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An Open Letter to All Who Went to Asbury

On Sunday I had the chance to join a church for worship. During our closing time of prayer, the pastor encouraged us to close our eyes and let God reveal to us the face of the one we should be pouring into and helping to disciple in the faith. As I closed my eyes, I immediately saw the faces of the high school and college students who attended the recent outpouring of God’s spirit at Asbury University. My heart was both stirred and broken as I considered this generation who might be experiencing God for the first time and wondering who will walk with them from the place.

On Monday, I sent a letter to the Asbury dean of chapel offering my time to any student who might need a mentor or just a friend. And then I posted the following on my Facebook page. But I wanted to share here as well because the call is much wider than just my Facebook feed or even those who journeyed to a small college in Kentucky. It is for all of us and it is for now. It is our great commission.

What’s next?

That is the question that is playing over and over again in my mind

What now?

We’ve experienced a move of God. We’ve pilgrimaged from near and far. We’ve stood in rain and snow, sleet and sun. We’ve knelt in the grass and stood in the pews. We’ve made confessions and promises.

Now we are returning to wherever it was we came from. We are going back to whatever lives we were living, churches we were attending, neighborhoods where we were residing, and jobs that we were doing.

But do you know who is not leaving? The students. They remain. For the rest of the school life, they will worship in Hughes Chapel and study on the front lawn that was once a sanctuary.  They won’t leave until they graduate and then they will have their lives before them. They will begin to live the experience we escaped for a few hours or days this week when we drove to Wilmore or walked into a chapel.

Thousands of us 25 years of age and older, worshiped this week with these college and high school students. We were led in worship from the stage. We prayed for and with each other. We were welcomed with open arms and unmitigated hospitality into their sacred spaces and their home away from home.

I believe we owe them. But it’s not a debt to pay, it’s a command to follow. We owe them the commitment to answer the call for which we have been called. To go…and make disciples…starting with them.

Our faith is passed from one generation to another through relationships built on Christ and committed to discipleship and mentorship. That is the way our faith has always been passed and it is the way we see outlined in Scripture:  Paul and Timothy, Elijah and Elisha, Ruth and Naomi, Moses and Joshua, and the list goes on.

Picture credit Jennifer Haselhoff

Imagine if each of us who have traveled to Wilmore this week committed to just one – just one college or high school student that we willingly choose to reach out to, develop a relationship with, and help them to follow Jesus. What if each of those students who graduate in the next few years don’t stand at the door of the university and step out on their own but instead bolstered by the faith of those who come before them in relationships built on Christ?

Go look at those videos that have been passed around on social media these last few weeks. Look at the faces of the young people desiring to follow Jesus, some meeting Him for the first time, some feeling called to follow for the first time. Then pan out to see all the gray-headed saints who were welcomed in to join their worship.

It’s time for us to reach out to them. To welcome them into our lives. To offer our help on their journey. To say “I am here for you. I want to walk with you, however long you would like. I want to encourage you, to share my stories, to share what I’ve learned, to help you follow Jesus.”  Just like Paul said to those he discipled “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

For too long we have gathered in spaces with people who look like us, have the same life experience as us, and who share the same political and social worldviews as us. People who are on the same social media platforms as us or watching the same news as us or speaking the same cultural language as us. It’s comfortable and easy to say things like “Kids these days” and stick with our crowd.

But “Kids these days” just led three weeks of worship, prayer, and radical hospitality. And they need us. They need the same adults who showed up for an outpouring to be poured out for them.

I challenge us, all of us, to ask God to show us the one (or maybe the two or the three) that we are called to journey with and to disciple as followers of Jesus. To reach out. To establish a relationship. To be as intentional welcoming them into our lives as we were welcomed by them into theirs.

It is quite literally the least we can do. It is, after all, our great commission.

Lord, open our eyes to let us see who it is you’ve called us to reach out to and establish a relationship with, grounded in Your love, and committed to following You.

Are you ready to connect the generations in your church community? Looking for ways to help the older generations and younger generations to come together for discipleship, mentorship, and relationship? Check out Connect Generations from ReFocus Ministry. It’s a simple self-assessment that can be done by a church in less than a week that offers specific insight into the barriers and bridges to connect generations. And it includes a FREE follow-up coaching session to create a plan for the future. Learn more here.

About The Author

Christina Embree is the founder and director of ReFocus Ministry. She holds a masters in ministry focused on Children, Youth, and Family Ministry and is completing her doctoral degree in spiritual formation with a focus on age segregation and intergenerational ministry. In addition to coaching churches of multiple denominations and traditions all around the globe, Christina serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship for the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ and as a pastor at Plowshares Brethren in Christ in Lexington, Kentucky. She is widely recognized as a speaker and author in the areas of generational discipleship, intergenerational ministry, and family ministry. As the mother of three children, she is familiar with the challenges of faith at home and pastoral ministry. She along with her husband Luke share a love for the church, their community, and the global work of peace and restoration through Jesus.

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