Does theology bore young people or build an important foundation for their future fruitfulness? I recently came across the article Why Theology and Youth Ministry Seldom Mix on the Gospel Coalition website and was encouraged to see it reflect our heart here at SRBC. It emphasizes the need to teach our young people the truths of God’s Word instead of seeking to entertain them. When theology is properly prioritized and applied in youth philosophy we can be confident that God will honor His Word and the church will be built through the lives of our teens. My fear is that we often wrongly present theologically based teaching as contradictory to practical application and godly living. The Scripture continually emphasizes that right doctrine leads to a Christlike life. John Bunyan summarizes how a proper focus on Christ liberates the believer to pursue God.
Run, John, run. The law commands.
But gives neither feet nor hands.
Better news the gospel brings;
It bids me fly and gives me wings.[i]
The problem this article is seeking to address is why are churches losing young people as they come of age? It mentions that we have shortchanged our teens by emphasizing a shallow, man-centered philosophy instead of challenging our young people to wholeheartedly embrace gospel truth for themselves. The question I continually ask our teens is, “Why do you believe what you believe?” It is important to help our young people knock out all the props that we often unintentionally provide for them and reverse the trend of training lazy, shallow Christians. This article was an encouragement to me as we continue to pursue both doctrine and godly living.
[i] As quoted by Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace (Colorado Springs, Co: NavPress, 1994) p. 90.