“Belong to a church.”
This simple statement drips with commitment. It can trigger panic attacks in grown men and send them running for the doors …so is it any wonder that our teenagers may look on these four short words with apathy or skepticism?
Yet this blunt phrase plays a foundational role in Dare 2 Share’s Cause Circle—our simple, sequential outreach strategy designed to help teenagers relationally share Christ with their friends.
“Belong to a church” boldly sits smack in the middle of the “ABC” notation in the “Persuade with Truth” section of the Circle. These ABCs are shorthand for:
Belong to a church.
Commit to THE Cause.
Why did we give such an “old-fashioned” concept like plugging into a church such prominence in THE Cause Circle?
Because Scripture does.
Active involvement with a body of believers is critically important—and especially so for newly converted teenagers as they learn how to follow Jesus and grow strong roots in their newfound faith.
When your students successfully introduce a friend to Christ, they’ve helped them take a huge step of eternal significance. But their job’s not done. They need to understand the important role they have to play in helping their newborn babe in Christ get plugged into a church or youth group. Because it’s the local church that provides the shelter, nutrition, love and nurture a new believer needs in order to grow into a healthy, thriving, kingdom-advancing follower of Jesus.
Helping Teens Understand Why Church Isn’t Passé
Do your students understand why church should never be seen as passé? Is it embedded in their spiritual DNA that doing life with Jesus is designed to be done in relationship with other believers?
Staying connected to the body of Christ is win-win, both for them and for the believers around them. When they’re plugged in and regularly gathering with other Christians, their own spiritual growth will be positively impacted. But it’s about more than “what’s in it for them.” If they’re missing in action, an important piece of the Body of Christ is missing. They need church and church needs them. It’s both/and.
I encourage you to do a Bible Study with your students or student leaders and explore these biblical truths more fully together. Spend some time digging into the following short list of verses about the functioning of the body of Christ. Let them sink into their souls and kindle a Jesus-focused passion for living a life where involvement in the local church is a non-negotiable, bedrock priority. For how can they lead new believers down this road, if they aren’t convinced themselves of the importance of the local church in the life of those who seek to make disciples who make disciples?
Jesus designed the body of Christ to help us…
- Grow and mature in our walk with Him. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love (Ephesians 4:14-16, NLT).
- Do life together and receive nurtured. We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8, NIV).
- Love and live for His glory. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV).
- Learn and discern God’s wisdom and maintain a thankful heart. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts (Colossians 3:16, NLT).
- Display God’s love to a watching world. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35, NIV).
Sure, many teens initially get involved in youth group for the fun and games and social connection. But it’s our job to help them grasp the larger, deeper truth that Jesus designed the church as a vital component in the life of the believer. It helps them grow into healthy, effective disciples who, in turn, make disciples, sharing His message and accomplishing His mission.
Remember, it’s so important that Jesus promised that even the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!