Understanding why we should invest in first generation converts as future church leaders.
If this was your reaction to the title, put your thinking cap on and continue reading. This article was birthed from a conversation I had with a pastor friend of mine. There are people who add value to my life, and he is one.
Remember physics? You learned all sorts of information that left you scratching you head as you pondered Strong Force, Gravitation, Mass and various other weird and wonderful things. Personally, I needed an apple to fall on my head and wake me from my dreams of a distant tropical shore. One thing I do remember, however, is that the half-life of Uranium238 is about 4.5 billion years. After all these years I have finally found a use for what seemed then to be useless information.
Half Life Explained
A half-life is the fixed, invariable amount of time it takes for an original sample of a radioactive substance like uranium, radium or carbon-14 to break down (decay). This decay happens nucleus by nucleus. For instance, the half-life of Uranium238 is roughly 4.5 billion years, which means that at the end of 4.5 billion years, a one-pound block of the stuff will weigh only one-half pound. In another 4.5 billion years, it will weight in at one-quarter pound, and so on.
Have I Lost You?
Back to my conversation with my friend. We were sharing the immediate need for fearless Christians in our churches. The need to excite and mobilize Christ-Followers and the difficulties associated with stimulating the complacent. I shared with him that when I accepted Jesus I was transformed by His power. Fearless! That exuberance has not diminished in 22 years. I love Him, He is mine, and I am His. Something reminiscent of what Buber called the “I-Thou.”
I verbalized my concern; that I don’t see a “take-up-you-cross” kind of Christianity in our churches, except among the youth. I shared how I see many of them as fearless. They seek more than complacency from their relationship with Father. They want to change their world!
Moment of Insight
So he looks at me and says; “It’s not the young, it’s the first generation Christian.” BAM! He was right. It is that first generation Christian that is fearless and ready. They have not grown complacent due to familiarity. Their nuclei have not yet decayed. They have not reached their half-life, half of what they were, decaying by the moment.
Something happens when a life is transformed. Like a child growing up poor appreciates the gift of hard labor and moderate success while the child of abundance looks upon it with disdain. Such is the church. This leads me to ponder if the half-life of Christian passion is equal to one generation or if second generational Christians could ever understand what transformation means. Can the child of abundance identify with the child who knows nothing but need? This is why we must invest in those of the first generation.
Where do we go from here? Paul warns us in 1 Timothy 3:6 of the dangers of placing individuals in places of authority too soon, so I am not advocating taking leaders from the waters of baptism, handing them a towel, and saying “Let’s Go!” This is not a “time” thing, it is a “passion” thing. As leaders, we must, in a focused manner, spot those whom the Holy Spirit has transformed and excited, father them, and help to transform them into what God would have them to be. No small task, but the rewards will be huge.
Back to Uranium238
Everything dies: people, trees, metals, galaxies, and even atoms. Only one entity is eternal and He is the source of an eternal future. All that decays is slowly dying: people, trees, metals, galaxies and even Christian passion. It all has a half-life. I only wish the half-life of Christian passion matched that of Uranium238.