Youth Week 2014: How the Gospel Changes Everything

I am really excited about Youth Week 2014 this year.  This year it is July 29 - August 1 from 6 - 9 PM every night at Forest Hills Baptist Church.   Youth Week has become an annual event in Wilson County where middle school and high school students gather for a week of worship and seeking after God. Best of all, we are able to offer this event free to anyone who wants to come. If your in Wilson and want to join us click here to pre-register and let us know your coming.  It takes just a couple minutes to do.

If you are like me, you want to know before hand what all is going to be available. Well your in luck, I'm going to give you a sneak peak of whats to come.

Main Sessions

Stephen Combs and his crew will be leading us in worship each night.  Here is the line up for our main worship sessions.

Monday: How the Gospel Changes Our Past. Daniel Ritchie

Tuesday: How the Gospel Changes Our Hearts. Justin Deeter

Wednesday: How the Gospel Changes Our Relationships. Jeff Smith

Thursday: How the Gospel Changes Our Lives. Chris Dunn

Friday: How the Gospel Changes Our Purpose. Brad Perry

In addition to our main worship sessions, each night we will have different breakout sessions available for students to choose.  Each night you can only go to one breakout session, but the good news is that each session will be taught twice.  On Wednesday night we have a special pastor panel discussion to answer students questions.  Here are the breakout sessions options for this year.

Monday/ Tuesday Night Breakout Sessions

  • Why are there so Many Denominations: Justin Deeter
  • Is God's Word Reliable?  Dr. Rob Pochek
  • How to Stay Christian in College: Jack Norris
  • How the Gospel Changes Peoples: Brad Perry
  • How the Gospel Changes Relationships: Jonathan Brooks
  • Mundane Missionary: Daniel Heath
  • Singing Through Suffering: Chris Scott
  • Redefining Beauty (Girls Only): Penny Jordan
  • Dealing with Doubt: Paul Batson

Wednesday Night Panel Discussion

Chris Dunn will moderate a panel featuring:

Dr. Rob Pochek, Jonathan Brooks, Daniel Ritchie, Brad Perry, and Justin Deeter

Thursday/Friday Breakout Sessions

  • How Can I Read the Bible for Myself? Justin Deeter
  • How the Gospel Changes the Way You See the World: Chris Dunn
  • How the Gospel Changes the Way You Use Social Media: Theresa Mathis
  • The Gospel and Abortion: Heather Ritchie
  • Sharing Your Faith with Other Worldviews: Brad Perry
  • How to Share the Gospel and Not Seem Like a Jerk: Daniel Ritchie
  • Man Up: Biblical Manhood: Nate Geeting

And More...

As you can see it is going to be a great week. I didn't even mention the different mission projects going on this week.  You will hear about those on opening night! I hope you plan to make it out to all of Youth Week, if not I hope you cannot make it out for a few nights.  There is nothing like gathering together with hundreds of other teenagers worshiping the Lord together. Our prayer is that this week will be used by God for your own growth in Christ as it equips you to see that the Gospel really does change everything.  So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and Pre-Register.

If interested in checking out the content from the past weeks, just check out the following links:

Content from Youth Week 2013

Content from Youth Week 2012

5 Potential Dangers of Youth Christian Camps

I wrote earlier this week on some of the benefits summer camps can offer your youth or children’s ministry. Often times they do provide great opportunities for discipleship. However, despite their benefits, summer camps have potential to be dangerous. Most of these dangers can be avoided by selecting a good camp and through some careful pastoral care along the way. Yet, these potential dangers must be spotted less they because to cause destruction in the spiritual lives of your students. So to help I’ve identified five potential dangers of youth summer camps.

1. The Christian Bubble

One of the dangers of Christian camps is that it is a week long Christian fantasy world. It is a bubble and while in that bubble it is easy to live for Jesus because everyone is living for Jesus. Many young people can become adapting to the Christian camp bubble and can often put on their Christian mask to fit in with the crowd. In addition to the temptation to hypocrisy many Christian young people have a hard time adjusting going home at the end of the week.

Many of these young people live in difficult situations such as unchristian homes and lost friends. Sometimes a Christian camp is like training a solider at a kids laser tag party. At the Christian camp it is easy to follow Jesus. Everyone is doing it, no one is trying to hurt you, and it is a lot of fun! However the real Christian life is a spiritual war zone with real danger and temptation lurking in every corner. Many students fail to make any real changes in their lives when they get home because living for Christ is much more difficult in the battlefield of life than the laser tag game of Camp.

2. Spiritual Manipulation

This one varies from camp to camp, but spiritual manipulation is common and a regular occurrence at many of them. Because the students are in the Christian bubble and emotions are running high, it is easy to twist some one’s arm into making a forced decision for Christ. With loud worship music and a dynamic speaker who cares more about notches in his evangelistic belt than your students, spiritual manipulation is common. Unfortunately in our pragmatic church culture we are so tempted to forcefully fabricate a work of God so we can feel better about ourselves. All the while we miss that conversion is a great work of God. It is the Spirit who saves, not us. As a result no amount of manipulation will ever bring someone to Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who converts as we faithfully proclaim the Gospel and call for a decision, which camps should do. Yet I want my students to respond to Jesus not to the camps “worship experience”.

Another danger of the heavy spiritual manipulation at camps is their tendency to cause the faithful Christians in your group to doubt their salvation. I can’t tell you the amount of counseling I’ve had to do with some students who evidently follow Jesus who begin to question their salvation. The perseverance of the saints is a wonderfully encouraging and comforting doctrine, yet the spiritual manipulation tends to just damage the faithful Christians and often fails to see genuine conversion in the lost.

3. Conviction is Confused by Emotionalism

I had one of my students tell me one time “Why does this girl get emotional and cry every year at camp only to go back living in sin as soon as she returns home?” Camps can be very emotional experiences. The last night at camps tend to be the most emotionally intense. It is so easy to confuse an intensity of emotion as a true spiritual experience. Yet an intensity of emotions is no sure sign of a work of God as Jonathan Edwards helpfully explains in his book Religious Affections. Similarly, Thomas à Kempis said:

“Don’t think highly of yourself, or consider yourself to be especially loved if you have strong feelings of devotion or sweetness, for it is not by these feelings that a true lover of virtue is known. Nor does the spiritual progress and perfection of a man consist in these things.”

Heavy emotions are an unreliable sign of true spirituality. As a result biblical, Holy Spirit wrought conviction is confused by emotionalism. Many students might be heavily grieved over their sin and weep, then they find themselves engaging in the same lifestyle as soon as they get off the church bus at home. Yet the Scripture is clear that “Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Cor 7:10) True biblical sorrow and mourning over sin leads to repentance. An emotional experience at camp that doesn’t lead to true repentance isn’t godly grief but a wordily grief that produces death.

4. A Perpetuation of a Roll Coaster Christian Life

Many Christian young people (and adults!) immature in their faith often find themselves living an a spiritual roll coaster. Their spiritual life tends to center around big Christian events that lift them up to the mountain of spiritual ecstasies then real life hits and they go into a spiritual valley of disobedience only to zealously look for the next event, camp, or program to take them to the spiritual mountain top again. This is spiritual immaturity. How do I know? Because I’ve been there.

I’ve heard many a student say to me, “I can’t wait to get to camp this summer so I can get right with God!” Wait, what? Do students really think they can only follow God or experience the joy of His presence at camp? Unfortunately many do. Camps can perpetuate a roller coaster Christian life in which young people look to the next camp, retreat, mission trip, revival, or ski-trip to pump them with enough Jesus to make it to the next event. They hope the momentum of the last big event carries them up the hill to the next one.

This sort of inconsistency long term can be very damaging to our spiritual lives. We must help our students learn how to follow Jesus every day and not depend on big events to get them through. We must teach them the discipline of studying the Scriptures, the habit of prayer, and the priority of regularly attending worship and participating in the life of the Church.

5. A Cynical Attitude Towards the Home Church

Camps are purposefully contextualized to the generation they are trying to reach. As a result the songs, style, and format is uniquely geared towards communicating spiritual truth to that age group. Many young people greatly connect with the modern style and then get frustrated at their home church. You may hear comments like, “I wish our worship band was like this” or “I wish our pastor told more funny stories like that speaker does” or “I wish we had cool LED lights in our sanctuary”.

Camps can create a cynical attitude about the home church. We must remind ourselves and our students that what unites a local church together is not worship style, preaching style, or worship technology but the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We should teach the importance of local church who exists for their discipleship and to send them out on mission. Keep an ear out for any cynicism about your church and quickly squash it with the truth.

There are Benefits, but Be Cautious

Camps again can provide wonderful opportunities for discipleship, yet there are some potential dangers which leaders should be aware. Camps are often a mixed bag and it takes a youth leader with a pastors heart to help shepherd his or her group towards the Gospel while correcting any errors that come along the way. I pray that as many of you may be taking your students to camps this summer that the Lord moves powerfully. I pray that the Gospel is heard, believed, and treasured. I pray that your lost students would be saved. Summer camps are used best as a catalyst for long term discipleship and life long mission. Don’t squander the opportunity and carefully disciple your students not only at camp, but especially when you return home.

Are there any dangers I missed? How can we best minister to our students to avoid these errors? Love to hear you thoughts in the comments below.

6 Ways Summer Camps Disciple Students

It is now June and that means camps are beginning to start up. The Christian camp world has become a wonderful opportunity to get students away for the purpose of discipleship. I spent many years attending camps, working on staff at camps, and taking youth groups to camps. I have such fond memories of these camps as they provide so many opportunities for discipleship.

Yet these camps require a huge investment. Not only do they tend to be fairly expense, averaging around $300 a person for the week, but it is a huge time commitment especially for your volunteers. Is the rewards worth the investment? Is the spiritual fruit of camp worth the cost? I certainly think so. Let me give you six reasons why you should be taking your children and youth to such camps this summer with your Church.

1. Camps Provide a Week of Separation from the World

Camps are one massive spiritual bubble for the week. The student is completely separated from his or her normal setting. They are away from their parents, their routine, the TV screen, and their normal friends. When a person is participating in or surrounded by such worldliness on a regular basis there is often a dullness and unresponsiveness to spiritual truth.

The great thing about camp is that it gets students away from the noise of their life so that they might focus their attention on Jesus Christ. That separation attenuates their ears to what God is speaking and teaching to them.

2. Camps Build Unity in your Group

Church unity is a constant struggle in most congregations. Youth group unity is just as difficult. Cliques and groups can so often form which divide students rather than unify them. Many of our students may not even like hanging out with each other. Yet, when you get them away for a week and they have no choice but to hang out with one another, it is amazing how friendships develop and grow. The cliques tend to fade and a unity in the Gospel grows.

In this sense camps can be great team building opportunities drawing your group of students together for the mission of God when they arrive back home. It is always wonderful to see the friendships that began at camp grow into a strong biblical relationship of accountability and spiritual growth.

3. Camps Provide Opportunity for Conversation

In my experience, students tend not prefer to talk much about spiritual things when they are at the church. (Isn’t that strange?). I find that before a church service or afterwards many are largely closed off or disconnected from deep conversation. Yet, when you are at camp and you are sitting on the bus, it is amazing how quickly the conversation turns to spiritual matters. Camps provide great opportunity for pastors and volunteers to disciple students. It provides a great atmosphere (since you are always together), to chat, talk, discuss, and pray. If pastors and volunteers capitalize on this opportunity it is amazing to watch the fruit from these conversations.

Last summer I was with the students from our church at camp and the power went out in the whole camp for about an hour at around 9 PM at night. Cell phones were dying and there wasn’t much light to see so everyone just sat around and talked. Participating in these conversations brought me great joy. I’d walk around and hear a group of our students talking about youth ministry, scripture, and sharing the Gospel with their peers. That sort of chatter is sweet music to any pastors ears and camp provided an opportunity for that to happen.

4. Camps Allow Leaders to Model Mature Spirituality

Discipleship does not happen in a sermon but through relationships. When you are living every moment that week with your students they have a unique opportunity to watch how you live. They can watch your life and see what it looks like for you to do a quiet time, to pray, to listen attentively to sermons and bible studies, or to sing and to worship with the band. If leaders steward this opportunity well they can demonstrate to their students what it looks like to faithfully follow Christ.

5. Camps Engage Students in Worship and Preaching

The programing at most camps are top notch. The quality of the band or the pastor tend to be very high. All of the worship and teaching is geared towards students. As a result it is often easy for them to connect and respond too. Our Sunday morning services cannot just be youth rallies. We must contextualize the Gospel to all people in our church and our community. Yet, to take a week and have the Gospel contextualized specifically to them can be very beneficial.

6. Camps Provide Great Evangelistic Opportunity

The Lord often and regularly saves students at camp. It is not unusual to see some lost students in your group come to faith in Jesus Christ. This is what we long for isn’t it? The separation from the world and the focus on worship and teaching is often used by the Spirit to covert and save. Having conversion take place at camp also provides a wonderful opportunity for pastors or leaders to disciple, follow up, and train while they are still at camp. Seeing God move and save is what so often makes camps a place of joy and tears as we worship what God has done in the lives of our students.

A Myriad of Opportunities

Camps really are a wonderful tool for training your students to follow Jesus. The spiritual fruit to be reaped is enormous in these unique, once a year opportunities. If you are taking a group of students to camp this summer, treasure these moments and do not squander the opportunities the Lord will present you with while at camp.

Yet, camps also have some potential to be dangerous for our students. Not only have I seen great spiritual fruit at camps, I have witnessed many dangers that can be harmful to our students. Later this week we will look at some potential dangers of summer camps.

If you are pastor or leader at your church, how has summer camps helped you make disciples? Is there anything missing from this list? Share with us in the comments below!

Youth Ministry: Daycare or Boot Camp?

Teenagers are fascinating.  After spending five years in youth ministry, they never stop amazing me. So often we write off students as dysfunctional, clueless, and rebellious.  However, over the course of this summer I've been amazed by students who take on responsibility, demonstrate the character of Christ, and serve in ministry at their local churches. Here are a few things that have just left me in awe of God this summer.

  • At my last church, the current youth ministry leaders are students in their late teens who I discipled and trained.  They are currently doing all the teaching, planning, organizing, and ministry.
  • Students at Forest Hills Baptist Church have given up their summer for ministry.  Whether it is visitation, making decorations for VBS, teaching children at VBS, or leading Bible Study.  They keep stepping up to the plate taking to heart 1 Timothy 4:12.
  • Last week was Youth Week 2013: The Search for Truth. After asking several students from different churches what their favorite part of the week was, I kept getting the same answer: The Breakout Session. Now if you click through and see all the breakout sessions that were offered, they covered some deep and difficult issues.  Classes like "How to Share the Gospel with an Atheist" or "Biblical Womanhood" or "What is Truth?" The amazing thing is these students loved these deep classes.  They want to be grounded in what they believe.  They want someone to treat them like adults and engage deeply and honestly about difficult issues.
  • As I'm serving as the Interim Senior Pastor/Youth Pastor at FHBC, a team of six students have stepped up to help plan, lead, and organize the youth ministry for the fall.  They will be doing things from managing our youth twitter to teaching on wednesday night.

Who says students are spiritually incompetent? This summer I have seen God use young people powerfully. As Alvin Reid says, we must learn to Raise the Bar for our youth ministries.  When we disciple young people with the truth of the Gospel and train them as leaders and then empower them for leadership, I believe young people will continue to surprise us.  I praise God for His work in these students lives.  One of the ways I measure "success" in my own ministry is when disciples I've trained start making other disciples.  That is happening, and it is incredibly humbling.  As I sit back and watch God work in our church and these students lives, I'm humbled at the power of God who takes the unexpected and does the remarkable.

Churches must begin to look at their youth ministries not as an adolescent day care services but a bootcamp preparing young people for advancing the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

  • Daycare babysits kids and keeps them out of trouble. Boot camp pushes, trains, and equips.
  • Daycare treats kids as consumers, always entertaining. Boot camp is hard work and teaches discipline.
  • Daycare prepares you for nothing. Boot camp prepares you for war.
  • Daycare is a waste of time. Boot Camp has a mission and purpose.

What kind of youth ministry is your church building? Are you baby sitting students until college or are you equipping the future ministry leaders for the decades to come? Are you just fostering the poisonous atmosphere of consumer Christianity or are you training soldiers for war?

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Youth Week 2013 Sermon Video and Audio

Last week was Youth Week 2013: The Search for Truth.  It was a great week in which churches from around the city of Wilson gathered to worship Jesus Christ and seek out the truthfulness of Christianity.  My good friend Daniel Ritchie already wrote a fantastic blog reflecting on the week called Churches Loving Other Churches. Each night we had a different speaker answering a different question during worship.  If you would like to relive youth week 2013 or see it for the first time, these sermons are for you to use and share with others.

Night 1: "Is There a God?" - Brad Perry

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqi_7XY9Tu4

Click Here for just the audio of this Sermon

 

Night 2: "Can We Trust the Bible?" - Daniel Ritchie

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFHQcJ5f1vI

Click Here for just the audio of this sermon

 

Night 3: "Who is Jesus?" - Justin Deeter

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zViXo4AeS-U

Click Here for just the audio of this sermon

 

Night 4: "Is Jesus the Only Way to God?" - Joe Strange

httpv://youtu.be/V0Q1eHFrP9A

Click Here for just the audio of this sermon

 

Night 5: "What Does it Mean to Be a Christian?" - Jeff Smith

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDoKuoWPoSs

Click Here for just the audio of this sermon

 

End of the Week Video

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L_FaI7QZVU

Youth Week 2013 Breakout Sessions

CardFront_YW2013 Youth Week 2013: The Search for Truth is just a few weeks away.  Our kick-off night is July 29 at 6:00 PM at Forest Hills Baptist Church.  If you have yet to pre-register click here, it will only take you a few seconds!

In addition to some crazy games, some great music, and some amazing speakers, we will have breakout sessions offered every night of the week. Students can choose which session they want to go to every night to help train them and equip them in their faith.  Our whole hope for this week is to give students confidence in the truthfulness of the Christian faith. As a result, many of these sessions will address controversial issues.  Here is a sneak peak of some of the classes we will have available!

  • What is Truth? - Jeremiah Custar
  • Worldview: What it is and Why it Matters - Chris Dunn
  • Sharing the Gospel with an Atheist - Justin Deeter
  • Biblical Womanhood - Kaitlyn Deeter (Girls Only)
  • Sharing the Gospel with the Life Book - Joe Strange
  • Theology and Music - Chris Scott
  • Are There Errors in the Bible? - Daniel Ritchie
  • Why Does a Good God Allow Suffering? - Daniel Ritchie
  • Teen Pregnancy, Abortion, and the Hope of the Gospel - Kristy Mitchell
  • Are Science and Christianity Arch Enemies?- Jeremiah Custar
  • Apologetics & the Christian Life - Jeff Smith
  • Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? - Brad Perry
  • Sharing the Gospel with Hindus and Muslims - Brad Perry
  • The Christian Sexual Ethic: Out of Touch? - Justin Deeter
  • Sharing the Gospel with Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Staying Christian in College - Chris Dunn
  • Fashion and Modesty - Heather Ritchie (Girls Only)
  • Sharing the Gospel with Life Book - Joe Strange

Hope you start picking out your favorites that you want to attend. I'm excited because we have some of the best teachers from across Wilson to teach on their area of expertise. It is going to be an amazing week.  You won't want to miss it.  If you have still yet to pre-register, what are you waiting for?

Power Outage, Caswell, and Delayed Fruit

Fruit in ministry is often delayed. For those of us who serve in the local church this can be a frustrating endeavor. We are the McDonald's generation and we want instantaneous results and immediate fruit. Unfortunately ministry does not often work that way. Spiritual growth is often slow and gradual, not rapid and immediate. This can be incredible frustrating because when you first arrive on the scene to teach a Sunday School class or lead a small group or pastor a church, it can feel like you are not making a difference at all. If you are like me, sometimes you feel like you're talking and teaching the same things until you are blue in the face. unfortunately most of us get so frustrated at this point in our ministry that we just give up and stop. We step down from teaching our Sunday School class or we move on to another church after a couple of years. When we go from one ministry to the next, and we do not plant ourselves and stay we are robbing the people of a consistent, loving, teacher in their lives and you are robbing yourself of the joyful fruit that will follow.

By God's grace, I've reached a place in my ministry years where I am able to begin to see the fruit of my ministry. To be honest, much of the frustrations I just described were frustrations that were my own. But one day, after several years of loving and teaching God will lift the vail and allow you to see some of the fruit of your labor. Such an experience has happened to me as I am spending time with my students here at Caswell this week. The Lord gave me a glimpse of how he has been working in these students lives and how things are starting to click and stick in their minds and hearts.

My primary goal with my students was to help them grasp and be wrecked by the Gospel. I've done my best to teach them to love and cherish God's word and see how Christ impacts all aspects of their lives. Many of my students couldn't even explain the Gospel to me when I first arrived, but that is beginning to change.

As we were sitting in our church group time at Camp Caswell, the power went out throughout the whole camp. This forced everyone to go back to their rooms and our church congregated on the porch and in the rooms. With darkness covering the whole campus, students were forced to do something they don't often know how to do; sit down and talk to one another. Cell Phone batteries were dying and there was no other option but to sit and talk. I was hanging outside with the majority of our students having a great time, but I stepped into our housing area and I walked in on a conversation with three guys who were talking about the christian faith, teenage culture, and the Gospel. I must say, this absolutely caught me off guard. In my two years of pastoring these students, I had never walked in on a spontaneous discussion on the Scriptures and the Gospel. I sat down, joined them, and the conversation spanned from church, entertainment youth ministries, discipleship, legalism, manhood, and the list goes on and on.

So be encouraged this morning. Ministry is hard work. It is often very difficult and by no means glamorous, but do not give up. Be obedient even in the midst of incredible frustration and keep loving and teaching even when there is little fruit. Often times after several years, the Lord will begin to show us the fruit of our labors. It is a joyful gift and it leads me to worshiping my God and my King. God works in spite of us and he often works behind the scenes without us even realizing it.

Should Youth Ministry Be Abolished?

In this video Voddie Baucham attacks the institution of Youth Ministry (and all age graded ministry) as unbiblical and unfruitful.  I'm not prepared to accept all his applications, but the man makes some great points.  No matter where you stand on youth ministry you would do well to invest the time to watch this video.  I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! httpv://vimeo.com/28372823

Should Christian Teenagers Date?

The Bible doesn't talk a lot specifically about dating.  There is a reason for that.  Dating is a very new practice in the history of humanity.  The idea of choosing someone to go out and spend one on one time with outside of a marriage commitment is still very new.  In biblical times, there was no "dating".  As a result, there is no passage that instructs specifically how Christians should handle the issue of dating.  However, the Bible does share many truths and theological principles that help us think Biblically when it comes to modern cultural issues like dating.  My fear is that many single Christians think about dating, relationships, and marriage just like the world.  There is a great failure of building our thinking about dating on the Word of God.
12985286813_0d5e2a99bf_z
As a youth pastor, I get a front row seat to the morally murky waters of teenage dating.  Last night at my youth group I taught from 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.  This passage describes a distinction between the people of God and the unbeliever.  Paul gives us the command to not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever and concludes this section in 7:1 where he tells us to cleanse our self from worldly defilement and pursue holiness through fear of the Lord.  As I taught this passage I made applications to teenage dating and relationships.  However before I started teaching this passage I shared my own personal opinions about teenage dating for Christians.  Although it is not necessarily a sin to date in middle school or high school, I argued that dating in middle school and high school is very unwise and a risk that should be avoided until you are ready to be married.  I know how radically counter cultural that sounded to my teenagers who seem to be in a new dating relationship every other week. However, here are my reasons.

1. Your primary focus should be on your relationship with God.  Dating can distract you.

Dating can be so distracting for Christian teenagers.  I watch them as they gossip about who is dating who.  Who broke up with this person.  There is a massive amount of emotional and intellectual engagement about the dating life of their peers.  It seems that teens are either working on getting a date, currently dating someone, or recovering from a breakup. Singleness seems to be taboo in teenage culture.
For the Christian teenager this whole business of dating can be very distracting.  As Christians, our primary focus, especially in our single years, should be on our relationship with God.  Rather than spending their energy pursuing the Lord, they are distracted by the dating culture.  Rather than spending their evening in prayer with the Lord, the spend it texting their girl friend. (FYI, Teens don't talk on the phone anymore, they just text)  Teenage dating is unwise because it can distract you from pursuing the Lord.

2. You place yourself into unnecessary temptation and sin.  Dating can defile you.

Our bodies naturally long for physical and sexual intimacy.  Teenage dating unnecessarily puts the Christian in temptation and possible sin.  It is like playing with fire.  This is why kissing always lead to more intense kissing.  Teenagers who are sexually charged with hormones as it is, put themselves at risk when they pair off and isolate each other.  Building intimacy without commitment is dangerous.  I can't tell you the number of Christian teenagers I've seen fall into sexual sin due the pseudo marriage the've made out of their marriage relationship.  Don't play with fire unnecessarily, don't start dating until your able to commit in marriage and then you will be able to joyfully and freely act out on your God given, but sin corrupted, sexual desires.   Teenage dating is unwise because the temptation to sexual sin is great, and sin defiles you.

 

3. You don't have the spiritual maturity and refuse to guard your heart. Dating can damage you.

Many teenagers just don't have the emotional or spiritual maturity to handle dating.  I see this especially in teenage girls.  In a culture of absent Dad, these girls long for the affection and care of a boy.  As a result many teenagers go from boy to boy looking for something that only Christ can give.  In the process these sweet young girls get their heart abused and taken advantage of time and time again.  Before you every start thinking about dating you must make sure your identity is sealed in your union with Christ, not in a boyfriend or girlfriend.   Teenage dating is unwise because it can damage you when you refuse to guard your heart and find your identity in Christ.

4. You affections for your date is greater than your affections for God. Dating can deceive you.

We live in a culture that idolizes romance.  At the time of this writing it is Valentines day, the holy day of our false-god cupid. So many Christian teenagers get caught up in the idolatry of the culture and begin worshiping the idol of romance.  As a result, we can be deceived to idol worship if we are not careful.  As I watch the dating life of Christian teenagers, so often their affections for their boyfriend or girlfriend exceed their affections for Christ.  When this happens, idolatry has occurred in our hearts.  Teenage dating is unwise because it can deceive you to bending knee to cupid instead of the Lord Jesus Christ.

5. Dating handle wrongly can hinder your witness as a missionary.  Dating can hinder you.

Christian Teenagers are missionaries.  They have been sent by God into their local schools to be ambassadors for the Gospel.  Yet, the dating life of teenagers often hinders the evangelistic mission God has given them.  Many Christian teenagers are known more for who they date than for their love for Jesus.  Lunch table conversations revolve around dating drama about them then their radical unselfish love for Jesus and other people.  Dating for teenagers often damages their witness to the unbelievers in their school.  This is a shame.  Rather than distinctness from the world, Christian teenagers imitate the culture of their school.  Their dating lives often hinders the mission God has called them to do.  Teenage dating is unwise because it hinders the mission of sharing the Gospel.
It is no sin to date other people as a teenager, but these five reasons I think are enough to put dating on hold until you reach the place in your life when you can begin to seriously think about and prepare for marriage.

The Greatest Teenage Mission Field

5074456299 ac0ebaf4bf b

Dear Christian Teenagers,

You might think that God cannot use teenagers. To be honest, the culture does not think you are capable of very much. Our culture constantly potrays you as disrespectful, hedonistic, immature, goof ups that can never accomplish anything of significance. Unfortunately, our culture's view of you has poisoned the minds of Christian parents and church leaders. Many treat youth ministry as a place of entertainment rather than a place of missionary training. As a result we've result we feed you pizza, but refuse to feed you the word of God. You and I both know that you are capable of far more. I know and believe that God can use teenagers powerfully for the sake of His kingdom. How do I know this? Because he has given you the greatest opportunity.

You might not have ever thought about it, but for many of you God has placed in you the greatest mission field in the United States: The public school. God has given an opportunity to be surrounded by people your own age from a variety of different backgrounds and beliefs. God has surrounded you with people who are in desperate need of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who would believe (Romans 1:16). God has saved you and blessed you in Christ so that you can be his messenger and ambassador. You see, people will not be saved apart from the Gospel, and we are God's chosen means to spread the good news about Jesus. People will not be saved unless you and I go and tell them. Hear the words of the apostle Paul:

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”” (Romans 10:14–15, ESV)

You see, people cannot call on Jesus unless they believe. People cannot believe unless they hear the gospel People cannot hear the Gospel unless someone tells them. Someone can't tell them unless they are sent.

As public schools become more closed off to church ministries, you are God's means of taking the Gospel to the students in your school. God has sent you into your school to proclaim the Gospel. He has given you access that no other adult or even teacher can have. You have been sent as an ambassador to proclaim Christ!

Students, do not squander this wonderful opportunity our great God has entrusted to you by keeping your mouth shut! Eternity is coming and hell is hot. Time is of the essence and eternity is long. Boldly be the mouth piece of God, sharing the Gospel and inviting your friends to repent and trust Christ! Rise to the challenge. God has given you an incredible opportunity. "Oh how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" Go and take the Gospel to one of the greatest mission fields in our country and may God use you to save the lost and help the helpless. As the missionary William Cary said, "Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God."

For the Glory of God,

Justin Deeter