From Gary Blanchard, Youth/Associate Pastor, Wenatchee (WA) Seventh-day Adventist Church (Upper Columbia Conference)–
This may come as a shock to some but Christians are not the only ones interested in winning the hearts and minds of the next generation. Satan and his demons are too!
Throughout scripture we find numerous examples of youth who were members of Satan’s youth group. Some were rescued by God, but many were not.
For example, in the Old Testament Satan had Cain, the Sodomite youth, Absalom, and most of the kings of Israel. In the New Testament we find two parents bringing their demon possessed kids to Christ, one child psychic and a serial killer named Saul.
Yes, since the fall of man, Satan has always had a youth group. In fact, youth specialists in North America warn that his ministry is growing so fast that the future of Biblical Christianity itself is threatened!
Ron Luce, one of the great champions for today’s youth, wrote in his book the Battle Cry For a Generation “only four percent of Millennials affirm themselves as church attending, bible-believing Christians”. Millennials is the name give to everyone born between 1984 and the present.
Josh McDowell in his book The Last Christian Generation writes, “I sincerely believe unless something is done now to change the spiritual state of our young people—you will become the last Christian generation”. He goes on to write that many denominational leaders believe “between sixty-nine percent (69%) and ninety-four percent (94%) of their young people are leaving the traditional church after high school…and very few are returning”.
The situation is not much better when it comes to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Dr. Rodger Dudley, a long time Adventist youth researcher, estimates we are loosing between forty (40%) and fifty percent (50%) of our youth in North America by their mid twenties. (Why Our Teens are Leaving the Church, p. 35).
So where are they going? Knowingly or unknowingly they are being seduced into Satan’s youth group where he can brand them as his. But the Bible says these young people don’t belong to him. They belong to their Creator (Ecclesiastes 12:1) and their Creator is Christ himself (Colossians 1:16).
I believe it’s time to rob Satan’s youth group! It’s time for Adventist churches big and small around North America and the world to launch an aggressive assault against the “gates of hell” knowing with confidence they “will not prevail against us.” Please keep the youth ministry of this church in your prayers as we strategize and plan to reach the youth of this valley with the gospel.
This is how successful the Devil has been at robbing us of our young people.
Now we will be discussing how we as a church can start robbing him instead! Please keep in mind that the young people in Satan’s clutches don’t belong to him anyway so we are actually really rescuing them.
So how do we go about it, how can we reach the young people Jesus already purchased with his blood? The following is a strategy that spells the word R.E.S.C.U.E.
The first and most important step in rescuing young people is to build positive relationships with them. Sociologists tell us they are starving for unconditional love and wholehearted acceptance. The average young person today spends a total of 3.5 minutes a week in “meaningful” conversation with their parents. So how does one build relationships with kids?
This summer at camp meeting in Northern California I listened as an elderly women shared a wonderful testimony about reaching the youth in her small town. She said that she began by learning their names, and praying for them daily. Then she would look for opportunities to show her love for them. Often she would bring them cookies or some other treat. Eventually as they warmed up to her she invited them over to her house. After several months of doing this, she came home one day to find her door covered in balloons and a note that expressed appreciation for her friendship. That’s how you build friendships with kids!
In Ministry of Healing p 143, E.G.W. tells us that Jesus socialized, sympathized, served people and then after he won their confidence (and this can take some time) he invited them to become his disciples.
Express the Gospel
It’s not enough to simple build relationships with kids! Not one young person will be saved by having a relationship with you or me. The bible says in John 17:3 that it is in knowing Jesus that we have life eternal. It is extremely important that we turn the corner in our relationship with young people and verbally share the gospel with them.
There are many ways of doing this. We can share our personal testimony, we can read a verse like John 3:16 or Romans 1:16-17, where the Bible says “preach the gospels use words its necessary”; we can draw an illustration on paper or we can invite them to a youth service where we know the gospel will be dynamically presented.
By the way, in January we are planning to start a service like this designed to reach the unchurched and pre-Christian youth in the Wenatchee Valley. We are calling it Crossw@lk. However you choose to share the gospel just be sure to share it. Over and over again the Bible says “preach the gospel”. Use words, it’s necessary.
It is not enough for Christian to build relationship with kids or even share the gospel with them; we must also help them become Disciples of Christ!
For the last several weeks I have had the privilege of working with a team of people who not only talk about their love for kids but actually committed some of their precious time to putting together a strategy to disciple them! These people were parents, teachers, elders, board members but also dedicated youth and young adults and our senior pastor.
Just last night I went to visit a young man who had checked himself into the local hospital because he was hearing voices telling him to do things that terrified him (an me when he described them). But as I listened I felt impressed that he was under satanic harassment. When he described the kind of music he listened too and the movies he watched I knew he had given Satan a foothold and was reaping the consequences. After I had listened to his story and felt I had won his confidence I then told him the story of the demoniac (Mark 5) and how Jesus had not only forgiven him for his sins but had completely set him free! He thought that was “Cool” since he had never heard that story before. I then led him in the sinner’s prayer and told him the gospel of how Jesus took all of his sins on him at the cross, died in his place and now offers him forgiveness, eternal life and power to get rid of those wicked venues in his home. When he gets out of the hospital I hope to begin Bible studies with him.
I tell you this story, because I believe it is time for us to rob Satan’s youth group! He has held God’s children far too long in his icy grip. We must rescue these young people and place them in Christ’s saved arms.
If you are interested in reading the last part of this article contact Gary Blanchard at firstname.lastname@example.org