What do teenagers hear when they come to a church service? Or more specifically what do teenagers interpret from what they hear when they come along?
Hopefully our church services are places where teenagers get to hear and experience what it means to belong to the family of God and participate fully in every aspect of family life.
However, sometimes in our church services the message we communicate to teenagers is that being a Christian is about being good a person – helping out when you can, doing well at school, being honest, obeying parents, not beating up siblings, and the like
Don’t get me wrong, being a person of faith is certainly not simply about obtaining knowledge of God and the Bible. Our lives matter to God and how we live, the attitudes we hold and the words that roll off our tongues are critical, but isn’t the life of faith not simply about obedience to a set of behaviours and practices? Aren’t we also called to be people who are obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and in every situation to be the people of God?
I wonder if the language we need to be using with teenagers, as we communicate what it means to follow Jesus, is less about prescriptive behaviour and more about faith? What faith looks like with flesh and bones. What faith looks like at school, on the sporting field, online. A faith that makes a difference not simply when they die, but as they live.
This is why this year at our Revive youth nights (6 nights in total across May and June throughout NSW and the ACT) we have asked Phil Evans from Hawkesbury Valley Baptist Church to speak on the theme of wild. I’m not sure if you’d use that word to describe your faith. I’m not sure if you even want to use that word to describe your faith or the faith of teenagers in your church.
What does having a wild faith mean? Not wild as in out of control but wild in the sense of rebelling against social norms that tell teenagers daily that they are the most important person in the world, that they are in control, and that they can’t make a meaningful contribution to society until they become an adult.
The story of the Good Samaritan captures this beautifully. Here we have a man who is clearly aware of the character and desires of God. A man who takes a risk. A man who is different to others. A man who values life. A man who is generous. A man who teaches us what is to be people who have a wild faith.
I’m not sure about you but sometimes I want to avoid the very things that God has called me to because of the cost. Sometime I settle for safe. For easy.
I wonder when was the last time you read the Good Samaritan? I wonder when was the last time you followed his footsteps?
Please be praying for Phil as he prepares the message for our Revive youth nights, and be praying for the 1500+ teenagers who will gather together as part of these events.
May God grow a generation of wild teenagers.