Reaching The Young People

by John Henderson

It has been many years since I was a teenager freshly come to Christ.  I have never regretted making that decision to response to the evangelist’s invitation.  I do not believe I would have survived the diving accident I had some days later if I had walked away from that invitation.  In the accident, three of my neck vertebras were broken and I still suffered no nerve damage. I knew God had a purpose for me, even then.

I am eternally grateful for the faithful Christian adults who were there to teach me the right doctrines and encourage me to fully commit my life to Christ.  I am thankful for the many young people my own age that came to Christ and, together, we formed a bond of fellowship that cemented our commitments to Christ.

There were no special tailored programs for young people that were designed to peak our interest in church.  There was only the clear biblical witnessing of Christ that drew us to the Savior and the church.  The church did have youth programs of sorts.  The Methodists, of which I was a part, called it MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship).  The Baptists and Assemblies of God among my fellow believers had other names.  The Nazarenes had NYPS (Nazarene Young Peoples Society).  We usually met just before the Sunday evening services and there was a clear sense of the presence of the Spirit of God just as there was in the general services.

About the only distinction would be that our music had a lot of choruses that had been drawn from the gospel songs and hymns.  We were a bit less formal and more open among ourselves than we might have been in the regular services.  Of course, the distinction between our meetings and the other services was not all that much.

Times have changed I am told.  I have no idea what that means.  “Times” is not what changes.  People change their perspectives and notions based on influences and their own decisions.  Certainly, God has not changed.  There is no reason for Him to do so.  The truth of the Scriptures has not changed.  Even the devil has not changed.  The only thing that changes is us and our own fancies.  We fool ourselves into believing that the passing of time guarantees improvement.  We surrender values and call that progress.  Compromise only means surrender, not betterment.

I have never bought into the foolish notion that Christian leaders need to accommodate anyone, especially the youth, in presenting the claims of Christ on their souls.  I won’t get into the details, but want to emphasize that we may never reach our young people anymore unless we go back to the simplicity of the gospel.

Whatever it takes biblically is what we should be doing.  The youth are not stupid.  They just need to learn the right things and are ripe for being taught.  The socialists who have taken over our educational institutions since the 1960s and now rule our schools completely, thanks to academic buffoons for paying attention to John Dewey and his associates many years before.  We can add the entertainment industry to that list as well.  Ungodly entertainers have become the idols in place of the heroes of the faith.  Kids can quote the latest rap lyrics without hesitation and do not so much as know John 3:16 well enough to quote it or tell what it means.

The things we in the church have done to mimic worldly things has not taught them about Christ, let alone the Scriptures.  Meanwhile, those same hearts and minds are still longing yea, yearning, to hear the gospel—and we are not telling it to them.  If they hear anything at all from us, it is so watered down it provides no challenge to live godly and separated lives as truly committed Christians. They are made into religious clowns trying to accommodate the fickle world and not trained as soldiers of the Cross.  And they are certainly not encouraged to make the Word of God, the Sword of the Lord, their most important Book.

I strongly believe that if we will stop marketing for attendance and participation like a local lodge or community club and go the simple way by giving our young people what they really need, we will not be whining about losing our young people to the world and wondering why they are not coming to church.  When we stop pushing them towards the world and start calling them to the Cross, they will come running.

There are so many ways it can be done these days.  Ideas and methods are workable if they do not compromise the message of the Bible but rather seek to make it the theme.  All we need to do is make certain the message is “the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”  We must declare the strong message of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come as the Holy Spirit applies it to hearts. That is all they need from us.  The Holy Spirit will do the rest.


John Henderson

3 responses to “Reaching The Young People

  1. John, I completely agree. We as a church need to get back to the basics of Gods love. Teach Scripture (more quizzing) and teaching who God is — His purpose for us through His loving word. Allow them to learn how to be furture leaders of the church. I call it Young Christian Leaders Institute.(YCLI) I used a friends (Henry) idea. We teach for one hour — apply for one-half a hour — fellowship for one hour — leadership one-half hour. I used drama, music, scripture memory, debates — duringthe teaching hour. The apply time — they went in groups and talked about the subjects and came back to the main group to apply what they have learned.

  2. Manny:
    I can relate to a time like the one Dr. John grew up in when I first became a Christian in the early sixties and was involved in the Youth Group as a leader. The group (NYPS) met prior to the Sunday evening service and attended by the pastor as well. Afterward they all stayed for the evening service. I am not sure how many of our youth ever hear a good old fashion sermon anymore. Our pastor took an active role in our young people’s lives and felt a responsibility for their spiritual well-being. A lot of water has gone over the dam since then and not for the better. It is sad but I think many of our youth groups have traded the real for a cheap imitation of worship that leaves the soul empty. We need to get back to the basics.

  3. the word of God is very exciting, if we can show our young people this and how it is applicable to our everyday lives, and the benefits that can be derived from studying it and stress how important it is that we be submissive to the Holy Spirit, then I believe our young people will develop a passion for God and his word. We must lead by example.

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