A “NEW” APPROACH TO YOUTH WORK by Tim Hoover, Long Branch, TX*
It has been said that we have a weak nation because we have weak churches, and we have weak churches because we have weak families. Strengthening families should be a priority of youth work. It is often pointed out that young people today are having difficulties in relating to their parents. Rather than simply putting a bandage on the problem by providing more youth leaders and youth programs, we must begin to deal with the root problem. We must implement strategies that will “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” The emphasis of youth programs must be to reinforce the relationship of parents to children, not to take the place of that relationship. Many seemingly family-oriented churches are actually individual-oriented -- providing activities for each individual family member, but not providing opportunities for families to study, worship, and serve together. God made it a point to include the entire family when presenting His truths to His people. Joshua 8:34-35 tells us that Joshua “read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel,
with the women, and the little ones…” The little ones referred to here are toddlers. God saw fit to keep the families together, even the toddlers, during a lengthy reading of the law!
This becomes more challenging in situations where the young person’s parents are not involved with church, but even then God gives us the answer. Psalm 68:6 states “God setteth the solitary in families.” Those families who are willing to share a part of their lives with these solitary youth are a valuable part of youth work. [In] the 21st century, our youth face many difficult challenges. However, Solomon reminds us that there is no new thing under the sun, Although technology is advancing at a rapid pace, man is still the same, plagued with the same sin nature, facing the same temptations, and making the same choices that he has always made.
It cannot be denied that we have seen a drastic decline in morality in our country during the last 50 years, but our society is still no more wicked than it was in the days of Jesus and Paul. As we study scripture and history, we see that immorality was just as rampant then as it is today. Yet, God’s answer was not to woo the lost with worldly attractions, but “by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” We must teach all people. including our youth, the very words of Jesus, “If any man will come after me let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Neither a popular message, nor one that will draw the multitudes, but the only one that will prove effective in making disciples for our Lord Jesus Christ!
Brethren, God’s message never changes, neither do His principles! I challenge every church to evaluate its youth program in light at God’s Word to ensure that we are building up and strengthening families, one of our churches’s most vital resources.
* The author lived at Long Branch, Texas at the time this piece was written.
Originally printed in The Baptist Waymark, Vol. IV, No. 2, Mar-Apr 1996, p. 4, R. L. Vaughn, editor