“Next-Gen Junkies”

About 10 years ago I was asked to produce a website for the GodSpeaks billboard
campaign. These black and white billboards went up across America with clever
and provocative slogans like:
“Follow Me.” – God
“We need to talk.” – God
“If you must curse, use your own name.” – God
“Love the wedding, invite Me to the marriage.” – God
While I was working with them I got the honor and privilege to work on about 40
popular apologetic questions with the great apologist, Josh McDowell. At one point
during our conversations he told me that he was singularly focused on the Next
Generation and would not be doing any events or products that did not directly
impact school-aged kids for the next 10 years.
I thought he was nuts!
For weeks after he made that statement I kept shuttering at the thought that such a
gifted and called man would be neglecting the adult population of this world.
Looking back, I can now say that I agree with him lock, stock and barrel.
The truth is that there is a plethora of apologetic material out there for any unbiased
and open-minded adult seeking truth. I’m not saying there’s no room for
improvement, but the bigger challenge is being able to format and frame these
critical conversations for a younger audience.
And here is the hard truth. You and I need to step it up.
If not us…who? If not now…when?
To be specific, I’m talking about next generation apologists. To be even more specific, I’m talking about all the kids you and I have regular connection with on a daily basis. Our kids; grandkids; nieces and nephews; our kids’ friends; athletes we coach; neighbors we serve; babysitters we employ; and every regular contact we have with middle and high school kids.
Last week 60 Minutes did a segment on the rise of heroin in our country and how popular it is becoming in our schools, and how it no longer has the back-alley stigma it carried in days past. I had my 12-year old daughter and my 13-year old son watch the segment with me and we discussed it afterward.
There was lots to talk about, but the conversation seemed to find its own crystallization point. “Dad”, they said. “Why would anyone do drugs like this, knowing what the outcome is?”
My answer, from my Christian worldview, was simple and clear [to me]: “It’s because they are looking for joy and purpose in a world that cannot offer these things. They have no satisfaction in their lives and they are willing to bet on just about anything in their search for meaning and joy. Even something that seems
stupid and reckless. That’s the nature of desperation.”
Now…my kids go to the largest [K-12] Christian school in the state of Florida. My wife teaches 5th grade there and I have taught 9th and 11th graders for four years. I believe you would be hard-pressed to find a stronger non-denominational Christian school in our country, yet scores of even these kids are still making ungodly choices.
I may be wrong, but in my mind it’s a three-fold problem.
First, many parents are not living out a biblical worldview in their home, and their kids are watching this 24/7. They are not sold out to this worldview because they have unresolved doubts, so they don’t live it out and are not equipped to disciple their own children [Galatians 6:7-8].
Second, there is such a myriad of counterfeit substitutes for the satisfaction and peace offered by Jesus Christ, that our kids are quite literally being bombarded with them every single day [1 Jn 2:16; Revelation 18:23].
And third, the lethal combination of original sin and freewill [John 3:19].
As I watch the daily news I recognize that we are living in a hyper-polarized world. And make no mistake, this is the spiritual battle for our kids’ souls [Heb 6:12]. So what can you and I do? We can take the call to apologetics seriously, just as the apostle Peter has mandated us to be set apart and always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is within us, with humility and respect [1 Peter 3:15].
I, for one, am grateful for the gifted and called men like Carl Kerby, Josh McDowell, and Juan Valdez. I am grateful for the upcoming equipping opportunities from the Academy of Hope Online. I am grateful that I live in a country that allows me to earn the right to be heard, and to do as Jesus did and pour into 12, and have a more intimate group of 3, and even 1.
I’m not looking for my kids to be pro-America, or pro-Trump, or even pro-Israel; but rather…pro-God. I’m looking to constantly fill and rotate those 12-3- 1 spots and make disciples who are apologetic-minded, Next-Gen Jesus Junkies and who reap the blessings and favor that comes from worshipping The Eternal and Everlasting Father. And I’m looking for people who want to run this race with me.
This is my hope…for Reasons For Hope!
Eric Purtic