“The Bible is a stuffy old book, written centuries ago that doesn’t mean anything today”
“Harry Potter is much more fun than Jesus”
“Aren’t all religions the same?”
I’m sure we have all heard similar comments from people of all ages. I was “lucky”, (or was it divine providence?) that I had two older Christian brothers who introduced me to church life when my age was still in single figures and my legs were still in short trousers. Remember when children were allowed to be children and small boys still wore short trousers until their second year in secondary school?
I first heard the gospel in Sunday school in the 1950s, and what I learned then and subsequently is still with me today. As well as being a member of Hopeman Baptist Church I am also a Boys’ Brigade officer at our local Parish Church of Scotland, mainly with the older Company Section Boys, ie 11+ age group, but also have dealing with the younger Junior Section Boys, and thinking back to my own experience I know how important it is to introduce children to the Bible and Christian teaching as early as possible. It certainly isn’t something the world is going to teach them, the god of this age is doing his best to darken the mind of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, (2 Cor 4:4)
Our Junior and Company Sections overlap during which time I give a short devotional talk and try to follow a theme over several weeks and have a memory verse, which we repeat over time. Recently we have been looking at Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”, so we have seen how the Bible is our light, Jesus is the Light of the World and God expects His followers to let their light shine, why?, so they can see God in us and say “Wow – I want some of that!”
The keyword in my experience is “relevance”. Sad to say, I have been to BB parade services, with a church full of young people and the preacher has delivered an “adult “ sermon with no attempt to involve or connect with the Boys and I have sat there, as an officer with the Boys, embarrassed at the impression this was giving to the Boys of what church is all about, thinking “Why are we here?”
On March 6th we have our BB Moray Battalion Parade at our own CoS in Burghead, and as the minister is not well and is sadly due to retire shortly due to his ill health, as the host church I shall be delivering the talk, notice “talk” not “sermon”. In fact I shall be referring to it as a “little chat” on the morning. The subject is the names of Jesus, ie “Lord” “Jesus” “Christ” with a football related introductory theme with plenty of congregational participation. I delivered this “talk” many years ago at a youth service at Hydean Way Baptist Church in Stevenage, and afterwards one of the mums said she really wished her son had been at the service, and even mentioned it again several years later when she started attending the church we had moved to. I’ve always said adults listen to children’s talks more than the children!!
The world offers so much to our children that draws them away from the standards and teaching of the Bible, and delivers it in such an attractive way we have to become even smarter and more relevant. The gospel is the same gospel Peter preached on that first Pentecost morning, and the same gospel that Paul preached throughout his long life, and wrote about in his letters. How we deliver that message in a way that will catch the attention of our young people and draw them towards the Saviour and make them say “Wow, I want some of that” is not a skill that all preachers have, but is a gift youth workers should strive to develop, our young people are only young once!!