My heart feels like it’s going to burst through my chest. I’ve tried working on other projects this weekend, projects I’m really excited about with looming deadlines, and yet I keep coming back to this keep-me-up-at-night message: We need all Christ followers intentionally investing in younger generations now.
Maybe it’s the Irish/Latino mix I’ve got in my blood, but I tend to get fired up about lots of things. But make no mistake, this is not your average Kat-plea to see again afresh the gospel of Christ, in general. This is urgent and specific.
Although I am a young woman myself, I hope my voice will always be used to speak for the younger women under represented in our community of faith. The fire I feel in my belly for the young generations rises up and then brings me to my knees almost daily. All my chips are in. Everything I have I will pour out for their sake. Some would label me a “lifer” and that would be fair, but I’d prefer to see it as an inescapable result of being a Christ follower. I’ve seen the cross and it demands my life. Speaking for the voiceless is my calling. Yours, too.
So it is on behalf of the Millennials, Gen X, and Gen Y women that I’m standing at the gate. And this is my petition: YOU’RE NEEDED. NOW. No matter your age, ethnicity, titles, losses, failures, hang-ups or deficiencies, you’re needed now.
Your pastor, the podcasts you’re listening to, the online sermons, conference-junkie-highs, the book/blog skimming, they are influencing your spiritual life. No doubt and praise God. But I bet you can trace your greatest spiritual impact (besides someone in the Holy Trinity, because that’s a given) back to a person. Andy Stanley calls these “catalytic relationships.” It will be the same for the generations coming up behind us that are less engaged with religion and church than any other generation before them. We will win them with catalytic relationships. God will win them back by the power of the Holy Spirit through you.
In the beginning it was Becky and Kari and Steph. And then it was Joan, Julie, Michele, Betty and Vickie. And now it’s Kay and Linda and Lisa. They are some of my spiritual mothers. Only one of those women scheduled regular meetings with me and followed a curriculum. (I love you, Kari.) So don’t for one second write off my petition for a lack of time or theological education. These soul-winners and disciple-makers mother me with their occasional and loving presence and kind words. Only now do I have Brennan’s Sacred Companions in view to process my own catalytic relationships. They changed everything for me. But now I see more clearly than ever before YOU’RE NEEDED NOW.
Until my dying breath or until things change, you will hear me repeat:
- Women are the newest U.S. mission field.
- Women feel little to no emotional support from our churches.
- Most women are working and most of our church's women's ministry efforts have not adapted to that change.
Daily I’m on the front lines with our Polished leaders caring for wounded souls, disillusioned and disconnected Christians, and women without faith. And we need backup support. YOU’RE NEEDED NOW.
You can no longer ignore the "nones" with exasperation or drown out their voices with a breakout session about reaching the youngers. You will have to actually listen to their voices while looking into their eyes, and then you will have to act with an outpouring of yourself into their lives. YOU’RE NEEDED NOW.
My ears cannot and will not accept another excuse from the middles and olders about our lack and the generation gap. Our excuses have merit but they cannot keep us from pouring out our lives for the sake of the gospel. The cross demands it and love compels us. Or it should.
Pastors: Are you opening doors for our spiritual mothers? You must. Set them loose on the newest U.S mission field. We need an army that is accountable. You burden the needs of a diverse fellowship of believers (at least I hope you do) and your job is impossible. Let's invoke the Spirit of God to do the impossible through us and feed all the sheep with little pieces of broken bread.
Middles: Are you intentional at work, in your neighborhood, and with your friends to reach out and down into a younger generation? It’s full of risk and great reward. You’ll risk befriending your competition only to realize this lowering of self IS being a Christ-follower. There is no middle way, middles. Look up from your desk and zero in on the intern and ask them to lunch. Walk outside and knock on the door of the youngest woman on your block and ask her over for a cup of coffee. Leave the comfort of your peers and go sit with the youngest woman in the room then point her to the cross and empty tomb.
Olders: Your time is now. We've never needed you more. Do you need an invitation?? Because that’s the sense I get. You’re waiting for an invitation and pitying some sense of lost relevance to the nones, Millennials, and youngers. While they are dying. And I mean the eternal damnation death of unbelief and the slow eroding death of a faith not planted. Your invitation came with your salvation. Share your love, your very lives with us and with them. Go and make disciples. The way an orphan cries out for a parent, the youngers are crying out for spiritual mothers. Reuse our Savior’s words: “I will not leave you as orphans.”
Every generation of Christ followers insists their needs are the greatest while forgetting all of our needs are met richly in Christ. We cannot forget that the gospel points us to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Most of us refuse to see the unchurched, dechurched and overchurched as vulnerable. But what else do you call a child of God without spiritual parents?
The margin for Team Armstrong is zero. We’re at max capacity over here and I know you share the feeling. That is life for everyone. So let’s not disengage for fear of caring for the youngers will consume our lives. And I hope that fear is about time-margin and priorities not about being actually consumed by God's calling because that is our goal. Right?
To those reading who sense the Holy Spirit nudging you to step forward, maybe that means you take the first step and reach out to a younger woman and ask her to lunch. It’s just lunch. You don’t have to stay up all night writing your own theological thesis or bible study curriculum to share your LIFE. They are going to spin out in fangirl emoticons that you reached out in the first place.
Co-opting my time is the only way it will work in this season for our family. So every time I get a speaking gig, I ask if I can get paid less and get a free ticket for a younger woman or two to attend as my sidekicks. Or I pay for their tickets to attend myself. Either way, I get them in the car on the way to and from and we get to experience something together. I almost never sit alone for anything unless I’ve tried calling and inviting youngers to join me.
Interns used to be my co-opting strategy. I wouldn't attend anything for Baby Bow Tie or Polished without a younger by my side. All I have, everything I do, I am sharing with the youngers because they need us, because it’s our mission. Sydney, McKenzie, Allison, and Sara occupy my thoughts almost daily because now their faces have replaced any fear I had investing in the youngers.
God’s strategy between the ascension and his return is to empower unique Christ followers with his Spirit to participate in his restoring of all things. So of course the way I am reaching youngers may not work for your unique life.
I’d suggest you’ve got thinking to do to figure out what your unique participation will look like, but we don’t need more of your thoughts, we need you to act.