Thursday, March 01, 2007

How Should The Church Respond To The Exodus Of Our Youth? Pt. 5

I read an article today in the L. A. times about a man who repossesses ocean going ships! In places like Haiti, due to corruption, it is not uncommon for vessels to be seized for a price and sold cheaply in an auction to the highest bidder. F. Max Hardberger bravely rushes into the frey to repo these ships for their rightful owners. Now repossessing a car can be tricky and dangerous, but repossessing a 700 ft ship is nearly impossible. However, Hardberger is a resourceful man and has repossessed quite a few large ships!

I feel like in youth ministry we are repossessing something that has been taken away: "the faith once for all delivered to the saints" that Jude spoke of. This faith has been passed down to us in a book: the Bible. What is really sad is that we actually have to argue as to why the Bible and Bible teaching should be central to what we do. Like Hardberger's work, ours is a dangerous one. As we try to reclaim the centrality of the Christian faith found in the Word of God we find ourselves attacked on every side. Friendly fire is the most deadly kind. However, we must "contend for the faith." That means we must fight against attacks on God's word no matter how innocent they appear. Sadly the Word of God has fallen on hard times. I think what we as youth pastors today need to remember is that without the centrality of the word we can have no hope for any true success. That brings us to the third biblical principle of the eight that we mentioned in Pt. 2, which is applicable to any ministry including any youth ministry.

3. The great commission tells us to make disciples. The only way to make disciples is to faithfully teach God’s word.

How does someone become a follower of Christ? The Bible makes it very clear that this only happens when the word of God transforms someone through the Spirit of God and makes them into a brand new person: a Christian. Let’s look at a few texts:

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.NASB95

If one is to turn away from a life of sin and idolatry and embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior they must hear the word of God. If it is the word that produces faith, shouldn't our ministry focus on the faithful teaching of the word?

1 Thessalonians 2:13-14 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews,NASB95

Notice that the word does the work. The result is imitation of faithful churches. In other words discipleship happened as a result of the faithful teaching of God's word.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.NASB95

How are we going to see people saved? Through the preaching of the gospel. What is the gospel? Simply stated, it is the good news of Jesus Christ. But how do we understand this gospel? Christ is revealed on every page of scripture. How will we share Christ without constantly presenting the same monotonous "plan of salvation?" We can do this if we faithfully preach Christ from every page of scripture.

James 1:18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.NASB95

The word produces new birth. New birth is not produced by nifty programs and hype that is devoid of clear biblical preaching.

Acts 2:42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.NASB95

So what were the essentials of the ministry for the early church? 1. "the apostles teaching" (now we have this in the NT) 2. "fellowship": sharing in common with each other in their relationship with God in Christ and in the grace of God as well as tangible things. 3. "the breaking of bread": probably the Lord's Supper and perhaps agape feasts as well. 4. "prayer": they spent time praying together. These should be the essentials of any church.

What is essential in your church? What is essential in your youth group? Is it time to repo the faith?

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