I‘ve always been a champion for young people in the Church. Maybe it’s because I’m a youth myself, or maybe it’s because I’ve seen too many young people walk away from the church unequipped for what the world throws at them. Whatever the reason may be, my heart is in youth ministry and there are several reasons for that.
The first reason is I don’t think we give our teens and young adults enough credit. We don’t listen to them as much as we should, and we don’t take them seriously.
I think there can be a negative stigma attached to teenhood. When people ask my mom how old her children are, she says, “I have two teenage daughters.” Their reaction? “I’m so sorry! I remember those year, they are rough but you’ll get through it.” These words are always spoken very sympathetically.
I’m sorry that you get to raise the young adults of the next generation?
The teen years often associated with the party hard attitude, drugs, immorality, rebellion, and slamming doors. As a Church, I think we’ve learned to just accept this, that this is the “youth of today” and that there is nothing we can do to change it except give them a youth group lesson that just barely skims the surface of theology and doesn’t challenge them.
Teens are remarkably capable of many things, many of us having mastered the art of Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook in order to make our voices heard. I know teens who have written books, started companies, run for government office, worked in political campaigns, and started schools in Africa.
Youth in this day and age are often at the cusp of cutting edge of technology, embracing the new programs with an ease that baffles those who have not grown up with the whole world just a click away, but because of society’s twisted view on what a teen is, I think that we as a Church, are guilty of lowering our standards for our young people.
I’m not saying all Churches, but some.
Times have changed, and often the reason teens and young adults act out is because they are not being challenged, and if the party hard attitude is all that is expected of them, then why not choose to meet it? I mean, after all, that’s all they are capable of right? Sadly, teens fall prey to the lie that this is all they will be, all they could be, and all that society says they should be.
The Church needs to embrace their youth and give them special attention because the youth and young adults of the Church are the next generation of leaders and pastors, and they need to be equipped biblically on how to handle the sin and new challenges that are arising daily for young people. Instead of abandoning them, teens need the Church to hold their hands as they journey through a period of life where they are still figuring out who they are.
The youth in the church today are bombarded with things that youth living in the 50’s never had to deal with through 21st century technology. These issues are in fact, bigger than the youth themselves and they are being exposed to them every day.
So, I begin my plea.
Church, embrace your youth, embrace what they are facing and teach them how to handle it. Teach them how to use technology in a God-honoring way, teach them how to stand strong against adversity, teach them that even though they are young, their voices can still be heard. Teach them how to give an answer to anyone who asks them (1 Peter 3:15). Teach them that they are counted worthy. Teach them about self-worth, self-respect, and purity. Teach them to be in the world but not of the world.
Teach them that different is good. Teach them to weigh the voices of the world against a grain of salt and to not believe everything they hear. Teach them deep, rich theology. Teach them about the reformation and why it still matters. Teach them how to be speakers. Teach them to be biblical thinkers. Teach them to flourish in the Word of God. Teach them the importance of Bible study. Teach them, equip them, and love them. Listen to them. Learn from them. Don’t brush them off, don’t give up on them. You’ll be surprised what they can teach you.
Please, Church, embrace your youth because they are the future.