Sunday, July 27, 2008

Suffer the Little Children

I am now back from camp, and I am happy to report that the counselors won the annual volleyball game again. I enjoy camp once I am there, but I never look forward to it. Leaving the family is not easy once you pass the age of about 18. Camp is a young person thing, not so much for old guys like me.

Still, I believe church camps are good and do a lot of good in the life of the church. Not only does it bring young people together from many churches creating a network of professing, believing, young people, but also it can serve to guide them and teach them in addition to entertain them. Our Heidelberg Youth Camp is very good at that, especially with the Senior High. Still, I do sometimes wonder if we could do more to engage the Junior High and even Senior High where they are. I always come back from camp learning that we are not doing a good enough job of reaching these kids and enabling them to deal with the trials that they normally face. Is the church speaking about tattoos, cuttings, and the like? Are we speaking to the dangers of on-line relationships, Facebook, and the new media that these kids are consumed by? Are we speaking to escapism of books, the moral assault of TV, and the worldviews of movies?

I come back every year challenged that the church needs to equip parents and get involved with young people on their level so that they can make Christian decisions. When we as a church think and talk about evangelism we need also to think and talk about reaching out to unbelieving children as well as adults. I fear that too often the church desires to raise its own kids in a Christian manner, but never plans to reach out to the lost until they have jobs and are all grown up. This was clearly not the way the early church did it as you read about the church running schools all the time. It was clearly not the way that Jesus did it. Not only do you have the rebuke of the disciples when Jesus utters his famous phrase of let the little children come to me (Matthew 19:13-14), but also you have instances such as Matthew 21:15 where the children are crying out praises to Jesus in the temple. Here it makes the Pharisees angry and they demand he stop them. Children are a battleground and it makes the enemy angry when the little children praise God. I pray that we as a church are able to reach out to the children of unbelievers and reach them with the gospel.


Anonymous said...

How do you reach out to the lost young people? Certainly you cannot just open the Church doors and expect them to show up! No, we need to find ways to engage them and then we can address their spiritual needs. So the question you pose is a real one. How do we accomplish this?

For sure a one time a year youth camp is not the answer. Peer pressure is ongoing everyday; therefore, it must be countered every day! But how?

Lee said...

If I had that answer I would be rich from book sales and have a much larger church. However, it is something I wish to pay more attention to in the future. I do think Camp has its place. A place where we can train the believing children to deal with the peer pressure and equip them to reach out to unbelieving children. Although, I agree, it is not enough.
I do think the first step is starting to see and understand that the young people struggle with good and evil, sin and righteousness, and have tough lives too. That is not just something reserved for the adult. This goes for both the believer and unbeliever.
All the steps after that are still a bit hazy. But Lord willing He will start opening doors for this type of service.

I am of course open to all suggestions.