Updated: Sep 19, 2022
Let’s talk about our youth of today. They are the future, after all. What are we, as sons and daughters of God, doing to help and lead our young people? And doing in the name of King Jesus. Are we offering them another service opportunity? That’s been done before and let’s be blunt, is it really pulling at the heart strings? If it was, we’d have young people by the thousands flocking to churches to clean up a neighborhood or serve at a soup kitchen (which are all great endeavors). Are we offering them a way to manage sin? Are we offering them a way out of hell? As you read this does any of what I just mentioned, excite you? In many cases, this is what church with the big “C” is offering youth these days. Serve, manage your sin, get it together, and stay out of hell. Wow. I can corroborate that too. Recently my family and I moved to a new city. In a month’s span we have visited 4 different churches. And all of them, except one, was pushing the same ethos I mentioned above. And my heart sank.
Let me be clear. The church with the big “C” in some cases, is awesome for young people. My point isn’t to bash and condemn.
A deeper question, where is the adventure Jesus modeled for us with youth these days? "What adventure, Anthony? Jesus was the nicest guy in the world! He was so kind and loving." Yes, he was. But he was also modeling so much more. Really!! Read these scriptures and think deeper about the words, imagine the environment and scene, and ask God to give you the eyes to look at it from a different angle.
Luke 4:29 - 30 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. BUT he WALKED RIGHT THROUGH THE CROWD (emphasis mine) and went on his way.
I’m pulling from a spiritual mentor of mine, John Eldredge, here (check out his books, especially – Wild at Heart). What kind of man has the presence enough to be taken out of somewhere to be thrown off a cliff, BUT, is able to turn the crowd from their anger and hatred (after all that’s probably what was going on when you’re going to throw someone off a cliff), and walk through that same angry mob as if nothing happened? Is this is a mild mannered “nice guy” who hands you a sermon pamphlet on Sunday? Or is this a man who is fierce, present, and sets his face like flint! And by the way, there is nothing wrong with the man who volunteers to hand out pamphlets at church. It’s their way of serving community in the name of Jesus and that’s fine. But we must start looking at this in a different way. Especially for those young people out there who are looking for answers. What are we offering them that brings the wildness of Jesus? Doubt me again….read further!
Luke 13:22 He went on teaching from town to village, village to town, but keeping on a steady course toward Jerusalem.
Let’s break this down a little. Jesus and his disciples, traveling on foot, probably with backpacks and sleeping blankets, from town to town. Walking, climbing, stopping for water and bathroom breaks, avoiding Roman oppression, trying to stay cool in the heat of the desert, and all doing this while pushing back on the religious establishment and reshaping faith as we know it. Remember, walking around in those days and from town to village wasn’t like walking to your local coffee shop around the block. Many times, these men and women walked a day or two to get to another town. In the wild. In nature. With many "an enemy" on their tail and all around them. What kind of man leads this type of safari? What type of man relentlessly goes after the hearts of the broken in place after place after place? A weak man who looks up at the father as doves fly behind him in slow motion. NO! Jesus was an explorer, and adventurer, a risk taker. He was a bad a$#. So, let me pose these questions? Why do we not follow this in our programs with youth? Why don’t we follow this in church? Why don’t we lead young men and women on a safari of the heart!? And if you’re reading this and you do – awesome. I applaud you. Send me an email and let’s talk.
It's a good question to think about, marinate in, and perhaps…model?
In an attempt at waking the sleeping masses who work with young people, I invite you, or the two people that read this, to explore in their own hearts, what leading young people with the Love of God could look like? What can we all do to take young people on a journey into the heart of Jesus?
Brainstorm: What about a pop-up coffee shop on a street corner all led and managed by young people? And within that, teaching about what Jesus did? Offering free prayers for those who buy a coffee! What about a junior pit crew program in NASCAR or INDY CAR that teaches young people how to become one of those skilled crew members AND invites them to consistently pray over their instructors, drivers, fellow crew, all while learning about the journey of Jesus! Or an urban youth leadership program which empowers teens to use the vehicle of soccer to mentor and coach their younger peers with love, prayer, and character development.
This is Adventure. This is Frontier. This is the Church of the future. This is Jesus.