Updated: Nov 12, 2019
“We keep losing our young people”
My husband often fills in as the visiting preacher for many congregations. A common theme I hear over and over is, “We keep losing our young people.” This is often said by a sweet older couple with a concerned look on their faces as they look around at their aging congregations.
I have seen a quote many times in my life in regards to changing certain tragic situations. It reads: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they are falling in.”
And I can’t help but think it is time we go upstream and find out why our young people are “falling into” the lure of the world.
I do not have children, but I have been one before. And as a child who was raised in the church, I say with deep grief, that I left the church and fell into the world. I have however, repented and come home. And after spending sometime in the river of the world, I decided to take an adventure upstream. Not only to figure out why I fell in, but to try and prevent other young people from making my same mistakes.
Here are some conclusions I have reached after reflecting on my own journey:
1. Young People Need Community
Psalm 133:1 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity”
Speaking from experience, when I was younger, I craved community and connection. I wanted to relate to my friends. I wanted to know their struggles and I wanted them to know mine. “Church” if we are not careful, can sometimes feel robotic. A true church family should be one invested in one another’s lives. On mission toward spreading the gospel, but also on mission to grow together in love and unity. When believers have a community, they are held accountable, they are encouraged, and they are challenged to grow. We cannot just spend an hour siting in forward facing pews and then leave. Never taking time to turn to our young members and invest in their lives.
2. Young People Want Authenticity
Authentic simply means, “representing one's true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.”
- Sometimes mature Christians are often afraid to discuss the challenges of their developing years. Which leaves younger individuals feeling like they are alone when it comes to certain temptations and struggles. It is so beneficial to develop a relationship with a young person and let them know about the temptations you had while growing up and how you overcame them biblically. I am not saying spill your dirty laundry, but I am saying if they are facing a struggle, and you have gone through something similar, please don’t be afraid to share your story of redemption. I am so thankful to learn from the mistakes of mature Christians in the faith. Or how they overcame certain temptations. I am so thankful for advice given from experience. These young people need to see redemption and dedication to Christ in our lives. They need to know we are human and we are a sinners but we are trying…Putting on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s best is not working. The Church is a hospital for sinners, it’s a place where people come together to refine themselves with the inspired word of God. Our stories can often be the key that unlocks someone else’s prison, but we cannot be afraid to tell them.
3. Unaddressed concerns
Psalm 18:30: “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.”
“Because I said so” is not working. Do not get me wrong, this has its place. I am thankful my parents made me go to worship. Growing up, I was constantly told, “as long as you live under this roof, you will go to worship because I said so.” As a result, I went. But using this phrase alone can be dangerous.
That is basically like saying, “Believe in God because I said so.” To avoid this, we need to make sure we are teaching our young people things like: why the word of God is true, why he is a shield for those who take refuge in him, and why his way is perfect. We need to make sure they know the reasons for believing in the Bible. Please let them see the importance of worshiping God, not just as a duty, but as a delight. Explain to them creation vs evolution. Give them apologetic tools. Teach them the evidence of Jesus as Deity. Teach them the evidence of Jesus as a real person in history. If you do not take time to teach these evidences, the world will take time to teach them lies and the young person will be left unable to defend themselves. When a young person cannot defend themselves, they tend to be pressured into another direction. God’s Word is true and His way is perfect. We need to make sure we are showing our young people how to defend this. We need to make sure they understand the reason for the hope that is within us.
Finally, young people want mentors.
I think the bottom line to fixing this problem, is to be who you needed when you were younger.
Sisters, if you find a young person aimlessly floating down the river of death, please don’t just shake your head and say, “What a shame!” Take time to reach down and lift them up. Then ask them if they will show you where they fell in. Be their Christian guide back on to the land of the living.