Two weeks ago I was helping with an event our church body does every three years called, “National Youth Gathering.” About 22,000 youth and adults (mostly high school youth) from across the United States gathered in Minneapolis under the theme, “Real. Present. God.”
My wife and I attended as volunteers, and we had 14 youth and three other adults attend from our congregation. They had daily Bible Studies, time for play, worked on service projects around the area, listened to speakers and musicians in “Mass Events” at US Bank Stadium every night and had chances to hear presentations on a variety of relevant topics every day at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
They took time to worship and pray together. You probably didn’t hear anything about it because they were for the most part well-behaved young Christian men and women living out their lives as followers of Jesus. It was a wonderful (and tiring) experience.
This past week our congregation held vacation Bible school, and we had about 40 young children in attendance. We shared with them the “Miraculous Mission” God carried out by sending his son into this world to be the savior of all people. We told them how Jesus paid for our sin so that we would not have to do so ourselves. We did this through story time, crafts, games, experiment stations, snacks and music. It was a joy to hear all those happy and excited voices here all week. And yes, it was tiring as well.
In spite of my exhaustion, I would not hesitate to be part of those events again. I have always been a strong proponent of sharing the good news of Jesus with our young people. It is crucial. A phrase that has been floating around on the internet and social media the last few years is, “If we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.”
That is worth serious contemplation. Many parents who were raised in church and Sunday school have made those things a low priority for their children. It is not a case of not believing in Jesus, but that other things demand their time and attention. Sunday morning is used as “time off” for recovery rather than a time to gather with other believers for worship and praise. Satan convinces people that it is okay to just stay home. It is a clever ploy our old evil foe uses to lead people away from the importance of putting Jesus first.
Here are a few of the scripture passages that speak to the importance of teaching the faith to our children.
What can you do to make sure that future generations hear and know and understand God’s love for them in Christ? Don’t delay. Do it today.
Michael Mattil is the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Denison. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. he views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.