(Jesus said) "No one uses a new piece of cloth to patch old clothes. The patch would shrink and tear a bigger hole. No one pours new wine into old wineskins. The wine would swell and burst the old skins. Then the wine would be lost, and the skins would be ruined. New wine must be put into new wineskins. Both the skins and the wine will then be safe." Matthew 9:16-17
 
Our Lord masterfully paints word pictures using ordinary objects. Patches. Cloth. New wine. New wineskins. Captured by the Apostle Matthew, Jesus' comments here have freed His followers for millennia to be willing to change structures for Kingdom purposes. Jesus does not ignore the importance of tradition and orthodoxy; He proclaims through this metaphor that we serve a God of New Creations who loves the creative process, particularly when this "new wineskin" brings people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus promises in this scripture: "Both the skins and the wine will then be safe."
 
Yesterday, I was honored by the National Catholic Office of the Deaf for the opportunity to lead a 4-hour workshop at their annual Deaf Pastoral Conference on how to reach deaf and hard of hearing young people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a wonderful time as we gathered in the name of Christ and I shared the stories of how to enter the world of Deaf teenagers with Grace and Truth. Don't be surprised if you get a call from some of our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic tradition who are ready to roll up their sleeves and join your DTQ ministry team! We need all the Body of Christ working together for His purposes in fulfillment of His calling.
 
A few years ago, I authored a book, Deaf Diaspora: The Third Wave of Deaf Ministry. In it, I identified three "Waves" of ministry in the evangelical community: First Wave (1960s and 1970s), Second Wave (1980s and 1990s) and the Third Wave (2000s and 2010s). The Third Wave is ministry in the 21st Century in an age of rapid expansion of technology and mainstream education. There has emerged a New Culture of Deafness as seen in the deaf and hard of hearing young people of this current generation. This was the source for my workshop. I even sold out of the box of books I took with me! That's a first! Interestingly, Deaf Diaspora has grown in popularity over the past few months. Our message is getting out, more and more. To God be the glory!
 
Dr. Rick McClain started me on a journey to consider what is coming next. We are officially 1/2 way through the Third Wave and seeing the beginnings of the Fourth Wave. So, what's next? The Fourth Wave will be the result of many of those in the age group of the bulk of our DTQ leaders and the Deaf teenagers of this generation whom you are leading to Christ and discipling now; as they grow in faith, and age into their twenties and thirties.  
 
Many of these young people will meet other young Deaf Christians, fall in love and eventually marry. Those born in the 1980s and 1990s will be in their thirties and forties as we enter the 2020s. This group will have children and most of these children will be hearing. I am convinced that this generation (which includes many of you) will lead Deaf ministry across the nation and world in powerful and exciting ways. They (you) will not be satisfied with the status quo. Their (your) expectations of the meaning of life fulfilled in Christ, will be high. Churches (which will be a vital part of the Fourth Wave) will reflect this new and creative energy and expectation.
 
So far, Dr. Rick, four traits of the Fourth Wave keep coming to the surface for me. Here is what I am sensing so far:  
 
1) The Fourth Wave (2020s/2030s) largely will be church-based (influenced by people who are connected with YFC Deaf Teen Quest). DTQ will still passionately be pursuing lost Deaf teenagers but the church will become a more like-minded and able partner.
 
2) It will have a significant emphasis on counseling and small groups.
 
3) Retreats and conferences that minister to groups of Deaf people with something in common (men, women, young adults, ministry leaders, etc.) will become more central than in the past.  
 
4) This next generation will passionately pursue authentic community (both missional and relationally based).
 
These are the first of my observations. I'm sure Rick has several of his own to add. Please continue to pray and watch along with us and share your observations of what you think is to come. Considering the makeup of the future is directly connected with how we most effectively serve Christ today. Projecting societal patterns is part of creating New Wineskins to properly handle the New Wine.
 
So, as you ponder and pray, praise God for new wineskins! The wine and the skin will both be safe. This is what Matthew 9:17 says. Be bold. Be creative. Take some risks. You are now forming a generation of young people who will likely bring dramatic change to the traditional church structure. Fear not! They will want more and they will bring enough energy to accomplish even more than they can imagine. You will be their mentors, role models and guides.
 
So as you touch the lives of students this week, encourage them to take responsibility for change. For many, make sure they experience a Project Serve mission trip at some point (we're going to CCCD in Kingston this summer). Make service projects part of your ministry programming (we're planning to have a DTQ WorkCamp in Louisville this summer). Dream up new opportunities for building leadership skills among your DTQ students. We want the next wave to be one of hope, healing, and service. Empower young people to dream big and to work hard and to give God all the glory. God will guide the results. Our responsibility is to be faithful and obedient. AMEN
 
 
Comments? Email Bob Ayres

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