Essentials for reaching the next generation

By Ted Traylor

How does a church reach the next generation? I mean by that college-age and under. It is a great question with no easy answer. But as our church is striving to make a difference and future impact, I have concluded these are essentials:


We live in a world where the fundamentals of Bible faith are neither well known nor understood, and are under attack. Making the basic disciplines and truths of the faith clear is vital. That can be done in several ways. A pastor needs to preach on the subjects at hand, and 1 Peter 3:15 is a good place to begin. An annual series of apologetics sermons is helpful. In our discipleship classes, we offer courses on apologetics. In addition, considering an apologetics conference with a trained and able communicator is a good approach. Hal Seed has a great little book that I often give to guests at special events. The God Question explores life’s questions about God. There are many other resources you can find to help people understand the apologetic issues. The younger generation is eager to learn and be equipped on challenges they face in the classroom and hallways of school.


Be real. Hypocritical religion that says one thing and does another is empty and reaches no one.

Be bold. Those who are stepping out to make a difference in the world will have their ear.

Be connected. Relationships are important. Work at friendships. Gospel conversation opportunities come as you hang out with them.

Be you. This generation craves authenticity. They know when you are faking.


To reach the next generation, you need a first-class preschool and children’s ministry. Strive to place your best teachers in these areas. Offer training for them. If your church is large enough to have paid staff in this area go after the best. Prioritize your budget to reach these young families and train these kids. Love is the key ingredient.

I realize most people looking at this article will be pastors. Men, we must lead the way with the next generation. I challenge you to prayerwalk your local schools and university campuses, if you have one nearby. Get to know students. Challenge yourselves to a goal of having a certain number of gospel conversations with young people in the coming three months. One a week might be a nice challenge for yourself. Open up your home for students to get to know you. Help your youth leaders make summer camp a success. Maybe you should go and be a part!

No matter your age, you must connect to the next generation. If the pastor does not have this group on his heart, the church never will.

It is up to you!

Published May 30, 2018

Ted Traylor

Since 1990 Dr. Ted Traylor is the pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. His weekly radio and television ministry, At the Heart of Things, reaches thousands of homes along the Gulf Coast and through weekly podcasts and streaming. Dr. Traylor’s bold and practical preaching brings people to a fresh understanding of God’s Word and challenges them to become bondservants for Christ. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Religion from Samford University in 1997 and a Master of Divinity (1981) and Doctor of Ministry (1986) degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to serving as First Vice-President of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000 and President of the Florida Baptist Convention in 1995, Dr. Traylor was President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2004 Pastors’ Conference, 2010 Pensacola Bay Baptist Association moderator, and was part of the 2010 Great Commission Resurgence Task force team. Currently Dr. Traylor is proud to serve on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes board for the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!).