I am uncomfortable with the expression that teenagers are the “church of tomorrow.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure well meaning people imply by those words that teenagers will one day be the adults that populate our churches and serve as leaders in our ministries. That certainly being true, my disagreement lies in the dangerous thought that teenagers must somehow wait to be the “church of tomorrow” when they can be the “church of today”!
It seems to me that teenagers are always waiting for something—waiting to get a driver’s license, waiting to graduate, waiting to get that first job, waiting to get married someday. Indeed, waiting is no fun. And waiting is certainly a big part of life.
In so many ways, the Christian life is one of waiting; after all, are we not waiting for the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ? How exciting it is then to realize that there are some things for which we do not have to wait! And serving the Lord in our local church is one of them.
When I was a teenager I wasn’t at all active in the ministry of my local church. To be honest, I don’t know how active I would have been anyway, but I was never really afforded the opportunity to begin serving God as a teenager, nor was I overly encouraged to do so. In fact, other than youth activities, I felt no real connection to my church whatsoever.
When I became a pastor, among certain other priorities, I decided that I would strive to maintain a relationship with the teenagers of our church; and that I would make a way for them to be involved now. You see, I believe that teenagers possess a tremendous capacity to serve God in the here and now. In fact, I believe that the habits developed in one’s teenage years will typically represent the habits for the rest of one’s life.
Teens are some of the best Christians I know! (They can also be weird, goofy, air-headed, etc.) Our teens here at Harvest are for the most part actively involved in activities like soulwinning, bus calling, and choirs. Their commitment inspires me, and I love spending time with them. Four times a year I turn the entire Sunday evening over to the teens. They lead the singing, do the preaching, play the offertory, conduct the ushering, man the sound booth, provide the greeting, perform the special music, and make the announcements. It’s great!
Our teens aren’t perfect (and neither are their parents and grandparents!), but they have a heart for the Lord that we must help to engender for the service of God. If you are a teenager, don’t wait another moment to begin serving God in your local church. Get busy right now—even if you happen to be the only one. Maybe God will use you to spark involvement in others. If you are a ministry leader, don’t overlook the incredible potential of using teens in ministry today, although I probably wouldn’t let them do the baptizing!
“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12