Back in my college days, RJ Koerper, our Youth Ministry professor, used to tell us, “Everyone is looking for security and significance. Both are found in Jesus.”
I believe this innate quest for security and significance is markedly intensified during the teen years. That’s why adolescence is such a golden window of opportunity for reaching teenagers with the message of the gospel!
Many teens are looking for security in temporary human relationships. They look to friends and family to fill the hole in their souls. But this is not enough. Only a personal, intimate relationship with God can fully fill the abyss of hopelessness that is in the center of every human heart. As Blaise Pascal once said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”
When it comes to significance, too many teenagers (including Christian ones) are looking to sports accomplishments, academic prowess, or social acceptance to create their sense of self-worth. But God gives us the ultimate reason for living: to bring Him glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) and to tell His story (Acts 1:8).
Long ago, St. Ignatius embraced the Latin motto: “Ad majorem dei gloriam inque hominum salutem” which means, “For the greater glory of God and salvation of humanity.” Imagine what would happen if we repurposed that statement today and used it to inspire the next generation to reach their world for Christ.
Recapturing the Hearts, Souls and Minds of Our Teenagers
Have you ever wondered why the church is losing so many teenagers, especially older ones? Sure teenagers are busy today (schoolwork, sports, college app resume building, jobs, social networking, etc.), but they’ll make time for what matters to them. And, to be honest, the appeal of dodgeball games, pizza parties and 20 minute chats about basic spiritual stuff loses its luster after a while. “Been there done that” is pretty much what many Christian teenager could say after a semester’s worth of typical youth group programming.
Instead, we need to be giving these same teenagers a place and the space to unpack who they are in Jesus (security) and the core of life’s biggest questions, like “Why am I here?”, “Who is God?” and “What does God want from me?” (significance). Combine that with a mission that matters (saving other teenagers from the hell they’re headed to and the hell they’re going through apart from Jesus) and you have a recipe for revival and a reason for them to come back every week.
Teenagers are leaving the church because many churches have left their core mission and exchanged it for something less than optimal.
Let’s keep our teenagers focused on Jesus and His mission! This is why we at Dare 2 Share call this mission THE Cause. It is the greatest cause on the planet—to rescue the lost through the gospel and redeem this broken generation through the message and mission of Jesus.