God and the Young People
“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
Ouch. Sometimes when we read scripture we just have to stop and re-think how we are doing this Christianity thing. I love Church, I love festivals and cool God slogans (one of my all time favs -‘GSUS, more then a chord’) and I must confess that noisy music with some ambient lights and some profound lyrics like ‘oooh oooh oooh’ really excite me and make me feel great about being a Christian. But is all that stuff what following Jesus is all about?
According to Amos, God just isn’t interested in that stuff as much as we are. Sure we can glorify God through that stuff, but it is a very small part in Gods plan. What excites Father Gods heart is to see his people being little Christ’s where it really matters- in our ‘living it’.
This is what has been on my heart as the youth worker. Father God, let the young people know what it is to be a true follower of Jesus, if the traditions are getting in the way, scrap them. When I first started at Cairns I would always worry about numbers on a Sunday morning and began thinking through how to get young people into the doors. I thought, ‘maybe if I preached more or enticed them with sweets and maybe even money that will do it and then as soon as they get through the door BAM, God will reveal himself and they will love Church and come every Sunday’. Seriously, I really thought that! and I must confess I did try coaxing some young people in with the sweets thing, but realised as time went on that my perspective was all wrong. God reminded me that if I really wanted young people to meet him, then I had to truly show them His heart and not just parrot the same old ‘right answers’.
We over complicate things really. What is on Gods heart is simple, he wants his people back and he wants them to look like Jesus in the everyday. To be more concerned about their neighbour’s welfare then whether or not they should go to church on sunday. To put scripture into practice and not just into memory. So what should we do? Scrap Sundays? of course not, it’s the body gathered. Change it so that it doesn’t look like the contemporary culture from the 80’s, yeh maybe someday…But its not even about that. It is simply about getting our hands dirty again. Doing the stuff we so often talk about on sundays–being the light God has called us to be (Matt 5).
Now we have arrived at the reason for my rant.
I’m excited! Because God is moving in the young people I work with and they are growing into mighty fine followers of Jesus and action has been the catalyst. From what I have seen the young people understand what following Jesus looks like when they clean up some single mums garden they don’t know from Adam, but knowing it just might making a difference to her life. They get it when they spend a week serving in orphanages and the most powerful message is not a ‘God slot’ preached but simply holding a little boy that even in Europe seems to have been abandoned by government and worthless in society. They get it when they can fight for the things that are on Gods heart, like justice and fairness, equality…you know the kingdom stuff.
So if, like me, you have been worried about how much the young people are growing when they seem so disengaged with traditional Sunday morning ‘church’, then ask them what they are doing instead and if they are getting their hands dirty with God. Why not ask them what they think is on Gods heart. I think, you’ll find something is happening and its spot on… And when you find that out, give thanks!