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Holiness for the Next Generation (Bonus Episode)

Holiness for the Next Generation (Bonus Episode)


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Episode Overview

What does holiness look like? And how do we communicate that to the next generation?

At WGM, one of our core values is holiness. But the problem is, we—you, me, the church—don’t know how to communicate it very well to the next generation. Some of the language we use is dated and hard to understand, and at times, the next generation doesn’t see us living out holy lives. Today, we’ll listen to a chapel service that Connor Owen spoke at a few months ago where he talked about what holiness could look like in the next generation.

Read the Script


Welcome to The Approach, a microcast where we help you walk with and pray for the next generation. I know what you’re thinking—this is not my part of the show. But I’ve taken over for Connor. And where is Connor? Don’t worry, he’s still here, but we’re going to do another bonus episode, and we’re going to listen to a chapel service that Connor spoke at a few months ago.  

Connor spoke about what holiness could look like in the next generation. It’s a word that he and I have talked a lot about, and something we’re both passionate about as dads and people who want to see the next generation walking with Jesus.  

We hope you really enjoy today’s bonus episode, Holiness for the Next Generation!  


Much of what I love doing is taking the Good News of Jesus and bringing into accessible terms for the people I’m communicating with. Now, this runs the risk of getting into some cheesy pastor lingo. I follow a page on Instagram that makes fun of these types of things. You know, those sermons you’ve heard where pastors try to make things rhyme and it just falls flat. 

One meme was a picture of a restaurant sign, and the caption said “can’t you hear a megachurch pastor saying this”: If you’re upsetti or feeling regretti, eat some spaghetti. Or one cheesy line I really like is: JOY = Jesus, Others, You… J O Y 

What I’m passionate about is understanding who the audience is and engaging them in a way that calls them to something greater. Not by watering things down or making these acronyms that get a quick laugh. No, by telling people they are created in the image of God and can walk in relationship with Him so that they can become more like Him. That changes lives. And that’s what people want to know.  

So, when I think about The Approach, I get really excited. And here’s why: What if we could get every parent to view themselves as a missionary sending agency? Every teacher. Every coach. Every youth pastor. What if they all saw themselves as people who send young missionaries into the world with the Good News of Jesus? How might that change schools, teams, youth groups, conversations fifteen-year-olds have?  

Another podcast I’ve listened to is called Intentional Family. Jon Tyson takes you through his five levels of fatherhood. From lowest to highest, it’s: (1) Irresponsible; (2) Ignorant; (3) Inconsistent; (4) Involved; and (5) Intentional. Being involved is the second to highest level, and it comes naturally to me. I’m there. My wife is a nurse, so I have lots of mornings, evenings, and weekends by myself. So, my kids know their dad is going to be involved. But am I being intentional? Am I tailoring what I’m saying to each kid and their personality and what makes them tick?  

Silas, our oldest, is soft-hearted, caring, warm, affectionate, and other-oriented. Lenora, our middle, is quick-witted, smart, never backs down from anything, and will probably run the world. And Selah, our youngest, well, she just drinks a lot of milk. My point is, the way I communicate with each of them has to be different, because they’re each unique. I have to know their hearts so I can speak to them in ways that impact them. But it’s still the same underlying message—that each of them is created in the image of God and can walk in relationship with Him so that they can become more like Him. It’s just put differently for each.  

The language I’m using here should remind you of something. It’s missions. It’s learning a people group, or in this case, a person, so that I can engage them, love them, be in relationship with them, learn from them, see the goodness of God in them, and walk with them as they walk with Jesus.  

And that’s what we’re doing on The Approach. We desire to equip our listeners so that they can understand the next generation as they pray for and walk with them. And if we can get a teacher to understand the next generation, maybe they can journey with these students in ways that are applicable to them. Because, for those of you who have served abroad, what happens when you walk into a setting and you don’t understand the context? What if you start speaking in English, using North American cultural references, or behaving in ways that are offensive toward those you’re with? Yeah, it probably won’t go too well.  

We have to understand Gen Z before we can journey with them. When we step into the conversation and say things like, Well, back in my day, or, You have it so easy these days, we lose credibility and look like some old, out-of-touch fogies. The next generation writes us off—just like you and I did to the generations before us.

Let’s be real for a minute. When your parents’ generation started talking about the way things used to be—you rolled your eyes, didn’t you? It’s like when my son complains about the internet buffering on Disney Plus and I say “Zip it. You don’t know the struggle of a late fee from Blockbuster for a movie you didn’t rewind.” Now, he’s five, but he’s getting to that point of being annoyed when he hears me talk about how things used to be. 

Let’s talk about Generation Z. Statistics are showing that many younger Christians are leaving faith altogether. The Pinetops Foundation has projections that expect 42 million Gen Zers to leave the church by the year 2050. Other statistics are showing that the youngest religion in America is Muslim, with an average age of 32 years old.  

But then there are Christian denominations such as United Methodists with an average age of 58 years old; or Nondenominational at 54; the Catholic Church at 51. Or there is those with no religion at all, which, in the U.S., is an average age of 43. What’s the average age in the US? 38 years old. So the average American is 38 years old, but most Christian denominations in the U.S. are on average 10–20 years older than that. So, the church is getting older, and younger individuals are leaving the church.  

The next generation wants to throw themselves at social causes and fight on behalf of the marginalized. And this is a great inclination. This is part of the holiness code we read in Leviticus. With this inclination of theirs, can we walk with them so that their practices are rooted in God and not in dominate culture’s narratives? I think we can. What we need, though, is updated language so that as the next generation steps into relationship with the Triune God, they will begin to love God and love others.  Their hearts will become other-oriented. Their lives will look completely different than those around them. But do they want to do this? Do they want to stand at the intersection and ask for “the old road, the tried-and-true road. Then take it”? I don’t know if they do, and when I was their age, I don’t know if I wanted to either.  Because we’ve cloaked this lifestyle in archaic language and legalism, and we haven’t brought the language into their vernacular because we want things to stay how they are.  

Growing up, my grandparents and my family both attended churches that were a mile or two from one another. They went to Brookhaven, and we went to College Wesleyan. From time -to -time, I would go to church with my grandparents instead of going to my family’s church. I’ll always remember the route they would drive to get to their church because it always amazed me. In Indiana, roads are set up, for the most part, as perpendicular with very few curves. But this road was different. It felt as though you would begin in central Marion and emerge on the southeastern edge. It never made sense how this happened.  

The common way to get to Brookhaven was via the bypass and was a little over six miles and took about 15 minutes. The less popular route that my grandparents took was roughly four -and-a-half miles and only took about 11 minutes. Given that their path took less time and was shorter, why was it less popular?   

My grandparents took Central Ave. It began with an enormous cemetery that bordered your left and railroad tracks were on your right. There were no businesses or restaurants conveniently located along the path. It was a two-lane road, so if you were behind someone slow, well, you had to get comfortable because there was no passing. The road was riddled with potholes. As you took the large curve, the cemetery shifted from the left to the right, meaning this larger than average cemetery surrounded you for a large portion of the drive—reminding you of your mortal state. And because this was off the beaten path, the odds of seeing someone you knew were next to nothing. But each time we traveled down this road, I was always amazed that it would bring us through the dark woods right to their church. It seemed to be the most precise path. So, why was no one else taking this way?  

There are many answers that could be proposed. The bypass in our city (the more common way) contained most of the businesses and restaurants you might need while on the way to or from church. It had four lanes—two going north and two going south. It had a faster speed limit. It was a smoother ride with less potholes. And given that this was the more popular route, you inevitably would see someone you knew (and they might even see your new car you’re driving).  

Compared to the bypass, Central Ave. lacked any conveniences, was slower paced, bumpy, lonely, and offered no notoriety. Well, in 21st Century North America, this begs the question: why would anyone take this road?  

My grandparents took this road, not for the conveniences and the luxuries found along the way, but because it was the path that led straight to the place they were going. And I believe that it’s on this road where we find the way of holiness. We find it on the road that has less distractions; that has no materialism; that is surrounded by those who have gone before us; that is riddled with potholes and maybe even suffering. But it’s this road that leads us straight to God. We simply must be bold enough to walk on it. And instead of carving our own path, we must be humble to “’ask for directions to the old road, the tried-and-true road. Then take it.’” 

If this road is so good, why is no one taking it? One obvious answer is that this road is not the easier of the two. Another reason, though, that I believe that this road is traveled less is because of our language used to describe it and how we live it out. We use words they don’t understand—words we don’t even understand. And we often fail to live up to this legalistic standard we’ve set. So of course, they write it off. And if we’re honest, why would they want to be a part of this?  

What we need today is not a new path; we need an old path that the next generation understands with words they use. And we’ll only find those words if we step into their shoes, learn from them, and understand who they are and how God has wired them.

We can journey with them and talk about things like trust, mentoring, abiding, identity, friendship, relationships, journeying with Jesus, and the narrative we live by. And as we do this, we can set lose a generation made in the image of God, doing the work of God, so that His kingdom can expand all over the world.

And as backwards and sideways as our podcast—The Approach—might sound when it’s coming from a missions agency like WGM, and I get it, what we’re simply trying to do is understand a people group and contextualize the Gospel in ways that engage them so that they, too, can journey with Jesus to the places He calls them. 

And if we can do this—we will see a generation who unleashes the kingdom of God all over the world. If we could work with this younger generation and communicate to them the power of a holy life full of love for God and others, we may see a generation who lives out holy lives in every domain—teachers, nurses, businessmen, doctors, engineers, political leaders, and the like. So as the world interacts with these people in the marketplace, they will see someone who is self-emptying, other-oriented, and overflowing with love. They will see the image of God shining through believers who are walking humbly on the highway called holiness. And it will be through this that the Good News of Jesus can be told to the far corners of the world—places the church has never entered. The message of holiness is ready; the next generation is ready. Now, our generation needs to communicate the power of holy love and step back and watch what God will do with a generation made after His own heart.

What does this all mean to you, though? For me—it’s my kids. Silas, Lenora, Selah. I don’t know who it is for you. Maybe it’s your kids, maybe grandkids, nieces, nephews, someone you mentor or coach. Whoever it is, though, you may be the closest thing they have to the Gospel.

Back in November, I was reading Dennis Kinlaw’s This Day with the Master, and he wrote, “Salvation never begins with the person who is saved.…Nobody ever decides on his own to get better. Not a soul alive wakes up one morning and says on his own, ‘I believe I’ll become a Christian’ or ‘I believe I’ll get my life right with God today.’ The key to every person’s change rests in somebody other than himself.”

You and I are sitting here because of other people who prayed over us.

Who are we praying over?

On The Approach, we’re praying over the next generation. I’m not perfect at it, and I lose my cool with my kids sometimes. But we know this is the only way to start an awakening in the hearts of the next generation—through prayer. And we really hope you’ll join us.


I really hope you walked away from Connor’s talk inspired to journey with the next generation—your kids, grandkids, students, athletes, or whoever you’re walking with!

And thanks to all of you listeners for joining us today as we pray for and walk with the next generation as they seek to use their gifts, talents, and experiences to journey with Jesus and participate in the Great Commission. Thanks for sharing The Approach with others and rating and reviewing it, as this helps others find the podcast. For some of our resources, you can see the show notes on our website at 

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