Saturday, March 23, 2013

Do you Want your Youth to Stay in the Church?

It's a dumb question to ask since any church member with the ability to think would say, yes. We don't want our youth to leave the church. This post is in response to Marc5sola's post about why young people leave the church.  We want young people to stay in the church. If they leave for another city or town, we want them to be rooted in a strong community of believers where the gospel is preached.

I almost left the church. Specifically, I almost left the RP church because of the following reasons: 1. are very few people my age. 4. It's hard to relate with many in the church.

I'm not abnormal either. Large numbers of 20-somethings are and have left the church. It's an epidemic right now. If you want to keep your youth in the church, here is how:

You give them leadership positions, you disciple** them and you be honest. 

I have stayed in the church, specifically in the RP church. Here is why. In high school I was given leadership positions. I was a member of CYPU and so four/five times a year I was organizing, helping lead events in the RP church for the presbytery youth.

Also, I once had breakfast with my pastor, and I asked why we don't have a "youth group" at 2nd RP. His explanation, youth groups pull the youth out of the church and create a second church. He then challenged me to take my desires and use them to benefit the church. He challenged me to serve. As as a result, I started to organize and plan various service projects to help others in the church.

Because I was given leadership and challenged to invest in the church as a leader, it was hard for me to leave church. No one leaves what they've invested in very easily.

Discipleship is not hard to understand. You meet with a fellow believer on a regular basis, share your applications from Bible study and review memory verses. What's hard is being honest on how you're doing spiritually and keeping up with meeting with your brother on a regular basis.

In high school, I was discipled. My Dad and pastor regularly met with me, sharing their applications and memory verses. I saw their spiritual lives. It gave me an honest picture of how one grows in Christ.

During my junior year and senior year of high school, an elder in the church met with me weekly, reading through various books like Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. I got to deal with questions he struggled with and I got to struggle through my own. I was able to start to get an honest picture of the struggles of today's church.

Two Final Comments 
First, This is not a sure-fire way to keep young people in the church. Young people will leave the church. The question is whether they are going to leave with you screaming, crying and fighting as they go. It's important to never quit with young people. They're a strange bunch. When you least expect them to listen, they do. When they act like they've rejected everything, they really haven't.

Second, pray constantly. Just because a child of God has left, it doesn't mean this child lost. The prodigal son returned.  

*Part of the reason I saw worship as "boring" is because I didn't understand in my mind why the things happened in the service that did and I didn't hold in my heart the willingness to humble my desires in light of God's. 
**Discipleship: What Jesus did with the Twelve Disciples, what Paul did with Timothy. 

1 comment:

  1. Life after high school...after college (if applicable)...big transitions. It's really the time for the congregation to stay in touch and give support. In college, one care package every semester of a couple bags a microwave popcorn and a few cookies with a small note of encouragement like simply: "We're praying for you" makes a huge impression on a kid.

    Even if he's going to a different church afterwards, you've taught him something about what it means to be part of a community, something that many RP Churches have natural talent for, but it's always good to look for ways to improve.


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