The Blind-Spot In Your Youth Ministry
There was a particular youth worker who was great at discipling his students. He just seemed to have a knack at developing authentic relationships with teenagers. There was one specific student who this leader had identified early on as someone with tremendous potential. This student had what could only be described as a true hunger for God's Word, and applied Christ's teachings in his life in virtually every way imaginable. This teenager just got it. This youth leader was happy to overlook the fact that this student took every chance possible to engage in all manner of sexual activity, with no real regard for what Scripture had to say. The rest of this student's faith-life was just really, really committed.
So . . . as you may have gathered, I made up the above scenario. (Sorry . . . ) Why was it so easy to pick up on the fact that it was false? Well, hopefully it's because of how implausible the scenario would be in real life. There is no way a youth worker who actually has any understanding of biblical discipleship could overlook such a glaring spiritual flaw in a student. Out of compassion for this student, and the lives of those he was impacting, the youth worker would be inclined to make every effort to lead this student to an understanding that there is no room in the life of a Christ-follower to overlook such an integral aspect of the faith.
Disregarding the Bible's teachings on sexual morality is something we wouldn't accept in our students' lives. So why are we OK with them disregarding the Bible's teachings on our responsibility to meet the needs of the poor and needy in this world?
In his best-selling book, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream, Dr. David Platt says that many in the American church have a "blind spot" to God's overwhelming call in Scripture for His people to meet the needs of the poor. This language--the idea of a "blind spot"--resonated with me. In part, because I can see that it's a problem plaguing us as youth workers.
Statistics paint a harsh picture:
- There are over 1 billion people in the world who live and die in extreme poverty, trying to survive on less than a dollar a day. 2 Billion others attempt to live on less than 2 dollars a day. That's almost half the world struggling to find food, water, and shelter for what we will spend on a drink today at lunch.
- According to UNICEF, 26,000 children die each day due to poverty. That's 1 child every 3.6 seconds. Somewhere close to 30 have died since you have been reading this. (It's easy for us to not be shaken by this fact because we aren't impacted by it personally. But what if these kids were your neighbors, your nieces and nephews, your own children?)
- Over 1 billion people in the world have inadequate access to water. 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation. 1.4 million children under 5 die from diarrhea each year. That's approximately 4,000 children every day. That's 3 every minute.
Want an even more shocking statistic? There are well over 300 verses in Scripture that directly relate to God's commands for His people to be about meeting the needs of the poor. 300!Verses like:
"If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. (Leviticus 25:35-36)
And . . .
Within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. (Deuteronomy 15:7-8)
And . . .
Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. (Matthew 5:42)
And . . .
But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18)
There are literally hundreds more . . . We cannot deny it. The Bible is extremely clear: as followers of Christ, we are expected to be the hands and feet of our Savior on this earth, seeking out the poor as He would.
How many of us are intentional about teaching our students to take up Scripture's call to meet the needs of the poor in the world? What opportunities are we creating for our students to physically serve the poor in our communities?
It has been something that is personally convicting to me. And I am committed to making sure that I, and the students I disciple, play a bigger role in giving our lives to help those who are less fortunate than we are. I wouldn't be OK with them neglecting other aspects of their faith life. And I am committed to doing my part to make sure they do not neglect his area, either.
At ym360, we are dedicated to providing Bible Study Resources on Biblical topics such as these. Teach your students the importance of reaching out to the needy with The Least of These, a 4-lesson study on poverty and God's call to do something about it.
- 4 Lesson Plans complete with Bible Background Guides
- 4 In-Class Student Handouts
- 4 PowerPoint slideshows
- Media: DVD with 2 High Quality Lesson Videos and an interactive PDF
- 8 "digi-posters" for your website or Facebook page
- Cool Promo-Art for Your Room and Website
- How are you creating opportunities for your students to make a difference in the lives of the poor in your community?