Let’s make Jesus real to our young people and get them involved in mission.
I recently went on a trip to Israel. The experience was life changing and I am still processing all that I learned and felt. Walking in the places that Jesus walked and standing where he stood deepened my appreciation for who he is and what he did. The journey made him more real and made the Bible come alive.
For example, the photo shows me touching the rock that the resurrected Christ sat upon when he restored Peter (John 21). Prior to that point, I imagined the story very differently. However, being there brought a reality to the story. No longer do I have to imagine the scene. While I still have to imagine the people in the story, the setting is no longer a product of my imagination. I have touched it. I have stood where it happened. It is real to me.
In our discipleship of young people, we do a lot of telling them about Jesus, which is right and good. We need to tell them about the life that is in Christ as many times and in as many ways as we can. At the same time, nothing beats tangibly showing them Jesus. Most of us cannot sponsor a trip to Israel for our young people, but we do not have to travel far to see Jesus in action. He can easily be seen at work in hospitals, neighborhood clean-ups, homeless ministries, nursing homes, mission trips, turkey giveaways, and numerous other places where people selflessly serve their neighbor. He can be seen in Christian concerts, public laments, prayer vigils, and other events that boldly demonstrate the nearness of the kingdom. It is one thing to talk about Jesus, but it is another thing to show young people the difference he makes in their neighborhood.
In addition to teaching your children and youth about the gospel, I encourage you to get your young people to participate in gospel demonstrations in your community on a regular basis. Let them see that Jesus is alive and at work all around them. He is not just confined to within the four walls of the church. He is everywhere. Getting your young folks out into the community will make Christ more real and relevant. It will show them that our faith is not just about words, but it is about a relationship with a living God. The earlier this can start the better. There are developmentally appropriate ways that even elementary-aged children can participate in the work Jesus is doing in their neighborhood. For instance, getting your little ones to hand-deliver cards they made for people in a local nursing home is one way to help them learn early on that God can work through them to bless others.
Let us do all we can to make Jesus real for our children and youth. Let us show and tell. As you do, I pray that your young people will say of Jesus, “I have touched him. I have stood where he stood. He is real to me.”
By Dishon Mills, US Generations Ministry Coordinator