I obviously didn’t preach yesterday… thanks to the wonderful leadership of our youth group! It is always a blessing to have them step up and lead worship. We definitely enjoyed hearing about the Veritas retreat they went on earlier this month. Youth events like these help build the church and make sure people of all ages feel connected. In fact, I responded to a “call to ministry” while at a weekend retreat with the Methodist church! They are definitely life-changing.
For the blog this week, I wanted to share a unique quote I once read. I have heard it said different ways by different pastors, but I believe the “original” source is from and author named Steve Rabey in his book Authentic Faith:
Christianity is never more than one generation away from extinction. This generation is falling through the cracks of Christendom and the modern church is sleep-walking their way through oblivion.
These are some challenging words to read. But I wholeheartedly believe it is the truth. Sometimes we think Christianity will continue on for generations to come. But I cannot belief on behalf of a congregation. A parent cannot belief for his or her child. A Sunday school teacher cannot make a room full of toddlers believe in Jesus.
That decision is up to each person. We cannot force anyone to adhere to the Christian faith. Likewise, there is always the “danger” that a church, denomination, or even Christianity itself will cease to be if we do not pass the faith along to the next generation.
Many times people will gripe about those who are younger. The young might not behave the same way older folks do. They might even have different values. If you base your views off of social media, you might come to the conclusion that Millennials and “Generation Z” are absolutely ruining our world.
Instead of looking down upon children and youth, why not realize that they too are a part of God’s family? Jesus taught on multiple occasions that the kingdom of God belongs to children. I imagine he shared that so that the “adults” or “older folks” would remember that everyone has a place in God’s family. Likewise, Christians of all ages have a duty to pass along the gospel message… especially to young folk. Youth ministry matters greatly for this reason. Through educating and forming our younger brothers and sisters, we spread God’s love across generational lines.
I personally think Concord does a wonderful job of sharing the message of Christ with younger members of our community. As your pastor, I’m sure that I’m biased. But I do see so much fruitfulness in this regard. We usually have babies in our nursery each Sunday, small kids in Sunday school, and a room full of youth. We value events like Christmas programs, VBS, and fundraisers. This Sunday was a great opportunity to witness our youth lead worship itself. I’ve never heard anyone complain about having children’s sermons on Sunday, and neither about hosting VBS or funding mission projects that benefit youth in our community in local schools, shelters, or Methodist Family Health.
That’s all fine and dandy… but there is still work to do!
Even though we might be doing a great job now, there is always room for improvement. A lot of the challenge is continuing to support our youngest brothers and sisters. As Concord’s youth age into adulthood, there will be even more people to teach about Jesus who might not even be born yet. The cycle repeats itself every time a family increases in size.
Some people might panic when they realize that Christianity is literally one generation away from extinction. All it takes is one generation where Christians stop teaching and reaching others. Tragically, many congregations struggle with the average age going up each year, until everyone quite literally dies off from old age. Many churches have tragically ceased operations and closed down.
Yet I personally see this challenging environment as an incredible opportunity. We are blessed to grow God’s family and have a front seat to what God is doing in the lives of youth. Our faith might be one generation away from nonexistence… but that means we have exciting work to do!