In our teen class we have a discussion question box. This fall we are taking the topics and questions submitted by the students and using them as our class discussion on Sunday mornings.
One of the cards (and the one we began the series with) simply said, “Keeping faith in God.”
As a parent and a youth minister, it scares me a little that teenagers don’t know how to stay faithful. I read article after article and look at research upon research concerning teenagers and faith. Most of it is negative. Depending on what statistics you listen to, between 40% and 70% of teenagers will leave their faith after graduating.
Dropping out of church while in college it the new normal. The fact that one of my students submitted this discussion topic tells me two things: 1) We have not done a good job of equipping our students to be lifelong disciples of Jesus, and 2) our teenagers want to know how!
So what does it take to keep faith in God?
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE…
I think the first place to start is by wrestling with the question, What would it take for me to lose my faith? I don’t think we consider that one enough. Would it take definitive proof that God does not exist? Would you lose your faith over the death of a close family member? Peer pressure? Addiction? Tragedy? Bad experiences with other Christians? Discovery of alien life?
Know your weak areas, those stumbling blocks with which you find yourself wrestling in the wee hours of the morning. Know your weaknesses and then shore them up. Because even though you may not know your weak spots, Satan certainly does.
What would it take for me to lose my faith? Until the answer to that question is Nothing, we’ve got work to do.
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
IN, NOT OF
From Jesus’ prayer recorded in John 17 we have coined the phrase, “In the world but not of the world.” The idea is that this world is a corrupt, evil, dangerous place, but we’ve still got to live here. Jesus’ prayer is that his disciples (including us) may be in the world but not become conformed to the world’s mold. That means we don’t put our stock into the world’s systems and securities. We don’t buy into the world’s goals and morals and values. Our citizenship is in heaven, and we are strangers and foreigners in this place.
Easy peasy, right?
Unfortunately when I look around the church, especially our younger members (myself included), we look a whole lot more like the world than we should. We look, talk, act, and think like people of the world. And why is it so hard to be in the world but not of the world? Maybe it’s because we are in the church but not of the church. (Not my own idea. I heard it from a preacher not to long ago, but I can’t remember his name.)
KEEP ON RUNNING
An article came out not too long ago on churchleaders.com entitled “3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church.” It’s a fantastic little article that has gotten me rethinking some things. Here’s the gist of the article:
- They are converted.
- They have been equipped, not just entertained.
- Their parents preached the gospel to them.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)