What does your fellowship group offer children and young adults? What do you as parents expect your fellowship to do? What does God expect you to do?
I have been editing a book this week, Parent-Driven Discipleship by Michael Kennedy, and I have nine grandchildren who range in age from 16 to 4. This week I have been examining my own life as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I have always had a passion for young people. It more than concerns me when I see churches conducting ministry to children and young people the same way that they did when I was in school. It didn’t work then and it still doesn’t work!
How do I know that? Because my own experience and the current statistics tell me that kids go to church because their parents make them. How do I know that? Because the church attendance of young people after graduating from high school is dismally, pathetically low!1 And the low attendance continues until their children are elementary age and the now parents return to church so they can drop their kids into Sunday School and Children’s Church. There is some kind of disconnect that the once disinterested teens do not remember that what their parents did, which they are now doing, did not work so why would it work for them?!
When I was a teen, I had many questions about God and the Church.
- How do I talk to God and does He really listen? How do I know that?
- What is sin? Do the Ten Commandments cover lying? What about “white lies”?
- Why is sex before marriage a sin if the two people love each other?
- What is church supposed to be about in my life? Is it just a place to pay my “dues” so I have a place to be married and buried without a charge?
Those questions and more were not welcome in the Sunday classes I attended. I’m not sure if the teachers didn’t know the answers or if they were too disinterested/lazy to go look them up. What is wrong in admitting to the young people we teach that we do not know all the answers? What is wrong in looking for the answers together? And how about exposing our young people to other teachers? Must we use “just Cokesbury” or “just Lifeway” or whatever is the “approved only” curriculum? Could we as the Body of Christ pool our giftings of discernment, teaching, and shepherding and wisely utilize other curriculum, giving our students some exposure to what they may hear from friends or college professors? Could we explore together, even building trust that may bear fruit in the future with a return for further advice and wisdom?
We in Christ’s Church have been given the responsibility to go and make disciples. We are too often remiss in realizing that this responsibility includes our own homes, our home fellowships. Disciples are more than superficial, say-the-prescribed-words believers. Disciples follow in the footsteps of their Teacher, growing in their faith of Him so that He becomes more visible and the disciples less remembered. A disciples’ faith is alive and growing, not stagnant and dead.
Let us show our children by true example what a disciple of Jesus Christ is all about!