The Churches of Christ always have emphasized the importance of
spiritual growth in our young people. I have never heard members of a
congregation reject the necessity of providing quality spiritual training and
guidance for our children. Verbally, we endorse the urgency of maximum spiritual
involvement for our children.
In taking a strong verbal stand, we direct ourselves and others to relevant,
significant scriptures, such as Moses' instructions to Israel in Deuteronomy
6:4-7: "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall
teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your
house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."
Or the words or Ecclesiastes 12:1 "Remember also your Creator in the days of your
youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, 'I
have no delight in them.'
We often have stressed Jesus' knowledge of scripture and spiritual interest when
he was 12 years old. Luke 2:41-52 emphasized the fact the he spent 3 days with
adult teachers of God's law discussing, answering, and asking questions. Luke
concluded his report on the incident by saying, And Jesus kept increasing in
wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52).
We site Paul's words to Timothy: "For I am mindful of the sincere faith within
you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am
sure that it is in you as well" (2 Timothy 1:5). Someone said, "If you want to
give the world a Timothy, start with the faith of a grandmother."
A statement you commonly heard in Churches of Christ for years was: "We dare not
spiritually neglect our children, for they are the church of tomorrow." What is
meant by "the church of tomorrow?" If we mean the distant future, we are wrong.
In our rapidly changing world, they are the church of the immediate future.
Check the ages of those who dare to be missionaries today in dangerous places.
Check the ages of "new" preachers. Check the ages of those who now accept
kingdom challenges. Most of them are young and are doing things 40 year olds
would not dream of attempting. It is the young adults who are our energy, our
enthusiasm, our spirit of commitment, and our acceptors of challenging
situations now. They are the ones who dare to accept challenges that confuse
most of us over 40!
- Consider a desire and concern in most generations of parents.
- It is the desire to work earnestly with our children.
- It is the desire for increased spiritual support and encouragement for our
- It is the desire for a better coordinated spiritual effort for our children.
- It is the desire to better meet their spiritual needs.
- Let me be specific:
- It is not the feeling that nothing has been done, but the desire to be more
- Two reasons fuel that desire.
- First is the enormous need.
- Second is the incredible challenge.
- The need for developing this area of work is real, not manufactured.
- Consider a painful, disturbing reality.
- Remember all the sons and daughters you know who grew up in this congregation
but who are not faithful Christians.
- After a person passes adolescence, the probability of him or her becoming a
Christian radically declines.
- The battle is won or lost before he or she leaves home and his or her home
- The work of building faith in the hearts and minds of our children is involved
- Nothing can program it or guarantee it.
- Our children will for their own reasons accept or reject God.
- There is much we can do to help and encourage, but little we can do to force a
serious decision on them.
- If we reduce conversion to only a matter of control, we eliminate faith as a
factor in conversion.
- We surely have a significant opportunity to produce a more fruitful work in our
- We also spiritually can touch and influence many of their friends' lives.
- Yet, we must clearly understand there are no magical solutions.
- A part of the puzzle can be a devout, effective youth minister.
- What is the basic job description of such a person?
- He must be a prepared teacher teaching meaningful classes.
- He must be a good coordinator.
- Not only must he plan a solid program of balanced activities,
- But he must also coordinate parent and adult involvement.
- While he will seek to implement major involvement projects annually, he must
have adult involvement and help.
- There always will be more work than one person can do!
- Some realities need to be clearly understood.
- Just because we have a capable youth minister does not mean a wonderful work
- It takes time to develop a successful work--sometimes a long time.
- It also takes interested, reliable parents and adults.
- It takes children who are willing to get involved.
- It must be encouraged to grow and develop naturally--no "quick fixes."
- Without exception, it takes hard work.
- The work of a good youth minister is difficult work.
- It is easy to have too many outside expectations and priorities! It is easy for
everyone to be a critic!
- The different value systems of different families can create some interesting
lists of "most important things" and generate some incompatible agendas.
- Different family concerns easily can produce conflicting priorities.
- Opportunity for good work demands flexibility among parents, a cooperative
spirit, and a willingness to reach compromises.
- It is impossible to please everyone or do everything.
- There must be a realistic understanding of his needs.
- Youth minister work is commonly a high-expense work.
- Often he takes youth to places that he (and his wife) are expected to pay costs
he really cannot afford.
- Too many congregations never think about what it costs him to do what they want
him to do.
- As an adult, he needs some adult association in his life.
- Not even a loving parent desires to spend all his or her time with their kids.
- He often spends more time with kids than their parents spend with them.
- While it appears he spends lots of time playing, playing and late hours are a
part of his work.
- Chaperons rarely consider their chaperoning work as play time!
- There is too much responsibility and energy involved for it to be play!
- He needs some time away from kids to care for his own family.
- He likely never has weekends or holidays.
- If he is not careful, there is never a time that belongs to his family.
- He needs help, not criticism--workable suggestions, not condemnation.
- When hiring such a person, congregations need to understand he looks at us while
we look at him.
- Is it obvious that we regard his work as important?
- Is it obvious that our expectations are reasonable?
- Is it obvious that leadership will be encouraging, supportive, and
- Is it obvious there is a broad base of parental involvement and support?
(Show of hands) How many parents are here who have grown children, no longer
living at home? (Reflective question) Do you think it is easier today to be an
effective Christian parent of a 13-year-old than it was when your children were
13? I freely confess I do not.
There is less godly influence in every area of today's children's lives than in
the past. Ungodly peer pressure is greater. Our society is sending more mixed
signals on every moral issue from drugs to sex, from abortion to honesty. Today
there are harder moral decisions that must be made at a much earlier age. There
are fewer sources of godly encouragement now than there ever has been.
I know most of you agree--I have heard too many grandparents worrying about
their grandchildren. Today's adolescent faces moral issues, hard decisions, and
conflicting choices that were non-existent in college a few decades ago.
We need to be more creative in providing them help than our society is in
producing troublesome choices for them. I challenge you to be an active part of