Training the Next Generation

We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.  Colossians 1:28-29

My husband and I, after serving in a church for over 20 years, moved to a college town with the purpose of spending the rest of our lives pouring into the next generations of college students. Over 40 years ago as newlyweds we began our ministry by discipling and mentoring college students on a campus in southwest Missouri. What God began then He is carrying on to completion as we finish out our lives here on earth.

In his letter to the Colossian church, Paul warned of false teachings that were infiltrating the church and leading young believers away from the truth of the gospel. His message is relevant for us today as we live in a rapidly changing culture that seeks to silence our witness, divide our churches, and trample underfoot our faith by compromise, deception, and hate. More than ever before those who are mature in Christ must be vigilant to share not only the gospel but their own experiences of walking with Him amidst an upside-down world. In Colossians 1:28-29, Paul gives us our mission statement with instructions about the what, why and how of training the next generation.

First, what are we called to do? We are to proclaim Christ clearly and openly reminding those we disciple that Jesus is the author and perfector of their faith. He is the one who reigns supreme even in the midst of a dark and deceptive world. Paul says to proclaim Him through admonishment and instruction. To admonish is to warn someone of error and counsel them how to avoid error. Teaching is instructing others in what Jesus taught concerning life and godliness.

Conversations with those you admonish and teach must be centered around an open Bible, which is “inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16). When I sit down with one of the young college women I disciple, I find that their greatest concern is how to share biblical truth with their lost family and friends in a loving, yet uncompromising way. This is where the “with all wisdom” comes in! When counseling these women, I am careful to point them to God and His Word, the ultimate source of wisdom, first and then I share personal experiences of how biblical truth directed my behavior or speech in similar circumstances.

Next, why do we proclaim Him to the next generation? We do it, “so that we may present them complete in Christ.”  Complete in Christ refers to being mature in faith. Our purpose is to see that they grow up in the things of Christ, being firmly planted in who He is, what He has done for them and what He wants to do in and through them. In the same way, we are to be gentle teachers of truth with the purpose of producing fully devoted and mature followers of Christ.

Lastly, how do we do all of this? The answer is: we can’t do it – in our own strength! Disciple-making is hard, frustrating, challenging, and exhausting – especially if done alone.  Paul testifies, “I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” I have learned that I don’t have to have all the answers, a clean house, and make-up on in order to train the next generation. God is the one who does immeasurable more than we can ask or imagine through His power that is working in us. (Ephesians 3:20) All I need is to be faithful, willing, and available to God to work in me so that He can work through me as I encourage and urge this next generation of women to live lives worthy of God, who calls them into His kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:12)

How about you . . . to whom are you proclaiming Christ? Who can you lovingly direct out of error into God’s truth? Pray for an opportunity to proclaim, admonish, and teach someone how to grow up in Christ. Be a disciple maker!

For His Glory,  Nancy

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