Losing a Generation

Title: Losing a Generation

Bible Book: Judges 2 : 10

Author: Alan Stewart

Subject: Heritage of Faith; Faithfulness; Church, Decline of; Bible, Teaching of



In Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s classic children’s tale, "The Pied Piper Of Hamelin," the city of Hamelin, Germany was suffering from a plague of rats. A stranger then appears in town wearing multicolored clothing, and promises a solution to rid the town of the rats for a certain sum of money. The men of the town agree to pay him in exchange for his services, and the stranger pulls a musical pipe from his pocket and begins to play a shrill tune that lures all of the rats to the River Weser where they are drowned. However, in spite of his success, the people refuse to honor their promise to pay the Piper for his services. The Piper then leaves the town angry in order to plot his revenge. Days later, as the residents of the city are attending church; the Piper returns and begins to play his musical pipe again. This time, his tune is sweet, low, and dreamy. Rather than rats following him, it was all one hundred and thirty children of the city. The lure of the musical pipe was so irresistible that the Piper led the children into a mountain cave where they were sealed inside and never seen again. While it is only a children’s tale, I find it intriguing that the children were easily led away while the adults sat in church.

As you look at the landscape of church life in America, one might be fooled by the outward appearance of success. It is not difficult to find multi-million dollar budgets, facilities that resemble a college campus, a staff that resembles a corporate board of directors, and energetic music that gives secular concerts a run for their money. But, is it all merely curb appeal? A recent Pew Research survey revealed that one-in-three (32%) members of the Millennial generation has no affiliation of faith, and the Barna Group revealed that over half (59%) of Millennials with a Christian background have dropped out of church after having gone regularly. We are standing on the brink of losing a generation while, in many ways, the church appears to be flourishing.

After Joshua passed from the scene, Judges 2:10 notes, "...and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord..." In spite of the love, leadership, and legacy of faith, the generation to follow simply basked in their freedom and prosperity as if God were non-existent. In similar fashion, we seem to have forgotten how our spiritual heritage was secured and preserved in America.

Today, I watch the struggle for the soul of our nation and I wonder, where are the young Davids with unflinching courage to face the challenge of the taunting giants? Where are the young Daniels that are purposed in heart to do right when all the world has chosen wrong? Where are the young Samuels that dare to say "thus saith the Lord" rather than what is politically correct?

As D.L. Moody came to his final days, he said, "If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God." There is no more nobler challenge or greater responsibility given to us than to raise a child for God. Why are we failing in one of our highest callings?

I. There is the Decreasing Instruction in Righteousness

Referring to the Word and works of God, the psalmist said In Psalm 78:6, "That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children."

Another Barna Group survey shows that less than one half of one percent of Christians between the ages of 18 and 23 has a biblical worldview. That is, they have no foundation of fundamental biblical truth. It is no wonder that the liberalism and humanism of our increasingly pagan society is preying on them like helpless little lambs.

But, there is a deeper consequence from our lack of adequate discipleship. Proverbs 29:18 literally reads this way in the Hebrew, "Where there is no revelation, the people throw off all restraint..." Even great men of God like David, Eli, and Samuel would see the reality of this verse with their own children. We are living in a day much like Judges 21:25, when "...every man did that which was right in his own eyes."

There are no longer any absolutes of right or wrong. Herman Crowder wrote, "Once we shake loose from the restrictive bonds of right, reason, and a morally accountable conscience, there is virtually no limit to how progressive we can become." Without spiritual moorings, disaster is not a matter of if, but when.

II. There are the Declining Influences of Respect.

In Matthew 19:25, Jesus observed a grievous event, "Then there were brought unto Him little children, that He should put His hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them." The very ones who were given the task of leading people to Christ were actually preventing children from gaining access. In spite of how honorable the intentions may have been, one has to wonder how often the church has turned children away from Christ. Having seen enough of the charlatans, chameleons, and counterfeits even among those of faith, the generation behind us has not yet seen enough evidence to make up their mind that we are worthy examples to be followed. We are breeding a culture of cynicism and disrespect.

Scottish minister William Barclay said, "A saint is someone whose life makes it easier to believe in God." When Moses returned from communing with God on the mountain, his face shone with the reflection of God’s glory. But, he would soon have to veil his face so the people could not see that the glory was fading away over time. No one wants to follow a leader who is losing his glory, and no leader is worth his salt in trust without it.

III. There is the Discovered Impotence of Religion

On the day of Pentecost, Peter declared God’s Word to the mocking crowd in Acts 2:17, "...I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions..." It was the promise of a visible, transforming power that could not be manipulated or manufactured by men. Such power is rarely seen today. There is a noticeable discrepancy between the flowing power of God in Scripture and the fleshly power of men on display in our churches. The generation behind us has seen the fruit of religion without the power of God and they are neither impressed nor intrigued. Perhaps that is why John Owen, a 17th century theologian said, "We have no power from God unless we live in the persuasion that we have none of our own." Sadly, our successors have measured the power of God by our own lack thereof.

For all the challenges facing the church today, none are so great that they could not be overcome in an instant by a fresh touch of God’s power. That is the greatest need of the hour and the hour is growing late. The hope of saving the next generation is that somehow they are able to see God. The longer we remain content to strut our stuff, the more irrelevant we will become to our children.


In Matthew 18, the disciples are debating who is the greatest when Jesus calls a child to Himself to use as an example of true greatness. Jesus then said in verse 5, "...whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." The message is clear: it is a serious matter to our Lord if we become a stumbling block to a child or to lead a child astray. We can choose to not heed the warning, but it will only be a matter of time before we find ourselves having to pay the piper!


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