My friend was filling out an application and one of the questions addressed what spiritual areas he felt like he needed work which sparked my interest. Like clockwork, an answer I would write myself is discipline in the word and prayer. Something he mentioned is how youth pastors do a terrible job at helping us understand the true importance of this. Sadly, I agreed. Those who grow up in the church their whole life more than likely were saved at a young age, but were never taught the importance of a quiet time and maybe we were yet never really held accountable for it. I remember living at the church some weeks from children's church to bible quizzing, which then turned into choir practice and youth group, but somewhere in the middle of that I fell through the cracks to play church and not really live it out.As I came to college, I realized a majority of us "Christians" some new and some old had never really opened up the bible outside of church events or church required reading. We relied on the Lord when it was convenient and then put him on the back burner when it was not. No where was I called out for this, message after message I would sit through, but I never understood the why behind living out my faith. Maybe I did a great job of wearing the mask of perfection, but somewhere along the lines someone should've seen my discrepancy. Maybe people figured I knew my stuff since I had grown up in Church my whole life and assumed I did not need as much attention as others.Little did they know I was only memorizing the verses required then never taking time to understand the true meaning just memorizing it like a vocab word and turning to the table of contents on the sly cause I had no idea where most books of the bible were at. I always knew I loved the Lord, but I haven't fully given my heart over to him like he expected. Looking back now I didn't realize I was living a stagnant walk.
Discipleship? Accountability? Vulnerability? Daily devotional? Evangelism?
What were these concepts when I was growing up because I sure as heck did not have them applied to my life. Youth group should be less about bringing a relationship to Christ and more about cultivating the ones already struggling for it. I take full accountability for my mistakes, but I feel like if I had more people in my life telling me the why behind Christ and less about touching the surface I might have turned out a lot different. We have grown up being exposed to the gospels, and Genesis. I remember coming to college thinking when was the last time I had really even been exposed to books in the old testament.College was the first time I had ever gone to a Christian event every night of the week almost and been challenged to share my testimony, I had shared my story before, but never knew it was called my "testimony". In youth group I could I walk by someone and say I'm all right, but they be satisfied with that answer. Yet, in college people know that means I'm falling apart and they take the time to dig deeper. The body of Christ and how much I could lean on it was just lacking when I was younger.
My advice to youth pastors,college ministers, or anyone who claims to be a Christian who is surrounded by teens and young adults don't enable playing Christianity. Challenge all those you come in contact with, ask them daily what they learned in their quiet time that morning. If you want to check someone's walk with Christ take the time to ask them. They may lie straight to your face, but eventually conviction will get to them. Just stop right now with this model of Christians who have never been challenged in their faith. Start them at a young age, making them realize this world is evil and the only way to survive is by diving into his word and praying till your knees ache. Make your students realize WE WERE NOT PUT ON THIS EARTH FOR OURSELVES. As Romans 8:28 mentions: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Have discussion questions after every message, do not be afraid to make things awkward because the Lord didn't say sharing our faith would be easy. Do not ever let someone leave a message, bible study, or building without understanding the importance of what was just said. It may seem unrealistic to have that man power, but go out and recruit those volunteers because you are only hurting the kingdom of heaven by not shoving it down our stubborn heads the importance of what a true relationship with the Lord looks like. It may take years of pushing, but do not give up because church should be less about things of the World, but about where our hearts are at. Also, encourage them to take this home because a little bit of time at church can only do so much it's their home life that has the biggest influence. Challenge their parents to talk about Christ every night and make sure that their children are actually taking the time to dive in the word. It's a team process when it comes to a young walk with Christ, but equip them now so in the long run they will be prepared for their own walks and already be so rooted in their faith.