Everyday, we make decisions about ourselves and how we want the people around us to view us. Whether its something as simple as choosing white socks over black socks or as complicated as who we eat with (or don't eat with) in the dining common, decisions consume our lives.
Sometimes our decisions have long running effects. If you chose to wear black socks one day, I highly doubt that your purpose in life would change too much. The friends we chose does affect a good deal. The church you chose, though, has the strongest effect on our lives (providing we are not only going to church when we feel like it).
Most of our biggest and life-changing events occur during the our teen and college years. During our junior high years, we are the most impressionable. It is then that we determine what is cool and what is not. The friends we chose during those years will steer us either toward God or toward the world. During high school is when we begin to think and look toward the future and make decisions as to our lifetime goals. College is when we decide who we are. We are no longer under as much parental guidance. Suddenly, we are on our own, perhaps across the country, and we must make decisions about what we truly do believe.
60% of all college students leave the faith they grew up with. More then half. That's kinda scary. What happens is, the students decide to attend a secular university (not necessarily a problem) and are forced to be on the defensive spiritually. The problem is, these students are crippled without a shield to defend themselves. So many people share the same testimony: I grew up in a Christian home and got saved when I was a little kid. All of their life, their faith based on someone else (this is not saying they are not saved, just that their foundation was never strengthened). When asked why they believe something, the response often is "well, that is what my church teaches". There is no maturity behind a statement like that, and those in the world are waiting to hear it and jump to destroy a faith without foundation.
Teenagers are often raised with rules, yet lack the principles behind them. They hear "thou shalt not" or "thou shalt" day in and day out from school, church, and parents. Some will ask why, but most simply accept it (unless it "cramps their style").
This is why ministry directed at youth is so important. It is during this time that we have the opportunity to teach young men and women why they should believe what they do. As Christians, we are not called to follow our parents faith, we are called as soldiers, irrelevant of patriarchy, to stand up and defend our faith. More then that, we are called on to be on the offensive and proclaim our faith.
When a soldier stands to fight in battle, he does not chose to stand on think sand which will move and trip him, but rather on a solid rock so that he is stable and unshakable to wield his sword. Sand and rock are made up of the same thing, but one is ground up and the other is solid ground.
But how are these principles to be taught so that they do not become rules? Titus 2 and 3 give us a model to follow for teaching those who follow behind us in the practicality of the faith. 2 Timothy 2:2 goes further when Paul tells Timothy to tell others of the things which Timothy learned by Paul.
What is lacking is not education in the faith and the dos and don'ts, but understanding what a true relationship with God is. When our God becomes merely a god of rules, it is no wonder that the minute we are not forced to obey them, we turn away from them. But when our lives are lived because we are completely in love with God, we naturally will become more like Him and evidence the fruits of the Spirit. This leads to a desire to know as much as we possibly can about Him and study His word for the answers. Then we are led to ask why.
Why is not a bad question. Why is preparation for the battle. Why did Jesus die on the cross? Why did He have to rise again? Why do bad things happen to people? Why should I read a Book that is 2,000 years old? Why? This is how we must teach the upcoming generations: we must teach them to ask why before the world does. 1 Peter 3:15 says "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear". In order to be ready, we must train. A soldier does not enter a battlefield with a sword if he has never touched one before. So should not a soldier of the cross venture into this world without knowing how to wield the sword of God. A soldier's commander makes sure that he is prepared by teaching him the skills necessary. We have a responsibility to teach those coming behind us how to wield their swords.
Because of Him,