Why Young People Wash Out and Churches Fail
To do or not to do often weighs heavily on our minds and hearts, leaving us uncertain as to the right path. Decision-making can be a troublesome responsibility.
However, many decisions are made long before we are confronted with them. Our priorities are set either on purpose or by default early in life. If we are not intentional about setting priorities early in life, then unintentional priorities are set, and our decision-making map is drawn by this “unintentionality”.
This is the way many parents operate. Because they do not look beyond the immediate, they make parenting decisions based on comfort, convenience, or external pressures rather than on character, and more importantly, kingdom concerns. When a child cries or complains loudly enough, decisions are made in order to stop the crying rather than with the future in view. Friendships, activities, and any number of matters are addressed without the future of their children or their children’s children in mind. The course is thus set for the next generation; and the next; and the next; ….
Pastors and church leaders are often participants in the same kind of decision-making. Many, if not most, decisions are made without the next generation as a priority. Complaining church members do not need to be patronized but discipled in the priority of Gospel living, Gospel church life, and passing on a godly heritage to the next generation. Churches are weakened and their future Biblical effectiveness undermined when we compromise our message with a weak, man-centered Gospel and give the impression that the church can take its cues from the world instead of bearing witness to the uncompromising truth of the Word of God.
So what can we do to avoid the trap of “unintentionality” in our churches and in our homes. I do not pretend to have all the answers, but I will offer some important matters to embrace. Commit yourself to the glory of God and the purity of the Gospel in the church and in the home. The two are vitally connected, because the Gospel is “the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Everything in the Christian life flows from the Gospel, and everything is done to the glory of God in Christ. Pastors must model the centrality of Christ in their lives and in their preaching. They must also mentor it with God’s people. Fathers and husbands must model and mentor it as well with their wives and children. Christ-centered living, Gospel-motivated living leads us to make decisions not based on the comfort and convenience of the moment, but for the glory of God and the Biblical good of the next generation. Our descendants can live without many earthly things – but not without Christ and a pure Gospel.
Be ready to pay the price for Biblical priorities. As a young man entering my first pastorate, I set some priorities for ministry on the front end. I was committed to the consistent exposition of God’s Word; to challenging men to be spiritual leaders in the home; and to supporting the cause of the Gospel around the world. By God’s grace I saw some respond, and I have lived long enough to see fruit in the next generation in other families and my own. But their have also been times when kingdom priorities cost me and my family in some painful ways. With God’s help I am able to echo the words of the Apostle Paul: “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of The Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).