- Together Apart
- Next Gen
Many of you will have heard George Otis’ description of the desperate state of the next generation at the Love Black Country Together Apart event on Sunday 21st February. My heart broke as I heard George articulate some of the struggles that millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) and Gen Z (those born mid/late 1990’s to 2010) face today. We cannot and must not hide from the reality of the state of the next generation in terms of their battles with mental health, the digital life and an ever-decreasing Christian faith.
And yet, whatever the situation we must not forget that God will always have a remnant that remain faithful to him even in the most desperate of circumstances. This reminds me of 1 Kings 19. The prophet Elijah has reached the end of his rope; he has essentially given up. He heads out into the wilderness and asks to die.
“For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 1 Kings 19 v 14
In Romans 11 Paul comments on God’s response to Elijah’s desperation,
“But what is God’s reply to him? ‘I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.” Romans 11 v 4-5
This reminds us that in our present time, as in Elijah’s and Paul’s, God has kept a group of people who have not bowed the knee to false gods. In a world of Tiktok, Instagram and Netflix God still has people who have not bowed the knee to false gods…and on Wednesday 27th January I had the privilege of meeting some of them at the newly launched Love Black Country program Emerge.
Emerge is aimed at the next generation of Christian leaders. Our aim is to gather those aged 18-25 who are currently in some form of leadership in their church family or showing leadership potential. It is an exciting program that seeks to invest in those who will become not only our next church leaders, but also leaders in health, business, the arts, education, and the community sectors.
The program began as a conversation between Dudley churches and the Love Black Country team. Due to the impact of COVID-19 the EXPAND gap year was unable to launch in September 2020 meaning there was time and resource available to invest in the next generation. In conversation with Deb Chamberlain (Love Black Country Next Gen Champion) and several other church leaders the program was developed and launched on Zoom at the end of January.
It was such a privilege to gather 25 young leaders from across the Black Country who are passionate about Jesus and Christian leadership. Firstly, all the young people who had booked in turned up (if you know anything about running events, you will know this is a miracle). And secondly, they turned up on time (if you know anything about young people, you will know this is most definitely a miracle). This demonstrated a real hunger and desire in the young people to grow in their walk with Jesus. The first session was focused on Christian formation and how our lives are formed in following Jesus. We had two short times of teaching, time in breakout groups, and time together as a whole group.
Whilst meeting on Zoom is not quite the same as meeting together, still, gathering passionate young Christians from Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Dudley, and Walsall was a huge encouragement, and reminded me that there are still those in this generation who are passionate about Jesus and seeking to walk in God’s ways.
Of course, none of this undermines the stark reality of the task at hand in reaching the next generation, make no mistake about it, it will take a miracle to see the next generation turn to Jesus – thank goodness we have a miracle working God.
Please pray for Emerge as we continue to meet online and then in-person over the coming months. Pray that these leaders will catch the fire of God and continue to live for Him with every ounce of their being. And pray that through the remnant in this generation God will restore the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Black Country, to our nation and the nations of the world.
For more information about Emerge, please click here.