My kids and I have been talking about Bible study. I plan on starting another Bible class soon, and I may gear it to teens. That does NOT mean water it down or intersperse it with board games and time for antics and whatnot, it means TEACHING how to apply scripture to their lives just as I would do for anyone else, which would include things like purity, abstinence, excellence, and self-control. Anything I'd teach anyone else I will teach in this class, I will simply invite teens. I intend to teach exactly as I would hope to teach anyone else: straight, strong, anointed, and to the best of my God given ability. I do that with children. I do it with seniors. Why are teens any different?
I have a fundamental problem with setting up special groups to accommodate different people based solely on age. I think segregating them does more to help them continue to have the issues associated with their particular age group than it does to help them understand how to overcome those issues. NOT ALL GROUPS, mind you. Some are very beneficial. There are good groups, and I commend them, but many, I'd wager most of them, are more like social clubs. It's a place to be understood, sympathized with, maybe even enabled, when what we really need is to be strengthened and taught to be conquering over-comers, victors, Christian soldiers, servants.
I do not believe children are too simple for strong truth. I do not believe seniors are too fragile or too set in their ways for heavy revelation. I do not believe women are too sensitive for hard truth. I do not believe men are too strong to be sensitive to God's Holy Spirit. There is one Bible, one Truth, one Gospel, One God.
I would rather drink from a fire hose and get what I can than die of thirst one sip at a time. I would rather reach high and fall short than aim low and attain my goal. I would rather see my children do the same and watch them stretch to attain new understanding than have them learn to be complacent. Why treat our teen agers, or any group of any kind any differently? Is it as though they are some sort of exception? Should we find teen agers a different Gospel, too? People, all people, tend to perform to expectations. Why do we expect so little of them? Why are we so surprised when we get what we expected?
I believe in teaching children to become adults. Teens are in a transitional stage between childhood and adulthood and I believe they should be taught that church is for worship, learning and service among other things, and not for self-gratification, entertainment and 'hooking-up' socially with other teens.
During these transitional years it would benefit them to learn that they don't know everything, which seems to be the pervasive attitude among many youth. They need to learn how to sit down and be quiet in a church service. They need have respect for someone else who knows more than they do and is anointed and called by God. They need to sit and respect the authority of the one who has the floor. Yes, they need to learn to sit quietly and be respectful. If we don't teach them now when will they learn? Who will be the examples to the next generation?
I know, youth groups are supposed to draw in new youth so they can be reached, and I can see planning events on occasion, maybe even fairly regularly, and for other groups as well. Outreaches can help with reaching people and bringing them into the church. Our church regularly has outings and events that we do together, young and old, and they are wonderful times of fellowship for everyone. Potlucks and parties, ballgames and concerts are wonderful things to do in the company of your friends and church family, but in a church setting the focus should be Biblical teaching.
If we taught our kids properly, if they REALLY understood the Truth of the Gospel and if they had a good relationship with the Lord, their walk would be their witness. With a strong witness, when they invite their friends to church, they would come and see what church is about. Church is service, service to God. Service, like when waiting tables we serve customers giving them what they want, what they expect and what they paid for. In church we give God what He is due. He paid for it.
We go to learn about God and His Word from anointed men who were chosen by God to teach it. In any church, if the pastor teaches controversial subjects from a Biblical standpoint some people will be offended and leave. This is also true in youth church. Does that mean we should back off the standard and teach a more politically correct version of the Bible? Should we be teaching our youth to compromise, or should we set the bar high and teach them to attain the mark of the higher calling?
Php 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Press in, people. Press!
There are youth churches that are just that-- churches for youth. Like many of the youth camps out there, I think youth churches are wonderful places. They are church services that are geared to what teen agers like. As long as it is church, as long as it is service to God, as long as the teaching is the uncompromised Word of God, I'm all for it. If the presentation is according to taste but the content is according to the Word, let them go! It is the church of the future! I want my children to enjoy being young. It should be a time to enjoy, but it is also a time to grow and learn.
I DO NOT believe in sending my kids to a regular group that is dedicated to just being young and hanging out. I do not want my kids to hear a watered down, modified Gospel for the sake of someone new who might be listening in. I want them attending things that aid them in growing up and gaining wisdom. If I were trying to accomplish that for myself I would be sitting under someone smarter and wiser than I am, quietly and prayerfully listening, learning to advance in the things of the Lord. I won't attend things where the atmosphere tends toward stagnating my walk with the Lord, or even maintaining status quo, and I don't want my children to. We all need social interactivity and the like, but not at the expense of our growth.
I want to say that not all youth groups are social outlets only. Many are focused and well organized and are good places for kids to go. Unfortunately many are not. Just be certain the one your children attend is offering the things you would have your children receive. Children learn the same way as adults. They take in all they can as they are able. Make sure they are taking in the Truth.
If they are not getting what you would like for them to get, then get them into services with you. Don't worry that the teaching might be over their heads. As I said, they will take in all they can, and all they are able. If they become restless there is another lesson to learn: sit quietly in church.
I recall when God called a fast He had all Israel participate right down to children and even the animals. Disobedience had a price. God seemed to think all ages, all things, were subject to the same truths. I don't recall a children's area or even a nursery during the plagues of Egypt, either, just because applying blood to the door posts might be unseemly to the mommies and daddies, and they didn't want to expose their children to more than they could understand. I am pretty sure there wasn't a modified teen plague, either. That is because everyone, including teenagers, was effected by the world's afflictions and the answers they need are the same. They are God's answers, and His alone. We all need to learn to be self-controlled adults, able to conduct ourselves properly and decently, to learn and gain revelation. We all must learn to serve God.
Heb 13:8 says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Let's not try changing it now. This isn't a democracy and there are no lobbyists and there will be no amendments. It is a Kingdom and our God reigns. So why don't we go into all the world, and preach THE gospel to EVERY creature (Mark 16:15).