I’m not Paul, but if he were around today writing letters to churches, I imagine that he might pen something like this:
To all of God’s churches both at home and abroad, I pray for you diligently. I wish you peace and God’s presence and blessing always. As a co-laborer with you in Him, it is my heart’s desire to be God’s faithful servant in spreading the good news of the gospel to the ends of the earth.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, I am writing to you because I don’t want you to be uninformed about the astonishing rate at which we, God’s holy church, are at risk of losing a generation.
Evidently, one half of US teens attend church, but global statistics report that a glum one third of all young people attend religious services of some kind. The steep decline in teens engaging in their faith community increases the anguish in my spirit for the path we are on and for future generations.
Where, oh church, have we gone wrong? Why are our own tweens and teens choosing to extricate themselves from the body of believers?
Are we going to sit idly by as we watch our children wooed away from the lasting things of the Lord by temporary bedazzlements such as globalized networks proffered by a social media saturated world? By no means!
If a successful capitalist impacting the community for good were to have three children being nurtured into the honorable family business, and two of the heirs walked away from a secure and noble future, would not that caretaker stop and take notice? Do whatever it takes to bring the children of promise home, pleading with them not to forsake their inheritance, but rather reminding them of their special calling to carry on the valuable, family business?
So should we, as caretakers of the heirs sit up and take notice when the children of promise begin to walk away from engagement with the body of believers ergo failing to carry on the future of the Kingdom.
I ask, then, what must we do to engage?
What purpose then do the Scriptures serve, if we fail to read them? We are to impress them upon the hearts and minds of ourselves, and of our young. We are to write them on our doorways, lavish them upon our children as they flow from our lips, and teach our young to absorb them into their beings.
I strenuously contend that the church must awaken and be strengthened with the power according to His unending supply of might, to make every effort to regain our vigor as we compel the young to carry on the important work that our forefathers in the faith have begun.
My dear family, our faith in God grants us kinship. As we are sons and daughters of the most High, heirs of a King, so should we treat each other. Remember that we are special, set apart, called, and that we are to train up the next generation thusly. When others see children obey their parents and parents treating their children gently, they will wonder, “what makes them different than us? And how can we be a part of this?” And all are welcome to the family! Our interactions should mirror that of Christ’s treatment of us, and cause us to grow each other up in our faiths.
In the words of Paul, “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”
What are you doing to engage the next generation with scripture, with the church, and holistically factoring family into your ministry?