Can a 92 year old and a 22 year old...
by Ralph D. Winter
Donald McGavran ran is 92. He is in some ways the most active member of our Board of Directors. His seasoned wisdom and frequent suggestions are vital contributions to the past, present and future of the U.S. Center for World Mission. He is 29 years older than this writer. Then, 29 years younger than I are some of the Associate Directors of the Center.
Not in America!
Two Ways to Go
No, they will more readily choose "to follow Christ"÷ not some old fogy who happens to run this or that mission agency. They want to take their orders "from on high," not to have to track with the outmoded ideas of the older generation. Surely they, as Christians, do not have to compromise with the second best of existing organizations÷the ones which have made all the mistakes? These students have lived for years in classrooms where the professors are constantly taking potshots at the real world÷talk is easy when you are not responsible for the results!)
I fear that it is all too easy for teachers wit any concern for society to communicate constantly to their students the idea that they, the professors, would do things differently. Innocent enough. (I was a professor for ten years, still am, part of the time). But that, in turn, leads the students to conclude that they, too, should do things differently: to serve notice on the older generation that they are not going to follow. They are going to start out afresh.
How many students have emerged from the cocoon of the lengthy schooling process, expecting an opportunity to lead right now. I was one of them. Suddenly, the existing agencies seemed impervious to bursts of youthful insight. They thought they knew where they were going. There was no opportunity for a young person to call the shots!
This comes from years of inherent irresponsibility in school where ideas are cheap and don't harm anyone. In school older people are constantly considering you and your growth the focus of their professional interest. Students are praised and sometimes pampered. They are measured against each other. Presently, "world conquerors" valiantly step forth into the real world to set it straight...
All too often, however, "the students most likely to succeed" really don't make it!
The agonizing choice can be stated this way: does God expect each new generation to overturn the previous one? Or, is God really expecting younger people to grow by following, to build on experience, and then, legitimately, to lead the still younger? Let's check three cases in this issue...