When one examines the current trends among our youth and reads the latest newspaper, it is easy to see that our nation is in perilous times. Our nation adopted a policy in the 1960s to throw money at the social problems being faced by the poor. This philosophy spilled over into programs which affect our youth through education programs. Now, after approximately 30 years, we can see that the “throw money at the problem” philosophy has failed miserably. No matter what survey you look at, you may be guaranteed that problems facing our youth are increasing.
Though the message of books like I Corinthians is to keep the world out of the church, the fact is the world affects the church still after 2,000 years. Many have adopted the idea that entertainment or throwing dollars at our youth will make them better, but the Bible, so far as I know, does not instruct the church to entertain anyone with the exception of entertaining or showing hospitality/respect to strangers (Heb. 13:3). The church is the blood-bought institution of Jesus Christ ordered to evangelize the world (Matt. 28:18-20).
Solomon, the man blessed with wisdom from God almighty, tried the entertainment of the world in a much greater way than anyone we will ever know, and he concluded that all should remember their Creator in “the days of their youth” (Ecc. 12:1). He further stated that the “whole of man” was to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecc. 12:13). One of the stated purposes of the writing of Proverbs was to “give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge, and discretion” (Proverbs 1:4). Who could desire more for themselves and their youth? This knowledge can and should benefit all of us because it was inspired by God. One very important admonition is: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Our youth must be taught the way of the Lord. This responsibility begins at home and rests on the parents (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4). The church can never take the responsibility of the home for they are two distinct institutions. Some have seemed to think that the church is in the baby-sitting business using a youth director as a secular activities coordinator for their children. Some parents don’t talk about the Bible or God, but they take their children to Sunday School and all other programs of the church and want that to be enough. Well, taking your children to worship services of the Lord’s church is a great thing and is commanded, but more instruction and support is needed in the home. When children see that mom and dad are dedicated servants of God, then they realize the religion of our Lord to be serious business. However, when we give little instruction to our children and we send them to youth programs with an emphasis on drama and entertainment, we should not be surprised that our children grow up and they reject the church of the Bible for denominationalism. What our youth need are parents and Christian leaders that will take them to the Bible. Involved in taking them to the Bible is instruction in Christian living and service (Titus 2:1-10). Practical lessons in helping with the worship service, visiting the sick, helping with the needs of widows and the less fortunate, and learning the “ways” of God (Isaiah 55:8) are all needed by our youth.
It is very rewarding to take a lead in visiting the sick with young people. The youth recognize from their experience that a visit is very easy to make, and those visited, especially the elderly, appreciate the attention from young people more than from adults. I know that it seems like a simple matter, but taking our young folks to a gospel meeting is a very encouraging thing for all involved. We must understand that the most important things and certainly the most valuable things we as individuals have and can share with our youth is our time and attention. When we spend time with our young people, they find out the real person behind the suit and tie on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights. They also can see the work that is to be done in the kingdom of God.
A lot of young men have grown into great gospel preachers, godly elders, deacons, Bible teachers, and youth directors by the simple encouragement of good moms and dads along with interested Christian adults. You see, one does not have to have fancy youth programs or even a youth minister or director to develop our youth for Christ. A fancy bus is not required for this task nor is a lot of money necessary. Many great Christians have developed out of congregations with none of the fancy items above; moreover, I believe most have been developed by the dedication of godly parents who were willing to take time to help young men and women develop into great servants for God. Every Christian should take an interest in our youth. It is true they are the church of tomorrow, but in many cases it is also true that they have obeyed the gospel of Christ and are the church of today.
Take some time to be involved. You can help shape the future of the Lord’s church through practical teaching and Christian service to our youth today. Let’s get back to the basics in working with our youth. You see, everyone needs the direction of God.
-David Hill