I read a study that said only 4% of the young people who attend church during high school continue to do so after leaving high school. If that’s even close to accurate, that means that over 90% of young people just opt out of church. That is a massive statistic, and raises a lot of questions about what we need to be doing.
What if they leave because they have no reason to stay? I’m positive they would stay, if they really understood God.
So how can we get young people to understand who God is? How can we teach young people about who He really is, the lover of human souls who sent His son to die? How can we teach the joy of Jesus? If you really know what it’s like to hang with the King of Kings, the creator of everything, and receive the gift of joy from Him, you won’t walk away. You won’t say, “Okay, I did that church thing. I’m out.” That doesn’t make sense!
Try reading about the character of God, and who He is and what He is about. Read Psalm 91 and reflect on David’s adoration for God. I mean, why would anybody leave the God who says,
14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
But kids do leave. They don’t realize who God is, and who Jesus is, in His full form. They don’t truly feel God’s love in any of the ways in which it finds fulfillment. We should be creating opportunities that will cause them to say, “If what I feel right now is Jesus, then this is what I want.”
I think the only way to do this is by discipling them.
I’ve seen what happens with the college kids that go through Dave Batstone’s Not For Sale Academy. In the press conferences, when they speak, they are very, very confident. Most college kids aren’t that sure of themselves in front of a group of people. But Dave’s students take the podium and just hammer it out. They say, “This is what we’ve seen, and we cannot take this anymore!” They say, “Slavery is wrong, this is why, and we cannot stand for it.” It’s awesome. They’re so passionate! They don’t care what people think. They don’t worry about their own comfort. They’re focused on something much greater than themselves. They know exactly who God is.
Jesus said, “I have come to set the captives free! The slaves will be free! I have come to heal the broken hearts.” He said all those things and more. He said, “I have come. I am the river of life, I am the bread of life, I’m food for your hunger, I’m your shelter, I’m your strong tower, I will protect those who find their dwelling in Me.” Jesus cares about shelter, He cares about food, He cares about water, He cares about those who have broken hearts and those who are enslaved.
You want to give young people the experience of God’s love? Teach them about Jesus. Give them opportunities to walk in His footsteps, and speak prophetically about His love and compassion for those who suffer from poverty or hunger or slavery. This is the way to teach the young generation. Because anyone who really understands love like this, will never leave.