The church of tomorrow

Church of Tomorrowby Stan Mitchell

I was about eight years old when I heard the proverb for the first time: “Young people are not the church of tomorrow.” The speaker declared, “They are the church of today!”

I guess I was glad to be included. And I take the point. Young people in churches should not begin a life time habit of non-participation in the Lord’s work. “Get involved now,” the speaker was trying to say.

But I like the original proverb better. “Young people are the church of tomorrow.” I like it because it reminds me of the need to train and develop our youth, or there will be no church tomorrow. It reminds me that preachers, elders, leaders in the church do not develop by accident.

Moses spent 40 years learning leadership as a prince of Egypt. He spent another 40 in the desert, learning its dangers. Finally he spent 40 years leading the children of Israel. God prepared him 80 years for 40 years of service! Usually we see it the other way around. Preparation should be slip shod and hurried. Young people should be thrust into leadership regardless of their readiness!

This weekend I saw a motel called the “It’ll Do Motel.” I didn’t stay there that night! Any motel with that attitude was not good enough for my custom! Neither should an attitude of “It’s good enough for the folks we’re with” do for the church. We’re not doing this for the “folks we’re with.” We’re doing it for the Lord!

Young people are indeed the church of tomorrow. We won’t be around for the church tomorrow, they will. We won’t be shepherding the church tomorrow, they will. We won’t be in the pulpits and the classrooms tomorrow, they will. Will they be ready? Will we have developed their knowledge of the scriptures, their character, their determination to stand for truth?

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

The reason this occurs to me is that when I first heard the statement, I was young. I was the church’s future. That doesn’t seem so long ago! Now I am the church of today. If it survives into the next generation, part of that burden falls on me.

3 thoughts on “The church of tomorrow

  1. Stan —

    Thank you for your excellent reminder that leadership requires extensive preparation.

    My years as a builder of leaders have have shown me time and time again that there are many more people who became great leaders through diligent preparation than there are those who were “born” to lead. While some are able to serve effectively as leaders when thrust into the position, most fail–especially those who have not prepared themselves for the occasion.

    You are absolutely correct in your assertion that there is a great “need to train and develop our youth, or there will be no church tomorrow.”

    Indeed, as you stated clearly, “…preachers, elders, leaders in the church do not develop by accident.”

    Well done!


  2. Excellent article. This is a very important topic. Our young people cannot be ignored until they are 18. The whole congregation can and should be involved in the nurturing, guidance, and training of the young. In our local congregation, the young are mentored and trained. At the end of services the children as young as 3-up are invited to “quote” the new verse or verses their parents have worked with them on learning. On potluck Sunday, the evening service is held right after the potluck. We have mini-lectures. Young men who have obeyed the gospel are encouraged to prepare and present a 5-10 minute mini lecture. They are told that this is a part of leadership training for future elders, deacons,preachers, and Bible Class Teachers. Youth “leisure activities” should never become a substitute for mentoring, and training the youth.

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