Summary: 1st in A series based on George Barna’s book Thermoforming Children into Spiritual Champions.


Text: Deut. 6:1-9


1. Occasionally, someone will approach me and ask, “How much time do you spend preparing a sermon?”

2. I really can’t answer that question, and today’s lesson is an example of why.

3. I have been thinking, praying and researching and studying this subject for the last 5 years.

4. I believe that this series will turn out to be one of the most important series I have ever preached or ever will preach. It deals directly with the future health of this congregation and churches all over the world.

5. Churches all over America are in decline and even those of us that are growing are not growing as fast as the population.

6. The percentage of non Christians is growing in our country. Our country is growing more secular and more pagan.

7. At the root of the problem is the fact that we are not placing enough emphasis on the most important segment of the church.

8. What is that segment? Most would say the adults.

9. However one researcher recently wrote,

After all, aren’t adults the ones who call the shots in the world and determine the nature of our current and future reality? If the family is central to a healthy society and a strong Church, shouldn’t we invest our resources predominantly in the adults who lead those units? When it comes to grasping the substance, the subtleties and the implications of the Christian faith, don’t adults possess the greatest learning and intellectual capacities? Strategically, isn’t it more important for us to equip adults so that they can use their gifts and resources to advance the Kingdom? No, no, no and no. In retrospect, my view was so far off the mark that I didn’t just miss the boat—I missed the entire ocean! (G. Barna Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, pp. 11-12)

10. Many of us have figured out that our emphasis is misplaced, so we looked around and we noticed that the majority of our teens leave the church when they graduate from high school. This phenomenon had worsened steadily since the 60’s

11. So, we shifted our emphasis to the teens.

12. In many congregations the second staff member added is a Youth Minister who in reality is a Teen Minister – NOT a Youth Minister.

13. Walk into many cutting edge PDC “mega churchec” and you will find that one of the largest rooms in the building is the “Teen Room.” The walls and ceilings are probably painted black. The dominating feature in the room is a stage. Over the stage are rows of large black stage lights. The stage is populated with teens playing contemporary Christian Rock music with guitars, drums and keyboards. In the back you will see a bar that serves soft drinks and snacks. A corner of the room may be set up as like a small coffee house and the walls may be lined with video machines.

14. You see over 100 teens talking, bouncing to the beat, or waving their hands in the air. And you think, this is awesome they’ve figured it out! They are reaching the teans!

15. But then you analyze the numbers and discover that only a very tiny number make of the core group of teens that are truly committed. The vast majority are there to be part of the “teen herd experience.” When they graduate and go off to college, marry or get a job they no longer fit the “herd” and since their commitment was to the group experience instead of Christ, they nearly all leave, never to return.

16. So what is the solution? We are placing the emphasis too late in life.

A series of studies conducted regarding the age at which people accept Christ as their Savior , , , discovered that the probability of someone embracing Jesus as his or her Savior was

• 32 percent for those between the ages of 5 and 12;

• 4 per¬cent for those in the 13- to 18-age range;

• 6 percent for people 19 or older.

In other words, if people do not embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior before they reach their teenage years, the chance of their doing so at all is slim. (Barna)

17. After years of research one author wrote,

The importance of building strong spiritual foundations at an early age is again confirmed by recognizing that in 2003, there was virtually no difference between the spiritual standing of adults and those exiting their childhood years. Specifically, 4 percent of 13-year-olds were evangelicals compared to just 6 percent of adults; 34 percent of the 13-year¬olds were born again, which was slightly less than the 38 percent found among adults. In other words, by the age of 13, your spiritual identity is largely set in place. Thousands of people decide to embrace Christ as their Savior each year, but from a statistical vantage point the number of Christians is not increasing—the new believers are essentially replacing the Christians who died or those who renounced their faith in Christ. My tracking of religious beliefs and behavior for more than a quarter century has revealed that the spiritual condition of adolescents and teenagers changes very little, if at all, as they age.

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