“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4)
In previous posts, I’ve discussed the importance of modeling and teaching in the faith development of young people. As essential as these components are, they are severely lacking unless we as adults can provide hands-on, age-appropriate, practical opportunities for young people to experience living-out the gospel in their everyday lives. What we model and teach will not be owned until they have had the opportunity to test-drive it for themselves.
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)
Please note that I am not simply referring to mission trips or serving at homeless shelters with the youth group, although those experiences can be significant and, sometimes, life-changing. What makes them significant, however, is not the trip itself, but that the implications of the gospel are lived-out. And such experiences become life-changing only when those practices are carried over into daily life. As the recipients of irresistible grace, we practice showing grace to others. Because we’ve received undeserved mercy, we are merciful to those who don’t “deserve” it. Because the gospel is an extravagant gift, we practice extravagant giving. Because the gospel demands sacrifice, we allow ourselves to be inconvenienced. Because the gospel is unconditional, we love others without condition. Because we are adopted sons and daughters of the Father, we formally and informally “adopt” others into our family. Because Christ came to serve rather than to be served, we practice servanthood. Because God humbled himself in the incarnation, his children don’t seek self-exaltation, but are happy in the lowest place. (Here are some examples of ways that youth groups can reach outside their walls and help students experience living out the implications of the gospel.)
God has strategically placed us where we are. We have the opportunity of a lifetime to be disciple-makers. There is no higher calling! It will not be easy, but the rewards are incredible! Accept the challenge. Model the gospel for them. Teach them the gospel. Provide them opportunities to live out the gospel. And pray continuously for the grace of our great King to awaken them to faith. There truly is no greater joy!