Jonathan Edwards, perhaps the most intelligent scholar/preacher of the First Great Awakening, recorded that the “revival has been chiefly amongst the young.” Teenagers led the way for awakening in this powerful 18th-century revival. As a matter of fact, teenagers have been on the leading edge of every major spiritual awakening in the history of the United States.
Teenagers are idealists, visionaries and unrealistic. Their brains are literally not fully developed yet! That’s why they’re willing to try crazy stuff, both good and bad. This lack of realism and judgment allows them to see visions and have dreams that those of us who have been worn down by the realities of life may no longer see. Adults tend to use microscopes while teenagers have a penchant for telescopes. We tend to get worn down by life and they tend to get fired up by causes. We wonder how much money it will take and they just don’t care.
An old French proverb goes, “The most dangerous swordsman in France is the one who has never wielded a sword.” Why are they dangerous? They don’t know the rules so they just hack away and break the rules of engagement until they win.
Teenagers don’t know the rules of engagement which can help them win souls. They can break the foolish patterns of their forefathers which, for the most part, have kept the Gospel locked within the four walls of the church sanctuary.
They don’t know that they can’t reach the world for Christ just by spreading the gospel, so they are willing to do it. They don’t know that they can’t reach their schools for Christ without market research, so they just reach it.
The average teenager has 425+ online and face-to-face friends. They can use their social media clout to spark Gospel conversations in ways we could never imagine as adults.
Hitler hijacked teen culture and used it to advance the Nazi agenda. Communists harnessed and unleashed the idealism of teenagers to spread the message of communism. For years radical Muslims have recruited young people to spread a message of hate and, in far too many cases, trigger acts of terrorism around the globe.
If evil people and evil philosophies can mobilize young people for their causes then why can’t the Bride of Christ unleash young people to spread the ultimate message of love for the best cause ever?
Teenagers are the most underutiziled, underestimated and underchallenged group of people in the church. As a result, many of our churches are dying.
Maybe you’re a lead pastor like I used to be. Perhaps you’re wondering what all of this means for you and your church.
Maybe it means that you double down on youth ministry in your church. This includes making sure you have the right youth leader in place (who is building a Gospel Advancing, disciple-multiplying ministry and not just a typical fun-and-games one). It also includes giving your youth leader enough budget and back up to carry out their God-given vision to reach the next generation in your community.
Lead pastors who have a heart to reach the next generation are just youth leaders with authority and a budget! God bless the churches that have them!
The next time someone ask you the question, “Why are you so focused on teenagers?” ask them why they are not? Teenagers come to Christ quicker and can spread the Gospel faster than most adults! Once that sleeping giant is fully awakened, this world will be shaken with the Gospel like never before!
Youth ministry is worth it!!!
This article originally appeared here.