Image for College Chaos: Beyond the Bad News (Part 2)

College Chaos: Beyond the Bad News (Part 2)

Photo of Michael PattersonMichael Patterson | Bio

Michael Patterson

With over two decades in church development and leadership experience, Michael has served ministries in Tallahassee, FL, New York City, and currently in Atlanta, GA. He is also the author of Running with Lions, a leadership development book, and an adjunct history professor at the prestigious Morehouse College. After the blessing of salvation, Michael has enjoyed 25 of marriage to his wife Shawn, and they have two children Alexis and Joseph.

(For Part 1, click here.)

As a minister, reading gloomy statistics and correlating them to my experience in the classroom made me ask myself a sincere question: “Are my beliefs, practices, and teachings in danger of becoming obsolete to the younger generations?”

However, my interactions with college students have given me much reason for hope.

It has been proven throughout history that when society is in chaos, whether it be in the arenas of government, morality, economy, or spirituality, God’s Spirit ignites a revival.

I believe we are ripe for a revival in America.

According to Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus charged his disciples to make disciples of all nations, a chain of conversions that would span all generations. Jesus made this bold statement during one of history’s most spiritually desolate eras, the reign of the Roman Empire. Not only was Jesus’ vision accomplished, but his church thrived!

During my time teaching college students, I have witnessed another scripture come to life:

“I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” ~ Romans 10:20

Take Millennials, for example (born between 1980 and 2000). Even though Millennials may not be seeking God outwardly, they are experiencing a spiritual void in their lives. Not only that, but they are attracted to characteristics of a Christian lifestyle, including wholesome marriages and lives full of meaning and purpose, which cannot be acquired solely through a hefty paycheck after graduation.

In fact, the Rainers in The Millennials reveal that 96 percent of Millennials believe they can accomplish something great with their lives.[1] I can attest to that as I see more and more college students spending their spring breaks on service trips around the world instead of partying on beaches, getting wasted, and wasting their time. (Very different from my undergrad days at Florida State University.)

To further validate their argument, I have spent many office hours on campus, having heart-to-heart talks with numerous young men who wanted help beyond a letter grade.

They wanted support with their spiritual lives, their relationships, and their purpose. These young men were open about their desires to be future husbands and fathers. Many were eager to visit worship services, small Bible discussion groups on campus, and to engage in personal Bible studies. Some of them have become Christians. Our campus ministry has and continues to baptize numerous young men!

However, if we are to see revival happen among statistically improbable generations, we need to start asking the right question.

In my opinion, we too often ask the wrong question, are young adults open to the gospel? I believe if given opportunities, people will respond to the crucified and risen Jesus.

I pose this question: Who are the men and women preparing young adult leaders to minister effectively to their peers?

Although there are seminaries that provide theological education, there will always be a need for “Paul and Timothy” mentoring relationships. Just as Paul mentored Timothy, we need older Christians to inspire the younger ones to meet the needs of their generation.

The scripture holds true: “And how can they preach, unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:15).

I am not an expert; however, I do strive to imitate Paul in becoming an “expert builder” (1 Corinthians 3:10). I am a man who answered to the call to preach the Word of God in season and out of season. Starting as a “Timothy,” I have become a “Paul” who trains other men to become effective leaders in the Lord’s church.

For almost 30 years, I have been on an adventure, seeking to do my part in building God’s Kingdom. Leading and serving God’s people has been both exhilarating and humbling, a role I have grown to cherish.

I am convinced some men and women walk into worship services across this nation, listening for the clear call of surrender to the cross and who are willing to make themselves useful to the Master.

Why am I so convinced of this?

Because I was one of them. My prayer is for everyone to see the necessity of training and maturing leaders who will become trainers themselves. If you look at the generation coming after you and wring your hands, why not instead lift your hands to God and ask him to use you for His Kingdom?

The next generation needs mentors. Ask God to bring you someone whom you can train.

[1] I Thom S. Rainer and Jess W. Rainer, The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation (Nashville: B&H, 2011), 96.

 

(Excerpted from Michael Patterson’s Running with Lions: Mentoring Leaders for the Millennial Generation. Used with Permission.)