The Young Will See Visions

The following article is an updated version of one that ran in the fall 2021 edition of Onward.

by Kent Carlson
NorCal Regional Minister

Almost every time I am in a conversation with a church leader who is older than mid-forties, invariably the conversation shifts to how their children and grandchildren are leaving the church. They are not necessarily leaving their faith or familial commitments and enjoyments; they’re just leaving the church. Many are no longer convinced the church is a place where they are able to meaningfully experience God and his work in this world. And their non-churched friends, of course, say the same thing. At a recent college-age group retreat I was leading, I asked if they ever considered inviting any of their non-churched friends to church. Out of the twenty Gen Z students, only one said they have ever invited a friend to church. In another setting, a 26-year-old young woman who grew up in church said to me, “Kent, why would I come to a place and have a man who’s over 60 years old – no offense – talk to me for forty-five minutes without me being able to interact in any meaningful way? I have a group of ten or so friends who meet online every week from all over the world, and we study the Bible together, we pursue our lives with God together, and we pray.”

Rather than complaining about “those young people these days,” the leadership of the NAB has realized we need to attend to these issues carefully and with great discernment. In fact, one of the eight major initiatives of the conference is to elevate younger voices. We need to create places and spaces where the voices and perspectives of younger leaders are heard, particularly those who are burdened for their non-churched friends. . . .

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Pray for The Gathering

Starting this weekend, students, leaders, and volunteers from around the NAB will be joining together for a one-of-a-kind youth conference / mission trip taking place in Orange, California. They will enjoy times altogether for teaching and worship, times in teams serving the community, and plenty of time having fun.

Would you pray for all those taking part in The Gathering over the next week? Pray for:

  • The speakers to serve as conduits of the Holy Spirit in their words on stage, as well as off.
  • The students attending to have hearts receptive to God wants to say to them and an eagerness to serve everyone they come in contact with.
  • Safe travels for everyone, both to and from The Gathering and the daily trips from Hope University to the various service locations in the area.
  • Physical protection against injuries, illness, and ailments for everyone attending The Gathering, as well as those they serve.
  • The leaders who will be coordinating the logistical aspects of The Gathering.
  • However else the Spirit leads you.

Upcoming Events

In addition to The Gathering happening this weekend, there is a lot going on within the NAB over the next few months. Check out all of these upcoming events!

  • The second annual Church Planter Summit (September 26–28) is designed to encourage and foster the soul care of those in the NAB planting a brand new church from scratch, getting a micro-church off the ground, or leading a movement of missional communities. It is happening in Chicago, Illinois, in conjunction with The Bonfire.
  • The Bonfire (September 27–29) is all about NAB leaders on mission with God in their neighborhoods encouraging, learning from, and speaking into one another. Author and speaker Scot McKnight will be joining us for part of our time together.
  • Excel Leadership Discovery Center (October 3–5) in Mason, Ohio, is first step for anyone looking to take the next move as a leader ready to expand their ministry through church multiplication, whatever that may look like.
  • The first of three gatherings for Blue Ocean (October 16–19) kicks off in Vancouver, British Columbia, starting a year-long journey of discovering what it means to join God on mission, to be formed into a follower with the character of Christ, and to learn to reach friends and neighbors with a robust Gospel in our culture.