This article is a guest entry by my brother Nathan French.To get to know Nathan better check out his bio here or his Facebook page here. Nathan is our Youth Pastor at Apostolic Tabernacle and he is passionate about seeing AiMYouth live for God with abandon. Also, here’s a link to an article that I wrote a while back entitled 5 Key Subjects That We Must Address (If We Want To Retain Young Adults In Our Churches).
What is an arrow? An arrow is something that can travel a long distance with little effort. An arrow is something that can be aimed, fired, and hit the desired target. An arrow is a weapon against the enemy that can prevent them from getting too close to your camp. An arrow is valuable and impressive in the hands of a skilled archer. Psalm 127:4 says, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.” Your youth group is powerful, skilled, and valuable in the hands of God. They can reach and relate to people that we, as adults, cannot reach. I can’t begin to express how important it is to aim our youth in the right direction at this time in their lives! If the church fires our arrows in the wrong direction, it’s going to take a lot of work to get them back.
Often, to visualize and illustrate “trust”, we picture a man with an apple on his head, standing in front of a target. Off in the distance is a skilled archer. We understand that if he aims too low, it’s not looking good for the poor man with the apple on his head, right? Suddenly, the archer releases the arrow as it flies gracefully through the air; everyone holds their breath and the poor man with the apple on his head closes his eyes as tight as he can hoping that the archer is truly as skilled as he claims to be. The arrow hits the apple dead on, the crowd breathes a sigh of relief, and the man with the apple on his head tries his best to maintain his composure, assuring the crowd that he trusted the archer the whole time!
My point is this (and please allow me to take illustrative license here), if your youth are the arrows, what does that make the Church? The Church is the bow. The church must bend but never break! The church must learn to bend. What does that mean? We must learn to sacrifice for our youth, we have to give them rides to and from church. Sometimes we must invest in long conversations that we don’t even have time for. We’ve got to believe in them and tell them so, even when they don’t believe in themselves. As a Youth Pastor, I can tell you I’ve stood many times with an apple on my head, and I’ve had to trust that God is skilled enough to use those amazing arrows called “the youth” for His glory and for His kingdom. Understand that you’re not trusting in the arrow, you’re believing in the arrow because you trust the skilled archer.
The daunting statistics about churchgoing youth keep rolling in. Panic ensues. What are we doing wrong in our churches? In our youth ministries? So I’m asking, do you believe your youth group will stay in the Church? My answer is an answer of faith, yes I do! As a Youth Pastor, I choose to believe that if we, as a church, will guide them in the right direction and aim them towards the target of Heaven, they can get there! I believe in the arrow because I trust the archer. Stop worrying about getting hurt, that will always cause you to take the apple off your head and walk away. I believe with all my heart that God has his hand on our students and that he will launch them in the right direction. Don’t take the apple off your head. Keep believing in the youth. They can make it if we will believe and invest in them.
Here’s a link to Nathan’s follow-up article 7 Ways To Help Your Youth Group Backslide.