Raising Young People in the Church Today

I remember as a child, my dad would tell his testimony how R.W. Schambach was on TV and asked those, “to reach out their hand and touch the TV and they will be healed”. My dad in his sarcastic way said, “Ok, preacher, let’s try this.” The next day all the cysts he had on his back were gone and never to suffer from them again. I remember sleepovers at my grandparents house, who were Pastors at the time, only to hear my grandmother at the crack of dawn praying as though she was fighting the devil herself. Praying in tongues and weeping for some protocols to come home.  As kids, we called it the blue room where she prayed.  The walls and curtains were blue; even the bedding.  Yet, as a child it was like sacred ground for us.  “That’s the room Grandma talks to Jesus in.”

I remember it was my freshman year at Oral Roberts University and this new, young evangelist named Tim Storey came to preach at a Sunday Worship Night.  Wow - the power and presence of the Holy Spirit that fell in that room.  It was as though you only had to breathe it in and you were in the AWE-ness of Him.  That night I’ll never forget a young girl in her junior year there had been wearing glasses.  She went up to that prayer line for healing. Tim grabs and flings those glasses off of her and said – “Never again!” She walked all over campus with never having to wear glasses again.

Youth in the church
The years were the 80’s and early 90’s.

Today, our own kids are teenagers in the church.

Teenagers!

It's that time as Christian parents, you want to make sure your kids have experienced an encounter with God like you did at that age before they leave the nest.

The time you want your kids to see a move of God in the church like you did and what that looks like.

The time you want your kids to see the Gifts in operation and manifested for His glory as you recount to them the times you saw “it” happen as a teenager.

The time where you feel the clock is ticking and you wonder if your kids really will ever know the Holy Spirit and His power and the power they have in themselves because He dwells with them just like you did when you were a kid.

C.S. Lewis says it best – If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.

C. S. Lewis
Last year I wrote about the DNA of the church and loved what Francis Chan said (you can read the entire post HERE):

I quickly found that the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don’t swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally, and seriously, is rarely considered. That’s for the ‘radicals’ who are ‘unbalanced’ and who go ‘overboard.’ Most of us want a balanced life we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering.”

“Our view of the Holy Spirit is too small. The Holy Spirit is the One who changes the church, but we have to remember that the Holy Spirit lives in us. It is individual people living Spirit-filled lives that will change the church.”

Somehow I wanted the church to find its way back to Acts 2.

More importantly, I wanted our kids to experience the same experience I had.

But,  I quickly realized what I wanted was not what God wanted.

[clickToTweet tweet="Our kids do church differently today than we did." quote="Our kids do church differently today than we did."]

They hear music from Kim Walker-Smith and Hillsong instead of Carman and Stryper. (Come on, we all could sing the lyrics to Champion and probably did a skit in our youth group about it! And when Stryper came into town, we justified to our parents that going to see them at Knotts Berry Farm was cool because they were Christians and wasn't like hearing Guns N' Roses or Motley Crue!)

Kim Walker Smith
They listen to preachers like Banning Liebscher and Havilah Cunnington.

Generations change and with that the “church” changes or evolves into something fresh and new, but God never changes.

I had to learn that I can’t expect the same message to be delivered the same way. The songs that we sing can't be sung the same way we did 20-30 years ago.

It would be like me asking my kids to love Bon Jovi when all they want to hear is Ariana Grande. (Yes, but it’s Bon Jovi!!)

There was an article in Charisma Magazine that saddened my heart and had me thinking about my kids.

I want my kids to live a life of conviction.

I want my kids to not drink, not smoke, not swear and not sin.

Do I fear that this "Christian" generation may twist them into that?

Yes.

But, that is why just like when we were teenagers, we had praying mom’s and grandma’s praying for us.

Now it is our time to do the same.

There is a devil out there that wants to steal, kill and destroy our kids and would have nothing better in this world but to make it look like “religion”.

Two Confessions of Raising Young People in the Church

1. You Can’t Put New Wine Into Old Wineskins.

I talked about some of  the things I’ve seen as a child growing up.  I was born in 1973 and got saved in 1982.  So, since 1982 and through the last three decades have seen supernatural things in the church. There is nothing wrong with the 80’s or 90’s, except we don’t live there anymore. We must love those that are here now and stop wishing for the way things used to be. God showed me that I cannot love a past era more than a current mission.  We don’t do church the way we used to and that’s ok.  Yet, God never changes. His Word never changes. But, we as a generation of people change.  Just like our music of the 60’s is not relatable to a 16 year old, our churches have to change with the culture.  It doesn’t mean we stop preaching the Truth because the Truth will always be offensive to the culture. Instead, we continue to birth a Supernatural being that will transform the culture around us.

Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. - Matthew 9:17

2. I Can’t Control Whether My Kids Love God or Not.

I can influence and be involved, but ultimately, I have just as little control over my own life and what will happen to me as I do theirs.  I had to acknowledge that I no longer have control and reach out for God’s help instead. Because, if life were stable, I would never need Him. I am thankful for the unknowns and that I don’t have control, because it makes me run to Him.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. - Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Church for our teenagers, and even for us, is that place where the Aweness of Him is evident maybe not from the altars of the past eras, but in the lives of those that have been changed.  Those sitting in the pews and on the chairs, lifting their hands and hearts worshiping God.   The church will never be perfect. It can’t be or else it will never depend on God, even us as humans can never be either.

Ultimately, it is about the relationship we have with Him and the eyes of our children that are watching.