Recently I was teaching a Bible study to teenagers on the importance of making a clear choice to follow the Lord. The students come from a variety of religious backgrounds and they engaged in meaningful conversation about this subject during the lesson. They seemed to understand the Bible story and the practical implications it had on their daily lives. At the end of the lesson I passed out a response sheet for the teens to fill out to help me know where they were at spiritually. It had a number of possible responses from “I have made a clear choice to follow God” to “I have made a clear choice NOT to follow God.” The form also had some other answers for those who felt they were somewhere in the middle of those two positions.
Interestingly, of the 43 teens present, only five of did not put their names on the form. This indicated to me that most of them did not mind telling me where they stood spiritually. Many of them wrote notes about the difficulties they were having following God. A dozen teens indicated on the form that they wanted one of the youth workers to contact them to talk specifically about some of their spiritual struggles. Clearly they trusted us enough to share this information with us.
I rejoiced that a larger number than I had expected indicated that they had made a clear choice to follow the Lord. But what I found most interesting was that two of the young people indicated that they had made a clear choice to NOT follow God. While such a statement might be shocking to comprehend for people who grew up in church, I truly appreciated those two teens' honesty. Obviously, I pray that in time they will change their minds and make a different choice. But I appreciate their openness and honesty in stating their position so clearly.
I believe they were willing to make their positions so clear because they know that our church loves and cares for them regardless of where they are at on their spiritual journey. We demonstrate our love for them not just by teaching them the Word of God, but also through spending time with them, hosting programs to meet their needs, and by being there for them when they go through difficult times. We are convinced that if we keep demonstrating love to them, that one day they will come to know the One who demonstrated His love for them by giving His life for them while they were still sinners. Join us in praying for that day to come!
If your church is struggling in your efforts to reach young people, ask might yourself if you have created a safe and loving environment in which teens can feel comfortable sharing their feelings with you. You don’t have to always agree to their feelings, but you do need to listen. Only by listening can you create the relationship that allows for open and honest sharing. And only through openness and honesty can we see lives changed by the love of Christ. So relax a little, let your young people talk, even those who do not yet believe in Christ. You may learn something. And even those who seem hard toward Christ may yet change their minds.