Why Are We Losing Our Young People?

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By Henry Nelson | August 1, 2009

HenEcclesiastes 12:1“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble comeand the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them.”On April 20, 1999 in the small town of Littleton Colorado, two high school students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold enacted a all out assault on Columbine High School. The boys plan was to kill hundreds of their peers using guns, knives, and homemade explosives. They walked the halls and classrooms killing at will. When the day was over 12 students, one teacher, and both Eric and Dylan were dead. The questions still remains today as to why they did it? Since then we have seen the Virginia Tech shootings, the schoolyard shootings in New York and other tragedies involving young people and violence. The answer as to why in all these cases is simple. These people were lost. They felt unloved and unwanted.This brings us to our topic this week. As parents and as a church why are we losing our young people? As Children grow older, they often. lose interest in spiritual matters pull away and become distant they start missing church then quit going all together they start dating, get engaged, or marry a non-Christian person involved in drugs, alcohol, other temptations. Ultimately when these things happen we will lose them to the world.As a church and as parents, we have a responsibility to our young people. Proverbs 22:6 says, “It is the duty of both the church and parents to train children.” You are partners in the training. Parents cannot expect the church to train kids for them. If what the church teaches is not seen in the home we can lose our youth also. Proverbs 22:6 is the general principle to live by when it comes to youth. There are many reasons why we can lose our youth. Understanding why may help prevent losing more.There are several factors that bring about this situation and process of losing our youth. One of the first that comes to mind is bad influence of their friends. Friends often have the most influence on youth, because that is who they spend most of their time with. There are warning signs that a friend may be a bad influence. Proverbs 1:10-19 says, “My son, if sinners entice you do not give in to them. If they say, “Come along with us; let us lie in wait for someone’s blood, let us waylay some harmless soul; let us swallow them alive, like the grave, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we will get all sorts of valuable things and fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot with us, and we will share a common purse” my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; for their feet rush into sin, they are swift to shed blood. How useless to spread a net in full view of all the birds! These men lie in wait for their own blood; they waylay only themselves! “Amen! Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it. This shows how the bad influence of a friend can lead down a path to destruction.Even a good Christian child can be lead astray by the wrong friendships. Proverbs 12:26 says, “A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared. The Apostle Paul recognized how friends could mislead us. 1st Corinthians 15:33 says,” Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” These warnings tell us 3 things which are “The power of friendship, we may or may not see it, or where it could lead. “You may be wondering how this can happen and How does it happen? First there is the Gradual drift. Hebrews 2:1 says, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Secondly, they get desensitized to sin. Psalm 1:1says, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” Thirdly, Pressures mount when you are outnumbered. Exodus 23:2, 33, says, “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.”Amen! God did not want the Hebrews to fall victim to the influence of all the other religions and cultures and the world they would encounter in the Promise Land. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s Will is; his good, pleasing and perfect will.”Amen!The fourth is it is easy to become like them. Proverbs 23:20 says, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. Amen! If anyone has ever hung around with a crowd like that, you know sooner or later bad things happen.Sometimes you as parents are Poor example of parents. Young people learn from what they see!The General Principle of Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven. It is the duty of parents to set a good example for their kids. Some parents use the excuse that they are young or first time parents and they are not sure what to do. Even if you are young you can still set an example. Everyone should Follow Gods guidance. 1st Timothy 4:12 “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” Amen!Weather you like it or not children will become like their parents. Proverbs 20:7 says, “The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.” Everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb about you in Ezekiel 16:44 “Like mother, like daughter!” Amen! Children will invariably talk, eat, walk, think, respond, and act like their parents. Give them a target to shoot at. Give them a goal to work toward. Give them a pattern which they can see clearly, and you give them something that which gold and silver cannot buy. Amen!Parents your actions will speak louder than words. Do not just tell your kids you love them, show them! Let them see you practicing the same Christian values you are trying to teach them. What do children often see in their parents? Most of the time parents do not go to church on Sunday at all. We do not study the Bible anymore like we used to and we miss Church a lot; we make excuses for not going such as being tired, busy, or the weather. We also miss family events a lot for work and remember work can replace you and family cannot. Amen!We continue to put emphasis on material over spiritual things and we emphasis work over spiritual and the Worldliness of how much stuff can I get, such as the big house, and fancy cars. So do not be surprised when they turn out just like you trained them to be! Children today have a weak Image of The Church. From the time children are old enough to pay attention and to understand to what goes on at church say 10 years old they form an image of the church and Christianity until they are 20; that is a 10 year period. What image is formed?What do they need to learn and see from the church and its members? We need to help them learn to understand the Bible and how to apply it to their lives. One of the church’s main duties is the equipping of the Saints. If we do not teach them to understand the Bible who will? They need to see it in action in others around them. They need to see the conviction and strength of the Church and its members. They need to be able to look at people and see role models and people who are pillars of the community. They need to know that Sin is not tolerated. Too many churches will excuse it and think they will grow out of it. This only sends a message that it is ok to sin without teaching them that it has consequences. They need to see people who love and respect each other. Unfortunately, young people often see this image of the ChurchSometimes the preaching is weak, and is hard to follow and outdated. Some preachers preach one thing, say and do another and are not well respected in community. Their sermons not well thought out or organized or uninteresting sermons that youth cannot relate to. Some pastors are still teaching classes irrelevant which young people cannot understand how this applies to them or how to use it. Teachers do not give them any life application tips. There is hypocrisy among its members and leaders. This is a big problem for some church’s to overcome. The church has no leg to stand on because the young people hear grumbling about one another. This does not show much for love and understanding.Some churches have an outdated Worship Ministry. They continue to use Old fashioned hymns and are resistant to contemporary music. The message does not change but the method of delivery can. Some churches have no youth ministry or activities and wonder why youth would rather be at the mall than at church. What kind of image do you think this gives the kids? It says we do not care about you and you are not important to us.” Amen!Now is when some of you will start to feel uncomfortable but remember we are talking about our children today. They are our most precious gift from God. If part of the problem of losing them lies with us the duty to correct it also lies with us. There are lax standards at home. Training young people requires high standards. Ephesians 6:1-4 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. As parents you have life experience that you need to pass on to your children. Don’t be afraid to admit them/tell them the mistakes that you have made in your life. You don’t want them to make the same ones do you?What I have found is that there is Common Lax Standards and very little corrective discipline in younger years. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. Proverbs 19:18 says, “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.”“Folly”-Foolishness. Your kids are going to get in trouble and do stupid stuff. The worst thing you can do is not punish them. Too many parents want to be their kids “friend”. Your kids have plenty of friends, but they only have 1 set of parents and sometimes only one. Parent’s careless in watching what kids wear, the music they listen to, movies and TV, where they are going and who they are going with. If you are not watching these things you do not know exactly what values and ethics are being fed into your children. Have you met their friends? Do you trust them? The opposite of being too strict should be avoided also. Parents must allow children freedom to learn and express themselves as long as it in an acceptable manner.In today’s world it seems that Parents are giving little encouragement to read the Bible and there is little communication to bond. Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. Spend time talking to your kids. I was at a McDonalds and a little girl with drawing at the McDonalds, Dad was on Cell Phone. Which leads me to our next point; there is little time as family. As parents we have a responsibility to teach and train our children. This takes time. You cannot fulfill some responsibilities without time. It takes time to be an example and it takes time to teach them. It takes time to help them through problems, takes time to understand them, takes time to communicate with them, takes time to build a relationship that lasts and it takes time to show them you love them! Amen!Ephesians 5:15, 16 says,” Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity.” Make wise use of the time you spend with your kids. Before you know it they will be gone and you will be left saying “I wish, I would of, should of have.” It is sad that when some children grow up that they have no time for their parents because their parents never had time for them. In this day and age families are too busy to eat together, to talk to each other about their day, go somewhere as a family or do something together as a family, and parents are too busy to spend time helping teens with a problem. If parents do not take time to help their kids or make them feel important, they are going to look in other places for love and acceptance. AmenWhich brings me to our next point The Pull of The World is great. Even though this point is last, I think it is the number one reason we are losing our youth. In the church we often judge our youth unfairly. The way they look with long hair, tattoos, and even earrings. The music they listen to such as Christian Rock, Heavy Metal, and Hip-Hop. So what if they have long hair. It does not mean that God loves them any less. Teens often find more acceptances in the world than in the Church. No wonder they are more drawn to it. Amen!When it comes to Computer Software, IPOD’s, and other electronic games. The Christian world is behind in what it has to offer youth in technology. There are not a lot of resources that appeal to youth. If they cannot download it, or look at it on a computer, or think it is cool they are not going to want it. The market is catching up. Some areas it is not. Anybody ever seen a Christian themed game for Playstation or X-Box?The Internet gives teen’s access to a lot of stuff they shouldn’t have access to. Pornography is a big temptation. Chat Rooms-often solicited by online sex predators. My Space is a good place to communicate with other friends and other Christians, but too there is often a lot of adult/sexual content. This also opens them up to False Religions and Cults. Through the Internet kids have access to a lot of information about other religions that could lead them astray or confuse their beliefs.How do we win them back? How do we take them from this disgusted teen slide back to this worshiping child slide? How do we win them back? Be more influential than the world. Set a good example for them both parentally and spiritually. Get them involved in a good church that cares about them and provides activities for them. Follow the biblical standards as we discussed in Ephesians 6:1-4, Proverbs 22:6, Deut. 4:9-10. You need to spend quality/ quantity time together as a family. What happens if we do not? A number of problems can occur if we do not win them back before it is too late. Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse/Addiction, Trouble with the Law, Teen Pregnancy, Trouble with pornography, They might even meet a tragic end If we do not win them back, the one who loves them the most is going to have to watch as they continue down the path leading away from him. Now you know why we are losing our young people. Amen!