I believe that young people develop very deeply rooted perceptions of the value of Christianity based on either the observable joy or lack of it in the lives of Christians they are exposed to most often. Parents who claim Christ but treat life as a bitter, miserable struggle typically destroy their children in doing so. It doesn’t have to be just parents….. I think the volume of Christians who treat Christianity as drudgery will at times overwhelm the best efforts of those closest to our youth. We all seek joy… if we are lead by example to believe that Christianity can only lead to depression, it is very hard for 20 years of classes, sermons, and sporadic good examples to mute that message.
I believe the key (collectively) to effectiveness in setting our youth on the right path is surrounding them with sound, steady, joyful adult Christians. When we can’t (or don’t) do this, the attrition rate climbs.
My parents were steady, solid, faithful Christians, but I’m not confident that even their amazing consistency would have been enough, in and of itself, to move me in the direction I ended up traveling.
There is one man who made a dramatic impact on me as a teen simply by living joyfully, and embracing all of the fun and entertaining things that could be had by true disciples of Christ. What he said didn’t always make much sense to me, but the combination of just two qualities of his life exerted an irresistible pull on me-
1.He was faithful
2. He was the happiest person I had ever met.
Any young person who can be convinced that those two things belong together will likely make the right choices, but you and I both know that telling young people anything rarely convinces them or results in a commitment. If we can’t show it to them in volume, we will fail at countering the world’s various erroneous versions of joyful living.
This is one of the reasons I so appreciate others banging the drum of the inseparability of faithfulness and joy. A congregation of people who display the inevitable joyfulness of true faithfulness will likely have a very high success rate.
Young people turn from Christ because they have been convinced there is no joy there. Sadly, we (adults) are the ones who have convinced them of it.
— Daniel Starr via Facebook