Week One: Youth Ministry Matters!
- See the need for teen discipleship in your home and church.
- Find confidence in Christ and his victory over sin and this world.
- Discuss ways to start getting involved.
The State of Teens in Our Churches
The statistics are alarming. Over 60% of teens raised in the church leave before adulthood.1 These are young people who said they attended church regularly and went to Sunday school often. In May, a new poll was released that shows that Millennials are leaving the church in historic numbers.2
Yet, numbers often don’t mean anything unless they affect us personally. If you have a child that has walked away from God and left the church, you realize the enormity of such a decision; you know their eternity is at stake. It is likely you are in prayer for that child every day and look for opportunities to talk about God with them. For those of us not in that situation, we can easily put ourselves in their shoes and imagine the restlessness and weight of it.
We must acknowledge the truth: this is the reality for family after family across America. We are the body of Christ and if one part of the body is struggling, then the whole body is affected by it.
Before we can fight this battle, we need to understand what we are up against. Our teens are walking away from God because their faith is being bombarded by attacks all day long. Let’s just look at a few of the biggest attacks happening in America right now.
Pressures from our culture: From cohabitation to homosexuality and now to transgender and even the elimination of genders, sexual immorality is alive and well and being celebrated in our society. TV, music and celebrities are promoting sin and unbiblical lifestyles. We also see corporations joining in, pushing the same messages in such a way that it tugs at heart strings and makes even strong Christians question if they are correct in their beliefs.
Pressures in schools: When we look at public schools, we can see how God is being driven out of them. Evolution is taught as fact and Christians who believe in a young earth are being mocked and their parents are called child abusers. Christians are being labeled as hateful for believing what the Bible says and school boards are passing new rules that match the changing morals of society.
The porn epidemic: There is an epidemic of pornography sweeping through our young people (and also crippling the church). The statistics are staggering.3 Pornography is being more and more normalized. We've become so desensitized to it that we are no longer shocked to walk through the mall and see larger than life posters of a half naked women on advertisements at places like Victoria's Secret.
One sign of where we stand in America is to look at the number one show on cable TV right now: Game of Thrones.
“This is a television series rated TV-MA, and has become rather infamous for its explicit nudity and sex scenes, and for graphic scenes of rape and sexual violence against women. Game of Thrones is now the most popular series in HBO history, with an average audience of more than 18 million viewers.”4
While there is so much more we could sadly look at, you can understand why our teens are falling under the weight of all these constant attacks to their faith.
The Battle isn't lost
First of all, we cannot get discouraged. It is time to take a stand. We have God on our team, the sword of his Word as our weapon, and the Holy Spirit to equip us in every way needed.
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. - 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Secondly, our battle isn’t against flesh or blood. No. It is a spiritual battle against Satan and his forces of evil. However, Jesus has already won the war and because of that, we don't need to be afraid to step onto the battlefield for the next generation. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, God won the final victory, and through Jesus, we too have victory over sin and Satan.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:10-17
You are needed
Joining the fight for our teens doesn’t require the most eloquent speaker, the most confident pastor, or the need to be "cool." We have already been equipped with everything we need to succeed. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, filled the first disciples with the ability to preach boldly in different tongues, and continually sustains the church throughout the world, lives inside you and me.
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. – Romans 8:11
Many people doing small things can make a big impact.
This battle requires that everyone get involved in some way. Unless the people of God rise up to fight back, we are only going to see more and more young people exchange a real life in Jesus for a fading one with the world.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21
What you can do right now
If the battle is a spiritual one, we will need God's strength and power to overcome. Over and over throughout the Bible we see God winning impossible battles. Pray for the teens in our nation. Pray for the parents who are raising them. Pray for the churches who are nourishing them. Pray for the schools and their teachers.
Read and Know God's Word
The best way to be a godly influence on teens is to actively pursue God in your own life. Dive deeply into God's Word often and let it change you, strengthen you, and equip you for his work.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Ask God to show you how he can use you to disciple the next generation of the Church. Can you start a youth ministry in your church or encourage your pastor to? Can you volunteer your time and resources to support an existing youth ministry? Can you encourage the parents of teens that you know? Can you reach out to the teens in your neighborhood and community?
Take a Step
Is God moving on your heart to get involved in discipling the next generation of the Church? Please prayerfully consider taking a step of faith and see what God will do with it!
Continue to week two of this course: Choosing a Type of Ministry