Four Opportunities Young People Deserve

As Christians, we wonder why so many young people are struggling and leaving the faith. We point our finger at media and other villains. But perhaps we should look at ourselves first. What does the Bible say that believers need? After spending much of my life seeking to impart faith to young people, here are four things that I’ve found work:

  • Experience

All young people should have the opportunity to walk as Jesus and his disciples walked.

“Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.” 1 John 2:6

Where does faith come from? It may be grounded in good theology, but it comes from the heart. It comes from experiences that impact the heart. The faith Jesus and his disciples walked out was radical. Young people deserve the opportunity to see if that model Jesus gave us still works.

  • Initiation

Young people deserve a particular kind of experience – an initiation. We see Jesus initiating his disciples in Matthew 10. The church should send out its young people on mission as a part of their training, free of charge to see if he shows up as promised.

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.”  Matt. 10

All over the world we see in other cultures that as young people move to adulthood, an initiation is normal. The transition is hard and thoughtful parents will help their kids prepare for it. But not in America. No wonder 54% of young people are deeply anxious and even wonder if they are mentally ill. Where are the adults helping them make the transition to adulthood? Young people deserve better from their elders.

  • True Religion

All young people should be given the opportunity to practice true religion caring for widows and orphans – serving God’s vulnerable children.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” James 1:27 and Luke 4:18-19

We need to align ourselves with God’s priorities. When I connect with those who are in distress, I stop thinking about myself. Their pain elicits my compassion. And when I help them, something in me feels better. Why is that? I believe it’s the Spirit of God that blesses those who care for his kids who have no one else – widows and orphans.

  • Healthy Church

All young people should be given the opportunity to experience the body of Christ functioning as intended.

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” 1 Cor. 12:12

God made us with a need to deeply connect with one another and with him. Churches where that doesn’t happen feel stale and unhealthy. But there are plenty of churches where it does happen. And if our leaders will lead with more authenticity and vulnerability, their congregations will follow. I’ve seen this process works even in our cynical culture.

We need to give young people the opportunities to see that, as bad as the world may seem, God is still present and active. Getting outside the walls of our church buildings and into places where he has promised to meet us makes all the difference.

*Editors Note: Do you work with youth or a teenager yourself? See ways you can be involved in mission trips and serve others while growing in your faith. Start here for options for teen trips.

Seth Barnes is founder and president of Adventures in Missions who offer mission trips on MissionGuide. This article is used by permission from his blog, Radical Living.

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