Is the Way of Jesus in Our Way?

I’m troubled today, as I look across the world and witness the growing global turmoil. Troubled but not worried. Concerned. Not panicked. My emotions actually gravitate more toward wonder.

Malala Yousafzai

(We need youth with the tenacity of Malala to stand for truth and justice in Jesus’ name.)

I wonder about the lack of outrage among global youth who follow Jesus. Where are cries of young leaders tired of the rising violence, injustice, and devestation? Why are there no practical protests by global youth who insist on making peace the worldwide way of life? I wonder at what point will their passion, energy, and common sense demand better decisions by governments more concerned with saving face than serving the earth’s inhabitants.

And I wonder when the Church will make room for their voice and vision to create “kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven.” We need a youth movement now more than ever! A generation of young activists tired of activities focused on making today easier, while watching their tomorrow deteriorate. Where are they? Why are they silent?

Jesus was a revolutionary leader who came to make a statement. Not about religion. About life — living today with an eye on tomorrow. Everyone’s tomorrow. His message was peace and the restoration of all things. And it was political. The young leaders he trained were looking toward a new day, and he taught them to think differently than their world, culture, society, religion, and traditions. He modeled, mentored, and mobilized.

Recent decades remain void of radical young leaders involved in a global movement for good. An uprising of peace by means of love through the message of Jesus by an outraged generation is simply nonexistent. But one must finally form once again. Locally. Regionally. And globally. Youth in action armed with God’s Word as their sole weapon of grace and truth.

Christian communities grounded in the complete Gospel story of Jesus Messiah need to stop playing games, practicing church, and placating to a desperate generation ready to take their rightful place as peers in the Body of Christ. We must engage them in God’s Word and in His work as equal members of the cause of Christ and turn them lose.

Youth programs have to change drastically in order to produce Christ-centered activists, not just Christian activities. If the means, methods, and models of youth work don’t result in radical young leaders, are we simply wasting our time? If so, young Jesus followers should refuse to tolerate our lack of confidence in God’s call on their lives.

I’m committed to raising the standard and releasing the potential of young people to build the kingdom Jesus came to preach. My sole purpose is to see a worldwide wave of a youth learning by doing and leading by example. I can’t create a movement (that’s Jesus’ responsibility), but I can continue to call for it, create space for it, and craft tools to support the mission and ministry of young people ready to discover their role within it.

My prayer is that the future of youth ministry will simply be defined as youth in ministry. May the Church repent from decades of reterick and retreats and replace our programs with practices that create radical activists reaching the world with God’s Word and His work of love.

The barbarian way of Jesus that called apprentices to hold nothing back and live relentlessly is lacking in the Church. I wonder if his way might be in our way and outside our comfort zone. Are we willing to embrace his model of youth ministry?

I wonder what that would look like. As I said, I’m troubled but not worried. Concerned. Not panicked. Because the way Jesus recruited, resourced, and released youth to build his church will always work. It’s time we follow his example. He did ministry with youth then removed himself and turned relentless, trained young leaders lose on the world. Thank God Jesus guided them by his spirit but got out of their way.

How are you making a safe space for youth to risk failure to discover, develop, and demonstrate their faith and pursue the passions God has placed on their hearts today?