Just a few weeks ago I suffered another birthday. I can’t bring myself to note the number here except to say it marks the beginning of my third Medicare year. Of course, this is not especially notable, except for the fact that in my case I have two children who are still in grade school.
The rapidly passing years continually remind me of two critical facts pertaining to Kingdom work. Here’s the first one: The most important generation in the life of the church is always the next generation, not this one.
In my immediate family, that means Abby and Eva. As President of Stand to Reason, though, my concern extends far beyond my own home. It includes yours, too - your children, your grandchildren - as well as a great gathering of young people God is stirring up - a rising tide - who have yet to discover STR, but soon will.
Here’s the second fact I am continually reminded of as I think not only of my children, but of that multitude who need to step up to the task of leading their own generation of ambassadors for Christ: It is not easy to pass the baton to them.
Even with the advantages I personally have immersed in Kingdom work with STR, passing the baton is a challenge that takes conscious effort, intentional planning, and lots of prayer. My girls will not grow as disciples simply because I’ve grown as one.
Part of the challenge is that there is another multitude right outside our doorsteps already evangelizing our kids - street “evangelists,” TV “evangelists,” campus “ministries” of all sorts - announcing a different kingdom, a dominion of deception and darkness led by a different king, the ruler of this world. The sobering reality is that if we do not disciple our children, someone else will. That is a fact. There is no neutral ground.
Here is a thought, though, that encourages me in my own task: God never intended our job to be accomplished alone. We have His grace and we have His Spirit. We also have each other. At STR, we are here for you, just as you and others have been here for STR through generous financial support, prayers, and encouragement.
Earlier in the year I watched in amazement as over 1600 young people gathered in Birmingham for our first reTHINK Student Apologetics Conference in the South. It was the best launch we’ve ever had. Don’t let anyone tell you these kids don’t care about God or Jesus or truth or “Christianity worth thinking about.” No, they are hungry to take our place with the next wave of ambassadors for Christ. They just need our help. And we at STR continue to stay deeply committed to training them and helping you raise them up.
“I discovered STR during my sophomore year of college,” one student wrote us. “I was stunned and delighted by the quantity and quality of the resources on your site. Not only have you equipped me to confidently share the truth of the Gospel, you have shown me how to have compassion on the people I am sharing with.” He went on to tell of the class he’s teaching twice a month on campus with another STR buddy. “We didn’t need a Ph.D. to do what we did. All we needed was to be faithful.” He closed with, “The Lord is using your ministry to reach the hearts and minds of people everywhere.” That’s a powerful statement of what you and STR are accomplishing together.
Sometimes, though, moving forward powerfully as an organization requires giving something valuable away - making a sacrifice to plant a new work that in the long run produces a greater harvest than we could have accomplished on our own.
That’s why in September we are sending out our valuable co-laborer, Brett Kunkle, to build his own enterprise focusing on training Christian young people to face the challenges ahead of them. Brett’s new venture is simply called “Maven,” and you can follow his work as it grows at maventruth.com.
STR’s own commitment to “passing the baton” remains steadfast and our plans for reTHINK and student missions trips and web-based training and all the rest continue unabated. Indeed, I consider Brett’s new work - just like the work of Scott Klusendorf, Stephen Wagner, and J. Warner Wallace who went out from STR before him - to be another extension of STR’s reach, a sacrifice we make in the present to produce a much greater harvest in the future. And we’ll continue to partner with Brett for special projects, as his schedule permits, as a special member of our extended STR family.
In a very real sense, we are not losing Brett, but freeing him up to be even more effective fulfilling our common goal than he has been in the last 15 years with STR. We trust that the wonderful work Brett has done to advance our vision for passing the baton to the most important generation - the next one - will be fulfilled in even greater measure with the work he is setting out to do now.
As the STR team continues committed to equipping the next generation, we count on your continued support to make that happen, and your generosity allows STR to help you with that difficult job of discipling your own in Christ.
I want to send you a resource for that purpose from STR speaker Tim Barnett’s spectacular DVD on the fine-tuning of the universe. “The Heavens Declare the Glory of God” blends stunning visuals with Tim’s expertise and humor to show you why the “just right” conditions of the universe are no accident, but compelling evidence for God.
Students rave about this presentation and I want you to have it in gratitude for your support this month. Will you send a generous gift today to equip and disciple the next generation of ambassadors for Christ?
I know you’ll be delighted as you watch this unique DVD, so be sure to request “The Heavens Declare the Glory of God” as you respond with your gift.
Thank you for your partnership and the impact you make for the next generation.
For the next generation,