The following is an excerpt from the book, Real Life Moments, by J. Mark Fox, C4FIC Board member.
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
My family visited Boston a few years ago where we heard a young sailor aboard the USS Constitution tell us the ship’s story. “Old Ironsides,” as she was affectionately called, was a frigate in the US Navy, active before and during the War of 1812. She went undefeated in her short career, winning 33 battles and losing none. The key to her victories, perhaps, was the employment of “small boys” and “powder monkeys,” as they were called. These were boys and young men, ages 9 to 17. The “small boys” were used to keep water flowing over the loose powder and the hot floor as the big guns were firing. If they were faithful in that task, a boy or young man could become a “powder monkey.” These kept the big guns supplied with gunpowder, running below deck to get the powder, running back up to the guns to help load them. The sailor giving us the tour said the USS Constitution could fire 3 rounds in the time it took the British to fire 2, which helped assure our victory and the ship’s longevity.
What if the Navy had said, “You boys run and play soldier with sticks and rocks. Come back when you are full-grown men!”
Isn’t that what the church has said, in effect, to our young people? “Go play Xbox, immerse yourself in music and concerts and videos. Go hang out at the mall. Go dabble in the pleasures of the world. Come back when you get it out of your system and are old enough to serve the church.”
Rather, we want to train and disciple young people in the Word, prayer, ministry and outreach. Here is a partial list of ways we give the teens (young adults) opportunities to serve the Lord and his church.
Young adults are encouraged to prepare to play and sing skillfully and present music for the Sunday morning services.
Young adults are encouraged to participate in the home group meetings by coming prepared with a testimony of how God is working in their lives that week.
Young adults are encouraged to discover and use their spiritual gifts to edify the body of Christ.
Young men are asked to help with meeting physical needs in the body (helping a family move, landscaping a yard for a family in the church, helping an elderly person in the church or community).
We have had a young man running the soundboard at church during the service for the past several years. When one got ready to leave for college, he trained another young man who was interested in learning.
My oldest son wanted to invest in the young men at the church, so he asked me about starting a weekly Bible Study for them. He did so, with the help of one of the elders.
Young ladies are called on regularly to assist Moms in the church with childcare or housecleaning or preparing to move.
Young people go regularly on short-term missions trips and share in the teaching and ministry.
Young people are encouraged in evangelism and given opportunities to reach the lost.
Paul wrote to young Timothy, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Paul knew the tendencies we in the church have, to push aside the young or worse to entertain them into mediocrity. I contend that we cannot afford to do that any longer. Let the young ones grow up.
Prayer: “Thank You, Lord, that you have given me team members, my own children, to serve with me in the battle!”
Action: Encourage your church to move in this direction of allowing the teens to step into adult responsibilities, with training and encouragement, of course!