As a “borderline millennial” born in the late 80s, I decided to ask my wife – a true millennial – about the way they think.
Our conversation flowed into the realm of “sense” and “purpose” and “reason for existence”, as she pointed me to the tip of the pyramid in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where “self-actualisation” sat – the need to fulfil one’s purpose.
Many of our millennials were born into a world where their basic needs have been met, and that’s why they’re constantly in search of purpose.
In fact, I see these young people going from place to place in their pursuit of purpose; some are even willing to take on low-paying jobs because they find it worth the cost. And because of this sense of need for self-actualisation, they’re a little more free-spirited, adventurous and hungry.
I find that it is this characteristic of theirs that make them good candidates to become missionaries.😜
TEACH THEM TO PRAY
In the past five years of leading young people and even in my own journey as a young person, I notice that we don’t tend to think of “young people” and “prayer” together. But I don’t think that young people find prayer unimportant – we know that it is fundamental to our faith and part of our connection to God.
Instead, I’ve come to realise that perhaps young people don’t pray or find prayer “boring” because they don’t know what to say.
In Luke 24, a time shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion, two disciples were on the road to Emmaus when Jesus Himself appeared and expounded the Scriptures to them. And it was only at the end when He broke the bread that their eyes were opened – though by then He disappeared from sight – and they said this to themselves: “Did not our hearts burn within us?”
“Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” (Luke 24 31-32)
The “burning heart” experience is what happens when we interact with Scripture – with God’s Word – and allow it to create a spark within us and keep us burning.
He wants to put His desires into the hearts of men, which will fuel their hearts to fulfil what’s in His heart.
The key to set young people on fire for God are the very words in the Bible. These words aren’t just dry black letters on thin paper – there is a Man behind those words: He wants to put His desires into the hearts of men, which will fuel their hearts to fulfil what’s in His heart.
As we teach our young people to pray and respond to God’s Word in the Bible, they will grow in their depth of knowledge of God, their biblical language, and their capacity to pray and understand God. And the Holy Spirit will create a new world in them, just like how He formed the world in the days of creation.
If our young people don’t know how to pray, we must guide them into a life of prayer and as the Word forms in them, so will a spark be formed.
THEN SEND THEM OUT
I lead a praying community of young people and we have a prayer room that is inspired by the Moravians, who were known for their prayer and evangelism.
For over a hundred years, members of the Moravian Church in Germany started a round-the-clock prayer watch. At home and abroad, on land and sea, their intercession reached the Lord. And by 1791, 65 years after they began praying, the small Moravian community had sent 300 missionaries to the ends of the earth.
We have been discipling young people in the ways of prayer, getting them into a place where they have conversations with God, by praying with and through Scripture. The centrepiece of our prayer meetings is not issues we are facing but rather who Christ is. This has cultivated an environment where young people learn to pray.
They pray in their hearts, pray in small groups, pray in what we call “rapid-fire prayers” as they line up and pray for the nations that the Word of Jesus will be manifested around the world.
Their inward motivation is now to go to places where He is not worshipped, where He is not loved, where His name is not yet known.
And after spending four or five years coming to our prayer rooms, some of our young people have prayed so much that they don’t want to stay praying in a room but to take prayer out of it. I think they have begun to see a facet of Jesus’ world, that their inward motivation is now to go to places where He is not worshipped, where He is not loved, where His name is not yet known.
It’s in this place of prayer that God incubates His heart for the nations. And at Burning Hearts, we’re creating a type of greenhouse where young people can grow up in, with values and systems that will help them see Jesus’ worth in the midst of all these different things they face and experience.
Our prayer room is a space for young people to pray with Scripture, to stand before God, to look at His beauty, to meditate upon who He is and engage with Jesus and His Word. And it is our hope that they will one day say that Jesus is worth it all and give themselves to whatever He wants them to do.
MY HOPE FOR A GENERATION
We need to create an environment that emphasises values rather than forcing young people to a method. If we want them to move into a place of cross-cultural missions, the “ang-ku-kueh method”, where we simply put them into a mould, won’t work and they’re just going say that they are not interested.
But if we were to create a safe environment for them to grow – a greenhouse infused with biblical DNA – no matter where you transplant them to, their roots are going to remain and they can flourish where they are.
Our young people want to express the creativity and dreams within them, and we need to help them grow deep, healthy roots that will keep them anchored. Then they will be able to express themselves the way God has made them to be – in their true, original design.
Jason Chua will be speaking at The One Thing Gathering 2018, which will see hundreds of young adults unite with the International Houses of Prayer across the world to behold the majesty and beauty of Jesus.
Happening from July 19-21, 2018, for the first time in Asia, the gathering calls for young people who have purposed in their hearts to live with abandonment and devotion to Jesus, to do His work, be His voice and see His transformation in the nations.
To register your attendance, visit their page.