As I read bible based sermons of old or new I hear a strong warning always present to not imitate the ways of the world. When I read old sermons warning the church of their attraction to trendy ways of gathering crowds, I sadly look at the my own ways and see how many ways of the world I’ve adopted.
Now, there is much freedom in Christ isn’t there? Yes! But have you ever considered how often and frequent we are told in Scripture to love the Lord? Not marginally, but wholeheartedly.
Then, do you notice how often it is justified by individuals and even churches to look to other ways of doing what God has commanded us to do? This is not as easily seen.
This less traveled way may at first seem lonely. But wait a moment… look there friend, when you are with the Lord, it’s not necessarily a lonely road. It may indeed be the less traveled road, it may be difficult, it may be uncomfortable, it may not be filled with the same kind of mirth we were once attracted by. But look over there, down this less traveled road, the promise of life.
I once was applauded by men for packing several rows at church with youth, not back rows, the front rows mind you. Now they passed notes, giggled, threw paper at each other, wrote on each other with their pens they were planning to take notes with, scribbled in the hymn book, broke the pew pencils off in the pencil holder, and many other disruptive juvenile things. But, There they were… many of them turned in sermon notes for a chance to get a piece of candy or discount to the next youth outing (away from parents and other adults) the whole church was proud to have them there and not on the streets or at home watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet.
But what would have happened if they were sitting with their parents or other adults instead? Sure, kids who sit with their parents are as likely to drop out of church as those who don’t. I think we may find a statistic some day that will support this. But success by retaining a numerical number or statistic is not what we fix our eyes on… It is on the Lord, and he instructs us to obey him.
I’m not, as some suppose, on a campaign to ruin the modern youth ministry. A ministry I once pursued with vigor. I’m as hopeful to see young people pine after God as ever. I’ve just come under conviction that to depend on anything short of God and obeying His word is not a right place for my devotion to be.
It’s true that we have fewer youth and children on Wednesday nights than we did before we adjusted our means. It feels a bit lonely at times. It’s true we don’t see the front two or three rows filled with middle school and high school students. But I enjoy the sound of babies crying and seeing a dad or a mom tend to that child’s need rather than relegating that pleasure to a nursery worker. I like seeing rows filled with households of various ages. A misbehaving boy or girl being escorted out by a dad is a lovely thing to witness. A single mom walking in late with her boys is a blessed sight as they sit next to an elderly couple making room for them. Listening to a brother and sister communicate to those gathered for prayer of what their parents have been teaching them at home is no lonely sound.
It may be a less traveled road, but it’s not necessarily a lonely road. It’s no guarantee that we won’t see some young people walk away from the faith, this isn’t about that. This is about striving to humbly walk with my God.