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Paul Hayden

These Kids are the Hope of America

March 23, 2015

The only way we can save our nation is to train up the next generation to follow Jesus passionately. Yet many of our churches are getting grayer and grayer. Look at your church. Is the percentage of young people growing or shrinking? If it is shrinking, then your church is in trouble. But it doesn't have to be that way.

The main reason young people give for not going to church is that it is not relevant to their lives. Yet there are many churches that have large groups of vibrant youth who are excited about serving the Lord. Obviously they're finding relevancy in their churches.

Yes, there are some churches who lure kids in with video games and fun activities, but offer very little spiritual teaching. But there are just as many churches that chase away young people by stubbornly sticking to old ways that don't work any more, just because "We've always done it that way."

What is the middle ground between these two extremes? When we were visiting churches trying to find one that was a good fit for our family, our main objective was to find one that had a youth group where our daugheter would be drawn closer to the Lord, but also one that she would enjoy. Many times I would ask, "What did you learn tonight?" she would answer, "We had a great time and played lots of fun games." Scratch that one off the list.

At the other end of the spectrum were youth groups that were nothing more than clones of adult church services. Singing, preaching, then go home. Our young people need (and deserve) better than that. They need creative youth leaders who are not afraid to tackle the tough issues today's teens face.

And they DON'T need older people like me saying, "We didn't allow rock music in OUR youth group." Or "Kids didn't dress that way in my day."

I'm not saying we should have heavy metal "music" in youth groups or that we should allow girls to wear provocative clothing or boys to wear their pants so low that their underwear shows. But we do need to let kids express themselves and find out what works for them. Otherwise our churches will end up like most of the churches in Europe - either with a few dozen senior citizens left as members, or - worse - their buildings turned into bars or strip joints.

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Dr. Tom Barrett is a pastor, teacher, author, conference keynote speaker, professor, certified executive coach, and marketplace minister. His teaching and coaching have blessed both church and business leaders. He has been ordained for over 40 years, and has pastored in seven churches over that time. Today he “pastors pastors” as he oversees ordained and licensed ministers in Florida for his ministerial fellowship.

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