Today in America, we see an odd situation arise. America has been rightly criticized for over twenty years as being a youth-centered culture.
Today, we have to change youth centered to youth-obsessed.
Amazingly, the church has followed suit. “We have to be relevant!” is the battle cry – but its stupid and unBiblical. Churches of the Lord Jesus Christ ARE relevant! We preach the Word of God. Does America’s youth turn from the Word of God? Yes, in huge numbers. People react with fear to Ken Hamm’s book, “Already Gone”, in which the youth of today (although they may be attending churches) have already decided in their minds “Once I’m 18 I’m out of here!” And the question is asked, “how can the church be losing the believing, saved Christian youth like that?”
David Cloud has the correct answer, which he addresses in his book “Keeping the children” (Note: I have not read either book due to lack of finances) – The youth in question are not a). Christian b). Believing or C). Saved.
That’s a hard pill to swallow, but the evidence points to nowhere else. If a thirty-year-old couple comes to the church, but are engaged in activities that don’t seem Godly, listen to music that is worldly, watch anything and everything on TV, get bored with Church because there isn’t a rock band, show little interest in reading the bible, praying, growing in Christ, witnessing, but still make demands to be involved in the church… we would question their salvation. Or at the very least their spiritual maturity.
Why is it we do differently when its our children? If you want to gloss over so important a question of your child’s salvation, you are the CRUELEST parent on earth. If your child shows every sign of not being saved, and you just blithely hope they are saved but just going through teenage angst or whatever its called today (I can say this things because I am a former teenager, and was a teenager for several years…between the ages of 12 and 20) – you are almost certainly condemning your child to Hell. I ask – is that love?
I take a very dim view of youth professions of faith. Little children will get born again at the drop of a hat, because they want to please adults. You talk to any child for 5 minutes about getting saved, and every last one of them will profess Jesus. That’s the issue today is so MANY people today profess Christ without possessing Christ! That’s a horrible thought.
And teenagers get into that mindset, “I grew up in Church, so I’m a Christian.” They’re used to church, Sunday school, and remember that profession of faith at 6 years of age. You can compare this to Jonathan Goforth, who also made a childhood profession of faith, but began to read his Bible, pray, grow in Christ, print his own tracts, stand at the doors of the church every Sunday and hand out tracts to people. Upon growing up, he applied for Bible college, and was asked, “Well, how many doors did you knock on this year?” The answer was, “Nine Hundred and Sixty.” Goforth ended up a missionary, losing five of six children to illnesses on the mission field, went blind from living conditions and illnesses, and eventually died from the rigors of being a missionary to China. now, not every believer (alas) will be a Goforth or a Hudson Taylor, but you can point to their lives and say, “look – saved.” Goforth showed all the signs from youth of being saved. I knew a guy who carried his Bible to school and witnessed to people in School, and when he got older, stayed in the church. Little Josh or Little Brittany making their five year old profession of faith at 5, but showing little difference from other kids their age… I don’t know. No evidence as they get older in reading their bible… I have to say “No.”
We MUST stop fooling ourselves about children and their salvation. “Well, Josh reads his Bible once or twice a year…” Well, yes. so did I. I’d open it, peek in it, try to read some of it… put it back. And there is no doubt if I’d died young, I’d have been in Hell forever.
Why am I dwelling on this> Because we are worried constantly about how to please and keep the unSaved. When the music in a church is so loud you’re wincing from the volume – its time to stop and ask, “what are we doing here?”
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. Eph 5:10 (KJV)
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Eph 5:17-20 (KJV)
Is this acceptable to the Lord? Are we sure? Did we check the Scriptures and see if this is the proper way to go about worship? Twenty years ago Southern Baptist Churches took a stand against Rock music, and today, we incorporate it into Church services as an offering to the Lord, without stopping to see whether its proper or not. I’m still not convinced one way or another on this issue, but Marc Monte pointed out that when a Church changes its worship music doctrines quickly begin sliding downhill. That’s a sobering thought, enough for me to question whether or not it is acceptable to the Lord!
Churches are obsessing about how to please twenty year olds. If your church has more than one Sunday School Class dedicated to the youth… that’s a symptom. It sends a message to everyone over 35 that “you’re not welcome here.” Let’s see, the beginners class is for young couples, the couples class is for young couples, the navigators class is for 20-35 year olds – but 49-year olds are welcome too!
Well, you can SAY that, but in reality, I’m not going to feel welcome sitting in a class of 25 year olds fussing over first and second children. If we’d had kids when we got married – they’d be out of the house by now (VERY sad thought). I’m not going to feel comfortable sitting with 25 year olds unless I’m teaching them. I’m rapidly closing on my third year of Bible college, so it wouldn’t be hard for me to teach them – but what is the average 49-year old going to have in common with young people? Either have Sunday School classes based upon your walk with the LORD (First Principles, New Recruits, Growing in Christ, Regulars, etc)… or stop breaking it up and bowing to the youth as if its a graven image of the 21st Century church.
Today’s church sends a message. The message is, “seniors and young people welcome.” But there’s a thirty year gap between the 35 year olds and the seniors – unless they’re trying to say that if you’re 36 you’re a senior! The message tells me, “the church doesn’t care about me – I’m too old.”
Our pastors keep telling us it’s time to get back to the Bible. Amen. Let’s do it. And get things right in church first. Let’s not worry about how to please the youth, and worry about saving them and discipling them instead.