A Challenge to the Youthful Remnant in the American Church
By the will of the Father and the power of the Spirit, the first love of the Church today is to be focused on the Son. That first love is not to be some weak sentiment but a consuming love that propels the believer to make Christ supreme in all things. For the past half century, the American church progressively has abandoned this consuming love. Increasingly, the Son has been approached as a mascot of the church rather than her monarch.
The church now so often speaks of Christ only when looking back on his days on earth or his future return. Sermons, lessons, or even hallway conversations about the present majesty and enthroned glory of the Son of God have almost completely disappeared.
The Consequences of Having Lesser Gods
Adult believers have replaced passion for the supreme majesty of Christ with passion for their own personal happiness, peace of mind, and possessions. Adopting lesser gods predictably has led to personal chaos, broken relationships, and lives often marked by quiet desperation.
Because so many adults in our churches are focused on their lesser gods and the personal chaos that follows, they have had limited warmth, intimacy, instruction, and structure to offer their children. Some have been mean and even abusive; many have physically abandoned their children; and most have emotionally abandoned their children.
Almost no parents in the church have taught their own children about the supreme majesty of the Son of God or introduced them to his reign over all things. In fact, they have abdicated to the church almost all of the spiritual instruction of their children. Teenagers and collegians today are the most abandoned and empty of any generation in the past half century. They respond to their deep pain by harming themselves, harming others, medicating themselves, or searching for warmth in destructive relationships.
God on the Move
By his grace God seems to be orchestrating events at the present moment to call the American church back to a consuming love for his Son. At the launch of his public ministry on earth, Jesus drew around him 12 young believers through whom he would establish the church. Some researchers believe most may have been the ages of youth and collegians today.
Christ seems to be using a similar strategy in our day—gathering around him students whom he is awakening to all he truly is. From skinny skateboarders to collegiate athletes, from inner-city street kids to preppy suburbanites, he seems to be assembling a generation that will adore him as supreme. Christ delights in doing the unexpected. He seems to be taking the most empty and abandoned generation in recent history with plans to use them to reintroduce the American church back to him.
If students awake to more of the supreme majesty of the King of Kings, and if they begin to adore him for who he is, then they will arise to join him in his kingdom activity. The new vibrancy of their first love, the joy of their adoration, and the boldness of their kingdom activity may ripple through their homes and churches.
After 50 years of prayer and waiting, the American church finally may wake up to Jesus Christ, may begin to adore him privately and corporately, and may arise in a new burst of kingdom activity orchestrated by their King Regent. Believers consumed with the love of Christ may move out to introduce him to all peoples near and far so that all the nations will glorify God.
Are You Part of the Remnant?
During periods when his people have wandered far from him, God always has preserved a remnant. In our day, are you part of that small remnant who daily worships Christ as Sovereign Lord? Do you grieve in your prayers over the state of the American church? Do you personally have a burden to reintroduce the church to a consuming love for Christ?
If you are part of the remnant, then consider these challenges:
- Student—Don’t let people look down on you because you are young. Be a humble, respectful example to the believers. Fall more in love with Jesus every day, adore him with abandon, and then join Christ in reintroducing the church back to him.
- Pastor/Shepherd—Begin today to construct messages that exalt the name of Jesus and lift the eyes of your parishioners to his present enthronement in heaven. Confess before God that no program or attempt to reform your church will matter much until your people rediscover their first love.
- Educator—Choose or write curriculum that exalts the name of Jesus and his present reign. Realizing that teachers cannot take pupils where they have not been, gather the teachers and prayerfully awaken them to more of who Christ is.
- Speaker—Similar to Spurgeon, let every talk and speech you give “make a beeline to Jesus.” As you construct every message, ask, “How will this particular talk reveal more of who the reigning Christ is today?”
- Musician—Find or compose music that lifts eyes to heaven. Music that looks back to the incarnation and forward to the consummation is essential, but the church has a desperate need for music with the same laser focus on the majesty of Christ as Handel’s Messiah.
- Publisher—The invention of the printing press made it possible to disseminate widely new thoughts to the church. In our day the invention of digital communication joins the printing press as a useful tool in waking up the church to Christ. Purpose that from today forward your publishing enterprise will have as its chief goal to join the Father in the exaltation of his Son.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Richard Ross
Dr. Richard Ross is a professor to the next generation of youth ministers at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He has authored many resources, including his latest book, The Senior Pastor and the Reformation of Youth Ministry. You can connect with Richard on his website, Facebook, or Twitter.