Reaching our youth: a greater challenge than ever
June 22 2001 by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer

Reaching our youth: a greater challenge than ever | Friday, June 22, 2001

Friday, June 22, 2001

Reaching our youth: a greater challenge than ever

By Jim Royston BSC Executive Director-treasurer A great challenge for me as a pastor was the question concerning a person's age when they were most likely to make a profession of faith in Christ and join the church. Although there was great debate on how young someone can be - when do you actually reach that "age of accountability" - there was little disagreement that conversions were less frequent after age 18 or graduation from high school. When we begin to "be on our own" - either college or career - things spiritual seem to play a smaller role in our list of priorities. Conventional wisdom says that young married couples, especially after the birth of the first child, will generally find their way back to church. I'm not sure that is as true today as it was 20 or even 10 years ago. Today, more and more people delay marriage until their late 20s or early 30s, long after they've established their social patterns. Also, single adults, a group most congregations have always had trouble assimilating into church life, are a growing segment of our overall population. The man, wife and school-age-children family is no longer the majority in our society, nor in many of our churches.

Reaching youth and young adults has long been a major priority for many of our Baptist churches. The Baptist State Convention has provided some type of youth and campus ministry for well over seven decades. Today, that challenge is greater than ever - and one often more difficult to accomplish.

Many of our well-worn beliefs about youth ministry may simply no longer be true.

Belief one: Most of "our" young people accept Christ as pre-teens or teenagers, join the church and continue as active disciples for the rest of their lives. Although this model can still be found throughout our convention, more and more youth make it to high school graduation without publicly committing their lives to Christ. Today's youth ministry must focus on youth evangelism. Good children from good homes don't automatically become Christians.

Belief two: Since most of "our" people were saved in their home church before age 18, our ministry to college and career groups does not have to emphasize evangelism. There is probably no greater field of evangelism in North Carolina today than our college and university campuses, a challenge we take very seriously. Wanda Kidd, our campus minister at Western Carolina University, who recently received her doctor of ministry degree from Drew University, wrote her thesis on "Listening Evangelism: Sharing the Christian Gospel with Post-moderns."

North Carolina Baptists have long recognized the changing youth and campus ministry landscape. We are responding to these challenges through our Mission Growth Evangelism Group. We have just hired two new staff members to work with youth and young adults, each well qualified in this important area of ministry: Merrie Johnson in youth ministry and Rick Trexler in campus ministry.

We have - and will continue - to emphasize youth and campus ministry, building on the past while recognizing that reaching our youth is a greater challenge than ever.

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6/22/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-treasurer | with 0 comments
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