Our world is changing. It has changed drastically in the ten years since I was a teenager. Teenagers and youth culture are moving targets. Unfortunately, the Church is struggling to hit that target. The number of young people leaving the church after high school is alarming, as our our culture is continually losing Christian values and heading toward a post-Christian America. On top of this, the church doesn’t seem to be coming together but is increasingly finding ways to splinter. All of this is creating the perfect storm that is tossing teenagers around and giving them little direction to navigate life.
In some ways, my wife and I had lost direction, albeit for different reasons. We had disconnected from the Body of Christ for about a year. For about 3 years we weren’t sure where God was leading us. There’s more to the story but essentially we had become stagnant and decided we needed a change. A friend told me the day before we left Indiana, “God can’t steer a parked car,” so we drove 27 hours not knowing what would meet us when we arrived in Boise. As we traveled west, I recalled some of my fondest memories on the Oregon trail (on my computer) as a kid. If you remember several weeks ago, John talked about the ruts the wagons following the Oregon Trail made and how ruts in that case were a blessing, but in life are often a curse.
God has really been speaking to me personally through the “Live Loved” series. He has also been reminding me how living fully loved and loving others freely speaks directly to how we must reach our youth – by inviting them to live fully loved by God in community with us. This is how we will bridge the gap between where teens are now and where God is calling them to go with us.
Loving teens fully means will mean taking the time to love their families too, which will have a transforming ripple effect throughout our community. And lastly, we’ve been talking about performance vs grace in the Christian life. The message of the church and parents to young people has has often been one of performance, as opposed to an invitation into a life of grace-driven Christ-likeness. It’s as if we are saying to them, “as long as you don’t do drugs or have sex, and you’re generally nice to others, get good grades, get into a good school, etc…Jesus on the side is enough.” To that I say, praise God this is not the life he’s called us to live.
PRAISE GOD he has called us to freedom! God gives true freedom but sometimes we put people right back into the prison of our minds. This can be especially true of teens. Giving young people freedom is sometimes a scary thought. Things could get messy or out of control. But if we give God full control we will eventually encounter the unstoppable, uncontrollable movement of His Spirit. Let’s begin to pray and dream about what it will look like for City Church to raise up future generations consumed with loving God and others fully for a lifetime!