Posted by: Truth and Consequences 101 | July 6, 2013

YGKs (Youth Group Kids)

For the past few weeks, I’ve begun ministering the Word on the weekends at Juno Beach, primarily at the Pier, where there is good foot traffic and a natural gathering place at the entrance to the pier.

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I arrive around noon and preach for 90 minutes to two hours, depending on how long my water lasts (it’s hot!). There are many young people, from ‘tweens to early twenties. Most either ignore me or quietly give an encouraging smile or “thumbs up” as they go by, but many are quite blasphemous, shouting,  “Jesus!” or “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!” repeatedly as they pass by.

One girl stopped to criticize me for “judging” people. She was about 14 years old, wearing a couple of post-it notes and a diaper for a swimsuit, and had a prepubescent boy-child draped over her like a poncho. She made a more astute Biblical reference, however, than the usual Matthew 7. I asked her where she learned the verse, and she responded, “In my youth group!”

Surprised (I don’t know why), I asked her a few more questions. She said her name was “Heather” (name changed to protect the parents). She admitted being a member of a youth group at a large church, claimed she was a Christian because she “asked Jesus into her heart,” and firmly believed she was bound for heaven as a result. She had a passing knowledge of Christ’s virgin birth and His death on the cross, but no real understanding of why He did it, other than to say, “For my sins.” Heather did not know what specific sins, however, a “nice girl” like her might be guilty of.

I took Heather through a few of the commandments, including the third (“You shall not take My name in vain”) and the fifth (“You shall honor your mother and your mother”), and asked if she thought she had kept those. She began to shift a little, and her juvenile male poncho was clearly losing interest, whining that they had come to the beach “to have fun.” Heather begged off, admitting that she wasn’t “perfect.”

Because, however, she claimed to be a Christian, I was able to probe further and be a bit more confrontational. I explained that perfection, in Christ, was the standard that God would use to judge her (and her pimply boyfriend) when she stood before Him. Like most young people, Heather had been to the funeral of a young friend, so death was not unfamiliar to her; her conscience was stinging under this examination. I told her that Christ died to take the punishment that was due to her, and that if she had really been converted and born again, as the Scriptures describe, her heart would be softened to the proclamation of the Word, and she would rejoice to hear Christ preached.

Finally, her young friend’s pleading prevailed, and she told me she had to leave. I offered her a gospel tract, which she declined, but clearly, some of the “fun” had gone out of the afternoon.

I take no pleasure in deflating a young person, but I’m aghast at the false belief in salvation that seems to permeate some youth ministries. Say a prayer, ask Jesus into your heart, and you’re saved? Without a thought to the awful consequences to Christ for bearing our sin in His own body on the cross? Without a specific knowledge of how we have offended Him, and contributed personally to the death of the sinless Son of God? Without a sound repentance for our great and personal transgressions against the One who loved us and gave Himself for us? With no supernatural gratitude for the abatement of the eternal penalty all of us so rightfully deserve? With no fruitfulness in our lives as we continue to pursue our impure passions and pleasures?

Heaven forbid.

Last week, I met Michael, a precious young man, who had also come to the beach to “have some fun.” This young man, however, had a different spirit. He heard the Word preached, then came over to speak with me. We spoke for half an hour as he shared what had happened to him, and what he was facing. His humble heart and the meekness with which he received God’s message were testimonies to the effective work of the Holy Spirit in his soul. He left with tracts and my business card, and made a promise to read his bible at home.

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As we look to the future of God’s Kingdom on earth, let’s not presume too much on youth ministry that emphasizes entertaining worship and “busy work” to the neglect of the gospel of everlasting life.

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As our team ministered the gospel on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach on July 4, we were visited by a team of YGKs from a church in Fort Myers. They were armed with 4th of July gospel tracts, and their youth leader, Ben, was taking a small group of them to Flagler Drive to hand out the tracts and engage in conversation. This is the “work of the ministry” that we are each called for! We were encouraged by their zeal for Jesus and for winning the lost to the Savior. I thanked them for encouraging us and prayed for their effective ministry.

No king but Christ!

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