Given the world we are asking our students to step into, it is increasingly critical that we equip the next generation. Our students are not the future of the church; they are the church. There is no better time for them to get the dirt of ministry under their fingernails. But given the large scale challenges our students are facing even to express their faith, the thought of where to begin can be paralyzing. So I started to think through some of the roadblocks that often stand in our way of being effective witnesses of the gospel and how youth leaders and parents can begin to prepare students for the road ahead.
Loving another person in our modern western culture no longer means throwing them a lifeline to save them from a destructive life of sin and an eternity without God. Instead, it implies affirmation and celebration of any lifestyle one chooses. The moral high ground now belongs to the one who lives and let lives, puts feelings before facts, and places all worldviews on equal footing.
During my days as a teacher—in my little corner of the world, inside the four walls of my classroom, my students were good kids. They liked Jesus. They went to church and participated in youth group. They loved and respected their parents. And let’s be honest. They, of course, loved their Bible classes with me. I have no doubt—even today—that most of that is true. But what I neglected to realize was eventually they would have to leave the comfort of their homes, classrooms, and neighborhoods.
As older generations, it is easy to see our youth as less than what we were. Focussing on the negative comes almost natural. But, it is these students who are entering the workforce, impacting the economy, the future pastors our churches, and charting the course for Christianity’s future—taking what we hand off to them and moving it forward. It is our job to be sure we are handing off a faith that reflects Christ, a mission that is focused on the gospel, and wisdom that can only come from God.
The western world is officially post-Christian—actively rejecting Jesus and the gospel. This is forcing churches to face some new challenges. Nowhere is this challenge more important in Christendom than in our youth groups and families.