By Randy C. Davis
President and executive director, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board
A couple of weeks ago in a retreat I attended we discussed the topic of reaching students with the gospel. Someone offered a powerful and passionate statement that summarized what’s at stake: “Whoever wants them the most gets them!”
Let the gravity of that statement sink in for a moment. I’ll come back to it.
I talked to a pastor a few days ago who told me of two men in his church who are in their 80s. They contributed a total of $50,000 for the design of an event to reach and disciple students. Now that’s a gospel-driven vision to do whatever it takes at whatever it costs to reach children and students with the gospel. These Christian brothers get the “we want them the most” mentality.
In this growing post-Christian North American culture of diminishing values and crumbling standards, the avalanche of ungodly and unbiblical messaging washing over our kids and grandkids has such destructive potential. It is well-constructed, intentional, and unfortunately quite effective. It is the seductive marketing strategy of Satan whose endgame is to “seek, kill, steal, and destroy.”
Here’s our reality: We are in a serious battle for the souls of the youngest among us. Whoever wants them the most gets them.
Not everyone has the financial resources to go after them like the two men I mentioned, but everyone can possess their same kind of attitude. Again, how badly do we want it?
I assure you this. Our TBMB ministry leaders have a hunger and a desire to assist churches in going after the youngest generation. In conversations with over 600 ministry leaders in two dozen listening sessions across the state in 2019, one of the top-three most repeated concerns was understanding how to reach GenZ with the gospel. We are working with churches to find solutions.
Stop by my office and you’ll see four 8×10 photos of my grandchildren. Those photos serve a greater purpose than feeding the pride of a “Papa.” They fuel a fire in me that wants to give the rest of my life – and the best of my life – to assisting churches in reaching my grandchildren’s generation.
Consider these two startling realities:
First, if a person surpasses age 18 as spiritually lost, the chances of them coming to know the Lord Jesus as their Savior exponentially decreases.
If I recall correctly, it seems I heard a statistic years ago that something like only one out of every 750,000 people comes to Christ after age 18.
Second, if trends continue as researched by Thom Rainer looking at the percentage of professing Christians in each generation for the last 60 years, it is entirely possible that only one out of 10 of those currently under 22 years of age will come to know Christ the Savior.
Grasp that. Approximately 90 percent of my grandchildren’s generation face an eternal destiny separated from the love of our Heavenly Father.
We simply can’t let that happen. As one of the largest church networks in America, Tennessee Baptists can, should, must and will “want them more” than the powers of hell. Scattered among the densely populated white fields ripe for spiritual harvest are a generation who are our spiritual posterity and a future testimony to the type of legacy we will leave them. Demonstrating genuine love and compassionate care, go after these students in your community with intentionality and passion.
Situation critical. So, what’s your plan?
It is a joy to be with you on this journey. B&R