One of the things that struck me, as I listened and observed, was the amazing opportunity these young people have that many of their peers do not. In my teen years, I was not a part of a faith community and did not attend a Youth Group or Sunday School. However, when I became a Youth Pastor in the late ‘90’s, I witnessed firsthand the incredible things that can happen when young people, excited about Jesus, get together, grow together, and serve together. I saw remarkable things happen at summer camp and youth retreats. Kids came to faith in Christ and began to see each other differently. Colossians 3:12-13 says, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” In my youth group and every summer at Camp Winniaugwamauk, I saw young people learn to love and accept one another. There were no “cliques.” No cool kids versus geeks. Lifelong, meaningful, relationships are often formed in church youth groups. It is also fertile soil for the next generation of church leaders.
Look, I know. Teens will sometimes be teens. It is biological. Hormones and all. Sometimes they believe they have all the answers and have nothing else to learn. Especially, from you. I get it, but let’s not forget. We were teens too and, to be honest, not any different. Nonetheless, we all have an opportunity to be a mentor to young people. An example. To make allowance for their faults, and be forgiving, understanding, and encouraging. Yes, on occasion, you may be speaking with someone who has blue hair or a variety of piercings, but we too are called to be tenderhearted, merciful, kind, and patient. Remember what God said to Samuel when he was searching for the next king of Israel. “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
If you have teens, encourage them to participate in youth group. They will be blessed. If your children are grown, encourage your grandchildren and always be encouraging to the young people in your church. Let them know, you are so glad they are there; that you care and support your church’s Youth Pastor and family ministry. Remind them, as Paul said to Timothy, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Think about it. Young people could be anywhere else on Sunday mornings. Specifically, still sleeping, but they are in church. They could be off with friends on Friday nights, but instead they are at Youth Group. That’s something to be thankful for right there, isn’t it?
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