When the Church Hurts Young People’s Spirituality
I have been a Christian for several decades now, and I still struggle with an observation that I see throughout the church. Allow me to explain. When children reach fourteen or fifteen years of age parents collectively hold their breath until those children make the decision to obey the Gospel and be baptized. Afterwards there is rejoicing as Mom and Dad breath a sigh of relief. Cards are sent. Prayers are offered. And we may even allow the newly converted male children to wait on the Lord’s Table.
But after a few weeks/months that young person’s zeal wanes, and we all return back to the “normal” activities of life. We don’t expect much from this new Christian. In fact, truth-be-told, we don’t expect anything except for them to continue attending services. After all, they have demands at school and will soon be heading off to college.
It is like baptism is their “cape” that will get them into heaven, and as long as they have that somewhere nearby then that’s enough. And so, our young people get into the habit of obtaining their cape, and then promptly hang it on a nearby coatrack. Surely we don’t expect them to fly right away … right? It’s like we baptize our children and then put it on cruise control until we once again collectively hold our breath to see if they escaped college with their faith in tact. Why have we allowed this to be the normal? This is not the pattern we find in the New Testament—so why is this the pattern we find in the church?
Here’s what I intend to teach my children regarding putting off your service to Christ.
Once you make the decision to follow Christ that becomes your lifelong commitment. It doesn’t officially start once school is out or at a more convenient time. Rather your decision to step onto the narrow path begins once you put on that new man (Colossians 3:8-10).
Saul (who would later become known as Paul) was persecuting Christians. He was a dangerous man for Christians to be around. In Acts chapter 9 we find Saul’s conversion and baptism. Saul went three days without food and water (verse 9) and then Ananias came to him and taught him the Truth. We then learn “So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:19-20, emp. added).
Saul didn’t wait years and years to begin bearing fruit. The text says “immediately” he preached Christ! This is a man who was radically changed and wanted to tell the world about Jesus Christ. He wasn’t interested in waiting a few years or waiting until he was out of college. He wanted to tell the lost about Jesus.
My prayer is that you will have Saul/Paul’s attitude—that you will immediately look for opportunities to teach the Truth and bear fruit. Don’t buy into what the world is promoting that you don’t start life until you are out of school. You are already alive and you were created for good works (Ephesians 2:10)! God has blessed each of you with talents. Look for ways to use those talents for Him.
If you take the world’s mentality of waiting until you are older then several things are likely to happen: (1) you will become cold and apathetic; (2) you will waste several years that you could have reached lost souls; (3) you will help perpetuate this false notion that only older people can bear fruit for Him; (4) you will lose sight of the importance Christ should have in your life!
Don’t wait. Come out of that water looking for ways to serve Him. Turn the world upside down and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t! After all, you are a new man with God on your side.