Matthew 10:1–15 (ESV)
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
Luke 6:12–16 (ESV)
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
A Story and a metaphor:
1: A true one
Very recently, a very intelligent student came to me regarding a question on a practice test. This student had to take the test the next day, and was frustrated with the question that she had gotten wrong. It was a grammar question that had the student trying to choose what was wrong with the sentence. One part was very obscure (the use of ‘myself,’ which was noted to be rampant), and the misuse of ‘your.’ She was frustrated that she had been told the rules of grammar, but had been given tools (computers with autocorrect) to work on ELA assignments that automatically corrected the problem, thus she was never truly taught how to avoid such slip-ups. The problem is a big one, because it shows the difference between teaching and telling.
2: A Metaphor
How many of you have ever watched the relay racing events in the Olympics? When running a relay race, the main goal is to be the team that gets the baton across the finish line first. You can run as fast as you like, but if you aren’t holding the baton, it doesn’t count. You are only as fast as the transition from one runner to the next, and the exchange of batons. Drop the baton, and you are pretty much done.
Our race (as Paul would term it) is much the same.
We see that Paul likens our Christian walk to a race, and Christ himself saw the need to multiply himself by appointing apostles. So the question is, how do we prepare others to take the baton from us, so that we do not thoroughly bungle the race.
One thing that I hear very often, from all sides, is that millennials will be the death of this country. In particular, church people aged 60 and up seem to think that all the problems in the world are caused by the millennial generation. Let me give you some statistics and facts.
Statistics/Facts from Thom Rainer:
- The Millennials are the largest generation in America’s history.
- Only about one in five are Christians, but their commitment level is higher than Christians of other generations.
- It is indeed possible for your church to reach Millennials even if you are an older congregation.
- The Millennials will likely stick with your church if you can demonstrate how your church is making a difference in your community.
- The majority of Millennials would like to be mentored by an older, more seasoned Christian.
You can’t reach the Millennials without knowing who they are!
Now, in our church we have seen a huge shift. When I got here about 3 years ago, we were averaging about 80% being 55-older. Now, we average about 60% to be younger than 55. That is about a 300% increase in GenX/Millennials. But we are still struggling with running our race well.
One thing that has been documented elsewhere, but I have seen with my own eyes is the struggle of the Boomers. They want so desperately to finish well, but they struggle to understand what that means, particularly in a Biblical sense.
Boomers are working longer and longer, and I have heard from many saying that they can’t retire, because no one else can do it. Many, it seems, are truly afraid of being replaced. We must begin training our replacements. We cannot know when God will move us on, and it is our duty as Christ-followers to train the next generation of believers. We must swallow our pride and learn to run the race well.
This is not just an opinion based on generational climate. According to scripture, we are to train our replacements. We are to pass the baton.
2 Timothy 2:2 – The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Titus 2:3-4 – Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,
Psalm 71:18 – And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.
1 Thessalonians 2:8 – Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.
Proverbs 9:9 – Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.
Proverbs 1:5 – A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
Philippians 4:9 – The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
John 14:26 – “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
Proverbs 13:20 – He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 27:23 – Know well the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds;
Hebrews 13:7 – Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
We must make disciples. We must mentor younger Christians. We must take those who are new to the faith under our wings, and teach them what God has shown us.
We must be willing to be real. To be honest. We need to stop pretending that we are perfect. Just as we learn from our own failures, we can help lead others to grow by avoiding the same problems we have succumbed to. We are commanded by Christ to make disciples. And we cannot make disciples if we don’t pray over the people in our lives, and listen for God to direct us to the people we can reach for His glory.