[Month 2 (Week 9): This post is part of the “6 Month Discipleship Plan” series]
It was not in our plan to lead high school students in Bible studies and fellowships. Sure, there was a secret desire for it some time ago, but it never occurred to us that it would happen this soon. But it did. God allowed it to happen this 2019.
And I have a confession to make: Many times, I hesitated to respond to God’s instruction for this. Yes, I still followed His leading to share the gospel to high school students and teaching them to come to God, but I’d be lying if I tell you that I was 100% on it along the way.
“Young teens get excited for fellowship and are receptive to God’s word but it’s hard for them to commit to serving God. Persistence to anything isn’t their thing.”
“Teens of this generation can hardly give attention to a full class lecture so encouraging them to have personal quiet times with God is hard work.”
“Young teens today grew up exposed to reality TV shows and media-exposed immoralities and rebelliousness, so it is so hard to teach them repentance.”
Many studies and statistics have concluded (or can support) such points. In relation to this, I would like to recommend to you this informative video entitled, “Why Young People Are More Depressed Than Ever Before”.
There is nothing wrong in considering these theoretical and statistical conclusions. In fact, understanding these points can help somebody relate more and better to young teens today. However, if understanding these conclusions would mean that we no longer share the gospel or disciple them just because it looks “impossible” or “hard”, then there’s a problem.
I was guilty of the latter; I belittled God’s word. I caught myself forgetting that God’s word is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). I was guilty of unbelief, underestimating the gospel. I caught myself forgetting that the gospel is THE power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
The Holy Spirit recently taught me and encouraged me of these three things:
1. When you reach the youth for Christ, you reach out to their families as well.
I realize that reaching young teens opens doors for their parents and siblings and loved one, not just their classmates, to also hear the gospel.
2. When you give them careful instructions and give them a chance to participate, they do listen and engage.
At first, I had a hard time encouraging them to have their daily personal time with God. But the Spirit put into my mind the verse 2 Timothy 4:2 — correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.
“Great patience” would mean walking them through the step-by-step process patiently as though they were being fed as months old babies — waiting and praying for them to show signs of interest and readiness to feed themselves.
“Careful instruction” would mean teaching them and demonstrating to them what should be done in a way that is understandable to their level and language. Adults (and I can very much relate to this) have a tendency to assume that just because they understand what they instructed mean that the young teen retrieving it picked it up easily. I remember even being frustrated, asking myself why they can’t seem to get it even though it sounds so simple.
Truth is, it’s not them; it’s my instructions.High school students sharing their daily quiet time notes through a Facebook Messenger group.
3. Lastly, the Lord does not have biases on generations.
The Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever thus the good news of God’s grace does not change in the generation of Baby Boomers, Gen Xs or Gen Ys. The Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is the same Holy Spirit that is at work in us (Romans 8:11-13).
Jesus’ disciples were likely to be teenagers when Jesus called them to follow Him. In the time of Jesus, almost all Jewish young men were married, and usually by the age of 18. However, in the Gospels, Peter is the only disciple known to have been married (Matthew 8:14-15). No other disciples’ wives are ever mentioned. So this tells us that the disciples may have all been under 20, with some as young as 15 (Rick Thiessen, 2017).
David was likely to be 17 years old when described in 1 Samuel 17 as an obedient son (1 Samuel 17:17-20), a brave soldier (1 Samuel 17:26, 32), and a young man who fully trusted God (1 Samuel 17:37,45-47).
Regardless of age, in the hands of God, He can use anybody for His glory and to accomplish His purposes. We should not look down on people just because they are young teens. Instead, we should encourage them to set an example for the believers in speech, conduct, faith and purity (1 Timothy 4:12).