Young Evangelicals: Trending Towards Maturity

Commitment to the Mind and the Church


Has evangelicalism matured as a movement over the years? Many seem to think so, especially in terms of institutional involvement in the academy. Across many fields of study and vocation, evangelicals are proving themselves worthy of respect. Presidents Albert Mohler, Michael Lindsay, and Philip Ryken have observed a number of these trends in their respective schools. Together, they share some of the encouragements they are witnessing and offer suggestions for further positive growth among evangelicals today.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. serves as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to his presidential duties, Albert hosts two radio programs: “The Briefing,” a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview; and “Thinking in Public,” a series of conversations with the day's leading thinkers. Dr. Michael Lindsay serves as the eighth president of Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. He is the author of two dozen scholarly publications, including Faith in the Halls of Power and View from the Top. Dr. Philip Ryken has served as President of Wheaton College since 2010, where he studied philosophy and English literature


What trends do you see among young evangelicals entering ministry today? In what ways are you encouraged? What concerns do you have?
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Michael mentioned that he sees many younger individuals questioning the value of theological education and opting for more applied subjects of study instead. Do you find this to be true among those you minister to? If so, what are some reasons that might explain the distrust? What value is there in pursuing additional subjects? What dangers exist in neglecting theological education for ministry?
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Albert noted how he sees a profound passion for the gospel among those entering ministry, especially as it relates to the church both locally and globally. Have you noticed this passion among the younger generation in your ministry? What can you do to continually encourage it in a faithful direction? What opportunities can you provide for both local and global participation in the church?
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Among their concerns, Philip noted the tendency he sees in young evangelicals to neglect personal holiness as an essential component of ministry preparation. What effect does poor personal holiness have on one's ministry? Do you see this danger among your people? What can you do to guide young evangelicals in your midst into lives committed to personal holiness?
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As a younger generation enters into ministerial leadership, there is much to be encouraged about. A deeper intellectual life, passion for the gospel, and commitment to the local church are all positive marks of this movement. But there are also areas in which encouragement is needed. Church leaders today have a prime opportunity to enter into important discipleship relationships with the next generation. Continuing in their discussion, the presidents turn their attention to the ways in which they have observed evangelicalism maturing outside of the local church walls.


Albert described how many young evangelicals today anticipate robust, academic conversations about the faith. In what ways is this a positive development? How does it benefit the local church? How does it help promote the gospel to the world at-large?
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Philip shared how some of the faculty at his college who had previous experience at secular universities felt freer in their ability to steward the "life of the mind" on a Christ-centered campus. In what ways do you see a relationship with Christ giving greater freedom for people to grow in this way? How does it create space for deeper, more spiritual questions? Why do you think these are threatening to some of the more secular institutions?
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Each of the presidents noted their concern over the biblical/theological illiteracy in the church today. Have you found this to be true in your church? If so, what are some of the reasons behind it? How are you working to change this?
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One of the future-oriented goals mentioned was that of teaching people how to connect theology to their vocation. Would you say that your church has a healthy perspective on the spiritual value of non-ministry vocations? If not, why is that the case? How can you utilize your leadership to begin to teach the value of all work and encourage your people to see it as an opportunity to serve God obediently?
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In many ways, young evangelicals are contributing to a greater maturity in their movement. Because of this, there is much to be encouraged about in terms of pastoral leadership moving forward. In the same way, it means there are important opportunities to disciple the next generation within the contexts in which God has placed us today. Ask God to show you how He would have you participate in the work of preparing young leaders in your congregation. Make every effort to develop them for effective and faithful ministry in the future.  


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