This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
Young people. They’re my heart. You can see that by my tagline up there. “Repicturing faith with the next generation.” They’re my favorite people to listen to. They’re where our faith community is going. They’re filled with ideas, passion, mistakes, dreams, hopes, compassion, and fears.
Three of them are responsible for carrying out my retirement plan of living in a foreign country for three months and then rotating living with them for one. It’s a sweet plan.
They are also one of the more maligned populations in our country, and, statistically, the loneliest.
I want them to speak. I’ve dreamed of doing this blog series since last year in January, when we saw the courageous action of a group of young people from Parkland, Florida, speaking the truth about the unthinkable.
They were brave. Brilliant. Passionate. Right.
I loved it. Even though I had doubts it would change anything. Even when they didn’t do it perfectly. Even considering the horror that they had ever had reason to to be that brave.
Scripture offers us several snapshots of young people whom God did not consider too young to have a voice and a mission.
When Jeremiah objected that he was too young to speak, God told him not to stress about his age—God had all the words he would need. (Jeremiah 1.6-9)
Josiah took the throne of his country at the age of eight. He ruled long and wisely and was one of the few the scriptures mention as one who obeyed the Lord and followed him. (2 Kings 22-3, 2 Chronicles 34)
Samuel was a child when God called him toward the post of leading some of the most difficult, hard-headed, self-willed people on the planet. Much like most of us.
Mary was a teenager—the age of some of those Florida kids—when God handed her the most difficult, most blessed job ever performed. He trusted his choice.
A young girl taken captive and made a slave still pointed people toward the power of God in ways adults would have feared to do. (2 Kings 5)
David is thought to have been about seventeen when he had the faith and the background knowledge to pick up five stones from a creek bed and tackle his giants. His victory is usually lauded as an unlikely blip in history, but there is evidence that David prepared well for this confrontation and followed his beliefs. He was not a young pup determined to show off despite his inexperience, as his older brothers suggest.
Miriam had the presence of mind at a young age to save the life of her baby brother, offer some solutions beyond what people would have expected of a child, let alone a girl, and thus pave the way for the salvation of all Israel. Not bad for a child thought to be 10 or 12.
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” (1 Timothy 4.12)
I love that God never disqualifies people from serving him because they are too anything—and he welcomes the contributions of the young. He doesn’t create criteria they must pass before they can be good enough to bear his images in this troubled world.
I love that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have no age limit, and we are free to use them whether we are three or 103. (That, in fact, was a big reason for our first mission trip as a family and my book.)
So for the next few weeks, we’re going to hear from young people. If you’d like to be included or know someone who might, let me know.
We’re asking questions such as:
- If you could tell people one thing from/about your generation, what would it be?
- What are your dreams for the church? What are your dreams for your faith?
- What are we missing that you’d like to see?
- What do you need from us?
- What’s your greatest fear for your faith and/or the church?
- If you could contribute one thing, what would it be?
- What might stop you?
- If you could tell us to read something, what would it be? Why?
- What do you love about the Bible? About Jesus?
- Anything else?
I think you’re going to love it.