How to Actively Love the Next Generation

I told her I loved her when I asked her to marry me, do I really need to say it again?

How do you think that scenario would work out? Probably not so well, right? “I love you” isn’t something you need to say one time, but rather something we need to repeat often, both in words and in action. This doesn’t apply only to a marriage.

There is a generation among us that doesn’t know how deeply they are loved. They fill our schools, play in our parks, skate on our sidewalks, and eat at our tables. They desperately need to know the love of God.

I’m guessing we’re on the same page, so far. I hope so, because it’s about to get a little more bumpy.

See – many of them don’t know the love of God because they don’t know the love of… you. They can’t imagine a God who would love them when what they’ve experienced from those who wear His name is mostly patronization, scolding, and a few dirty looks. The church has done way too well at keeping kids at arm’s length. Many of the students I know think the church has nothing for them. The next generation is growing up right before our eyes thinking of the church as an outdated relic of the past.

None of us should be ok with that. It should tick us off enough that we change whatever we have to change about ourselves to make sure young people know the love of God.

Maybe it ticks you off a little that I implied that you may not be showing your love (and more importantly God’s love) to the next generation very well. I know you don’t hate kids, and I don’t mean to imply that you actually don’t love the next generation. But by and large, they don’t know that. Let’s change that. Let’s show them. What if your church could become known in your community as the church that loves teens? What would it take?

“Let’s stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.” 1 John 3:18

Here are a few ideas for putting the love you have for the next generation into action:

In Your Own Home:

  • TIME. Let them have yours. Give your kids your undivided attention. There is no one who can take your place in the lives of your family.
  • Coach their teams. You don’t have to be an expert or former all star to coach their AYSO or Little League teams; you do have to make it a priority to be a part of their lives. Sports are not only a great place to teach kids about teamwork and integrity and discipline… but to show them you love them.
  • Talk to them about money. Teach them what it takes to get it (and how to avoid letting it get you) and how to use it well (including how to give it away).
  • Study your kids. Get to know them well enough to know how they’ll hear “I love you.” in your actions. Then take those actions.

In Your Community:

  • TIME. Volunteer for youth organizations and sports. Giving time to be a mentor or a coach communicates clearly that students have value in your eyes.
  • Treat the kid behind the counter like a human being. It always amazes me how rude some people can be to the people taking their food orders, scanning their merchandise, or delivering their food (who are often young people). In a world that treats them like replaceable cogs, slow down and notice them. Make eye contact and let them know you actually see that they’re there. Be present to the next generation that’s all around you.
  • Volunteer to help out at the schools in your town. Whether it’s projects like redoing a playground, or guarding the crosswalk, step into the world of students for a while and pay attention to what you see there.

This is far from a complete list. I’d love it if you’d help round it out with some ideas of your own in the comments section. I’d love it even more if you shared a story or two of how you’re already putting one into practice. How are you loving the next generation in a practical way?

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