Youth is a word that we place alongside immaturity and energy. Those two words are powerful attributions to youth, but they are dangerous when present together. The youth of today are the most connected in the history of mankind. They now hold powerful influence on politics, social media, and…. church.
We can name numerous of great men and women who began their ministry in their youth. Personally, I can name at least two men who started at the age of eleven – one of whom began a Pentecostal revival in the Carolinas and East Tennessee area. Local Pentecostal churches and members can trace their roots back to a young boy who hitchhiked to preach the Gospel. He is now a bishop of a large Pentecostal church in Knoxville, TN.
Our Youth are Brilliant
In the 21st century, our youth are capable of learning algebra, trigonometry, statistics, and how to play sports. What’s wrong with teaching theology to them? We have a responsibility to teach sound doctrine because the world will fill them with false doctrine.
Theology can be confusing. It can be difficult. That’s why we need to teach it. There are so many false doctrines that pass themselves off as Christianity. Our faith was built upon a mixture of mature men, such as Peter and John, and youth, such as Timothy and Mark. Both, Timothy and Mark, were as much the church of their day as Peter, Paul, and John.
Paul called Timothy his son. Mark was a major factor in spreading the Gospel with Barnabas in Cyprus. Stephen gave his life as a young man preaching the Gospel. By not teaching theology we are discrediting the ability and comprehension skills of our youth.
False Doctrine Abounds
Popstars like Madonna are pushing that Jesus would favor abortion. Hollywood and the music industry are pushing the false doctrine of transgenderism, homosexuality, and gender fluidity. Knowledgeable men are teaching that we don’t need the Bible to have a relationship with God. The church, the epicenter of Christian faith in the 21st century, is largely silent on teaching sound doctrine and theology to our youth.
We are afraid that we will either offend them or they won’t comprehend it. Our youth are brilliant. They are vibrant and full of zeal. They need mature men and women to guide them along. If they don’t understand it right away, be patient with them. If they get offended, we have to approach them in love and stand firm on the principles of Christianity.
We’re underestimating the youth of today as the Church of today – not the Church of tomorrow. Our youth have the skills and communications to reach 100s within seconds. Just as Timothy and Mark were vital in the ministry to Paul and Barnabas, so are our youth today vital. Teenagers are the most energetic set of people, and with the guidance of a patient elder to teach, reprove, rebuke, and exhort; they’re dynamic.
Teens and Pre-teens: “But they won’t listen…”
I know. I’m a teacher at the middle school level. I know teens don’t listen well. However, when they are focused and respect the person that is in authority – they are brilliant and innovative. Through my years of teaching, I’ve learned to look at youth differently – even those who are pre-teens.
Pre-teens are some of the most interesting humans in our society. They’re not quite old enough to engage in many of the things that teenagers do, but they’re not quite young enough to be babied in children’s church. I have mostly focused on teens and young adults thus far, but pre-teens are so unique that they get their own section.
Here are some characteristics from a teacher’s perspective:
- hyperactive in many cases
- experimenting with new social interactions
- finding who they are and what they are good at
- immature because they don’t understand appropriate times, actions, and words
That’s a nutshell. Of course, some break that list. Here’s the thing – those characteristics are not reasons to not teach theology and doctrine to them. They are reasons to teach theology and doctrine to them. Their energy can be harnessed to further the Kingdom through worship, praise, singing, and serving in many areas. Help them find something that they are good at and help them channel their energy into that service.
Pre-teens are experimenting every time they open their mouths are do something, because they often don’t understand what the consequences are or reactions that could happen. This is a good thing. Through this we can begin to help them understand how false doctrine and unsound theology can have negative consequences. This can be connected to real-world experience, which can make them a better witness at school, home, future jobs, etc. That’s where teaching sound doctrine and theology come in at. We can’t give them the knowledge and say, “Go ahead..”
Jesus has a heart for youth. Let’s not pass them by while they are young. They will grow up, and this world will come at them with unsound doctrine and false theology. We have a responsibility to our faith and integrity of our churches to teach sound doctrine and theology.