[Guest post] LEGACY: for some this word conjures up pictures of grand estates, family trusts, classic cars and eccentric heirlooms. A term reserved for an elite class of individuals with large fortunes to ‘bequeath’ to their lucky heirs. But as Christians, we know the most important thing we leave to the next generation will not be found etched on the pages of a dusty will. It will not be received upon our death. Our greatest legacy is imparted over our lifetime – our steadfast love, faith and devotion to Jesus Christ.
As a well-respected couple so poignantly expressed in their book, Stick: Making the Handoff to the Next Generation, we all have different roles to play within society. We have responsibilities in our workplace, community and churches, and as citizens of this country. “All of these assignments are important to the Kingdom. But without question, I have an abiding penetrating awareness that the highest calling upon my life is to pass my baton [of faith] to my own children. I must invest in them and perpetuate in their lives the truth of God’s Word, the power of His presence, and the calling to serve Him, so that when my days on this earth are complete, my children will have successfully received what God has handed to me.”
And yet, the statistics show this handoff isn’t being made by the majority of believers. As you can see below, the percentage of Christians holding a Biblical worldview (e.g. those who believe and build their lives on the core Biblical truths) has drastically declined over the last four generations.*
- Builder Generation – 66%
- Baby Boomers – 35%
- Busters – 17%
- Millennials – could be as low as 1%
While the numbers are certainly staggering, there is still a portion of parents within each generation, who with great dedication and intentionally, prioritized the spiritual nurturing and training of their children. Don’t get me wrong; no family is perfect. We all desperately need the wisdom and grace of the Holy Spirit. But in a world of conflicting demands and expectations, these parents cherished and stewarded the Biblical mandate to “Train up a child in the way he should go” and indeed, when they were old, their children did not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6).
As a millennial who was blessed to grow up in a home that successfully ‘passed the baton,’ I know there is hope for my generation and future generations. This hope is found first and foremost in the redemptive power of Christ’s love and sacrifice. There is no family too far or history too hard to rediscover the value of passing on a vibrant Christian legacy. Regardless of our family background, God can use us – moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, and spiritual mothers and fathers – to raise up a generation who walk in intimate friendship with Jesus and develop biblical thinking and godly living.
“We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about His power and His mighty wonders…so the next generation might know them…and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying His commands.” – Psalms 78:4, 6-7
Like you, I have watched with grief as a handful of my childhood friends turned away from God. But I also know many young people who have never abandoned the faith. This remnant is passionately in love with the Lord, joyfully pursues the spiritual disciplines and is actively seeking their role in bringing God’s Kingdom to earth. Their faith is contagious – it saturates and transforms every aspect of their lives and ministers to those around them. They are no longer simply being taught about God by their relatives and neighbors; His instructions are written on their hearts and He is their God (Jeremiah 31:34).
This is the kind of handoff we want to see in every family! We want to build a multi-generational legacy of Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, Kingdom-serving disciples: children who know Jesus and raise their children to know Jesus.
To find out what millennials who have never fallen away are saying about their parent’s faith, check out the 13 Traits of Legacy-Building Parents.
Lindsay Diederichs graduated with a BA in Political Science from Point Loma Nazarene University of San Diego before going on to get her Masters in International NGOs from Webster University in Geneva, Switzerland. From there she became one of the Associate Producers and 50 State Distribution Tour Coordinator of a documentary film on domestic minor sex trafficking called Sex+Money: A National Search for Human Worth. She has been a part of Youth With A Mission for almost 10 years and is passionate about seeing people meet Jesus and fall in love with Him. Lindsay has traveled to over 30+ nations, served among unreached people groups, is fluent in French, is an avid learner and enjoys teaching and discipling young people!
*The Parent Handoff Priority. Stick: Making the Handoff to the Next Generation. Frontline Families Ministries, 2 Edition. DVD.
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Published May 10, 2016
Topics: Family Legacy