A Cry for the Next Generation

The teens in our churches are walking out the doors right before our eyes. Research from the Barna Research Group found that over 60% of teens raised in the church leave before adulthood. These are young people who said they attended church regularly and even went to Sunday school often. And a new poll out just this past month shows that Millennials are leaving the church in historic numbers. So what is happening?

The Problem

The answer is actually quite simple. During the formative teen years, their faith was bombarded by messages from the world and ultimately it did not stand against the attacks.

Let’s consider for a minute the day of an average teen. When they get up, many instantly access social media on their phones. Their news feed is packed with stories and posts, but what are the messages they are receiving from them? Then, as they get ready and head to school, teens often listen to secular music on the radio. Music with messages often celebrating the very sins that Jesus died to set us free from. At school, they hang out with friends all day who are a huge influence – good or bad – on them. The majority of church attending teens go to public schools where believing that God created the world in six literal days is called “anti-science,” the religion of secular humanism is being taught under the disguise of evolution; marriage is redefined, and genders are eliminated. After school, there are sports or other extra curricular activities, and while not bad in and of themselves, they can often become the very center of what teens live their lives for. Finally, they head home where, after they finish their homework, they sit down and relax in front of the TV, which is another avenue that normalizes and celebrates sin and the “life is all about me” mentality.

Do you notice what is missing from their day? God. For the majority of teens, God is relegated to one hour a week on Sunday and perhaps a daily chapel service if they attend a Christian school. Such a slim amount of time to counter the constant, never relenting attacks of this world! And while this is not every teen (there are always exceptions), it is many of them.

teensCG
teensCG

This wave of worldliness is powerful and while we hope the teens we know and love can weather it, the statistics show that almost two thirds of them do not. Tonight, look at your children sitting at your dinner table. Can you imagine if half of them walked away from Jesus Christ? This is the worst imaginable thing that could happen to them because it has eternal consequences!

We’ve got to do something. We’ve got to fight back for them.

So, what is the solution?

What We Can Do

We need to prepare and equip the teens with the power of God’s Word and not just for an hour once a week. No, if their faith is going to stand against the attacks, they need to regularly be in their Bibles. We need to be teaching them how to look to God for answers to their questions. We need to talk (often) about the issues of our day and show them how God’s Word is still as relevant and powerful as it ever was. We need to confidently stand with the authority of God’s Word on issues like creation, marriage, and the family. Teens need to be shown that God created them for a purpose, that he loves them like crazy, and that he has a plan for each one of them.

Then, in addition to constantly pointing them back to the truths in Scripture, we need to show them what it means to follow Jesus. We don’t just sit back, enjoy our salvation, and live our lives like the rest of the world (with a few more rules). No, since our hope is secure, we live for what is to come and our lives are devoted to accomplishing God’s calling to "go" (Matt 28:18-20). Are we modeling this for the teens? Do they see that we are willing to stake our entire lives on the fact that we know God is who he says he is?

This is a big task so we as the body of Christ need to support and encourage one another as we walk alongside the teens. That is why we feel God has led us to start Chosen Gen Teen Ministry. God has put a love in our hearts for this next generation of the church and we believe the best way to reach them is through you, the people God has already placed in their lives. Chosen Gen is all about outfitting teen discipleship. It’s about praying fervently for our young people; it’s about rallying the church to rise up and invest in this next generation; it’s about supporting and encouraging parents as they navigate the teen years with their children.

There is Hope

This battle requires that everyone get involved in some way. Unless the people of God rise up to fight back, we are only going to see more and more young people exchange a real life in Jesus for a fading one with the world. But there is hope because:

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4

We believe God is moving in a big way. Not only can God call our young people back to him, but he can raise up the next generation in a way we’ve never seen before! Can you imagine the impact on our world if the next generation rose up to shine the light of Jesus Christ in this increasingly dark world?

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

Teens have passion; they have energy; they have time and flexibility. Think of what God can do with a generation of young people who are willing to risk it all for God and his glory!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21

We couldn't be more excited to share Chosen Gen Teen Ministry with you and we pray that everyone will step out and fight for the next generation of the church. Let's go; God has got this!

Back to Serving

It's that time of the year again. All the kiddos head back to school and my husband and I, we head back to youth ministry. We never had plans before we got married to get involved with  youth ministry, it just kind of happened. This year we will enter our 7th year working with the teens of our church and we absolutely love it. Now I'd by lying if I told you it has been all success and great moments. We've had lots of fun over the years and lots of bumps as well. I thought I would share with you some of the the things we've learned through serving in hopes of encouraging you to step out or persevere in your own lives of service.

Serving is fun. 

When we started working with the teens in our church we did it thinking we would be an encouragement and help to them, little did we know they would be a joy and blessing to us as well. Teens are a rowdy, crazy bunch and they keep life fun and exciting. :) They've welcomed us as some of their own and in exchange we have grown close to many of the teens over the years. They are enjoyable to be around and we love watching them grow and mature in life and more importantly in Christ.

To top it off, serving with my husband Justin has been the biggest blessing and joy to our marriage! We love working together as partners in God's kingdom. We love having our weekly "date" getting in God's Word with the teens. We love the reminder that life is about more than our marriage and our family; it's about Jesus and reaching out to the lost around us.

teens
teens

We can't determine our success by human standards. 

Serving is challenging. We cannot let our attitude towards serving be bound up in how many people show up for an event, get involved in the mission or love the message. Numbers will come and go, ministries will succeed and struggle and sometimes after hours of investment and planning, you will see no earthly return on your investment. That doesn't mean all is for naught. God cares about more than numbers. He cares about people, about hearts, about his truth being proclaimed to the nations. Sometimes we may not see the results of what we are doing until we reach heaven, and that's okay. If we find our joy and satisfaction in knowing Christ and knowing that we are serving were he has called us, then we find ourselves less prone to emotional valleys and disappointment.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." - Colossians 3:23-24

Don't wait for the perfect time in your life to start serving.

When we first got involved in ACTS, we had only been married a year and had no children. Then we got pregnant with our son and thought we might have to stop after he was born. It turns out babies are quite mobile and easily tag along on teen events. :-) And now, here we are entering our 7th year of serving with 4 kiddos! God has continually provided wonderful babysitters each year and we've also learned that sometimes it's okay to serve with your children in tow. The teens love our kids and we love that they get to see that living for God is something you do at every stage of your life.

We make mistakes.

Thankfully God, in his unboundless grace, can use us anyway. We've done things that didn't work. We don't handle every situation perfectly. We sometimes have the wrong motives, mindset and goals. God knows we are imperfect and thankfully he is bigger than our insecurities, stronger than our weakness and perfect amongst our imperfections.

Prayer wins. 

God is the one who grants success to our efforts. We have planned the best events and used the most up to date marketing. Ultimately, the times in our ministry that we've seen the most excitement for God and blessings in our group are when we've been faithful in praying for God's guidance and his provision. (Fighting Battles from our Knees).

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor,serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. - Romans 12:9-13

Have you written off yourself as too busy, too much of a mom, too young or too old to serve him? Whether in big or small ways, God can and wants to use each of us no matter where we are in life. Have you prayed about where God is calling you to serve him right now?