We hear much these days from politicians regarding the size and lifespan of the Baby Boomer (my) generation.
Consider these facts:
- Until recently, the Boomers were the largest generation in the United States, with the succeeding Generation X being smaller. (The Millennial generation has recently exceeded the Boomers.)
- Add to this the greatly expanded life expectancies of the Boomers compared to preceding generations, and the concerns—from an economic angle—involve retirement, workforce replacements, and social security deficits.
But economics and politics aside, I believe there is an even greater reason these size demographics should be considered.
That reason is the harvest fields.
Not only do we have the usual shortage of laborers because of the overwhelmingly needy fields in front of us (7.2 billion people with teeming metropolitan cities void of independent Baptist churches), but we have an impending shortage of laborers because of an aging generation of current laborers with a smaller generation coming behind them.
What does all this mean?
The implications of these statistics are significant, but the challenges they pose are already covered by God’s commands.
Basically, what the demographics tell us is that we must increase our obedience and diligence to obey two specific New Testament mandates:
1. Pray for laborers.
Add to the statistics of lowering generational sizes that from the Boomer generation onward, each generation has had a successively smaller percentage of professing Christians—and therefore of Christian workers—and the gap is even wider.
What is going to happen when my generation—with the greatest number of Christian workers—passes off the scene? To whom will we pass the baton?
As sure as the social and economic indicators predict concern for workplace and social security funds, the spiritual indicators predict a concern for pulpit supply and harvest field labor.
When the largest generation of pastors is off the scene and a smaller generation comes behind, there will be not only large unreached fields, but vacant pulpits of already-established churches.
Now, more than ever before, we must pray for more laborers in the harvest fields! The fields are greater than ever, but the up and coming laborers are fewer!
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.—Matthew 9:37–38
The older I get (and, by all accounts, I’m still relatively young!), the more burdened I am for more teenagers and young adults to listen for and answer God’s call to the ministry.
We live in a materialistic and narcissistic age. And these prevailing attitudes of the world around us so easily infect our young people. We need more young men and women to unreservedly surrender to the Lord and invest their lives in His service.
I challenge every pastor and spiritual leader of my generation to regularly—daily, in fact—pray for the Lord to call forth more laborers for His harvest.
2. Train a new generation of laborers.
Understand, the concerns mentioned above are projected some years into the future. The good news is that the Boomer generation is still very much alive and engaged in the work of the Lord! (Contrary to what I believed when I was twenty, fifty is not old!)
So for those of us who are in the fifty to seventy age bracket, we must invest our lives in training, mentoring, leading, and loving the laborers coming behind us. They have a great work in front of them, and they need us to pass on to them the biblical truths and principles—coupled with experience and learned wisdom—that older generations gave us.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.—2 Timothy 2:2
As I look forward ten or twenty years and see the need that will be even greater than it is now (which is hard to believe), I’m reminded of what a privilege it is to train laborers for local church ministry.
The fact is the harvest needs more laborers—not fewer.
The fact is we must invest ourselves in training these laborers.
Will you pray that the Lord will send forth more laborers?
And will you pray with us as we invest in training and equipping a younger generation of laborers here at West Coast Baptist College? WCBC is dedicated to this very task. Pray for us as we develop faculty and facilities for these young men and women who are a direct answer to our Lord’s prayer request.