Investing In the Next Generation.
Can a 120 year old care for a toddler? Does a 120 year old have the energy to impact and influence its community and its movement? Should we trust a 120 year old to foster and care for the next generation of leaders? These are some of the questions we frequently wrestle with as the mother church of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church approaches its 120th birthday, this October.
At The First Church in Goldsboro, NC, our calling and passion is to be a family-centered, multi-generational church that is intentional about reaching all generations and reflecting our movements heart to value all generations.
God is a generational God. There are over 130 references to generations in the Bible. Seventy of those references are to the next generation, yet out of those seventy, almost all of them link that future generation to the previous generation. God thinks generationally. He plants things in us that will bud in our children and blossom in our grandchildren. He celebrates past generations of faithfulness and anticipates future generational fruitfulness.
“Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts.”
The previous generation of The First Church believed God was giving this church a greater influence in its movement and in its community. So, they took bold steps and our generation has been able to benefit from their faith and vision. We have to be INTENTIONAL about reaching this next generation, or we will UNINTENTIONALLY lose them. Economists are telling us that we are mortgaging our children’s and grandchildren’s futures by our failed economic policies. Environmentalists are telling us that we are leaving an environmental disaster for our children and grandchildren to deal with. Spiritually, we have the same potential for destruction if we do not value and become intentional about the next generation.
One of the saddest passages in the Bible is in Joshua 2 where we read,
“Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the lord, died at the age of 110. They buried him in the land he had been allocated…After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remembers the mighty things he had done for Israel.”
The sad epitaph of, “[they] did not acknowledge the Lord,” is shocking. The problem was a generational breakdown. The previous generation FAILED to show them how great and powerful God is. The result is they grew up not acknowledging God. It is easy to discern that our present generation has potential of being a Judges 2:10 generation!
In America, within the time that a typical church service takes place,
- 960 teens will cut themselves.
- 3,970 will get drunk.
- 160 will drop out of school.
- 178 will be abused.
- 120 will run away from home.
- 480 will get high on pills from a medicine cabinet.
- 120 will have a baby.
- 720 will contract an STD.
- 1 will be murdered by another teen.
This generation of teens is OVEREXPOSED to dealing with stress, disorders, anxiety, peer pressure and bullying. This present generation is called the “fatherless generation” because 40% of children are born to a single mom.
God had a better plan!
He has a generational plan.
“The plans of the Lord stand firm forever the purposes of His heart through all generations.”
Our dream is to provide a place where people of all generations learn, love, laugh and live together in unity. We are working to counteract our culture that has lost its way by providing positive and encouraging programs to children and students, while celebrating our heritage and imparting those lessons and values to a new generation.
One of The First Church’s values is INTERCONNECTED generations. Our fall evangelistic drama annually attracts 20,000 people and is written, produced and performed by our church family. Everyone from ages 5 to 75 are working together and connected to make the ministry effective and fulfilling. This fall outreach pulls our entire congregation together to work inter-generationally to pursue one purpose and one mission for His kingdom. Every congregation needs a ministry which engages and integrates every generation in one single mission. Our Tuesday morning prayer group comprised of 20 senior ladies prays for our middle school and high school students, by name, each week. We often say, we don’t HAVE a youth ministry, (a student ministry on the side), we ARE a youth ministry. We don’t HAVE a children’s ministry, (a children’s ministry on the side), we ARE a children’s ministry. We don’t HAVE a senior ministry, (a senior ministry on the side), we ARE a senior’s ministry. We are engaged in multi-generational community and service projects. Frequently, yard maintenance teams or food distribution teams will serve in our community, and they will consist of at least 3 generations. We are presently on a mission to provide a bed for the over 70 students in our public schools that sleep on the floor. Those beds are assembled by inter-generational teams.
We are INTENTIONAL with our facilities. In the 70’s, a generation moved our church to its present location giving it a more spacious and highly visible location. In the early 1990’s, another generation led by Bishop Jim Whitfield built a multi-purpose ministry center which offered inter-generational sports, fellowship and ministry development. In that facility, there are weekly Bible studies, outreach ministry trainings, art classes, and music and voice lessons. In the 2000’s, a remodeled sanctuary, a new educational facility and a state of the art children’s center were constructed to attract another generation of parents, children, and students. We are intentional with dedicated worship space and dedicated staff to serve the families and needs of our community. Our worship services are integrated and blended with a diverse group of ages and styles.
Our internship targets and develops next generation leaders. Our goal is to INSPIRE and IMPART ministry to a new generation. We have 4 student-led worship bands on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, who are mentored and trained by a previous generation of leaders. Our children’s services feature student-led small groups, puppets, and media and production teams, again inspired and mentored by a previous generation.
Many people die before they fulfill their purpose, our passion is to step up and serve our generations. Our prayer is to seize our opportunities and serve our generations,
“Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors.”
Written By: Pastor Bill Rose
Photos Courtesy Of: The First Church