For years I have been thinking, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” I graduate from Southwestern Christian University in just over 6 weeks, so I am thinking about growing up again. I have had an amazing 60 years; filled with God’s blessing. But I am really excited about the future; for me personally and as a family, for our international church family, and for the body of Christ. Recently my twenty-two year old daughter Leticia asked me, “What was it like when you started your first church more than 30 years ago?”
The first church began nine years before she was born. Reflecting on answering her question reminded me that it is good to look backwards sometimes in order to look forward properly.
During the past year, LaVerne and I and the DOVE family worldwide have been taking a good look at ourselves. We want to become more effective as believers in Christ serving together in His Kingdom. We started out thirty years ago by being birthed out of a youth movement in Pennsylvania where we were simply sharing Jesus through everyday living. But that was thirty years ago. What about today?
We tried to boil down our God-given mandate to just a few words and we felt it became clear to us: “Living the Kingdom—Transforming our world.” That’s it. Short, straight-forward and powerful.
Then, as we prayed about our focus for the next few years for our church family worldwide, we realized God is taking us back to where we started! We simply need to be who we are, and live out our God-given spiritual DNA. Our vision is clear: To build a relationship with Jesus, with one another and transform our world from house to house, city to city and nation to nation. We are an international family of churches connected through relationship.
Our three-year primary goal is to prioritize identifying, developing and including young leaders on every level of leadership.
How does this affect you? Listen closely. The first DOVE church was birthed in 1980 during the Jesus movement. The world was different then. We need to take a fresh look at what is happening around us today to understand what our Heavenly Father is saying to us, so each of us can experience the Kingdom of God now. The Bible tells us to “look to see what he will say. . . .” (Habakkuk 2:1). Today, especially for those of us in the Western world, we live among five different generations, called by God to work TOGETHER. Identify where you fit in the following categories:
The Builder Generation This is my father’s generation, consisting of those born before 1946. They are known for being hard-working, loyal, and financially cautious. In the USA, this group makes up nearly one quarter of our population.
The Baby Boomer Generation This is our generation (LaVerne and I), born between 1946 and 1964. Our generation is known for being independent, goal-oriented, competitive and hard workers. This generation is motivated by accomplishment and wants to make a difference. Thousands of new churches were started by baby boomers all over the world in the 1980s.
Generation X This is the generation of our first two children, Katrina and Charita. Generation Xers were born between 1965 and 1979. This group came of age with the advent of computers, MTVand the AIDS virus. Gen Xers are known for being flexible, independent, adaptive, cautious and creative. They think differently than both the Baby Boomers and the next generation; the Millennials.
The Millennial Generation This group, often called Generation Y, were born between 1980 and 2000 and are now entering the workforce. Two of our children, Josh and Leticia, were born into this generation. The Millennials grew up with technology. In fact, many have never even seen an office without computers, e-mail and instant messaging. They are hard working team players. They value diversity and tend to be accepting of those whose beliefs are different from theirs.
The New Silent Generation This group is sometimes called Generation Z and is the most recent generation, born after 2000. They have never known a world without the internet and cell phones. Most are computer savvy by the time they go to school. They are technologically connected and often prefer to interact with others through social networking and texting. They are used to instant gratification and sometimes have little patience for things that take time.
The U.S. census bureau reported that almost half of the global population is under the age of 21. Researcher George Barna says 77% of all who come to Christ do so by their 21st birthday. So then, those who are under 21 are by far the most open to the good news of Jesus.
Every generation (including yours) must continue to focus on reaching out and mentoring the generations coming after them. God promises to pour out His Spirit in the last days, our sons and daughters will prophesy (while the older generation dreams)! (Acts 2:17-18). It’s a TOGETHERthing! Nearly every Tuesday evening, I minister to dozens of young adults from our county (and I am 60 years old!). I am energized by connecting with a younger generation and love to see them pray for each other as the Lord brings supernatural healing and freedom.
Each generation is responsible before God to fulfill its God-given destiny and fulfill the words of Jesus in Matthew 28: 19-20, to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. I think I am figuring out what I will do when I grow up: mentor a new generation of leaders worldwide to experience living the kingdom…transforming our world. Why not? Let’s continue to find ways to do this TOGETHER!