Center of Our Attention
By Pastor Jason Johnson
We all have witnessed over the years youth leaving the church at an alarming rate. I read that after high school some 60 to 70 percent of our youth will leave the church and their faith all together. Which raises the question, what are we doing about this? This leads me to a verse found in Proverbs. Proverbs 22:6 that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” In light of this verse I would like to look at four ways that we, as a church can use to battle this epidemic.
First of all, we need to pray, pray and pray some more! Philippians 1:9-11 says, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” The most important thing we can do for our youth is to pray. Pray for them and pray for God to show us how to instruct them in the way they should go. As Paul said, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing” Never, Never Stop!
The second way is to use Creative ways to teach the Bible! In Jesus ministry we find that He asked close to 300 questions during his earthly ministry. Questions and parables were among his top teaching tools. He knew that great questions acted like a pry bar that would open shut minds and mouths. Before I was a pastor I was the youth leader in our church and I noticed that the more questions I asked, the more the youth would open up. The more I listened, the more I was listened to by the youth I was working with. This created deep and authentic dialogue instead of a one-way monologue. Whatever we do we must be creative and unique in how we interact with them and how we teach them.
One of my favorite ways is to get them sharing the Gospel! In Philemon 1:6 Paul wrote, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you may know every good thing you have in Christ Jesus.” When teenagers share their faith actively, they begin to own their faith personally.
Finally, engage the community of believers around them! In Ephesians 4:11 it Paul says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…” It is our job as a church to as Solomon said, “Train them in the ways they should go”, and what better way then by example and make them the center of our attention. I would like to end with a story that will explain this well.
A teacher from Primary School asks her students to write an essay about what they would like God to do for them. At the end of the day, while marking the essays, she read one that made her very emotional; her husband, who had just walked in, saw her crying and asked her "What happened?" She answered, "Read this. It is one of my students' essay." "Oh God, tonight I ask you something very special. Make me into a television. I want to take its place and live like the TV in my house. Have my own special place, and have my family around ME. To be taken seriously when I talk. I want to be the center of attention and be heard without interruptions or questions. I want to receive the same special care that the TV receives even when it is not working. Have the company of my dad when he arrives home from work, even when he is tired. And I want my mom to want me when she is sad and upset, instead of ignoring me. And I want my brothers to fight to be with me. I want to feel what it feels like for my family to leave everything aside, every now and then, just to spend some time with me. And last but not least, ensure that I can make them all happy and entertain them. Lord I don't ask you for much. I just want to live like a TV." At that moment the husband said, "Oh My, poor kid. What horrible parents!" The wife looked up at him and said, "That essay is our son's!!!"
"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord… “Psalm 127:3