Built to Last: Developing Long-Term Faith in Teens
When it comes to construction, I must confess that more often than not I am one confused individual. Perhaps the reason is my fault, but I have never felt gifted when it comes to working with my hands. I do, however, enjoy learning, reading, and watching various construction projects; and I have always had a great deal of respect for those that are builders.
If by some chance the gift of building had been bestowed upon me, I know that it would be my desire to build a product that could stand the test of time. The one truth that I do know about building is that every builder builds with the intention of producing a product that will last.
This may be a rather poor illustration, but I believe that it is the prayer, desire and passion of each youth worker to build a faith in the lives of young people that will last well beyond the day of graduation. In various reports, researchers claim that somewhere between the ranges of 40-70% of teenagers that attend church will walk away from their faith within the first three years post-graduation. In the statistic provided, the encouraging news is that several of those young people will eventually return. However, in many cases, the prodigal returns with the scars of sin, memories of mistakes and guilt because of the consequences of sin. Anytime a prodigal comes home, he should feel welcomed and gladly received. [Galatians 6:1]
Youth workers, we must be vigilant to pass to the next generation the tools that are needed to succeed in the Christian life, and help develop a faith that will last. The question now becomes, “What can we do to foster long-term faith in the lives of young people.” Certainly the list below is not exhaustive, but here are just a few reminders and suggestions that Lord-willing can be a blessing to your ministry.
- Model the Christian life.
Long after our teenagers have graduated and forgotten our sermons, lessons, skits, activities, competitions, and stories, what will never be forgotten is the Christian life that we lived before them. I do not claim to be a perfect youth pastor, but my heart’s desire is that our young people would be able to examine my Christian life and say, “I want what he has.”
In the book of Proverbs, Solomon made a plea to his son to “give me thine heart.” The end of that verse is a very powerful and convicting statement that we often overlook, “and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Youth worker, when your young people observe your ways, what do they see?
Let me encourage you to do the following:
· Serve the Lord faithfully.
· Serve the Lord joyfully.
· Walk in the Spirit and be Spirit-filled.
· Rejoice in the Lord.
· Praise and worship God.
· Vocalize His goodness.
· Be thankful.
· Win souls.
· Pass tracts.
· Be concerned for the lost.
· Help others.
· Work hard.
· Live a holy and separated life.
I have listened to many youth speakers encourage fellow workers to find their teenagers doing something right. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement but would like to place a twist on it. Our teenagers need to find us youth workers doing right as well.
- Teach and train the importance of a real walk with God.
Sadly, many teenagers have never learned the joy of having a personal relationship with the Lord. We must teach them, show them, train them, and encourage them in this critical area. The number one goal that every youth pastor should have for his teenagers is to help cultivate and develop a relationship with their God.
· Teach regularly on how to have a walk with God.
· Keep teens accountable.
· Pray that God will give them understanding as they read the Word of God.
· Be available and approachable to answer any questions they may have.
· Have seasoned saints of God in your ministry speak to your teens about the importance of walking with God.
Youth pastor, let me ask you to take inventory of your messages and lessons. Are you guilty of teaching your teens how to walk with God?
- Keep your youth ministry Christ-centered.
The Bible tells us, “that in all things He might have the preeminence.” John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Everything that we do must be done for His glory and honor! We cannot build a lasting faith in teenagers when other relationships are more preeminent than Christ. Man will fail, but Christ has never and will never fail. Our faith is not built on the youth pastor or pastor; it is built and centered on our precious Savior Jesus Christ.
- We must get our teens rooted and grounded in biblical doctrine and principles.
Too often young people graduate from our churches without any idea of what they believe.
- Involve teenagers in the Lord’s work.
· Soul winning
· Bus routes
· Sunday school classes
· Rest home ministry
· Volunteer cleaning
- Build sincere relationships with each teen.
· Pray for them.
· Be friendly.
· Love them.
· Encourage them.
· Spend time with them.
· Remember special events.
· Take personal interest in their lives.
· Spend time with them.
The next generation of Christian servants and leaders cannot be lost! As youth leaders, may we serve with a renewed and intense desire to build in every teenager a lasting faith that remains until Jesus comes again.