Measuring Results by Generations

“Begin with the end in mind”[1], so says Stephen Covey.  The end objective determines not only how I do something but also how long I will do it.   To make a disciple of Jesus requires a loving relationship over an extended period of time.  Disciple making thinks in terms of the impact that my life will have on the generations to come rather than just on immediate results.

A generational perspective comes from God. He instructed the Israelites to not only train their own children but also their grandchildren (Deuteronomy 4:9).  In other words, an Israelite was expected to train children throughout his entire life.  The Lord also warns the Israelites that their sin would cast a long family shadow darkening generations to come.  Their behavior today would affect their children, their grandchildren, their great grandchildren, and even their great great grandchildren (Exodus 34:7).

In contrast, much of Christianity today values rapid multiplication and instantaneous movements.    We view a rapid growing church as being blest by God.  The faster the growth, the larger the numbers, the more blest by God, or so the reasoning goes.  The 3000 converts after Peter’s message in Acts chapter 2 is a favorite proof text.  This is why most church staff positions focus on the worship service as they seek to replicate a Pentecost type movement through what has been called “high impact services”.  I visited a church this week that had four staff members whose jobs revolved around the Sunday morning service and yet their small group coordinator was a part-time volunteer.  We revere the pastor or evangelist who is able to produce a Pentecost type stirring, notwithstanding the fact that not even Paul achieved comparable results.

Though spectacular, movements can lack the depth of relationship and character necessary to be sustained from one generation to the next.    Generational sustainability necessitates a deep love and a sacrificial longevity that a rapid multiplication does not require.    Only a sacrificial love is strong enough to bridge the generations.

[1] Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), p. 97.

One thought on “Measuring Results by Generations

  1. So good Lewie. So good. I love the picture of an Israelite being expected to be a discipler of children all of their lives. I saw that in my Grandmother, now in my mother, and my heart is bent that way as well. Thank you for giving me a Biblical vision for that.

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