Rev. Paul and Dara Donkor, ANFGC, Toronto
Why your church needs a youth ministry
In Ecclesiastes 12, we are encouraged to remember our Creator in the days of our youth before the days of trouble come. Young people are full of vitality, ideas and aspirations. And this is something that, as a church, we must embrace when we can. We must do everything in our power to help the next generation serve God with zeal and maintain a desire to please the Lord Jesus Christ.
The enemy is very interested in the young adults and teens in our homes and ministries, because without them the church would die. If you look at churches where the youth have all but disappeared, you will find the doors are now barred; the mortgage taken over by banks; and the spiritual and physical life has grown cold. Unless new and continual life is given to any person, company or church, the unfortunate reality is that, it will die.
We know God calls his servant leaders from their youth. King David, Prophet Samuel, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, are all prime examples. By virtue of their age, young people naturally have more years to live and fulfill their calling. The devil knows this, and knows that the sooner he can mess-up a youth, the sooner he can cut them off. Two prime examples are Hophni and Phinehas, unruly sons of Eli. They treated the Lord’s work with contempt and were struck down in their youth. The devil has declared war against our youth because he wants to knock them out before they are established. It was once said “war is old men talking and young men dying.” If the enemy can destroy the youth of our Church, he will destroy our church.
Fewer examples to follow
As real as these spiritual challenges are, there are also social and cultural issues the youth must confront. For example, this generation has seen more divorces than their parents. The ideals of commitment have not been displayed to them as they were to the previous generations. Bishop T.D. Jakes said “the reason why many men get lost through the stages of manhood is because there are few examples, few compasses to chart the waters.” Similarly, the bad habits of a parent/adult is observed and eventually displayed by their child, youth or young adult. It’s true that God gives grace and a helping hand to those in need, but the value of positive role models can never be overstated. We need to be an example to our youth.
Old methods: New problems
Mark 2:22 says, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins.” The parenting and counselling methods of yesterday won’t work for today. God gives wisdom to those who seek it, and with the help of Godly pastors, friends and families, things can change. But, parents must realize something, “as a man thinks, so is he!” (Proverbs 23:7) The young adults and teens born or raised in Canada/USA don’t think like Africans, East Indians or West Indians. Why? They are nurtured and influenced by the systems, education and relationships here. As a result, they think differently (like Westerners) with a few minor parental cultural sentiments. We need to ensure that the Christian principles of our Bible (integrity, commitment, love, patience) supersede all other cultural biases in the homes – for both the parents and the young people.
A hunger for information
This “educated” generation is always looking for answers. We, the leaders and parents, must really know the Word and educate ourselves on how to relate the Word to them. The danger of university/college is: if the youth are not rooted in the things of God, the enemy will corrupt their minds to doubt the things of God. Our churches must equip our young adults to stand against the wiles of the devil. Having a youth ministry in a church that works with parents to keep the youth on fire for God is critical not only to the survival of the church itself, but to the protection and development of our youth. So let us rise up, as a church, and truly encourage our Youth Ministries.