The Next Generation

The Next Generation

Kevin Nunnery |

Judges 2:10 shows us the importance of sharing the Gospel from generation to generation.

Jesus at the Center of Our Future
The Next Generation • Message 2
Kevin Nunnery
June 9, 2024


Good morning! As JC said, my name is Kevin Nunnery. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share with you in week two of our series, Jesus at the Center of our Future.

Last week, Bryan shared with us two powerful verses regarding the future. Let’s see those now:


“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)


Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)


God certainly has a plan for our lives—what good news! But so does the enemy. And I think all of us adults in the room can see the enemy at work in attacking the next generation.

The title of my message today is simply The Next Generation, which, in addition to being my favorite Star Trek, is my favorite group of people! And yet, many times, there’s disdain and disrespect between generations. For our older generations—we say things like “Okay, boomer” or laugh at them when they can’t figure out self-checkout or a QR code menu at a restaurant. The flip side is how we can dismiss the younger generations for their weird phrases, TikTok dances, and quote-unquote music.

If I had to pick a fight with the next generation, by which I mean Gen Z and Gen Alpha, it would be about socks. If you didn’t know older friends—Gen Z has canceled ankle socks. Millennial brothers and sisters—you remember how we were mercilessly mocked back in the day if your socks were even a little bit visible. You’d roll them down if you had to. And now they want us to wear mid-calf socks. No way! I don’t hate you, Gen Z, but I question some of your fashion choices.

Today, as we think about generations, and specifically the next generation, I believe God has a word for all of us. Next-gen friends—I have something I believe the Lord has given me specifically for you. Adults—I believe I’ve got a word for us as well. Then we’ll close with something for all of us.

Elementary friends—Middle and high school students—number one today is for you. If you’re taking notes, fill in your blanks with the words [EXEMPLIFY + ELEVATE] Exemplify and Elevate. What does it mean to exemplify? It’s pretty simple—it means to demonstrate by example. Think about if a teacher at school tells the rest of the class to do things more like you—you’re the example…which is exciting on one hand, but terrifying on the other because are you now gonna have no one to sit with at lunch as the teacher’s pet.

To elevate is pretty easy to understand—you raise things up. Think again about school—being in a group project. Show of hands—who hated group projects in school? Same! I just knew that I was going to do the bulk of the work, and everyone else was going to coast off of my effort. I would go to teachers and ask to be able to work alone. But apparently, working well with others is a skill I needed to develop, too…

Why do I say you’re called to Exemplify and Elevate? Based on 1 Timothy 4:12. It says:


Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

1 Timothy 4:12 (NLT)


Stop right there—less years doesn’t mean less value. You don’t need to be pushed to the side, seen and not heard. You don’t have to wait your turn. You may have been asked—what do you know? You’re just a kid.

Look right here at me, next-gen friends: you matter now! You’re not just the church of tomorrow; you’re the church today. God has a plan and a purpose for your life here and now—not just when you’re older.

But how? Let’s keep reading in our verse:


Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.


So, does what you say reflect your relationship with Jesus?

The way you live—that’s your choices—be the example!

Your love—is it like Jesus? Sacrificial? Enduring?

How about your faith? Are you living out of the trust you’ve placed in Him?

Your purity? Purity just means refusing to allow evil to take you down a sinful path.

You can make a difference now! One of the things that I love about this church is that our students are making a meaningful impact in some very real ways. There are churches out there where the next generation is told to wait their turn. Not here. Adventure Week can’t happen without the involvement of our students. Our week-in and week-out programming can’t happen without the buy-in and leadership of our students. They’re leading worship, driving production, leading groups and classrooms—it’s amazing.

If you sit there and say, “I’m too young,” you’re wrong. I don’t have time to fully unpack this but consider Jeremiah 1:5-9.


“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as My prophet to the nations.” “O sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for You! I’m too young!” The LORD replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the LORD, have spoken!” Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put My words in your mouth!”

Jeremiah 1:5-9 (NLT)


Jeremiah was young, too. He thought he couldn’t do it because of his age, too. And God spoke very clearly to Jeremiah about the depths of His knowledge of Jeremiah as his maker—the plans and purpose He had for him, and how He was with him. Dive into that on your own—we’ve gotta keep moving.

Adults—are we willing to be led by the next generation? Are we willing to see them as the example God has called them to be? I can tell you that in my life—19 years of student ministry. Hundreds of children and students that I’ve known—they have been a blessing to me. God has used them to speak into my life. Can I share about one briefly?

This is Maysen Horner. Maysen graduated high school last year. She wound up joining our Student Ministry staff for a while. Now, she’s spending her summer out in Salt Lake City. She’s on mission, partnering with a local church to advance the Kingdom. She doesn’t have family in the area. She’s not looking for some kind of vacation. She’s being obedient to God—looking to make disciples. I don’t tell you about Maysen to brag on our team here that has poured into her. I tell you about her for two reasons—one, please pray for her this summer. Two—Maysen is young but living out her faith. And I, as someone older than her, have been inspired and encouraged by her. And I know I’m not alone.

Let’s jump into what I’ve got for the adults. Your second set of blanks on the handout today is [MODEL + MENTOR] Model and Mentor. We are called to, commanded, compelled, commissioned—to make disciples. To teach those who come behind us. When you think about modeling a Christ-centered life for the next generation, consider what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1:


Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)


Can you give that invitation—Follow me, and trust that I’m so closely following in the footsteps of Jesus that I’ll lead you the right way? That’s weighty!

To mentor—to forge a consistent, compassionate, Christ-centered connection with someone younger in the faith and train them up. Our memory verse for this week is Proverbs 22:6:


Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)


Train up a child in the way they should go—are you?

Every adult in this room—you have someone who invested in you and helped you become who you are today. Not from a distance—you can’t say someone like Mr. Rogers or Bill Nye, the Science Guy—though where would some of us be without them? I mean up close and personal. A coach. Teacher. Pastor. Sunday school teacher. Family member.

It’s easy to sit here and look at the next generation and say, yeah—they’re on a path of destruction. Shame on Hollywood. Shame on social media. Shame on the culture and the world. It’s evil and corrupt and responsible. And I agree—we live in a fallen world with a very real enemy who is not running around in hell wearing red tights with a pitchfork. He’s active and on the move.

But as much as the actions of them out there can lead the next generation astray, so can the INACTION of those of us in here. Are we stepping up? Consider what Jesus says in Matthew 18:5-6:


“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalfis welcoming Me.But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in Me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Matthew 18:5-6 (NLT)


Yeah, get them! But what about those of us who are passive? Disengaged? Checked out? Who, through our failure to speak or act, has caused these little ones to stumble? Well—Jesus says it’s better to have a millstone tied around your neck and be chucked into the sea. I did some research—millstones could weigh anywhere between a couple hundred pounds and several thousand pounds if we’re talking about the base stone. Either way, the image is clear—it’s a serious situation to cause a young person to stumble. Are we modeling? Are we mentoring? Are we valuing the next generation?

Jonathan Haidt has written a new book that I’d recommend you explore. I rarely recommend books I haven’t read all the way through, but this one I will. It’s called The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness.

Listen to this quote from the book:


Just imagine being a teen trying to develop a sense of who you are and where you fit, while everyone you meet tells you, indirectly, you’re not as important as the people on my phone.

Jonathan Haidt


And I want to be clear—I’m talking to ALL OF US—not just parents. You’re not off the hook to make disciples of the next generation just because you’re not a parent. We have children and students here in this church and in our community who are desperately in need of someone to model Christ and mentor them in the faith. Get off the bench and get in the game.

But Parents, in particular, can I share a special word just for you? Your job is not nearly as important as your kids. I know you know this…but does it show up in your life? No one gets to their deathbed and looks back, wishing they’d have made one more spreadsheet, taken a little less PTO, or climbed that corporate ladder a little higher. Parents, you are the greatest spiritual influence in the lives of your children—for better or worse.

Think about it like this. This picture on the screen is Nick Saban. He is arguably the greatest college football coach of all time. Just at Alabama, where he coached for 17 seasons, he won 6 national championships. He went 201-29, an 87% win rate. Incredible legacy. Coached Heisman winners. Put countess players in the NFL. No matter how good you are at your job, you’re not as good as Nick Saban was. I say he was because he retired this offseason. He’s irreplaceable, right? How can they go on? His replacement was announced 49 hours later. In two days, they moved on, just like that. You know where you can’t be replaced like that? At home. My dad died 20 years ago, and to this day, there’s still an impact. Parents—let’s model and mentor at home. Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit of God would do something miraculous in our children, amen?

Okay, my point is for all of us—final fill-ins on your handout: [REFLECT + REMEMBER] Reflect and Remember. They’re very similar. In my mind, reflecting is pausing and looking back. Remembering is more of an active thing in the moment. We want to reflect and remember who God is and what He has done, not just in the Bible but in our lives.

Consider Judges 2:10:


After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORDor remember the mighty things He had done for Israel.

Judges 2:10 (NLT)


You may not have made it all the way to Judges in your read through the Bible in a year plan. Allow me to give you some context. Because their failure to reflect on who God was and remember what He did is heartbreaking, but even more so when you consider all that happened.

Moses is sent by God to free the Israelites from Egypt. There are ten plagues.

God leads the people out of Egypt by a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire.

God parts the Red Sea so His people can cross on dry ground, then uses it to crush their enemies.

He provides Manna from heaven in the morning (When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. Exodus 16:14) Frosted flakes?

Quail at night is also provided.

Water from the rock is brought forth to quench their thirst.

God gives them the 10 Commandments and Moses’ face glows like a nightlight from being in the presence of God.

When Korah stirs up a rebellion, God swallows them into the ground.

Then Moses gives way to Joshua as the leader. We then see:

The crossing of the Jordan River on dry ground, like the Red Sea 2.0.

The conquering of the most heavily fortified city in the area via a marching band.

The supernatural extension of a day that the Israelites might continue to fight and experience victory.

Joshua 12 tells us that the people of God ultimately defeated 31 kings and their armies.

God has brought them into the land He promised. And just when Joshua is about to die, he calls together all the leaders and challenges them to remember the faithfulness of God. They reaffirm their commitment to serve God and honor him. In Joshua 24, we see Joshua actually recount all the things I just showed you pictures of. And the people promise to remain faithful.

Then Joshua dies, and we get Judges 2:10. Let’s read it again with the next two verses:

After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge theLORDor remember the mighty things He had done for Israel.


The Israelites did evil in theLORD’S sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned theLORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered theLORD.

Judges 2:10-12 (NLT)


Not great! How did this happen? Did some of the elders fail to pass along what they had experienced? Did some of the next generation just fail to listen? Probably some of both. Either way—they embraced evil and abandoned God.

May we learn from this sobering story!

Let us remember who He is and what He has done. The love we see demonstrated in Jesus, who lived a perfect life, willingly sacrificed it and then rose from the dead. He gave His life that we might experience eternal, abundant life. Not just when we die and go to heaven, but here and now.


Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

James 4:17 (NLT)


Next generation—rise up. Lead! Encourage us with the awe and wonder you still have for Jesus!

Adults—let’s step up and make disciples who make disciples! Let’s teach them to obey everything that He taught us.

And may we all remember who He is and what He has done.

I’m going to pray for us as we close out our service. If you feel the Holy Spirit of God prompting you to take a step, let me encourage you to respond! Maybe you know you need to take a step to trust Jesus for the first time; we’ll have Care Volunteers here in the front. Maybe you feel led to get off the bench and into the game—come share with someone that you’d like to get involved. Whatever it is—don’t ignore what God is showing you.



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