I have heard it said, it has become much harder to keep young adults and youth in church. Too many things are competing for their time and the priority is not there. Plus the social changes going on right now are making the millennial back away. Then I am asked, how do we, a smaller church, have so many generations? My answer is: We teach them. They are equipped, not entertained. Let me explain…
We are a small church. We do not have a rock band or fancy lights. We do not have the most recent songs on the radio playing the second you walk in the door and we still use the phone tree to pass along prayer requests. Email is being used for those that prefer email, but we still greatly rely on the phone tree. Yes, all the things I listed above are great things. I love going to a great worship service just as much anyone. In fact, I love visiting churches when Marshall has his Sunday off and we get to worship together (that is a VERY rare event for pastors and their spouses) in a style I grew up with. But is that ALL that makes up the Church?
But let me tell you what we DO have. We have a strong foundation. Our foundation is Christ. We teach the complete 360 degree view of the Bible; not just what makes us feel good. We do everything in our power not to cut verses to make them sound justified to our own gain. And we certainly make mistakes! We are not perfect.
As long as our youth and young people know, we (the leaders), give them as much information as we can and as many resources as we can, then God takes over from there. We equip; we teach. We train them to search for answers. That is our goal. We want them to think for themselves.
If we are not learning, we are not growing and we will never understand how our spiritual maturity is suffering because we are not actually absorbing and understanding facts; just concepts.
Concepts are great; do not get me wrong. But the details, that is were evil likes to fight the youth. Challenging their thinking, making them second-guess anything and everything they have ever known growing up. Evil loves the silence. It is the silence that happens when a best friend gets in a fight with them over what they believe and why, then they struggle to respond. The silence is where evil wins. When they can’t defend their beliefs, they can’t understand the attacks.
How can we battle evil in this world without details? That is like showing up to a fight in dress shoes or high heels. You will make one move to protect yourself and fall flat on our face because your feet had the wrong foundation. It was slippery, you fell basically on your own and the opponent takes advantage of that and has the upper hand. Game point.
Teach your youth. Teach them to be resourceful. Teach them to ask questions, then ask it again to someone else, then ask it again to the barista at the coffee shop, then ask their pastor. Let them know “why” people’s answers vary. Interpretation of scripture is hard, I will be the first to say it. But until you fight to understand and learn the details, the conversation will almost always turn out like this…..
Person: “Why do you belive that?”
Youth answers: ” Because so and so said it… or I heard someone say it on Sunday”
They never answer with ” I believe………, because when you look at the book of ____ in the Bible……. and then I read a book from a theologian named…… and then a commentary from …… which assisted me to understand…. ”
See the change?
Be the change. Know the details. Grow to be the “upper hand” of Christ in the fight.