We’ve got a problem in the church – and a solution – if you’re willing to accept it. Christians my age and older are evidently sitting in church without engaging in discipleship at all, or they are still only being discipled. They are simply consuming without giving back. 

Barna and The Navigators recently partnered to publish Growing Together, a study on generational engagement in discipleship community in the church. 

They studied four generations:  

  • Gen Z (ages 10-25) 
  • Millennials (ages 26-41) 
  • Gen X (ages 42-57) 
  • Boomers (ages 58-67) 

They discovered that the older two generations are least likely to engage in discipling others. Only 32% of Gen Xers and 19% of Boomers are discipling others or engaged in discipleship community. 

Do these numbers surprise you? I have to ask myself why the most experienced, seasoned, and spiritually mature men are least likely to disciple others.

Better yet, what is the solution? 

A Responsibility to Accept 

Kaden, our newest team member in charge of special projects, is in his early 20s and works with a local youth group. The maturity and depth of the questions he hears from these young guys about how to understand, develop, and live out their faith is encouraging.  

Young people are hungry. They need discipleship from seasoned men. 

Paul knew this when he wrote to one of his young proteges, Titus. 

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.” (Titus 2:1-2) 

“Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” (Vv. 6-8) 

He highlights the character an older man should possess and how he should model and teach the younger men. It is a responsibility, not a suggestion. 

A Surprising Benefit 

Why are more millennials and Gen Zers willing to disciple others than older generations? According to the study, the number one reason Christians give for not helping someone else grow in their faith and move closer to Christ is that they don’t think they are qualified or equipped.  

Do you know who else lacked some qualifications? Abraham, Moses, Gideon, David, Peter, and the list goes on. Name a man, and outside of Jesus, we’d be hard-pressed to find someone completely ready.  

What if we get over not feeling qualified? We weren’t capable of driving a car before we started doing it. The only way to build confidence there is to get in the driver’s seat and hit the gas. It’s time to turn around and share your experience with other men. We don’t have to know everything before we share what we know. 

Discipleship is meant to be core to the life of faith. It’s not just for experts with degrees or years of experience. 

The results are in.

The study found that those willing to engage in discipling others actually grow their confidence in many areas. They have deeper Christian friendships and are more likely to engage in spiritual conversations with non-Christians and people from different cultures and generations.  

We spend a lot of time at Noble Warriors gathering and sharing tons of resources so that the obstacle of not feeling equipped will be obsolete. The Navigators ministry has been devoted to developing and dispersing plans to equip disciplers for decades. Check them out. It’s time to deploy the army of seasoned men who are still sitting in church thinking they have nothing to give the next generation. 

Mike Young
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