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.