Have you ever gotten a wake up call while staying at a hotel? These calls tend to be jarring because hotel phones, for whatever reason, tend to be loud. They are necessary, but often unwelcome...especially to deep sleepers.
Consider this post a wake up call for youth ministry. My prayer is that the jarring (but necessary) truths of this article will awaken you from a deep sleep.
We need to wake up to the 3 stark realities ringing off the hook all around us:
1. The Need is Great!
"...snatch others from the fire and save them." Jude 23
My wake up call came again when I recently read a shocking report called, "The Great Opportunity" (greatopportunity.org). This report, commissioned by Pinetops Foundation, unpacks several painful statistics that provide a much needed wake up call to pastors, youth leaders, moms and dads and anyone concerned about the church in America, the Gospel and reaching the next generation.
Here are a few quotes from this urgent, yet hopeful, report:
"35 million youth raised in families that call themselves Christians will say they are not by 2050."
Let this soak in for a moment. This a massive loss of souls. This is a full out exodus from the church. The report goes on to say, "“These are not children of other faiths, atheism, or agnosticism. These are our children in our youth groups, attending our Christmas services, going to confirmation classes. They are families today that would call themselves Christian.”
The need is great. The generation of Christian teenagers right in front of us is slipping through our fingers. We must open our eyes to see what is happening.
As painful as it is may be, we must bravely and squarely face the brutal reality that we are losing the battle to reach the lost teens in our communities and retain the Christian ones in our youth ministries.
If something doesn't drastically change and quickly, the church in America will suffer a major blow by 2050.
2. The Time is Short!
"And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed." Romans 13:11
There's an urgency behind sharing the Gospel because the clock is ticking.
The clock of eternity is ticking. Who knows when Jesus will return? We must work, as someone once said, "Like Christ died yesterday, rose again this morning and is coming back again tonight."
The clock of our mortality is ticking. We only have so much time in the harvest fields before Jesus calls us home. We must work while we have breath in our lungs and fight in our hearts. We must work now to reach teens now.
The clock of our time to impact teens is ticking. We have teenagers in our youth ministries for a short period of time. We must maximize that time to turn them from consumers into activists for the Gospel.
More than one million young people per year for the next 30 years will abandon their faith. This is unacceptable. This is horrific.
We must act RIGHT NOW if we are going to stop the bleeding.
3. The Solution is You!
“Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14
Stopping these statistics will take a revolution in the way you view and do youth ministry. You must turn from meeting focused to mission focused. You must be less about making programs and more about launching a movement. You must advance the Gospel and equip your teenagers to do the same...with love, with urgency and with extreme intentionality.
Here's the good news from The Great Opportunity report:
“If we return to retention and evangelism like we saw just 20 years ago, more people will be saved than during both Great Awakenings, the African American church growth after the Civil War, the Azusa revivals, and EVERY Billy Graham conversion – COMBINED.”
This part of the report is talking about the retention of Christian young people after they graduate. But what if we did more than "retaining" and slowing down the decline? What if we partnered with the Lord and other churches in our cities to turn those stats on their head? What if we pushed to, not only close the gap, but to exponentially increase the number of Christian teenagers in the United States?
It is possible! Jesus is the game changer and the stat blaster! He can use you and youth leaders like you to turn these statisticis around!
How can you get started?
First of all, start praying that God would use you and your youth ministry to change the situation in your own community.
Secondly, download The Great Opportunity and read it. Talk about it with your pastor and your team.
Then go to Gospeladvancing.org and learn how to build a Gospel Advancing, disciple-multiplying, game-changing youth ministry...the kind of youth ministry approach that feels radically new, but is actually 2,000 years old!
And, finally, get your youth group signed up for Dare 2 Share Live coming up on October 12th. It will give your youth group a super-boost toward turning these statistics around by giving them the inspiration and equipping they need to live and share their faith. Don't miss this great opportunity right in front of you! It's such a simple way to help your teens get started advancing the Gospel in their sphere of influence.
So, now that you've read this what are you going to do about it? Are you ready to act? Are you ready to rise up and change the situation?
Consider this your wake up call.