Sadly, there is a very real spiritual battle that many are too happy to gloss right over. Many Christian parents and teachers earnestly desire to see their children interested in the things of the Lord, but sometimes feel like they don’t have the right tools to keep their interest once children have reached a certain age. So the search begins. It’s at this point that priorities shift in the criteria for resources and church fellowships that are sought after. “We need a church and materials that will hold my child’s interest, ones that he will really like.” Of course this isn’t in and of itself completely bad, but there is definitely more to the story.
If a young teenager has only been lightly trained in his understanding of God’s Word, what kind of youth group will he most likely be drawn to? As parents of young children, we don’t turn and say to our children, “What would you prefer to eat first, dessert or the main meal?” No, we hopefully train our children to understand that there are priorities in eating. First we eat our main course, including the vegetables, then go from there. Although, perhaps a simple example, the same can be said for training our children in their activities with the Lord.
When looking for a church, our first priority ought always be to pray for the Lord’s leading. Then there should be an honest desire to find a fellowship that has a strong emphasis on teaching the Word of God in such a way that promotes discernment, building the youth’s understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ. If this is done correctly, the rest should really work itself out. Even if it means missing out on church once and a while, parents should also stop in to visit their children’s Sunday school and/or youth group meetings on a semi-regular basis. Also, keep an open communication with your children and their teachers to see what they’re really learning from week to week. After all, you’re to ones the Lord has made most responsible for training your family. Don’t pass that privilege off to someone else! Lastly, pray some more! Never forget there is a very real battle to influence the hearts and minds of this upcoming generation. Children are much easier to influence and once they are trained, it is difficult (albeit not impossible) to retrain them later.
While millions of young people around the world are staying busy week by week being entertained “in the name of Jesus”, there is a very real push to rewrite the messages they are hearing. Regardless of what many of them profess, too many Sunday schools and youth groups rely much more on some company’s curriculum or training materials than the Word of God. This is why it is important to know what your children are learning. Many so-called Christian curriculum companies understand the money that can be made on selling their products to a large audience, so naturally in order to continue increasing their sales base, the message will have to appeal to as many as possible. And ever deeper than this, there is a very real desire to creatively and carefully move this generation off the firm foundation of the Word of God to the shifting sands of this world’s ecumenical doctrines.
We would be fools to believe the church is immune to the direction this world is headed. It really is up to every parent and Godly teacher to become informed, exercising Christ-centered discernment in training the youth of today! Below is a short, but very insightful article which gives a little background of one such group. Youth Specialties has been around for 40 years and is involved in publishing books, organizing youth training and music events and camps around the world, as well as developing youth curriculum for churches and youth groups. Please take a few minutes to prayerfully read over this article.
Article: SHAPING THE MINDS OF YOUTH by Roger Oakland
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. ” 1 John 5:20-21
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
“Then the little children were brought to [Jesus] that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14