This month’s Friday column is brought to you by the young people from the Lake Worth Branch, Florida. Over the next few weeks, they’ll be sharing spiritual thoughts with you on Fridays.
Today, Brother Chuck Maddox, Jr. is kicking off the series with some encouragement for parents and mentors of our youth.
The English language is strange. I wouldn’t call it a “normal” language when you drive on a parkway and park on a driveway. Knife starts with a silent k, and while the plural of mouse is mice, the plural of house is not hice.
When I was learning Spanish, I realized how every language has its quirks, but English is by far one of the hardest languages to learn. The word “record” has very different meanings depending on how it is pronounced. “Please record this show” versus “I have records from the 70s I still listen to” complicates the English language.
One specific word has been on my mind lately: tomorrow.
It is a word that can evoke polar opposite feelings. I get paid tomorrow! (excitement) I have a test tomorrow. (fear) I’ll do it tomorrow. (procrastination) Tomorrow is the proverbial junk drawer where we can throw everything we don’t want to bother with today. While the sun will come out tomorrow, will I actually workout tomorrow? (that is yet to be decided). There is always another tomorrow coming and another one right behind that.
I’ve grown up in the church and heard many church-specific words and phrases over the years (you don’t hear the word “midst” in many other places), but one phrase that hits me is “the church of tomorrow.” This phrase has traditionally been used to describe young people in the church — they’re growing and learning, but they aren’t today’s church; they’re the church of tomorrow.
As a not-so young person, I’ve realized (and I hope you do too) that our young people aren’t really the church of tomorrow — they’re the church of today. Young or old, we are all the church of today. The church needs young men and women to rise up and become active participants in services, events, and gatherings — we certainly don’t want to discourage a young person by telling them that their time isn’t until “tomorrow”.
We should value our young people’s ideas and desires today. We should focus on our young people’s needs and wants today. We should empower and listen to our young people today. We should ask them what they like most about the church (and even where they see room for improvement).
Invite a group of young people out for ice cream. Encourage young musicians to use their talents in church. Ask a young person to take over your branch’s social media accounts. Form a church remodeling committee and ask a young person to serve on it.
Even if you’ve tried these ideas with young people and they’ve been hesitant, keep trying! Something teaching middle school has taught me is that students rarely listen or fully understand the first time (or even the fifth time). Our young people need continual encouragement and prodding. Don’t give up on them. Don’t let their busyness or apathy keep you from asking again and again.
They are in church today. Who knows where they’ll be tomorrow? Let’s stop waiting until tomorrow and start encouraging them today.
Editor’s Note: We are so grateful that the Lake Worth young people answered the call to write this Friday column. Brother Giovanni Lind was the driving force behind the effort. You’ll hear from him in next Friday’s article, where he talks about what to do when we find ourselves drowning in deep water.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.