- I am 25 years old. I am at seminary and attend a very thoughtful church. My church takes discipleship very seriously, so seriously that there are few members not formally meeting with another to discuss their personal and spiritual lives. At every elders meeting, some time is given to review and discuss the, "discipleship tree." Not only are time and effort invested, but many members have laid their very hearts on the table to benefit each other. It truly is a beautiful advantage of our relationship together in Christ. It seems likely that unless you (the reader) are a member of my church or a church of similar style or passion, you are not enjoying this benefit. I hope that you are. If not, get off the internet and call someone to begin this type of relationship. I hope you benefit as much as I have.
- Think back to your youth. In those years, the brain absorbs the most information with the least effort. It is also the time a person begins to develop perception of the world they live in and how to interact with it. Information and potential for a worldview is floating around somewhat abstractly, waiting to come to rest on proven truths (social-ethical morals and basic moral assumptions). This happens during late teen years and early twenties. Does this sound like blah, blah, blah to you? Maybe not. Maybe you see the importance of my point. For the sake of those struggling with this line of thought, though, we will move on.
- Good discipleship should not start in the early twenties, but the early teens. What would it look like if believing teens were sent into the academic and professional world already discipled and grounded in their faith? For starters, they could answer questions about their belief. Soul Searching, by Christian Smith, is a book about the American teen's level of religiosity. In chapter four there are sections of dialog between teens and an interviewer for the National Survey of Youth and Religion. Common answers, when asked to explain what they believed, included, "Umm, (chuckle chuckle) I don't know," or, "...whatever I've come to conclude." Follow up questions showed that teens do not even know what their parents believe because "They don't talk about it." I hope you feel the urgent need for teen discipleship.
- Are, "Soul Searching," teens the potential product of your ministry? Sure, some kids were not raised in the church, but the author mostly quotes Catholics and mainline Protestant denominations. Some of the most spiritually confused teens in America are in churches many Southern seminarians plan to serve. Many of those teens will never be discipled. Some may attend your youth ministry program, and yet leave understanding the Cross like this UN DISCIPLED white 15 year old girl who said; "… if you're gonna do something wrong then you should always ask for forgiveness and he's (God) gonna forgive you no matter what, cause he gave up his only son to take all the sins for you, so." (Smith 132) Fellow servants of Christ, do not be accountable for such a horrific loss (James 3:1). It truly is not possible to have a spiritually healthy Church without attending to the spiritual needs of the up and coming generations in a direct and methodical manner.
Why are we letting teens wait in limbo for discipleship?