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NextGen is the church of now, not just of the future

God always wants to do something special in the lives of children and youth. Our churches should be designed in such a way that God’s purposes will come to pass in their lives.

Jeff Tolle

Every new generation has the potential to experiment a new move of God. Children and youth can be used by God to make great advancements in His kingdom. The 12 disciples of Jesus started to follow Him in their youth. Not just that, but even the young children had a special place in Jesus’s life.

According to various studies as well as what I’ve seen in many years of pastoring, there is always something special that God wants to do in the lives of children and youth. Our churches should be designed in such a way that God’s purposes will come to pass in their lives.

Jesus said, in Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (NIV).

“Let the little children come to Me.” The word “let” that Jesus used here means “to permit.” Literally, what Jesus was saying, is that children should have free access to Him. There is no belief, attitude or action requirement to be welcome into the arms of Jesus. Children want to belong to a family, a church and to Christ, as well.

There is a phrase we use in our church: “Belong before believe.” We believe that all are welcome without taking into account where they come from, what they believe or the sins in their lives.

Sometimes, we want children and youth to act like adults. Jesus never puts any requirements like that on them. He accepts them as they are, and our churches should do the same with the children and young people in our cities and communities. How are we creating a welcoming environment in our churches for kids and young people?

“Do not hinder them.” The word “to hinder” that Jesus used here means “to reject, neglect or block.” What Jesus was saying here is that we should not retain blessing or put obstacles in the way of children experimenting with the presence of Jesus in their lives.

Many times, our ways, styles and rules are obstacles in the way of the next generations, impeding them from getting to Jesus. In our churches, our job is to eliminate all of the human barriers so that a child or young person (even an adult) can have a clear, simple path to Christ’s feet. What are the things in our churches that are impediments to kids and youth knowing Jesus?

“For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” This phrase that Jesus used is very interesting. I invite you to take very seriously what Jesus was saying here. He said that His kingdom, His glory, His authority and blessing belong to children (and to those like them).

I believe, without a doubt, that it is our church’s job to train and raise up the next generation to be agents of the kingdom of God. Our youth and children are not just the future of the church, they are the church now. How can we activate the gifts and talents of our children and young people so that they can make an impact in the kingdom of God?

We should take advantage of all we have: relationships, resources and the presence and power of God, to give access, eliminate obstacles, and raise up a new generation of children and young people for the glory of God.

The Spanish version of this article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 edition of Foursquare Leader magazine. Find more articles celebrating the next generation.

and his wife, Evelyn, are pastors of Ciudad de Vida (East Valley Foursquare Church) in North Hollywood, Calif., and they are parents to five children.
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Comments

  1. Jeff Tolle is innovative with creativity at his fingertips. He comes up with Holy Spirit led ministries to inspire his congregation. His teachings are passionate and powerful. God will continue to use him in amazing ways. I look forward to see what God has in store for Jeff!

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