Part of our vision at Veritas is to be a church that loves, reaches, and equips the next generation to carry on the hope of the gospel. Anyone who is around Veritas for long can see it in the way we worship, the ministries we run, and the way we spend our resources. For some of us, we might love this vision and feel all in, but not actually know how to start participating in it. As the director of Salt Company, I’d love to unpack why we want to invest in the next generation, particularly engaging Baby Boomers and empty nesters in our church, and to give some practical starting points to bless the next generation.
First, why should Boomers and empty nesters invest in the next generation? No matter what year we were born in, we know all of our lives are a gift from God. Jesus redeemed us from death and slavery by His blood, and in exchange all of our lives are His to direct. This means everything we have is a stewardship – our time, talents, energy, and resources. The good news of the gospel and gospel-shaped community are part of that stewardship. Much of what it means to be part of a gospel-shaped community is learned at the dinner table rather than in the classroom. This means that your home might be the exact context God has given you to use your talents and gifts.
When it comes to loving the next generation, particularly college students, the most simple direction I can give is to invite them into your life. Many are coming from broken family backgrounds or less than ideal church backgrounds where they knew the forms of religion without real life-giving faith. They would love surrogate families that can show them what it looks like to actually live out a Christ-centered orientation. This doesn’t mean you need to start Bible studies with every student you meet (they have connection groups for that), but it does mean they need to hear you process your work day in light of Christ.
Another way you can bless them is by showing what family is like. Do you have a hobby or skill you can invite them in to? Are you handy with cars? Offer to help them change their oil or diagnose that clang-rattle-bump coming from under the hood, and then come to dinner after and share your God stories. Stewardship looks like taking the skills you’ve developed and pointing them towards Kingdom purposes, like using your home and your cooking skills to show college students the hospitality of the family of faith.
The biggest question I’ve been asked goes something like this: “How do I meet college students? How do I know who’s in college when I see them on a Sunday?” The best way to find out something you don’t know is by asking! What’s your name? How long have you been coming to Veritas? Are you going to school or working around here? Are you involved in Salt Company? None of these questions will offend a student or a young professional you meet on a Sunday. In fact, just the act of asking will help them feel loved and included in the wider church body.
Veritas, I’m so glad we have a church where Boomers and baby-faced college freshmen can meet and share life. I’m so glad we have people who want to take steps to steward their time, talents, resources, and energy for the sake of the next generation. Rather than start a new program, let me personally invite you to be a new kind of people that seeks to take the blessings we’ve received and pour them into the next generation for the sake of the gospel going further than ever.