Some people brought little children to Jesus to have him hold them. But the disciples told the people not to do that. When Jesus saw this, he became irritated. He told them, “Don’t stop the children from coming to me. Children like these are part of God’s kingdom. I can guarantee this truth: Whoever doesn’t receive God’s kingdom as a little child receives it will never enter it.” Jesus put his arms around the children and blessed them by placing his hands on them. Mark 10:13-16
In Mark 10, Jesus has sharp words for his disciples when they try to hold the children back from Him. They are actually trying to help Jesus from being overwhelmed by the children, but Jesus is clear that they should not stop or even hinder the children from coming to Him.
At Bethel we have a solid ministry to the youth of our church. From Christ-centered children’s messages to Kingdom Quest, it is obvious that we value teaching the faith to the next generation.
Yet, are we actively working to remove barriers between the young people at Bethel and God? Are we making sure that nothing stands in their way of coming to Jesus?
When we consider ministry to the young people at Bethel we must first understand that it truly is cross-cultural. Not only is the Good News of Jesus foreign to us as sinners, but because of the rapid expansion of technology (and other factors) each generation in our church really does have it’s own culture. We each view the world, ourselves and others very differently. In fact, studies show that the two youngest generations (anyone under 30) view the world drastically different than previous generations.
Why does this matter? It matters because we are seeing droves of young people throughout the world leave the church and not come back. It matters because it is possible that we are hindering the young from coming to Christ by refusing to communicate the Gospel to them in a way that they can understand.
There are two things I believe that we can be mindful of as a church to share the Gospel with young people.
First, language. We need to be sure that the words we use, whether in our worship music or Scripture translation, are in a language they can understand. When even high school youth in our church have no understanding of the words iniquity, trangression, atonement, trespasses, harketh, etc., it may be time to use language they understand.
Second, community. One of the interesting things to come out of studies on my generation, the millennial, is that we crave real community. This is not to be confused with a place we go once a week where we only talk about the weather and no one really knows me. We desire to be known and loved in community. I really believe this is what the early church experienced as a reality. They called in the Kingdom of God. They loved one another, sacrificed for one another, held each other accountable and prayed with one another. Their existence was centered on Christ and God changed the world through them.
In closing, let’s be a community of believers that seeks to hinder no generation from coming to Jesus. For the sake of the young people, let’s make sure that we are communicating the Good News of Jesus in a way they can understand. Let’s also find a way to get to know them in a real way and love them. Amen.