Hope in the new generation

There is real hope amidst the gloom about the rapidly dropping numbers of young people in North American churches.

My wife and I look at our own children and see a deep commitment to Jesus.  And we see it in their friends, too.

What delights us is that they are going beyond us, thirsting even more for God than we did at their age.

And they are not alone.

Last Thursday, the American newspaper USA Today, trotted out the usual discouraging statistics about young people deserting churches.  It quoted a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey which found that fewer than 10 per cent of young American adults attend worship services.

But the article went beyond the bad news to look at young Americans who are passionately pursuing a close relationship with God.

One of the bright lights is Ethos Church, a youthful church in Nashville, Tennessee.  The young pastor, David Clayton, is only 30 and most of the congregational leaders are 28 or under.

The church they launched with 12 members in 2008 now has 2,000 members with about 150 small groups.  The church’s goal is to help attendees “wrestle with what God wants to say” rather than using gimmicks to draw the curious.

The article said the church, which is involved in community service projects, gives 50 per cent of its income away.

As we look at our own children and their friends, we see something of the optimism and courage that the young shepherd boy David showed when he visited the Israelite army cowering before Goliath and the Philistines (1 Samuel 17).

David, still only a boy, was astonished to see the pessimism and fear among the Israelites.  He said he could kill Goliath, the giant who struck such fear into the hearts of the Israelite army.

“The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine,” he said, showing his deep trust in God.

As we know, David won that battle.  And he later made Israel one of the greatest nations in the Middle East.

David put God first in his life – and many young Christians in North America are following his example today.

Just as David ignored the cries of despair among the Israelites, so many young people today see challenges they are ready to confront and overcome.

Who knows what God can accomplish through people like them?





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