Why We Need The Next Generation

Maybe you think this is an obvious observation, but I don’t think we can focus enough ensuring the success of the Next Generation!  Their success is determined by our ability to pour into them and pass on our best learning.  No matter whether it is education, healthcare or fighting poverty, things should be getting better for them.  Why?  Because if we do it right, we are passing on our experience so they don’t have to go through the pain that we experienced.  Without them, we have no purpose!  The link to the next generation is vitally important to the success of any endeavor.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

Matthew 28:19 ESV

Jesus understood the importance of raising up the next generation of leaders in his time.  By today’s standards, Jesus was a young man who transformed the world through raising up 12 other younger men to do His work after he was gone.  This is a vision worth living for and an example of how we should live our lives.

As I was coaching my son’s baseball game last night, I saw 18 kids on the field.  ALL of them belong to someone here on earth, but more importantly, they belong to God and His plan for them.  I’m working hard with these kids to help them make the connection between hitting, fielding and teamwork.  WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME TEAM!

Why We Need The Next Generation

#1 They Complete Our FamilyCriticizing your own children is a revelation of your own failure and insecurities.  I constantly hear people in our culture BLAMING our young people for current circumstances instead of helping them.  Children are the lifeblood of our future, literally!  If you don’t care about kids and youth, you have a serious character issue and you have forgotten where you came from.  This is not only true in a nuclear family, but a church family as well.  Seeing all those young faces interact with the older faces brings me great joy on a Sunday.  Youth and kids don’t exist to serve us!  We exist to serve them!  This isn’t so they will have a sense of entitlement, but an example to follow.

#2 Without Them You Don’t Matter –  It isn’t what you learn, but what you pass on from your learning.  The question is, “did we leave things better off than when it was handed to us?” Our church will take a HUGE step in maturation when we plant a church that plants a church!  We see this vision embodied in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”  From Paul, to Timothy, to reliable people teaching others!  That is 4 generations of impact for the Gospel!  That is the target on the wall.  If the vision would have died with Paul, it didn’t mean much.

#3 They Teach Us To Dream They don’t know what they don’t know.  Most anyone who invented something or made a huge discovery had to dream it was possible.  Not knowing you aren’t “supposed” to do something is a gift from God.  So many times, the older we get the more cynical we can become.  Maybe this is why Jesus picked YOUNG men to be His disciples.  For some of us it has been years since we have had a compelling vision and dream for our life.  Get around some young people with passion and it will renew your sense of purpose.

#4 They Inspire us To Higher StandardsThe next generation is watching us to see if we really believe what we say we believe. I believe everyone is influencing someone, even when they don’t know it.  The reason you should live your life, “worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1), is because that calling extends far beyond you and what you can understand.  We all know we will in someway fail the next generation, but we must see things from their perspective and realize they are watching.

This week at 217church we will get an update of all God has been up to with our Next Generation ministries.  Our kids and youth ministries are making a difference locally and around the world through 217global!



3 Years of 217church – Every Story Counts

This Sunday is a HUGE day for our church.  We celebrate three years of being a church “creating environments where people can meet and follow Jesus!”  This has been our vision statement from Day 1.  Where have these three years gone?  I could tell you story after story of lives transformed because of Jesus and His tangible acts of love shown by our 217church family.  I could tell you about a single mom who was baptized at our first baptism in the Washington Crossing River and sensed new hope in Jesus.  I could tell you about a young woman who has recovered from an abusive past, discovered the grace of Jesus and is now pouring her life into young teenagers so they don’t have to endure the same struggles she endured.  I could tell you about children who have found a relationship with Jesus.  I could tell you about our Children’s and youth ministry that is ministering in places in Trenton that need to hear of Jesus.  I could tell you of business owners and entrepreneurs who are now using their influence to bring people to Jesus because of 217church.  We are a church where Every Story Counts!

“Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall.”  Nehemiah 2:17

 Here Are Some of The Ways God Has Used You

#1 141 Restored Lives – We like to say, we are the church for people who aren’t here yet.  Here is the list of 141 names of people who we have baptized into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Starting a church is a covenant building experience.  Revealing a sign of hope and love from a savior, who never leaves and always extends the hand of grace, is what we are about.  When you read their names, it’s just print on paper, but truly they are lives and families transformed.  I can’t wait for the next 141!

Phil Robertson, Christine Johnson, Crystal Morgan, Lynda Ferguson, Laurie Robertson, Sandy Rivera, Amanda Kline, Stephen Constantinou, Andrew Constantinou, Michelle Watson, Danny Baumann, Butch Hamilton, Josh Rivas, Jill Larsen, Melissa MacCollum, Caitlin Condit, Lisa Flores, Lily Mahaney, Liza Vargas, Jamie Vargas, Arlynet Tovar, Steven Gotthelf, Kyle Graf, Diana Garcia, Sharon Geiger, Natalya Rivera, Juan Rivera IV, Howard Anderson, Brandyn Lichtenstein, Laura Shapanus, Bill Shapanus, Alyse Canciello, Monica Quiroz, Cristiana Galang, Becca Solis, Krista Galang, Andrew Albert, Joe Corso, Lilly Conn, Titus Conn, Kathryn Nieves, Mimi Kabia, Chad Nelson, Kristi Costanzo, Keith Cline, Katie Johnson, Terri Svecz, Sean Gordon, Alex Svecz, Collin Spurgin, Matt Spurgin, Lonzetta Rush, James Rush, Jason Kingsley, Gary Jakubicki, Sally Hutchings, Josh Schmalbach, Leonard Simon, Denise Stremlo, Mike Kirk, Chrisha Kirk, Mark Forman, Kevin Cordas, Shelly Cordas, Steve Cosenza, Debbie Cosenza, Dione Springer, Gabrielle Cobb, Luis Valdivieso, Toni-Ann Rotondi, Cristina Cobb-Adams, Anthony Anglin, Jason Flintosh, Nicole Jemine, Jason Parker, Gina Sparacio, Flynt Tuller, Flynt Jr. Tuller, Jill Brown, Jay Rodriguez, Pete Ruffini, Allie Guerrero, Jaime Vargas, Patti Ann Ridgway, Lauren Velarde, Corrine Hunsher, Sonny Esteron, Derek Sander, Deb Stewart, Willie Rivera, Cindy Chavez, Jhoi Ortiz, Katie Hawver, David Robertiello, Nick Labella, Lindsay Clayton, Sandra Lupo, Devon Smith, Michael Ettinger, Pollorn Sayasack, Jessica Rivas, Tiffany Rivas, Nick D’Mauro, Jeanie Leung, Cathy Szymanski, John Baldino, Racheal Jones, Eve Green, Maria Cobena, Liz Perez, Cathy Szyanski, Kathleen Contreras, Christian Servellon, Christina Baranowski, Daniela Vinci, Naylon Larane, Adrien Ong, Racquel Smith, Brittney Blackburn, Alcmenia Dunbar, Natalia Hernandez, Santina Hernandez, Corina Hernandez, Courtney Arbitell, Joclyn Hernandez, Dania Hernandez, Miriam Hernandez, Tsunami Martinez, Johanna Martinez, Kimberly Hopkins, Linda Monforte, Maria Rodriguez, Yolanda Drislane, Kristen Moore, Janet Russell, Trevor Jones, Sixto Irizarry, Shanera Hampton, Jessica Suessegger, Sherenne Simon, Alfredo Marin.  Every Story Counts!

#2 People Finding Deep Relationships – In one of our 17 small groups that meet in 11 different townships, you will find people who are serving the community.  On any given week, we have over 250 people meeting together, caring for one another deeply.  We visit each other when in the hospital, we pray for each other, study the bible together and we take care of each other.  We even have one group who paid off a person’s credit card debt to give them a fresh start financially. (Now you are saying…”I want in!”)  Every Story Counts!

#3 Over 2 Million Dollars Worth of Generosity – In these three years over Two Million dollars has been given to the vision of 217church!  Through generous hearts you have given to church planting, the next generation fund, provided for practical needs of countless people hurting in our community, provided a place for us to meet on Sundays, sent kids to camps, provided for all our equipment and empowered our pastors and staff to live and do ministry in the community.  Your generosity is proving Every Story Counts!

#4 An Incredible Youth & Children’s Ministry – Each week 140 kids and youth hear about the love of Jesus through our dynamic 217kids and 217youth ministries.  Psalm 46:13 says, “tell the next Generation this is God.” We have taken this to heart and are serious about making the next generation our #1 priority.  We now have a partnership with Urban Promise in Trenton and are working hard to bring the Gospel of Jesus to students in Trenton through after school programs.  It’s just the beginning of seeing our influence soar.  They will write the story after we are off the scene and we are empowering them NOW!  Their Story Counts!

#5 Over 430 People Every Weekend in Worship – Every week we celebrate big and our celebrations just keep getting bigger and BIGGER!  We started planning this church in a living room with 20 people and now every week over 400 gather!  We preach the word, worship passionately, pray boldly and we make it a HUGE celebration.  We make a big deal of the Gospel of Jesus and every week over 50 people serve to make these celebrations happen.  Our 217church co-worker team is nothing short of incredible!  Week in and week out for 150+ Sundays, so many have heard about Jesus and are following him because of these celebrations proving Every Story Counts!

One Final Note:

I am humbled and privileged to serve as your pastor.  I couldn’t have scripted it better.  You are what I am proud of.  You have made my life and the life of my family richer and full of meaning. We love you all!

Josh & Summer Lilly, Titus & Lydia


Join in The HUGE CELEBRATION This Weekend…

1) Two Huge Weekend Celebrations 9:30am & 11am at the AMC 24

2) Our 3rd anniversary party at our Youth Center at 3pm. (yes it’s 2/17 day!)

3) Finally, end the day with an evening baptism with our sister church, Element Church at Princeton Alliance Church.

This is going to be AWESOME!

Next Generation Vision 2013

217church now launches into a season that will cause us to never be the same!  Over the past few months we have been in conversation and prayer with Urban Promise Trenton, which rebuilds lives of the children of the city.  We have now officially partnered to reach the city of Trenton together.   Imagine children and youth of the city transformed by the Gospel of Jesus! This Sunday is our opportunity to make a HUGE difference in the lives of the next generation. How can you be a part of the Next Generation Vision 2013?

“…that you may tell the next generation that this is God.” Psalm 48:13


We all bear the responsibility for the generation that comes after us and we must be compelled to ensure kids have a chance to hear the Gospel. Our heart is for children and youth to be transformed by its power both across the street and around the world

Four Parts of the Next Generation Vision 2013…               Total Goal:  $100,000

Part #1 Urban Promise Trenton – Every day through after school programs, Urban Promise reaches into the heart of Trenton and trains and equips young people to discover God’s will and plan for their life.  By pouring love and care into kids and youth, Urban Promise is an organization on the front lines of equipping the Next Generation. WE ARE ALL IN!  ARE YOU?  Goal: $25,000

Part #2  217youth & 217kids Ministries – Every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday we reach over 125 youth and kids as they hear of the love of Jesus.  Our 217youth center provides an essential place for our youth to gather and sense his call. This summer over 100 kids went to our 217kids camp! We want to fund every ministry initiative through this offering.   WE ARE ALL IN!  ARE YOU?  Goal: $35,000

Part #3  The 217rebuild Initiative – This is a brand new ministry targeted towards families who need help providing basic needs.  No child should go hungry and no parent should have to worry where their next meal is coming from.  In providing food, clothing and basic needs, we will set the example for “Caring for One Another Deeply.”  WE ARE ALL IN!  ARE YOU?  Goal $20,000

Part #4 217global – We have partnered with Rick & Tami Romano of the Dominican Republic in providing love, health and education to the children of the D.R.  We are anticipating incredible things through the planting of churches and sharing the Gospel with kids and youth of the Dominican.  We will be making a trip in March of 2013!  WE ARE ALL IN!  ARE YOU?  Goal $20,000

These four vital pieces of our ministry are already seeing amazing fruit and are poised to transform lives over this next year.  What will you sacrifice and give in order that “we may tell the next generation” about The Gospel of Jesus!  This weekend will blow you away as we hear the story of Carl Clark, the founder of Urban Promise Trenton!


See you there Sunday at 10am & 11:30am!

Planting Seeds – Day 39 of 75 Days

Scripture Read:  Psalm 77, 78    (Watch the weekend message “Generations” here)

Key Verse:  Psalm 78:4

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord and his might, and the wonders that he has done...”


Asaph had written Psalm 78 to put emphasis on telling the generations of the works of God. It’s a great overview of God’s faithfulness to His people. He knows how important it is to tell the coming generations about the deeds of the Lord & all the 1st steps taken up until the coming of Jesus.  Without the books handed down from generation to generation, so much would have gotten lost and I probably wouldn’t be writing.


I can remember sitting in my grandfather’s presence listening to his stories over & over again throughout my 25 years with him. I remember the stories of, “When I went to school, I had to walk 5 miles, uphill… both ways, in 10 ft of snow,” and when he served in the war, when bread was a nickel & how he had to share a bedroom with his 8 brothers & sisters.  He was on mission to tell me his story every chance he had so that someone would remember his life & the world as it once was. On the other hand, I had a grandfather in my 20 years who never shared his past because of various reasons, but now, his legacy is lost…

Asaph understands the importance of pouring into our generations with the word of God. If we carry the attitude, that I once had, of ‘youth today are full of issues, they’re ungrateful, spoiled, etc,’ we will loose the importance of generational teaching by becoming selfish & hypocritical. I’ve learned that I do not know everything. It took 23 years, but at the ripe old age of 27 :-), I have learned I do not know everything, but the knowledge I do possess should be poured into the boys & girls who are not as fortunate as I was & did not have the luxury of being taught simple things like: who Jesus is, how to read the Bible, self respect, having a work ethic & respecting your elders.

It’s all about the younger generation because when you are gone, they will still be here. And as long as the return of Jesus has not yet happened, everyone deserves to know who He is so that they may be saved as well.  Heaven does not have a maximum occupancy.  It’s time to put down our judgments and teach those who we may feel are un-teachable.  After all, we are called to plant the seed and plant the seed only.


Thank you Lord for keeping your people strong and for keeping your words alive throughout the generations!  I feel blessed to be in a country where we can speak of You freely, teach about You freely & praise You immensely! I pray for those who do not know you; may someone on your path plant the seed inside their heart so that they may know your Word. I pray for those who have a hard time relating to the youth today & know it’s only their job to teach your words & not their own. Bring wisdom to those working with our youth & I pray that a new generation of Christ followers will rise up and bring glory to You! I pray for bold prayers to be prayed so that we may take those that do not know you & show them your mercy, grace & love. Thank you for showing us who You are and for loving us enough to save us…Amen.

By Sandy 217staff team

Generations – Day 36 of 75 Days

This weekend was an amazing experience at 217church!  Our 217youth and 217kids are incredible and we will value them and train them in the ways of Christ.  I love watching them exceed all expectations!  They are the leaders and the church of TODAY!  Let’s encourage them and love them so they become greater than us!

Scripture Read:  Psalm 71, 72

Key Verse:  Psalm 71:17-18

“O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”


All else is lost to David until he proclaims God to the next generation!  David is drawing on the faithfulness of God throughout all generations highlighting the eternity of God and his limitless bounds.  For David he is intentional about making sure the next generation hears of a God who has might and power to protect be the refuge and strength of his nation.  David realizes it is his job to pass the baton and entrust his knowledge and faith to the generation that comes after him.


My children are more important to me than anything on the face of the earth.  As I prayed for them last night, I pondered their amazing value to God and the tremendous responsibility that I carry.  That responsibility is to teach them to trust in Jesus and his forgiveness of sins for their very lives.  My role is to show them value and to train them up in the ways of Jesus that they may teach their children.  We find these generational responsibilities in other places like Psalm 78:1-8 and 2 Timothy 2:2.  Paul trains Timothy and expects him to entrust the message of Jesus to faithful men who will entrust the message to other faithful men.  That is 4 generations of Christ followers we are responsible to see in just one verse!  Each one of us needs to be pouring into the next generation of Christ followers.  I can’t wait to see how God uses the young people of 217church today and tomorrow!  They are the leaders of today.  Value them and train them.


Lord I pray each of us would take seriously the mission and responsibility of nurturing and raising up Christ followers to the 4th generation!

By Josh 217staff team
P.S.  See you at 217kids camp on Tuesday!