High school graduation marks a right of passage for most teenagers. Yesterday our church recognized 23 high school seniors graduating from area high school. After six years of active participation in our youth ministry it is time to give them their wings, and wish them goodbye. You see the harsh reality is that the vast majority of these seniors are likely to leave the church and rarely return. Oh the occasional wedding or funeral may draw them back to a pew. Like good little boys and girls they will take their places with mom and dad for Easter and Christmas, especially when grandkids are in tow, but regular church attendance is probably not in their future.
The Barna research team projects 20% of teenagers who attend church will be active when they are 29 years old. That means 80% of our teenagers will leave the church or were never reached. This does not bode well for the future of the church. Shane Claiborne in his book The Irresistable Revolution recounts a story from his student ministry days. A young man in his youth group professed his faith only to be picked up on drugs charges weeks later. When Shane confronted him asking “What’s up bro?” he shrugged and said, “I got bored”.
In response Shane wrote:
“Bored! God forgive us for all those we have lost because we made the gospel boring. I am convinced that if we lose kids to the culture of drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it’s because we don’t dare them, not because we don’t entertain them. It’s because we make the gospel too easy, not because we make it too difficult. Kids want to do something heroic with their lives….”
Following Jesus was anything but boring. Danger awaited the disciples not potluck dinners. Has God heard all our prayers for safety and put us on the bench so we won’t get hurt!
Those of us in leadership of the church today may need to take a hard look in the mirror. Have we tamed the gospel, and trimmed the claws of the Lion of Judah? Recently I have been reading about the Church Planting Movements that have been sweeping the continents of Asia, Africa, and South America. One common denominator for these movements of God is the boldness and the bravery of those who have taken up the banner of the cross. In the face of persecution and even death, believers are planting churches by the thousands in their homes.
Peter on the day of Pentecost pointed to the words of the prophet Joel who predicted:
17 ‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says,
‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND;
AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY,
AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS,
AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; 18 EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN,
I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT
And they shall prophesy. 19 ‘AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE
AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW,
BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. 20 ‘THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS
AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD,
BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. 21 ‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’ Acts 2:17-21 (NASB)
Not exactly boring stuff I must say. I pray the Lord stir in our hearts dreams and visions that will call your young men and women to give their lives for the sake of the Kingdom.