by Raymond Chirng
I was reading the above article from the Spiritual Sword Volume 44 January 2013 No 2 and the editorial message contained a very interesting article which I believe can be applied to us all. I therefore reproduced an abridged version of the article written by the Editor Alan E Highers and share it here with you.
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“In religion there is a growing sentiment that we cannot know the truth. What is truth and right for one may not be the same for others. Whereas many young people once grew up knowing and believing on the truth, more and more now seem to have an elusive view of truth. One author has written a book addressing “Why they left”, dealing with those who have left the faith. He found that approximately 55% of the young people growing up in the churches of Christ have remained identified with the churches of Christ and about 45% have “left the church”. Of those who leave, his studies determined that that some 12% returned to the churches of Christ after they mature, marry and have children. About 33% leave the church and never returned after they grew up and gone from home.
It was mentioned earlier that research regarding some who have left the church and others who stayed with the church has been reported in the book entitled ‘Why They Left’. First, there is a higher retention rate of young people who grow up in the congregations that are ‘conservative’ or ‘moderate to conservative’. The lowest retention rate was in those congregations that were considered ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’. This ought to tell us something. In churches where there is a strong doctrinal emphasis, there is a greater chance that young people will not remain faithful in the church after they are grown and leave home. Also, a higher percentage of those from ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ congregations tend to join a denomination if they become unfaithful in the church. Among conservatives, there is less likelihood that one would join a denomination even if he becomes unfaithful in churches of Christ.
Other factors which tend to retain our young people are:-
- An active youth ministry. This does not necessarily require a full time employee of the congregation, but it does mean an active program with special emphasis and activities for young people.
- A challenging adult bible study program. The adults need to be challenged with stimulating classes. Too often, the adults do not learn anything new or edifying to them to promote their spiritual growth and development. Some will not attend weak, meaningless classes and, consequently, they do not have their children involved in Bible study.
- Parental involvement in the church. The children are led by parents. If parents do not come for Bible study, the children are not likely to come. The more that parents participate in the work of the church, the more the children will be involved.
- An additional indispensable influence upon both parents and children – the pulpit, the pulpit, the pulpit! The pulpit generally sets the tone for the congregation. No matter what programs are in place or how many ‘social’ events occur, it is the pulpit – the public preaching, teaching and exhortation – that moulds and guides members of the body. If there is scant doctrinal preaching, the church will be weak on doctrine. If there is little moral and ethical instruction, the church will be vulnerable on moral issues. If there is no preaching on marriage and the home, the church will lose sight of the importance of family. If there is meagre emphasis on the gospel plan, the church will fail to evangelize. If there is no preaching or teaching about error and false doctrine, the church will be easy prey for wolves in sheep’s clothing. Preachers have the duty to preach the word (2 Tim 4:1-4), and elders have the duty to see that the word is preached (I Pet 5:2-3). The failure of either preachers or elders to measure up to their responsibility will create an environment in which we may easily lose our own children.
Remember the words of the apostle John: “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (I John 5:19). The world is not our friend. The world is no friend to the faith. “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). The old song says, ‘this world is not my home’. Do we mean what we sing? Sometimes I fear for the church because we get too comfortable with the world. We can be in the world without being of the world (John 17:14-16). Hear this admonition: ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If a man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15).
“For God so loved the world” in the sense that He loved the people in the world (John 3:16). In fact, God loved us while we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8). Jesus tasted death for every man (Heb 2:9). Likewise we can properly love the people of this world, and we can appreciate the beauty of the earth, but we are not to love those things that proceed from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life (I John 2:16).
There ought to be something about a Christian life that is different. We should march to the beat of a different drummer than the world hears. This does not mean that a Christian should be self-righteous or inflated with his own importance, but neither does he follow all of the standards of the world. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt 5:8).
There perhaps has never been a time when the Christians were called upon more to let their lights shine in the world (Matt 5:16). In this day of lawlessness and wickedness, the opportunities for the child of God are without limit. The world is crying out for righteous men and women, for those who are sincere and devout in their faith, and those whose lives manifest the earnestness of their convictions. The apostle Paul stated, ‘for me to live is Christ’ (Phil 1:21). Further: ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal; 2:20). Let us not forget that for which we live.
Yes, times are hard and the world is filled with evil. Temptations abound on every hand. The world situation is made worse, if possible, by the vain philosophies of men which deny that God has given us a ‘more sure word of prophecy’ (2 Pet 1:19). The only thing they regard as absolutely true is that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Their philosophy is self-contradictory and self-defeating. The power of Christ, however, has this assurance: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).”
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The above message from the Spiritual Sword has been shortened but the lesson we can learn from it is good for us. It talks to us directly as we spend our lives for God. It serves as a good reminder to us so we will always remember that we have to be aware and remember to allow our lives be a good example to our young ones and others. May we continue to live for God and remember God’s grace, mercy and loving kindness are there for us, and in all things you shall know the truth.