by Chad Miller
In the midst of emerging trends in this postmodern, post-Christian culture, the call and measure of ministry – or our marching orders – have not changed. We are called to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… (Matthew 28:19a ESV).” But, what does a fully devoted disciple of Jesus Christ look like? I think at any age, it is one who loves Jesus, actively follows Him and shares Him with others. These are the fundamental building blocks of a relationship with Jesus Christ, but they are only the beginning. Without a solid foundation, young people are certain to face a brutal attack from our increasingly pluralistic society.
Our Current Coordinates
We have all read the same stats, surveys and studies – none of which offer any earth-shaking revelations. We know that an overwhelming majority of children raised in a Christian home are walking away from the church and what they know of Christianity around the age of eighteen.
We also know that while a large majority of Americans identify themselves as “Christian,” roughly 4 percent actually possess a biblical worldview that affects the way they live their lives. Only 4 percent! The term “nominal Christians” has recently gained prominence in referring to those individuals who identify themselves as Christians, but have little internal convictions, a high degree of biblical illiteracy and are virtually indistinguishable in lifestyle from non-Christians.
I have written several times before on the strategic advantage to shift our thinking from solely an evangelistic event as the primary means of proclamation and harvest to the training and equipping of believers to “…do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5 ESV).” I will not belabor the point, but peer-to-peer influence is so significant in the tween and early teen years, it is worth the blood, sweat and tears it takes to impact our young people. We want them to live out 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
Today, we are reaping the harvest of the deistic humanism (the god of self) movement of the ’60s and ’70s. This movement says, “my rights, my body, my choices … no one can tell me differently” and “if it feels good, do it.” Many of its frontline advocates are now in positions of influence, and their impact is felt across the spectrums of politics, education and entertainment. As a result, this movement has paved the way for the modern-day pluralism that is monopolizing the mainstream religious discourse.
Please understand that pluralism is not simply the recognition and acknowledgment of different faith systems within a community. Instead, it is the leveling and neutralizing of all religions for the sake of “equitable public discourse.” It is the real conviction that all religions possess equal merit and benefit, and they are therefore not superior or inferior to one another. In other words, they all do the same thing with the same results. Certainly you do not need convincing that this is where we are as a nation right now.
Courage for the Journey
So, let us assume we are all on board with training and equipping our students to appropriately share the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ with their friends and families. Through Dare to Be a Daniel, a ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that trains Christian tweens and teens to take a stand for their faith in Jesus Christ, we have been fortunate to see more than 17,400 young people complete the courses.
How now shall we pray for them? For boldness? Courage? No fear of rejection or alienation?
We are sending them out as disciples into an increasingly hostile environment – let us pray Heaven’s best for them and others like them who are sharing the love of Christ daily with their friends and peers. “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly (Acts 4:31 ESV).”
We are sending out these missionaries to a land bereft of any concrete spiritual consensus! We are deploying them into a culture where “exclusivity” in the religious claims is a foreign tongue. The mantra is “I’m OK; you’re OK; we’re all OK,” as opposed to “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).” The moment our kids confront the world with the claims of Christ, they are speaking a language which most will not hear or understand.
Jesus Christ will never sit at the table beside of Muhammad, Buddha or Confucius as a contemporary or equal – HE SITS ON THE THRONE and THERE IS NONE LI KE HIM! (Rev 20-21; Psalm 86:8).
Chad is currently serving as Director of Dare to be a Daniel, a Youth Evangelism Training Project of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Chad is passionate about encouraging other pastors and ministry leaders in their labor.