Reports display how high the percentages of young people who grew up in the church walking away from their faith.
And yet there does seem to be some sparks in the student section…
Current young adult movements:
Campus Ministries on Colleges & Universities: Chi Alpha, Cru, Intervarsity, BCM, FCA, AIA, Young Life, and so many more! I have watched God move powerfully, transforming the lives of young adults – giving them dorm dreams – these are visions, dreams, and ideas during the college season. Using these four years of their lives to impact the next 40.
YWAM: when you think of the missional heart for justice that seems to be one of the greatest markers of today’s Gen Z and even Millennials, Youth With a Mission is raising up around 25,000 short-term missionaries each year! Steiger: through some really creative presentations of the gospel, using No Longer Music, Provoke and Inspire, and other outreach events both in the USA and internationally, Steiger is really mobilizing young adults who wouldn’t typically walk into a church.
Pulse: Together Generation stadium events, outreach, and evangelism trainings!
Passion Conferences: For over 20 years, Pastor Louie and Shelley Giglio out of Atlanta’s Passion City Church have been calling a generation of college students to live their lives for God’s glory and what matters most! Each year 40,000+ young adults.
One Thing (IHOPKC): in recent years, One Thing would bring thousands of young adults in Kansas City to join a prayer gathering around the time of New Year’s Day.
Urbana Missions Conferences: has been a gathering of young adults exploring the need and call of God globally. To unreached people groups.
The Send: is a stadium-style experience activating believers to live a missional lifestyle and reach mission fields at home and abroad.
Sons and Daughters: The Bevere family launched a global online ministry and YouTube channel geared at reaching Millennials and no tough topic is off limits!
Digital Evangelists: I have a group of friends who are daily ministering to millions—almost like “digital Billy Grahams,” so to speak. They share the gospel daily online in podcasts, TikTok videos, and social media presentations.
Young Adult Ministries: the last few years in our state we’ve seen 40+ churches start young adult ministries and hundreds more across the country. This move is sweeping local churches and impacting communities.
A few years ago I was praying for revival and after journaling the above list of ways I see God moving in our generation, I felt the Lord whisper to me…
There’s room for more!
I pray that might stir one of your hearts. God may use you to be a part of a movement of the Holy Spirit in your generation! Pray and ask that The Lord would speak to you!
-The Future Depends on It
I love what the Psalmist wrote as a prayer in Psalm 71:18 “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” Similarly, later in the same book, this idea repeated, almost as a command of instruction this time: “One generation is to tell another of the mighty acts of God” (Psalm 145:4).
Our world right now is crazy, so divided on every political issue. There are wars and rumors of wars. Global pandemics. Economic recessions. Racial tensions and riots. History is being written every day. It feels like Gotham City in need of saving, or certainly feels like we are nearing the end times. . .
What is going to happen?
I recently talked with a staff member at one of the largest Christian organizations in our Country. They find their average donor to their ministry is 70 years old. Faithful saints all have this in common: we live forever eternally with God, but our time on earth is temporary. I live across the street from a very large church—I don’t see a lot of families, young adults, or children. Many churches are closing. The ones that are active communities are absent many times to that wave in the student section.
I think our world is crying out for a student section wave. A revival. An awakening. A Jesus Revolution. We’ve heard about it before. We’ve read about previous moves of God. And yet I pray there is an opportunity for my generation and the ones to follow—that they may see the goodness of God in the land of the living!
The faith of the next generation is worth everything! History outlines it. Now cries out for it. The future depends on it. My soul longs for it.