Summary: Teens are interested in religion and religious topics and yet we have such a tough time sharing our faith. Why? What can we do about it?
Youth Rally Sermon
There are a lot of phobias out there, aren’t there? You’ve heard of some of them, like aquaphobia, arachnophobia, xenophobia, but here are a few more:
Peladophobia: fear of baldness and bald people.
Chaetophobia: fear of hairy people.
Levophobia: fear of objects on the left side of the body.
Dextrophobia: fear of objects on the right side of the body.
Thalassophobia: fear of being seated.
Odontophobia: fear of teeth.
Porphyrophobia: fear of the color purple. Barney.
Phobophobia: fear of being afraid.
We sort of laugh as such irrational fears. But we all have our fears, too; they’re just different. Nobody is completely fearless.
Often, we have sharethefaithaphobia, a fear of living and sharing our faith. These are the beliefs that lie at our core, the beliefs that make us who we are, and yet it is so difficult for us to cough up the courage to speak and live them.
And today it’s more important than ever for teens to speak and live their faith! The Barna Research Group recently wrote this, “While teens are well-known to spend more time discussing religious matters than do older people, that running commentary on spiritual matters has yet to translate to a deeper sense of commitment to spirituality.” Almost two-thirds describe themselves as “religious” (64%). (1999) Three out of every five call themselves “spiritual” (60%). (1999) However, three out of five teens (61%) agree that “if a person is generally good, or does enough good things for others during their life, they will earn a place in Heaven. (2000) 30% of teens believe that all religions are really praying to the same God, they are just using different names for Him. (1999) 83% of teens maintain that moral truth depends on the circumstances. (2001) In other words, the vast majority of teens around you are eclectically spiritual, choosing what they like from a religious salad bar before them, throwing the rest away. In reality, probably not Christians at all.
Barna’s research discovered that religious participation by teens is often motivated by relational opportunities. I.e., they go to church to make friends and leave church if there are no friends to make. That means you have an infinitely better chance of reaching your friends for Jesus than your church ever will! That means the job of sharing your faith is vitally important.
If that’s the case, then we need to get over the fear that holds us back. We need to shatter sharethefaithaphobia! And by God’s power, you will do it.
God gives us excellent inspiration for this in Acts 4. Peter and John, two of Jesus’ disciples, had been terrified of living their faith in the past. Both bolted when Jesus was captured; one called down every curse on a bathroom stall to deny that he even knew Jesus. And yet, now, the Holy Spirit had filled them with courage. Let’s let them show us how to shatter sharethefaithaphobia.
Acts 4 5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?" (They had just miraculously healed a crippled man). 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is "`the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say…18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." (NIV)
I. Addressing our fears
Have you ever wanted to crawl under a table and die? You know, when a friend tells some buff guy that you think he’s cute—with you standing right there. Or when you realize that you had a huge chunk of dangling lettuce in your teeth while you were flirting with that girl. You just want to crawl under a table and die. Do you think that John might have felt the same way?