Youth and our young people should have the right to grow and they must have that right to grow. In other words, we can’t start them out in full-grown status. I believe sometimes and in some cases in the past we have started our youth off and given them things they couldn’t really digest. There is a Bible principle that we could cite (I Cor. 3:2). Paul said, “I have fed you with milk and not solid food, because you couldn’t comprehend it.” When our young people are starting out, they are babes in Christ. We can’t expect them to have the strength and the knowledge as someone who’s been a member of the Lord’s church for 50 years.
We ought to have understanding when we go to our young people, we are careful about what we teach them, and I think we ought to be selective about what we tell them about the work of the church. I have said for a long time that we as preachers and teachers in the Lord’s church, elders, and deacons, need to be very careful about carrying the problems of the church home to our children. Our children do not deserve to hear about some of the bad things that go on in the work of the church. They are not ready for it. Some of the things that are, in fact, confidential, are too many times talked about over the dinner table, and I think threaten, and in fact tear down the faith of our young people. We need to give our youth the opportunity to grow.
You’ve got to start from the beginning. In Hebrews 5:12 they had need of milk and not solid foods again. What had happened? Some of those people, I’m convinced, go all the way back to Matthew 23-24 and had been around Christ and had come into the kingdom and knew a lot but apparently they had not developed as they should. So the writer of the book of Hebrews says you’re just not developed where you can handle the full information that you need, so we’re going to have to go to milk and start there and work our way out. That’s the way we need to be with our youth. I’m also convinced that we’ve sometimes made a mistake in the past and are reaping the result of it today: in fact our young people have been sold on the fact that they are some way, somehow, segmented from the church. We have the youth group and then over here is the church. If you don’t think that has come to fruition, then I would invite you to study and examine some of the activities that have happened up the road from us here at Winterfest in Gatlinburg, because that’s exactly what they’re doing. That’s exactly what a lot of the false teachers who are moving among our youth today are promoting. And not only that, they go into those programs, and they scoff at faithful brethren. They go in there and scoff before our children scoffing at their own parents! They go in and make fun of the worship that God has set out in the Scripture. They go in and make fun of the decisions that elders have made over the years, decisions that have made it possible for them to stand where they are standing and enjoying the crowd that they are enjoying. I think that’s sad. I think that’s a sad mistake and I think sometimes, unwittingly, we have contributed to it because what we say is this; “Oh, this is the youth group over here, and when these guys get together, we will sing different songs and we will do different things.” Now, when we get over here to the assembly or when we get over here to this Bible study, that’s the parents and there’s a difference. No, there’s no difference. There’s no difference there at all if young people have been baptized into Christ, then they’re part of the church today. They don’t wait for a probationary period, they are a part of the body of Christ the moment they put Christ on in baptism (Acts 2:47) just like adults. So, as we pass through this an observation: we need to be careful about instructing our youth. The Bible teaches there is no division to be made. I Corinthians 1:10 says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you…” Who is that to? That’s to everyone, all Christians. There’s no age limit placed there. All members of the body of Christ are charged to say and speak the same things including our young people. So when we talk to our youth, when we teach them, when we preach to our young, we look to the Bible for the answer. We take them to the Bible for the answer. If we build their faith on that solid foundation, then they grow into the adults they should be, and they grown into the great servants they should be in the kingdom of God.
Am I opposed to taking our young people on a group activity somewhere? No. You may say, “Well, was that inconsistent with what you just said?” I don’t think so. I believe there is camaraderie to be had among the young people of the same age developing them in the way of the Lord. I believe there is a Bible principle for this (I Cor. 15:33). “Do not be deceived, evil communications or evil companions corrupt good morals.” Rather than allowing them to be put out into the world with evil companions, let’s give them good companions to move around with and enjoy good association. Don’t you want that as adults? Sure you do. Adults don’t want to be strapped with kids all the time do they? Adults like to have a time to themselves or with fellow Christians. There should be time and place for both. A time for serious service and time to laugh and play makes us well developed people. Well developed in Christ is our goal (I John 2:13-14).