This weekend I read an interesting article on 3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don't Leave the Church by Jon Nielson. Perhaps interesting to me because I consider myself one of those described in the article. Though, no longer a youth, I am still a twenty-something, at least for a couple more years anyway, that stayed in the church as I watched many peers walk away.
Through the years I often struggled as I watched friend after friend walk away from the church in much confusion. I kept thinking, "What happened...am I next to walk away?" So, what was different for me and for those that stayed in the church? I want to share the three key points that Nielson points out in his article along with a brief commentary as I think he is on to something.
3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don't Leave the Church
1. They Are Converted.
This seems like an obvious point, but it is often overlooked for church kids. It is wrong to assume that because a child has always been in church and that they made some commitment at four years of age along with every other four year old that they are truly converted. And if they are converted were they made a disciple? As a church we are called to make disciples not converts. Too many churches are more concerned with a name on a card and their own numbers than to see if a true disciple is being made.
2. They have been equipped, not entertained.
This can not be overstated as many youth ministries are program driven and never equip anyone. Yes, youth love to be entertained and the programs draw them in, but we need to get back to making disciples and equipping the youth to also make disciples. Do not wait until they get into college for them to get serious, by then it is often too late. Take them serious now, equip them to see a church planting movement as a youth on their campus. Nielson says it this way, "If I have not equipped the students in my ministry to share the gospel, disciple a young believer and lead a Bible study, then I have not fulfilled my calling to them, no matter how good my sermons have been."
3. Their parents preach the gospel to them.
This point assumes that the parents of the youth are themselves disciples, which may not be so, but in general if they are a "church-kid" then this can be assumed to some degree. But I do remember growing up the kids that would get dropped off for church activities as their parents would go do something else. For those that are in Christ often become too dependent on the church and the youth ministry to do everything for their child and then blame them later for leaving the church. Yes, the church does play a vital role, but it is your job to daily preach the gospel to them and raise them in a godly way. Your children are your unreached people group while living at home until they too become disciples of Christ.