by Anna Longbons
February 13, 2019
When Christians empower young Christian conservative leaders, they lay the foundations of the future. Every Christian parent wants their child to embrace the faith, and every conservative hopes the next generation will preserve and advance the cause of freedom. In America, however, nearly three out of five young people have walked away from the church, while atheism has doubled among teenagers. How can the church counteract this trend of young adult disengagement?
Instead of just trying to stop young people from leaving, the church can empower young people to start leading. If young people see the church as an outlet for their gifts and as a place of personal growth, their loyalty will deepen. Keeping young people in the pews is admirable, but equipping them for active service is transformational. Here are three ways to cultivate and equip the faith of young people:
Firstly, church members can continually pray for the young people in their congregation, both those who attend and those who have recently gone to college or joined the workforce. By interceding for young people, church members can fight against the spiritual forces of darkness facing these young people, especially in today’s post-Christian culture. As believers pray, God offers guidance, paving the way for stronger relationships between church members and young Christians.
Relationships between older and younger Christians can bear significant fruit. In his book Cultivate: Forming the Emerging Generation Through Life-On-Life Mentoring, Dr. Jeff Myers explores the benefits of intentional, intergenerational relationships. He explains that mentors can rely on the six relational gestures of modeling, friendship, advising, coaching, teaching, and sponsoring. By inviting a young person to walk alongside them, a mentor models Christlike behavior and offers their mentee critical friendship and wisdom. As the mentee matures, the mentor can sponsor the mentee by furthering the mentee’s opportunities. These mentoring relationships help the mentee to realize that the church is relevant to their growth and invested in their success.
3. Apologetics Training
To promote lasting church loyalty, Christians can support young people through prayer and mentoring relationships. Apologetics training can also strengthen the next generation’s ties to the church. When young people learn the rational basis of their faith, and when they grasp the connections between the Bible and the issues facing our culture today, their confidence in Christianity grows and solidifies. Young people may perceive a disconnect between the church and the culture, but apologetics training bridges the gap. Christian organizations including Summit Ministries and Truth for a New Generation guide young people to understand and embrace the truth.
When a young Christian believes that their church accepts them and their faith matters, they are prepared to use the gifts God has given them in the service of the causes to which God has called them. Therefore, the church must be prepared to support the causes young Christians are passionate about. If a young Christian seeks to involve their church in the causes they care about—from alleviating poverty to abolishing sex trafficking to ending abortion—the church can offer their time, support, and encouragement. Promoting a young Christian’s endeavors not only furthers that specific cause, it furthers the young person’s leadership potential. Because they have grown in their faith and developed their leadership abilities through the church, young people will be far less likely to leave and far more likely to engage in positive leadership in future.
Prayer, mentoring relationships, and apologetics training all enable young people to grow in maturity and confidence. This confidence not only lays the foundations for continued church attendance, it produces proactive service and leadership that will benefit the church for decades to come.
Anna Longbons is an intern with FRC Action.