This text is a part of the Open Letters collection.
To start with, thanks. Thanks to your dedication to shepherd the folks of God, for all of the exhausting work, the lengthy days and nights you spend learning, making ready sermons, and caring to your congregation.
As youngsters, we’d like the church. Particularly, we’d like the native church. The relationships, the preaching, the instructing, and the admonition of our particular church physique are as very important to us as to each different believer.
I do know generally we look like a difficult age group, however we’re Christ followers, identical to you. Now we have lots of the similar struggles as you—together with some which can be distinctive. Right here are some things the teenagers in your church want you to know:
We Take into consideration the Exhausting Stuff
The teenager years are if you come to grips with what you imagine, if you wrestle with doubt and deep questioning about your self, the world, and the God who made all of it.
The straightforward solutions that have been sufficient for us at a youthful age aren’t sufficient now. We want strong theology and sound doctrine, the sort of instructing that acknowledges actual difficulties and offers biblical solutions to them. We want an apologetic that engages each the center and the thoughts. And we have to know that asking these questions isn’t just okay, however essential to the formation of a deeper religion.
We Want a Biblical Imaginative and prescient of Sexuality
In as we speak’s tradition, a type of questions—possibly the largest—is the query of sexuality. Too typically, the one reply given is, “Don’t have sex before marriage.” Whereas it’s true, when taken by itself that exhortation can both be twisted into legalism or simply ignored.
We want not only a adverse, however a constructive exhortation. Train us the fantastic thing about God’s design for our sexuality. Clarify how marriage shows the connection between Christ and the church. And train us to stay for Christ and honor him—whether or not married or single.
Acknowledge the brokenness, too. Likelihood is, many teenagers in your church wrestle with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, or carry the scars of previous trauma. With compassion and beauty, share the hope that Christ presents.
We Wrestle with Psychological Well being
The statistics are overwhelming, and the tales are heartbreaking. However too typically we act like psychological sickness and psychological issues are one thing “out there.” Like that might by no means occur to us. Like in some way Christians are immune.
Sadly, that’s not true. Almost certainly your church consists of many teenagers (and adults!) who wrestle with melancholy, anxiousness, self-harm, PTSD, OCD, consuming issues, or any variety of different invisible burdens. And these struggles include plenty of disgrace.
Too typically, the church is silent about these points, and that simply provides to the disgrace. Please, don’t be silent. Analysis it if you have to. Pay attention. Attempt to perceive. These diseases and issues have each a non secular and a bodily aspect—prayer and the phrase are important, however they gained’t make medical melancholy go away. We have to be admonished about sin, however we additionally desperately have to be reminded that God is with us, even when our personal minds are spinning uncontrolled. We want the reminder that this isn’t the way it’s purported to be, and sooner or later our brains can be made new, together with the remainder of us.
The world presents its personal hope to victims from psychological sickness, nevertheless it’s typically hole. Give us the true hope present in God’s phrase.
We Want the Physique
Right this moment’s know-how each permits and encourages us to create our personal world after which stay in it. To work together solely with folks our personal age who use the identical slang, hearken to the identical sort of music, and suppose the identical method that we do.
Church is the place this tendency is challenged. Church is the place every kind of individuals come collectively—individuals who could don’t have anything in frequent however the gospel. As teenagers, once we come to church we be taught to stay in group with those that are nothing like us, to be taught from them and love them in Christ.
That’s why it’s vital that we’re not always shuffled off to be solely with folks our personal age. Youth teams have an vital position, however that shouldn’t be the one method teenagers ever work together with the church. We have to be a part of the entire church physique, dwelling and studying in very important group with the “mothers and fathers” in addition to the youthful “brothers and sisters” (1 Timothy 5:1–2).
You might not understand it, however we love being included with the grownup actions. As a substitute of doing a separate teen Bible research, invite us to be a part of the lads’s and ladies’s research. Give us alternatives to serve the church beneath or alongside adults (past simply being free labor for yard work or nursery obligation!). The relationships we kind and the teachings we be taught from being an energetic a part of the bigger church physique will final a very long time.
Give us the identical fact that’s been taught for generations, the superbly easy, splendidly complicated fact that’s modified the world.
We Want the Phrase
Please don’t really feel like you have to entertain us on a regular basis. Certain, we benefit from the video games and the pizza, however that’s not why we come. We come for the vital stuff. We come to listen to the reality.
Being a young person as we speak is tough. We’re pushing again towards the myriad temptations of each our personal flesh and a world that nags at us 24/7 by means of our screens. We have to hear the gospel repeatedly. We have to be reminded of God’s unchanging commandments in addition to his unwavering lovingkindness. We have to be taught that we don’t should earn God’s favor, however that the unbought grace of the gospel permits us to obey our Father.
Train us the phrase. You don’t should make it simpler or extra interesting for us. Give us the identical fact that’s been taught for generations, the superbly easy, splendidly complicated fact that’s modified the world. Encourage and equip us to check it for ourselves. Exhort us to memorize and meditate on it. We want God’s phrase.
We Are Listening
I do know it’s discouraging if you look out on the congregation, or the conglomeration of teenagers in your youth group, and see that group within the again goofing off, these children within the center falling asleep, those within the entrance on their telephones. We’re not excellent. We don’t at all times do that church factor proper.
However that is the place we be taught. That is the place we develop.
Even when it doesn’t seem like it, we’re listening. We hear the phrase you faithfully preach and train week in and week out. You might not be capable to inform, nevertheless it’s making an impression. Even within the hearts that appear exhausting or careless, it’s placing down roots; and sooner or later, that seed could sprout and bear fruit.
Till then, maintain instructing. We’re listening. And you don’t have any thought what sort of influence your faithfulness might need on these hearts and minds.
Your sister in Christ,