Investing In the Next Generation

The importance of sharing the gospel with the next generation.

Scott Kelly
Nov 17, 2019    36m
In this sermon Pastor Scott Kelly talks about the importance of sharing the gospel with the next generation. He explains that it is our responsibility to make both a personal investment, and a public declaration, when it comes to sharing God with the next generation because they get the information we put into them. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Scott Kelly: 00:00 Man, if you would, take your Bible and we're going to be in the Old Testament today. The Old Testament Book of Judges, Judges chapter 2, and we're going to read together verses 6 through 10, Judges chapter 2 verses 6 through 10.

Scott Kelly: 00:14 Now, if you're new to Shandon, perhaps you don't know this, but as a congregation we stand when we read God's Word. So let me invite you to stand in honor of the reading of the Word of God, it's our way of demonstrating its authority over us and the truth of God's Word, and we stand under the authority of scripture. And let's read together Judges chapter 2 verses 6 through 10, the Word of God says, "When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel."

Scott Kelly: 01:42 Well, let's pray together. Father, thank you for the clarity in the truth of your word, and the fact that it is a stark reminder to us that it is not only relevant, but it pierces our soul and challenges us in ways that we cannot possibly imagine. So Lord, I pray that the words of scripture, the truth of your heart, would be evident today in this worship service, and may we respond in faith. And we ask this in the name of your son Jesus. Amen. Thank you, you may be seated.

Scott Kelly: 02:23 Well as most of you know, it is that time of year and we are headed into the holiday season. And I don't know about you, but plans begin to spin up this time of year for what happens at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now I know some of you will be traveling over the holidays, perhaps you'll be out of town Thanksgiving or perhaps you're waiting until Christmas. You know you're going somewhere, perhaps you're going to go visit with family, or perhaps you're going to some exotic destination like I don't know, Myrtle Beach or something, but all you have to do now is count the days and pack your bags. Right?

Scott Kelly: 03:00 Well, packing a suitcase, I think, is an exercise in psychology. It really reveals a lot about someone if you know how and what they pack, it reveals a lot about their personalities. Now in my home, packing is a competition. Packing is definitely a competition. It's a competition that my wife always wins, because it's my philosophy that if you're gone for say three days, you should pack 10 pairs of clothes. Her philosophy is if you're gone for 10 days, you pack two pairs of clothes, that's it. My philosophy is I don't like to stink on vacation, but she really doesn't mind it, so I always over-pack. In fact, here's a picture of me on vacation a couple of summers ago, so clearly I'm a neurotic over-packer, right? Some of you are like that. I don't know where you are on the scale, but perhaps you like to pack too much. Now, the good news is our son is taking after me, this was him on vacation last summer, love that kid, he's taking after his dad. Well, here's the fact, in our household, we have a suitcase that typically goes with us on one of our trips, and we keep that suitcase in our son's bedroom. It's usually there, scattered somewhere underneath the dust and dirty clothes, but there's a suitcase there. And it's not there just because we like to travel, it's there is a motivation. And that motivation is this, it's a reminder to us as parents that we're on temporary assignment, that one day our son will pack up and leave the house without us and except to visit, he will not return. Well, that's our plan anyway, I don't know how that's going to work out. But if you're a parent, you know that burden, it weighs heavily on your heart. And so the question is, when our children leave our home, they walk out the front door to the life that they've chosen. When they leave our church, and the family that they've known in worship, what are they going to carry with them, and what are they going to discard when they get to the place that they've chosen?

Scott Kelly: 05:25 We'll in Judges chapter 2 verse 10 we encounter a significant heartbreaking turning point in the Old Testament. Because in the verse that precedes Judges, in the Book of Joshua, it tells us about how Joshua and the children of Israel settled in to the promised land. How Joshua, who is Moses successor, took possession of the land and divided up the land and gave it to each of the 12 tribes as their inheritance, and the generation that followed. Joshua followed the Lord all the days of their lives. And then in verse 10 of Judges 2, the unthinkable happens, the unthinkable happens. Because here in verse 10 we read one of the most tragic verses in all of scripture. We're introduced to a generation of Israelites who did not know the Lord, nor the things that they had done for the children of Israel. And everything that follows in the Book of Judges, and almost everything that follows in the entire Old Testament, can be traced back to the consequence of Israel's failure to invest in the next generation.

Scott Kelly: 06:46 Now many believe that today's millennial generation, those born between 1983 and 2000, represent the leading edge of a wave of young adults that are walking away from the church in record numbers. And you know the statistics, 70% of millennial's who attended church as high school students have walked away from the church, and many of them now self-identify as nones, they have no religious affiliation. And so what we're witnessing today in our culture, is literally a contemporary remake of the movie that played out in Judges chapter 2 verse 10. And there's no better commentary on our culture today than the final sentence of the Book of Judges, chapter 21 verse 25, the writer says this, "And everyone did what was right in his own eyes." That is our culture today. So on occasion here at Shandon, I am asked, why do we invest so much time and energy and resources on the younger people of our church? Well, for one reason, if we don't Judges chapter 2 verse 10 will happen all over again. And we need to know, we need to know that every community of faith, including ours here it Shandon, is always one generation away from extinction, one generation away from extinction.

Scott Kelly: 08:18 So here's a big idea that I want us to grab a hold of this morning, and really unpack for the rest of our time together. And that's this, an inheritance is what we leave with our children, but a legacy is what we leave in our children. An inheritance is what we leave with our children, but a legacy is what we leave in our children. And if Judges chapter 2 verse 10 tells us anything, it's this, it's a reminder that what we give to the next generation and what we do for the next generation is not nearly as important as what we leave in the next generation. Now let me say this. Some of you are sitting back, or perhaps your arms are crossed, or you're thinking to yourself, well, this message is not really for me, doesn't it really apply? Perhaps you think I am too old to invest in the next generation, I've done my time. Well, listen, if that's your sentiment, I want to challenge your thinking a little bit this morning.

Scott Kelly: 09:20 Or perhaps you are the younger generation, you're a millennial, you're a college student, you're a young adult, and you're thinking, well, why won't someone invest in me? Well, guess what? You're not off the hook either. So I'm going to take a swing at you, so hang tight, I'm coming for you. Because listen, a community of faith like ours here at Shandon, no matter how young or how old, we carry the responsibility and the opportunity to invest in the next generation. So where do we start? What do we do? How does this happen among the people of God? Well, I've got some good news for you. I don't have seven points this morning in this message, so that should make you happy. In fact, I've streamlined this and made it really, really simple. One verse, two ideas.

Scott Kelly: 10:08 One verse, two ideas. So if you would,, turn in your Bible to Psalm chapter 145. Psalm 145, and we're going to read together and spend the rest of our time in verse 4, one verse two ideas. And here we're going to learn how we can engender a lasting legacy in the next generation. Psalm 145 verse 4, a Psalm of David, and King David simply writes this, "One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts." Now at first glance, this probably seems a little pedestrian. Maybe you're thinking, well, that's a yawner. What's he going to get out of that? Well, there are two verbs in here, and that's where our two ideas are going to come from. One generation shall commend, and the other he says shall declare. So command and declare, one of these is a personal directive, the other is a public directive. So those are the two ideas that we're going to look at here for the next few minutes.

Scott Kelly: 11:21 So let's start with a personal directive of how we invest in the next generation. The word commend is translated in some of your Bibles as the word praise. In fact, it's translated numerous times throughout the Old Testament as the word praise. Now, praise does not just mean the imparting of facts. In fact, praise is highly relational. And here's what I want you to see, most of the time we think of praise as that which is directed towards God. But what David makes clear in this verse, in verse 4 of Psalm 145, is this, our praise, our commendation can be directed to other people. It can be directed to others, and David makes this very clear. Praise is personal and relational, it's not just informational and instructional. David does not say one generation shall teach the next generation. He says, one generation shall commend. Now let me be clear, we should teach the next generation, and we have a clear mandate of scripture to do that. Deuteronomy chapter 6, and many, many other places in the Bible we should certainly teach, but here's why this is personal. For one reason, You can impart facts in an informational manner when you teach, but here David doesn't let us off the hook. One generation shall personally, personally, lean in and talk about what God has done in your life, one generation shall commend your works to another. It's highly personal. Now, you cannot commend someone you don't know, it's not possible.

Scott Kelly: 13:01 Now, in my role at the church, there are many times when I'll get an email or a phone call and someone will say, Scott, would you please write a recommendation letter for me? And sometimes I have to reply to those emails by saying, I'm sorry, who is this? I don't know who you are. But because of my role, somehow I should be able to write a recommendation letter. Look, I would love to write a recommendation letter for you, but if I don't know you, I can't do that in good faith. And what David is saying here in Psalm 145, is this relationship that we have with God, this personal relationship that we have with God should be communicated and shared with the next generation. It's an intimate expression of what God has done in your life, it's not just the transfer of facts about God. Now is good as that is, as meaty as that is, there's even more. Because this word commend or praise also carry some additional weight, some additional, somewhat obscured meaning. One that extends beyond the act itself to the outcome, because the word praise in the Old Testament literally carries an outcome with it. It's designed to show and to do something in the form of an outcome, and it's this, the word praise means to soothe, to make still, or to make content. Now think about that one generation shall sooth, make still and make content the next generation. Think about that.

Scott Kelly: 14:38 Now I'm going to tell you this has some incredible relevance in our culture today, and here's why. Experts tell us that today's so-called generation Z , those born since 2001, are in fact the most anxious and depressed generation we have ever seen own our planet. The care and treatment of young adults and teenagers, physicians now write more prescriptions for maladies of the soul than they do for wounds of the body. Every human being is born with two innate fears, the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. But now today there are more than 2000 clinically recognized anxiety disorders, we live in an anxious culture, that's who we are. And there's a growing body of research that suggests that the rise of anxiety and depression among teenagers, and young adults, can be traced directly to the use of social media. One research revealed this, anxiety disorders are present in only 13% of teenagers who spend the least amount of time on social media, but rises to 66% among those who spend the most amount of time on social media, think about that. Now, let me be clear, I'm not bashing social media, because social media is not to blame, at least not fully. We live in a media saturated world, we all know that. Social media has only demonstrated and exposed a deeper problem that we have in our culture today. For one, we're being conditioned for distraction. I don't know if you know this, but you and I are being conditioned for distraction.

Scott Kelly: 16:32 Now, to illustrate this, let me introduce you to Mr. Goldfish. Everybody knows Mr. Goldfish, right? Why Mr. Goldfish? Well, here's why, according to the Microsoft Corporation who've done research, the average human being now has an attention span of eight seconds, eight seconds. That's down from 12 seconds in the year 2000. Eight seconds, the research that Microsoft conducted was so that marketing efforts could match our diminished attention span. That's why when you watch commercials or hear commercials, there's a cut every eight seconds or less. They know that if they hold a scene for more than eight seconds, they're going to lose you. We are being conditioned for distraction. So what about Mr. Goldfish? Well, are you ready for this? The average attention span for a goldfish is nine seconds. Well done folks, this means if you get into a staring contest with a goldfish, there's a strong possibility you're going to lose to a goldfish. This is the culture that we live in. This is a media saturated world that we live in. And because of our diminished capacity to focus, we look for more and more ways to be entertained, don't we? I mean boring is bad, right? I mean boring has to be bad. The one thing we cannot do is be bored. So what do we do? Well, we ramp up the entertainment, we subscribe to Disney Plus, including Hulu, and Netflix and everything else out there. Why? Because the last thing we want to do is to be bored, right? We don't want to be bored. And kids and parents are so busy and so distracted today that we're beginning to feel, we're beginning to feel, the effects of relational starvation.

Scott Kelly: 18:40 Most of those in Generation Z, and most Millennial's say, I have lots of likes, but I have very few friends. And into this reality, God spoke, and he spoke to creation. Because God designed us, He created us, every one of us for relationship and not just activity, not just activity. Remember, God created Adam and he put him in the garden, and God and Adam had a relationship, and yet God looked at Adam and said, well, it's not good for the man to be alone. Think about that for a second, Adam had a relationship with God, and God had a relationship with Adam. But God looked at him and said, well, it's not good for man to be alone. You know what that means? We ought not miss this, this is really important. God intended for his all satisfying presence in our lives to be at least partially mediated through relationships with other people, it's exactly why God created the family, it's exactly why God created the church. And yet if we're honest with one another, I think most of us might say, well, yeah, I'm a little bit starved relationally.

Scott Kelly: 19:56 Well, Gary Smalley, in his book the DNA of Relationships wrote this. He said, "Life is relationships, the rest just details. It's just details. Now you may ask, well, where did he get that? Well, he got it directly from Jesus. Here's how it happened. Someone approached Jesus one day and said, Lord, teacher, what is the most important commandment? What is the one thing that we have to get right in this life? And Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. Relationships, Jesus probably said the rest, just details. We were built for relationships, but when all of our relationships are digital or they're entertainment driven, there's no nurturing of the soul. We don't fully experience the presence of God in our lives, and the residual effect of living in a culture like that is an alarming amount of anxiety and depression. Into this reality, scripture speaks and David speaks, "One generation shall personally, personally, commend and invest in the next generation."

Scott Kelly: 21:17 Now I want to tell you about one person in our church who beautifully embodies and exemplifies this extraordinary verse in the Old Testament. If you're around Shandon, you probably know him, his name is Joe [inaudible] Now, Joe and his wife Sandra have been around here for a long time. I didn't know for sure, I think since before the war. Not the civil war, mind you. But the war. And Joe serves as a fifth grade Sunday school teacher, and has been doing this for a long time. Now here's the thing, I asked Joe Wednesday night, I said, Joe, how old are you? And he said, I'm 87. He says it rather proudly, 87. I said, Joe, when did you start teaching Sunday school? He said, when I was 21. Can we do the math? 66 years, he's been investing in the next generation. Now Joe would be the first to say, oh, Scott is not about me, please don't tell him it's about me. And I will say that about Joe, it's never about Joe. Joe shows up early on Sunday mornings, about 7:30, and walks the halls of our children's ministry and prays for those kids. And then he goes into his fifth grade Sunday school room, and he's prays specifically for those fifth grade boys. Can I say something? If you're a parent of a preschooler or a children, and your kids are not in our preschool and children's ministry, I say this with a love of Jesus, you're just crazy. You should have your kids here on Sunday morning, because there are others like Joe. In fact, there's a whole team of people that are standing with, and alongside, Joe. Our family ministry team, and this exists solely to equip us to invest in the next generation. Essentially those born since 2001, preschoolers through high-schoolers. Look, when you leave today, you can just brush past the next generation, and say yeah it's good that we've got kids here, good that we have students here, college students, great. Or you can walk across the lobby, and there our family ministry team would love to hear this from you. Hey, I'm ready to be the next Joe. Because the fact of the matter is Joe's not going to be with us forever, he knows that, and we know that. Joe told me the other day, he's thinking about retiring from his day job. But for the time being, you know what he's going to be doing on Sunday morning, he's going to be sharing the gospel, commending the works of the Lord from one generation to the next. That's his personal mission. Church, it should be our personal mission.

Scott Kelly: 24:08 So David makes it clear there's a personal investment that we should make in the next generation. But he also says there's a public directive, a public investment, we should make in the next generation. So let's continue quickly in verse 4, David says here, "One generation shall, (at the end of the verse) declare your mighty acts." Shall declare your mighty acts. Now the word declare means to make conspicuous, to make obvious, that there's no mistake about it. And all of us can understand this reality, and here's why. Yesterday, many of you dressed in a conspicuous manner, I know you and I know that you did, you wore the colors of your favorite team, didn't you? You wore purple and orange, garnet and black, red and black, orange and blue. You know who you are. All of you wore your team's favorite colors. And if I didn't know you and I encountered you in public, guess what? I would know something about you. I would know a little bit about your story, who you are, what you believe in, and what you get excited about.

Scott Kelly: 25:14 So here's a question, without your game day apparel, what does your life declare? What is your life going to declare on Monday morning when you go to work, or you go to school? What is your life going to declare? What is your life going to declare a Wednesday afternoon? What is your life going to declare on Friday night? Because all of us, whether we realize it or not, are creating a narrative. And people are listening and people are watching, and we are constantly inviting people into the story that we are telling with our lives. We are declaring something every single day. There's a declaration to be made. So what would folks around you say is most important about you? What do you talk about the most? What are you declaring to those people? Because whether we realize it or not, we're creating a narrative and we're inviting the next generation into that narrative. So parents, let me ask you a question. What is the narrative that you're creating in your home? Is the narrative in your home that church is a hobby, that faith in Christ is just something that we add to the calendar on Sunday mornings. Are you trying to spin up a narrative in your home that your children have to be perfect, and be straight A students, that they have to model certain behaviors? Look, if rules would change us in such a way, if rules would make the biggest difference in the world, if rules were all we needed to be saved, then Jesus would have never had to die on the cross. What we need in our homes, and what we need in our churches, is more grace and more gospel and not more rules, and that's what we have to live out in front of our children. Now parents, you have this responsibility, but let me tell you this, as a congregation, as a body of Christ, we have this responsibility to invest in the next generation. Because the stories we tell now in this church, and in our homes, will be magnified in repeated in the next generation. So what story will they tell? What will they carry with them when they leave our homes and they leave our churches?

Scott Kelly: 27:34 Can we be honest for a minute? If you're like me, you probably spend more time than you like focused and frustrated about what's going on around you, about the circumstances, the things you don't like, the things you wish were different. We spend a lot of time focusing our heart's attention, and our minds affection, on those kinds of things. Controlling and manipulating and sometimes even complaining about the people and circumstances in our lives. So can we just confess to one another? Let's just be honest for a second, it is always, always easier to complain about the circumstances around us than it is to address what's going on inside of us. Always easier to complain or speak against the things that are going on around us, and happening to us, than it is to address what's going on in side of us. And yet the battle in your heart, and in my heart, rages on the inside.

Scott Kelly: 28:38 Jesus said, it's not what goes into a man that defiles him, it's what comes out of a man that defiles him. And here's the scary part, what comes out of you and me, what our lives declare, that's what we're leaving in the next generation. That's what we're packing in the next generations suitcases. And that's the challenge for us today. So David says here in Psalm 145 look, "When our hearts are properly aligned with God's, we can't help to personally share what he's done in our lives through his son, Jesus." And those stories not only define us, they define the next generation.

Scott Kelly: 29:25 I want to close with a story, one that I shared earlier this year at our men's conference. So guys, if you heard this, I apologize, just hang with me for a few moments. But I met Christ when I was 14 years old. Someone came to my house and said, Scott, who is Jesus to you? I didn't have an answer. He shared gospel with me, and I prayed to receive Christ right there in front of my parents, I was baptized the next Sunday. Now as a skinny 14 year old ninth grader at Fayette County high school outside of Atlanta, Georgia, I did the only thing I knew how to do. Well, I shared my new found relationship with Jesus, with my friends. I started telling my friends. Well, one of my best friends at the time was a young man by the name of Greg Masters, and Greg and I did everything together. We were actually in a band together, we were horrible, don't worry. We rode motorcycles together, we even dated in the same circles, it was really weird. But Greg and I were best friends, and over time I started to share with Greg about my new found relationship with Christ, and he was interested and he started to listen, and in time he started coming to church with me. He would attend on Sunday mornings, be a part of everything that our student ministry was doing. In a few months later, I had the privilege of leading Greg to Christ and watch him be baptized shortly after. Well, like so many of us after high school lives took us in different directions, there was no animosity, no breakdown in the relationship, just life took over. Well, in 2011 Greg was diagnosed with an aggressive form of skin cancer, and in October of 2013 Greg went to be with the Lord. This picture was taken just a couple of months before he died, and of course I found out and was able to make the funeral, which occurred at a church in Newman, Georgia. And I drove there and walked through the front doors of the church, and was immediately met by Sandra, Greg's wife. And of course we embraced and shared a tearful hug. Now God sometimes grants us grace in moments that we remember rest of our lives. Well, this is one of those moments for me. When Sandra and I broke our hug, she turned to her right and she said, children, I want to introduce you to Scott Kelly. He's the man that led your father to Christ. Well, suddenly Katie, Emily, and Josh, or Jacob, I'm sorry, Jacob all lunged forward and gave me a big bear hug. And if you thought we were crying with Sandra, there were big tears shared at that moment. Because you see, there is no way I could have known as a skinny ninth grader, that when I shared the gospel with my best friend, that I was also sharing the gospel with his three children, all of whom know, love and serve the Lord.

Scott Kelly: 32:45 Now we have a saying around here, when the gospel came to you, it wasn't intended just for you. When the gospel came to you, it wasn't intended just for you. So guess what? You're never too old, you're never too young, to invest in the next generation. If anything, Judges 2:10 is a shot across the bow of our complacent hearts. Because if we don't commend to the next generation, and declare the mighty acts of God, then they too will fail to know the Lord and the things that [inaudible] done. So Shandon, it's up to us, we can live complacent and comfortable lives here in our inheritance at 5250 Forest Drive. Or we can invest in the next generation by personally commending, and publicly declaring, the mighty acts of God.

Scott Kelly: 33:55 Let me pray for us. Father, I know for some in this room this message lands hard, challenging. And I know there are parents in the room who poured their lives into their children, and yet their children still walked away from you. So father, I cannot fully understand or embrace the heartache and pain that may exist in this room. But Father, I know that you have called us as a congregation, and as individuals, to invest in the next generation. So father, I pray that in our hearts today that we would see a responsibility, an opportunity, to commend your works personally to someone else. Perhaps to someone who is younger than us, who needs our encouragement, who needs our direction, but needs to hear most of all what you've done in our lives. How you've changed our hearts, and transformed us into the image of your son Jesus. Lord, I pray that a generation from now, people will look back and say, wow, Shandon invested in me. The people of Shandon shared the mighty acts of God with me. And now not only do I walk with the Lord, but children walk with the Lord. So Father, we speak this morning out of the truth of scripture for yet the unborn generations that will follow our own, may they not fall into the trap of Judges 2:10. And if they do, Lord, hold us accountable. So give us the courage to invest in the next generation, to personally commend and publicly declare your mighty acts. Father, thank you for the grace that you've given to us, now may we share it with others? We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206