No Young People

In too many congregations of the Lord’s people, there is a conspicuous absence of young people.  Churches often appear to be growing older and older while the communities around them grow younger and younger.  Statistics show that the rate of growth within the general population of our nation far exceeds the rate of growth within the membership of the church.  In fact, we are even failing to keep our own children, which means that we are shrinking rather than growing.

What has happened to cause us to lose our young people?  The reasons are too many to possibly number in a brief listing, but certain causes immediately come to mind.  Social and cultural issues, such as the rise of ungodliness in our schools, our media, and our communities, certainly have a significant influence on children and young people.  Family issues, such as the failure of parents to properly train their children, the problem of divorce, and the plague of materialism, are causing tremendous damage to children and young people within their own homes.  Church issues, such as the failure to preach and teach fundamental Christianity, the prominence of division and error, and weakness in general, have left some young people ignorant, uncommitted, and indifferent to the Lord’s church.

While it is obvious that there are many problems in need of solutions, we must not use the lack of young people as an excuse for our problems or as a reason to compromise the truth.  Understand that the lack of young people is not the cause of our problems, but rather it is a symptom.  As with anything, when you treat the symptom instead of the cause, the problem will not be solved.  Therefore, let us consider some of the symptom-centered excuses that are commonly made because of the lack of young people in some congregations.

Excuse: Young people will not attend the assemblies of the church because there are no other young people attending.  With this reasoning, some members of the church excuse teenagers and young-adults from their failure to participate in the body of Christ.  Their lack of interest in the church is attributed to a lack of peers in their age group, but the real reason is the lack of peers in their level of spirituality.  They have no mind for spiritual things, and a congregation of spiritually-minded people has no appeal to them.

Some families even move from small congregations to larger ones so that their children will be with other children their own age.  It is a valid concern that children and young people should have good associations, and parents should make efforts to foster good friendships for their children, but keep in mind that the church is not a social organization.  Congregations are not built on the basis of having the same age, the same background, the same race, or any other social consideration.  Consider Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Could we not also say, “There is neither young nor old?”

Excuse: The church cannot grow because it lacks young people.  It would be too easy for members of a congregation to decide that they cannot grow because they lack young families.  They could then view themselves as lacking the resources and the substance needed to appeal to sinners.  With this reasoning, they could cease all efforts to grow the body of Christ, but this is wrong.  Remember, Christians are charged with the work of evangelism, which is the spreading of the gospel of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20; 2Tim. 2:2).  Christians are not striving to convert sinners to the local congregation, but to Christ.  The church will grow because it is preaching Christ, not because it has accumulated a demographic of young families.

Excuse: The church needs to become more contemporary in order to attract young people.  This excuse has been used to justify everything from weak, worldly preaching and instrumental music to gymnasiums and fellowship halls.  The truth is that there are many things that will succeed in attracting young people to a congregation, but only one thing will attract them to Christ, and that is the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 10:17; 1Cor. 1:18; 2:2).  Once we compromise the gospel, we cannot save anybody regardless of how many we may draw into our number.

Be assured that compromise and error are not the way to address the problems with the current generation.  If we lose (or have lost) a generation, then let it not be because of hollow excuses, weak effort, and worldly ways.  Let it be because we stood for the truth while the young people fell for the world.  Nevertheless, may we never give up on this generation or any other, but rather let us increase our efforts and our awareness to save as many as possible.

Stacey E. Durham


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