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Reflections on launching a Youth Church: 4

Part 4 –The 3 most overlooked words in the Bible

They. Devoted. Themselves. (Acts 2:42). Who devoted themselves? They did. How did they do it? All by themselves. We must learn from this. There are too many similarities between the modern church and what goes on inside a football stadium: 22 players running themselves into the ground, desperately in need of a rest, watched by 22,000 people, sat on their over-sized behinds, eating pies, desperately in need of exercise.

This illustration clearly comes from the American mega-church model, sadly, we don’t have churches anywhere close to those numbers in our country yet, but the principle remains the same. The players on the pitch clearly represent church leadership teams: clergy, pastors, lay leaders, PCCs, wardens, elders and deacons, often run ragged by the day to day demands of leading church life, while a huge number of pew-fillers cheer them on from the side-lines, perhaps even give financially to support them, and pray for their strength and protection. And this is a best-case scenario. Sometimes, sadly, those in the pews, like those on the terraces, can be deeply critical of those on the playing field of leadership positions. A consumer mentality kicks in: “If the worship style in this church doesn’t please me, I’m off to the one down the road.” Nothing could be further from the church we see modelled in Acts. The first Christians entirely devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. They were not reliant on leaders to do it for them.

What’s gone wrong in the modern church? Have we gone soft, and created a culture where people are too dependent on their leaders, to the detriment of their own spiritual growth? Jesus’ command was always simply to “follow me.” And then He kept moving. His pastoral skills wouldn’t be appreciated by many in the 21st century church. On one occasion in John 6 when people were leaving Him, He even invited others to do the same.

As we have worked at growing our youth church in recent months, we have come to realise that churches are a lot like buses. The thing about buses is that people get on, and people get off. The driver doesn’t get upset about this. His job is simply to keep driving the bus - to the destination displayed on the front. (The vision of the church). For months now, we have been trying to cultivate an inner divine ‘want to’ in our young people as we attempt to prepare them for a lifetime of following Jesus. We are determined, for the sake of our young people, to not overlook those three crucial words in Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves….”

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

- Acts 2:42