7 ways to be zealous for the faith of the next generation

“Zealous” is not a word you hear very often. Yet we are seeing it in action all around us. The current events have called for measures that are intense, vigorous, passionate, earnest…zealous. Even handwashing is being done with a renewed sense of fervency. We are being reminded that half-hearted, apathetical responses simply cannot combat life and death realities. Zeal is needed.

But the need for zeal is especially called for when it comes to grounding our children in the gospel. David Michael states, “For generations God has instructed us in His everlasting, absolutely-reliable, never-changing Word, that we must faithfully disciple the next generation ‘...so that they should put their confidence in God’ (Psalm 78:7 NASB). The need for our children to be established in truth has always been urgent.”

How zealous have we been in that regard? The temporary disruption of Sunday school, church gatherings, and a myriad of other events presents us with an opportune time to reflect on our priorities and the manner in which we pursue them.

  • Are our homes passionately fostering a love of Christ and His Word?
  • Do we care more about our children’s spiritual condition rather than their academic performance?
  • Do our Sunday school classrooms and mid-week programs vigorously pursue teaching children how to read, study, and apply God's Word?
  • Do we use the time wisely in order to point them to the glory of God rather than merely fun activities?

With these questions in mind, Truth78 is pleased to announce the release of a timely new book, Zealous: 7 Commitments for the Discipleship of the Next Generations. In Zealous, David Michael calls upon the church and home to diligently and fervently pursue a biblical vision for the faith of the next generations, for the glory of God. He carefully lays out seven commitments that provide a vision and framework for discipling children and youth: 

David hopes readers will see the need and opportunity to give children a solid foundation. “The next generation needs parents, teachers, and church leaders who are zealous for their discipleship,” he says, “and who will build something substantial underneath them so that when troubles like a pandemic or even worse come along, their faith will not be rocked, but they will hope in God.”

Here's an excerpt from the introduction:

Deep down we wonder. We give them a Bible, teach them the truth, ask penetrating questions, lead them in prayer, affirm the good, confront the sin, provide a good example to follow, help them find good friends—but deep down we wonder if what we are doing is working.

They read the Bible and even memorize parts of it. They claim to believe the truth, give good answers to our questions, pray the prayer, do good things, admit their sin, follow our example, have good friends—but deep down we wonder if the fruit we are seeing will last.

...Deep down we wonder if the children growing up in our homes, actively participating in our churches, and sitting in our classrooms will grow up to join the number of those who embrace Christ as their greatest treasure and passionately follow Him. Or will they instead join with those seeking treasure where it cannot be found, rejecting their only hope for everlasting joy?

Read more.

Additionally, here's a timely excerpt from the first chapter: 

Remind them that suffering is coming. On a Sunday morning in the spring of 2005, Pastor John Piper prepared to preach a message from Roman 8:18-25 entitled, “Subjected to Futility in Hope.” He opened with a prayer that included these words:

Lord, put a rock of hope under the feet of this congregation, I pray, so that when the winds of pain and suffering and groaning and decay blow, we will not lose our footing. Use these six magnificent statements of hope in this text to sink our roots down in and around the granite truth of your promises so that our leaves will not wither in the drought which is coming for everyone in this room sooner or later.

As Piper began the introduction to that message, he said:

Just so you know what’s in my pastoral mind here, I’m getting you ready to die. I’m getting you ready to suffer. I’m getting you ready to know what I’m thinkin’ when I come to your hospital room...so that I don’t have to preach and I can just hug you.

This prayer and desire of my pastor’s heart challenged me to keep sinking my own roots into the “granite truth” for whatever challenges are coming my way. They also helped to express my own heart and vision for the next generation.

The Apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:6-7 that trials of various kinds test the “genuineness” of our faith. These trials are coming for me and you, and for the children in our families, and in our churches. When the inevitable troubles come, we want them to be deeply rooted in the granite truth of the promises of God. We want them to have a rock-solid faith that remains steadfast and proves genuine so that in those moments of grief, marital problems, miscarriage, wayward children, disability, cancer, hostility, persecution, or whatever trouble may come their way in life, we don’t have to preach, we can just hug.

Zealous is available at truth78.org/zealous, along with a free digital download of the book and practical support for putting the seven commitments into practice.