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Summary: A look at two of the biggest mistakes tha the church makes with their youth.

HOW ARE CHURCHES DOING WITH OUR YOUTH? Not great.

- Cite stats.

TWO BIG MISTAKES CHURCHES MAKE WITH THEIR YOUTH:

1. WE DISMISS THEM.

- 1 Timothy 4:12a – “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. . .”

- Paul here alludes to the idea that people might look down on Timothy because he’s young. It’s a natural idea that has repeated itself down through the years.

- Here Timothy is not a teen, but we can use him to think about our young people.

- We can view them as an afterthought. We can view them as not ready to contribute anything. We can view them as not mature enough to be ready to share anything. We dismiss them.

STEPS IN A BETTER DIRECTION:

a. INVITE.

- First, we can invite them to participate. We can invite them to serve. We can invite them to use their talents and gifts for the Lord.

- Few of them are going to step up and volunteer on their own, so we need to take the first step. Will we be turned down a lot? Absolutely! But that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate being considered and that doesn’t mean that we won’t have some who will step forward.

- We have been blessed in our church to have several of our youth step up to do things. In most cases, they were asked if they’d be willing.

b. ENCOURAGE.

- When someone young does step out, it’s essential that we as the adults in the church are quick and generous with our encouragement.

- The Bible tells us that generally we are to encourage each other, but it’s especially true when you have someone who is new to serving. We’re often filled with uncertainty the first time we do something and it means a lot to have someone come alongside and speak a word of hope.

- It’s not enough to tell the person you’re sitting next to that he did a good job. It’s not enough to think to yourself that she did a good job. It’s not enough to presume that someone else will make it a point to talk to them after church and encourage them. Whose job is it? Well, if you’re part of the church it’s your job.

2. WE CODDLE THEM.

- 1 Timothy 4:12b – “. . . but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”

- Often we expect little to nothing in terms of solid Christian behavior from our youth. We coddle them and excuse their misbehavior.

- “Well, they’re just kids.”

- “Well, there are so many temptations these days.”

- “Well, it’s so hard growing up now.”

- “Well, there is so much competition for their attention.”

- We coddle them and excuse their complete lack of maturity.

- In the second half of our verse for tonight, Paul doesn’t just stop with the encouragement for Timothy to do something – he then goes on and points Timothy toward excellent behavior. “Set an example,” he tells his younger counterpart.

- Just because someone is young, that’s not a legitimate excuse for them to live a pathetic Christian life. We should not coddle them and expect nothing.

- I think of the behavior of enabling parents.

- Some parents enable their child’s poor behavior by excusing their actions.

- “He just doesn’t like to wait.” Too bad – life is full of waiting – that’s no excuse for whining!

- “She’s not used to sharing.” Too bad – she needs to learn how to deal with other people.

- “That’s not his favorite meal.” Too bad – he can eat what’s on the plate or he can be hungry.

- Such parents make their kids think that such behavior is acceptable. It’s not.

- Sadly, such actions by the parents often continue as the kids became teens.

- There can be “enabling churches” as well. We expect nothing from our youth, coddle them, excuse their boorish behavior, and then come behind to clean up the messes they make. We’re doing wrong by the youth.

STEPS IN A BETTER DIRECTION:

a. CHALLENGE.

- We need to challenge them to take the claims of Christ seriously.

- Just because you’re young doesn’t mean that you’re exempt from His claims on your life.

- In fact, when challenged, our teens are often the most devoted followers, passionate and devoted.

b. MODEL.

- We need to model the life of a follower of Christ for them.

- They need to be surrounded by a church family where the adults take the claims of Christ on their lives seriously. We need to be devoted and passionate. We need to be deep in the Word. We need to be serious about prayer. We need to have “follower of Christ” be our primary identity.

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