The Church and Teens

The Coming Teen Decade is around the corner. It is the once in a century happening when we have 7 years of 'TEENS' (2013-2019). I am calling youth leaders and youth in America to several initiatives:

  • Daily repentance and prayer
  • Weekly fasting on Fridays
  • Monthly witnessing to one friend
  • Annual mentor in your life
  • Lifetime of sexual purity
I have unpacked these in a previous blog, and will do that again soon. But, in the meantime, let me deal with another topic as we prepare for The Coming Teen Decade.

At the baccalaureate graduation service for William and Mary College, Hans Teifel spoke these words. He was addressing how our culture has squeezed the church into selfishness and isolation and our autonomy that we practice as Americans.
“Our culture sweeps us all along in its current. As social beings, we are all in the mainstream of culture that carries us where it wants us to go. But communities of believers are called at times to swim against the cultural current. Religious communities are called to show this world the love of God and to resist a culture that would sweep us along to selfish actions.
In ethics courses in religion departments all across the nation, one of the recurrent and most basic of all questions concerns the meaning of life. Whether religious or secular, the meaning of life is important. It is a matter of obeying two commands. Here is your last chance to learn the great truth of life before you leave this institution. 

Actually, when I tell you, you will recognize that you have known it all along. We all do. That meaning comes in the form of two commandments: ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might…And you shall love your neighbor as yourself’." (Matthew 22:34-40)

I'm sure in that baccalaureate service there was great disappointment over that statement. The crowd gathered at William and Mary College that day expected something else, something more, and something better. The command smacks of religious duty. Loving God and neighbor is not exciting. It seems so un-American and not about me. Of course in a culture that prizes autonomy, literally a self-law, commands from someone else seem out of season. 

But, I want you to hear Teifel's words. Did you catch the part about the church?

Believers only have that strength to swim against the cultural current when they are in worshiping communities. Vital to fulfilling this double commandment is our attachment to the body of Christ. One of the main reasons we cannot live righteously and above reproach today is because we have not made a commitment to the kind of spiritual growth that takes place only in ligament relationships within the church.

In this blog today I want to challenge you to love the church. Really. Not just attendance or participation or lip service. But, to love the church. Here are 4 ways young people and young leaders can do that as we approach The Coming Teen Decade: 

  1. Speak highly of the church. Even in its fault. Remember that the church is people. And people are not perfect; only forgiven. So many in our culture have negative attitudes about the church. You can change that.
  2. Do something in the church. The church must get younger. Use your gift. Whatever it is that you do. Do you sing, play an instrument, speak or teach, work with your hands or do maintenance, relate well to people, administrate and organize, enjoy athletics and recreation, or even pray? What can you do to be involved in the life of the church?
  3. Disciple. It is the one command that includes both loving God and loving man. We must all help people to see the reason they have been created. The one great question of life that is being asked by humankind is simply, 'Why am I here?' Help someone discover that answer by taking them through the steps of discovering God and becoming a follower of His.
  4. Pray for the church. The one thing America lacks greatly is our discipline in prayer. We have so much dependence upon ourselves and our stuff that God is at the end of the equation. Place Him at the beginning and see how that can change the momentum of the church.
Young people. Listen. Without a love for the church, you cannot serve God. The church is the living organism that God created to bring life to the earth. Paul used the illustration of marriage to define the church. In Ephesians chapter 5 he challenged husbands to "love our wives as Christ loved the church." What a great statement to all of us about the kind of passion Jesus has for the church.

Teifel hit it on the head. We cannot serve God faithfully without being in the Church. Because the church is alive with the Spirit of Christ.