What are some traits that parents, foster parents, or even grandparents can look for in youth who don’t leave the church?
The most important trait of all for the youth who don’t leave the church is that they were born again because they were equipped and fed the Word of God and not simply entertained. In most cases, their parents have been both preaching the gospel and living it out and not being hypocrites; that is they weren’t saying one thing and living the opposite way. Young people can see hypocrisy a mile away. When they see phoniness, they want nothing to do with it because they don’t want to live a life of duplicity, and who could blame them. Generally speaking, converted youths stay in the church, just like converted older adults.
They Are Involved
If you include children in the different ministries of the church, they’ll more like “buy into” the church and what the church is doing. For some reason, today almost 90% of the youth leave the church once they’re out of school or go into college and move away from home. The world beats them down, the secularist professors shame them, and the lusts of the flesh pull them down. I know when I went to college, the temptations went through the roof. The availability of sinful activities was overwhelming. I am certain it’s even worse for today’s youth out in the world, but if you keep them connected by serving in some capacity in church ministries, they are more likely to want to continue that. I had a young lady who was our elder’s daughter. She became involved with a nursing home ministry and visitation I started. The residents loved her, and she in turn began loving them. She didn’t want to give up that wonderful feeling of serving, and it kept her connected to the church, even when she was older.
They Become Teachers
Some of our best Sunday school substitutes and Sunday school teachers were the youth. When these young adults feel needed by the younger children, such as when serving as teachers, assisting the Sunday school teacher, or being a substitute Sunday school teacher, they stick to their home church because they don’t want to let their students or these young children down. I tried to mentor a young man to take over for me someday for Sunday school in my class of 3rd and 4th grades combined. I started giving him more and more responsibility. I allowed him freedom and to make mistakes without being a mother hen to him. Today he’s one of the best Sunday school teachers there is in the church.
I strongly believe that every Timothy needs a Paul and every Paul needs to mentor a young Timothy, but the same applies to both young men and women. That’s why Paul said, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good” (Titus 2:3), and, “Urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified” (Titus 2:6-7). When youth have great role models in the church and some of these role models are mentoring the youth, they are more likely to stay. I tell these young people that they will have to mentor someone someday to take their place. I want them to think of the future and make sure they know that they’re being role models today for those who will be the younger generation tomorrow and that the church will need them to mentor the generation that follows them.
Today’s youth do not have to be leaving the church at all if we would only make sure that they have been born again. That must come through preaching and teaching of the Word, through their involvement in the ministries of the church by allowing them to serve in certain capacities in real situations, and, finally, through mentoring them and having good role models for them to typify. There is hope for the church of tomorrow, and that hope is in our youth of today.
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman[ssba]
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