I’ve been very passionate for years on the subject of mentoring and raising up the next generation well. This is an area that many churches are missing the mark on, and it is scary in many ways. Helping to shape the journey of the next generation of adults is vitally important as they are in a time in their life when they are desiring to be shaped by others, but this is also the time in their lives when they are quickly cast aside to figure it out on their own or given limited resources to do just the same. Part of the greater problem to this is most disciples do not realize their potential and ability to be a mentor/disciplemaker in another person’s life. Every disciple carries in them the potential for being a disciplemaker.
I would not be where I am today, and going where I am tomorrow, if it wasn’t for men and women who went before me and have mentored me. Most people do not know how to enter into discipleship relationships with others or do not believe they have the ability to do so. The next generation is craving guidance and mentoring from those ahead and above them, and it is an honor and a privilege to share our lives with those around us. A fantastic resource that all church leaders should invest in is reading Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults by Jana Sundene and Richard Dunn. In this book the authors consider what is discipleship and how do we help others to grow in spiritual transformation. Sundene and Dunn describe disciplemaking as, “building a relationship with another person that encourages, challenges, coaches and equips that person to more deeply connect to the trust, submission and love of Christ that dwells within by the power of his Spirit” (65). It’s all about relational discipleship. It’s not a class or lecture or a one-way learning street. It’s about getting in the trenches of life together, preaching the gospel to one another and helping one another learn, be challenged and grow out of each other’s life experiences.
Unfortunately, many would-be spiritual influencers stop short of fruitful disciplemaking, merely pointing the way, offering the Bible or a book as a map, and standing way off to the side. In contrast, effective spiritual guides for emerging adults spend time building spiritual friendships and discerning appropriate direction and then move in caring, responsive, intentional ways to help others navigate the uncharted waters of their faith journey. (77)
Often times it is easy to find what is wrong with the generations behind us and to pick out continued patterns of what they are doing wrong. Instead of pointing out what is going on wrong, I want to challenge you to find how you could positively help this generation to improve on what they know. How could you positively affect young adults because of something that you have experienced in your life? These are the next generations of husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, leaders in the community and church and so much more. Shaping the next generation through discipleship and mentoring remains by far the most powerful strategy Christ has given to us for shaping the church and changing the world. Don’t miss the opportunity to shape your legacy for generations to come through mentoring a family member, a friend or a stranger that God puts in your life.