Devotional - Losing The Evangelical Youth

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. – 1Timothy 4: 12-13 (NLT)

    During my devotional time today I came across and exceptional article about this topic and I must say it was an eye opener. Studies reveal that 70% of churched youth will leave the church by their high school graduation. This isn’t baseball where a 300 average is a positive achievement. We hear all the usual cries about the next generation and how the kids are the future but what does it say when 70% who have tried what we are selling say no thanks once they reach the age of critical thinking? I have heard the well intended excuses of the pull of the world, peer pressure, latch key kids – anything to prevent us from having to look in the mirror. I have heard this used as the defense for home schooling. The reality however is that our kids are smart and eventually they can do the math for themselves about what they are being sold.

    The first reason given by the author for why the youth leave the church is that it strives to be relevant to them. Not irrelevant beloved – relevant. Taking a 2000 year old faith and dressing it up in skinny jeans and plaid is not the way to reach the youth of this world. Why? Because they already got that! I have written about this consistently. The seeker friendly and emergent church movements are heretical lies from the pits of hell that imply or outright state that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is somehow not relevant enough to reach the next generation. This is absolute NONSENSE. Do we realize how much pressure on kids every day? Drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, bullying, suicides, failing school systems, poor economic outlook, parental divorce rates. Why in the world are we trying to be relevant to that mess? Somewhere deep down they want another alternative. They desperately need a different option. The church is supposed to be the option – the light in a world of darkness:

    “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. – Matthew 5: 14-15 (NLT)

    When we strive instead to cool, or hip, or relevant – we snuff out the very light they need to see to make it out of the darkness they are living in. Instead the church treats them apart from the rest of the body. Their “services” are sold as social events instead of church services. I have seen youth services even held in worldly nightclubs – no alcohol of course as if the point is lost on the kids. I have seen youth services inside a church building where secular movies filled with profanity and gratuitous sexual overtones are shown. The Word of God is watered down for them so that no one is challenged but the leadership can feel as if they said the name of Jesus enough.

    Also on the list of top ten reasons are a group of reasons surrounding what it is that we actually teach the youth. We must realize that the atheistic and agnostic elements in this world are going to come after them full board and will respect their ability to think critically and figure things out. Satan wants the youth and the sad thing is we barely put up a fight. As the article states – we send them out unarmed. Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ will arm them properly. Not the pizza party, theologically vacuous rock music posing as worship, church centered drivel we are selling them.

    Because what we are selling them is feeling based – not spiritually based. The church as a whole constantly chases emotional experiences and tries to pretend they are moves of the spirit but the truth is not lost on the youth. Look at the most popular Christian youth worship movements, such as Jesus Culture, and you will see nothing but emotionalism wrapped up in the name of Jesus. Bizarre testimonies based upon new age philosophies and Eastern Mysticism. Fire tunnels where random people lay hands on each other until an emotional response comparable to the old Holy Laughter movement is achieved. Seriously. Go on you tube and search for fire tunnels and see for yourself. Kids laughing uncontrollably, writhing on the floor and all in the name of Jesus. Just kids having fun? Not when you remember that it is sold as a move of the Spirit of God with all of the usual promises of walking in power and trampling serpents. Then when all hell really does break loose in their life they realize there actually was no power behind the emotional experience. There was no power in the Savior they were sold.

    Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. – Colossians 2: 8 (NLT)

    Once they realize they have been captured they seek to break free. You see they already get the high sounding nonsense from the world in which they live. They already get the empty philosophies from the world and they do not need to get up on a Sunday morning to get it either. You see the problem is that when you teach emotionalism, eventually they simply find better feelings. They recognize the lack of authenticity within the church and simply seek it elsewhere. Sure the church may organize help at the local soup kitchen but so does the local agnostic club. The world is not short on socially responsible people. We need to be imparting more than a “help our fellow man” theology. There needs to be what separates us from the world. It is difficult these days because the church as a whole does not discuss sin and repentance anymore – so why would the youth?

    As the article pointed out, eventually the reality of life for kids catches up to the sugar coated gospel. They eventually realize that if this is their “best life now” then they are heading for some serious trouble in this lifetime. They realize that not every day is a Friday and the purposes for which they have been driven too are no different than what the can get from the world. They recognize that simply drawing circles in the sand and demanding what they want is not a viable life strategy. Yet if they raise their hands for help they get prayed over by someone else with no more power than they have. Suddenly that joint they are being offered at school looks better every day. At least it will numb the pain. Never mind that it is a lie from Satan – he is barely mentioned in seeker friendly churches. He is just that guy in the red suit instead of a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

    The second biggest reason however was the real eye opener. We have given our youth nothing but the law from the day they first started in Royal Rangers and Missionettes. A life filled with the do’s and don’t of Christianity devoid of the Christ. Salvation itself merely becomes another thing they are supposed to “do.” You are supposed to get “saved.” And how do we sell that to them? The same way we sell it to adults. A three-minute repeat after me sinners prayer where their salvation is recorded for statistical purposes, they are handed a Bible, and told good luck – you are a new creation. But they know better. They know they are not. I watched Joel Osteen last week and for a half hour he never mentioned the name of Jesus and then at the end of the sermon he asks the people watching on television if they want to give their lives to Jesus – just repeat after me. He says two lines and welcome to the family of God! If it sounds ridiculous that is because it is but we do the same thing every Sunday in our churches and it trickles down into our youth groups. But what does the Bible teach us about the law:

    The old way,with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way.So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! – 2Corinthians 3: 7-11 (NLT)

    And thus we condemn our own youth under the law we feed them year after year. We do so by avoiding the one thing that can free them from the curse of the law – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to use the exact words of the author as he closed up his article because I couldn’t have written it better:

    “Our kids are smart. They picked up on the message we unwittingly taught. If church is simply a place to learn life-application principals to achieve a better life in community… you don’t need a crucified Jesus for that. Why would they get up early on a Sunday and watch a cheap knockoff of the entertainment venue they went to the night before? The middle-aged pastor trying desperately to be “relevant” to them would be a comical cliché if the effect weren’t so devastating. As we jettisoned the gospel, our students are never hit with the full impact of the law, their sin before God, and their desperate need for the atoning work of Christ. Now THAT is relevant, THAT is authentic, and THAT is something the world cannot offer. We’ve traded a historic, objective, faithful gospel based on God’s graciousness toward us for a modern, subjective, pragmatic gospel based upon achieving our goal by following life strategies. Rather than being faithful to the foolish simplicity of the gospel of the cross we’ve set our goal on being “successful” in growing crowds with this gospel of glory. This new gospel saves no one. Our kids can check all of these boxes with any manner of self-help, life-coach, or simply self-designed spiritualism… and they can do it more pragmatically successfully, and in more relevant community. They leave because given the choice, with the very message we’ve taught them, it’s the smarter choice.”

    Perhaps the saddest statement has not been made yet. The conditions of what is being taught to the youth are exactly the same that is being taught to the adults. Maybe without the rock music and pizza parties. I have however seen Super Bowl parties to try and get men to show up for church, so the gimmickry is pretty much the same. But the seeker friendly, community purposed, bloodless Gospel based upon chasing emotionalism in lieu of a genuine move of the Spirit of God is what is going on in about 70% of mainstream evangelical churches today. Horrifically inappropriate worship, a blending secularism to the point where the church is not just relevant to the world – it is the world, and no real discussion of sin and repentance is the typical experience. Mega church pastors justifying the use of heretical books, Easter egg hunts, and hipsterisms as a means to “reach the lost” is commonplace. But what are they being reached with? Certainly not Jesus Christ and His Gospel. So here is the frightening take away for me. How is it that 70% of our youth are smart enough to get up and walk out on this nonsense but the adults all stay? Jump in the river and soak in that for awhile.

    So what is the answer then when it comes to our youth – our most precious commodity? I think there are several easy steps. First of all, we need to stop baptizing children. Yes, I know how advanced your little Suzie is but I simply refuse to accept that an eight year old fully conceptualizes sin. What’s the big deal? Well you set up a chain of events where the child and parents think salvation has occurred where it has not and that can have long lasting affects. How can we be sure it has not occurred? Because we seek the Savior due to the weight of our sin becoming unbearable – not because our youth leader thinks it makes for good photo opportunities. Do you know many eight year olds who are burdened by the weight of their sins? They key word there is SIN. Not guilt for doing something “bad.” Secondly, we need to get back to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ:

    When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. – 1Corinthians 2: 1-2 (NIV)

    I did not come to you with flat screen televisions and slick marketing. I did not come to you with rock concerts and faux worship music. I did not come to you with pizza parties the schemes of man. I did not come to you with prosperity in this life and a purpose for you in your community. I did not come to you with a seeker friendly message, and emergent church movement, and a bloodless Christianity. I did not come to you with rampant secularism and a desperate desire to fit my little church into your big world. I did not come to you with relevance and compromise. No beloved – I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. Why? Because only Christ and the cross have the power to defeat the enemy. Only Christ and the cross have the power to overcome this world. When we instead feed youth the world dressed up as Christ – eventually they figure it out. Why stay in a church that acts like the world it pretends to speak against? Why line up with the hypocrisy? Why do the adults…

    For the record, I am not against pizza parties, and things the kids can do that are more “youth focused.” Those things however should be in support of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – not in lieu of it. It all must start and end with Christ – both in the downstairs Youth Hall and the upstairs sanctuary. Then when the world comes along to tempt them – they will possess the real power of God inside of them. They will be able to tell what they have is different. What they have is better. I once heard a pastor say that three youth gave their lives to Christ at a youth rally because of the new plasma televisions the church had purchased for the Youth Room. Lord forgive us. The key verses today come from Paul, exhorting his young protégé, Timothy. It highlights for us that we need to expect more from our youth than we give them credit for. If we would just be a godly example to them we can expect them to be a godly example in a godless world. The answer as always is provided. In church, stick to the Scriptures, encouraging people and teaching them sound doctrine. Stay away from the skinny jeans and plaid shirts. The Gospel always has been enough beloved – and it always will be.

    Reverend Anthony Wade – February 19, 2013

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