Have you noticed that a lot has been written in the last few years about the lack of relevance of the Christian message in today’s culture? The discouraging news is that this idea seems to be taking root in the minds of more and more Christian young people. During lunch with a high school student recently, I asked why he thought so few of his peers were serious about their faith. After a few mouthfuls of Mexican food, he responded by saying “some of my friends want to make a difference…it’s like we aren’t satisfied with what we see.” He followed this surprisingly deep thought with the kind of gulp from his soda that only teenage guys seem capable of and a belch that such a gulp produces. Thinking that his burp represented the end of that discussion, I was about to ask about his life at home when he said “I guess we don’t see Christianity making much difference. We aren’t sure yet if it is a waste of time so we don’t get that excited about it.”
Now, adults who work with youth are often guilty of taking what a teenager says and making it mean what we as adults think their statement should mean instead of letting the words mean what the teen intended them to mean. And to be honest, I am worried that I am about to do the same thing by taking his honest critique of a few of his friends and trying to apply it to the whole. However, I can not help but think that part of this issue is actually a self-fulfilling prophecy. Let me explain, we hear the message of the irrelevance of the Christ in today’s culture and begin believing what we hear. That leads to a loss of imagination of how God can use us which leads to a loss of expectation of all God can do which ultimately leads to the stagnation of our faith. The result of a stagnant faith is that the Christian message loses it’s relevance in today’s culture thus proving the critics of Christianity right.
There may not be any one answer to reversing this trend but I do think we can begin by allowing students to have big imaginations concerning the ways in which God can use them to impact society. In a recent study, it was shown among the elderly that the loss of imagination is tied closely to the loss of hope and the loss of hope leads to loss of life. If that principle holds true then our challenging students to imagine big as to where, to what and to how God would call them may have implications as to whether Christianity will be relevant in future generations.
It is for that reason the theme this year of CEP’s youth leadership development conference, YXL, is IMAGINE BIG. From July 5-10 high school students from around the country will gather at Covenant College to study through the book of Ephesians and think through what it means to IMAGINE BIG and for that matter what it would mean to ask big because Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is able to do more than we ask or imagine. Through solid reformed preaching, quality worship, small groups, leadership activities, ministry projects and new relationships, YXL attempts to help high school students strengthen their world and life and better understand their calling. For more information about YXL or to register for the conference go to www.pcacep.org/yxl. We are also happy to announce the start of a new YXL conference, YXL Northeast, at Refreshing Mountain Camp in Ephrata, PA July 11th-15th. For information about YXL Northeast or to register you can go to www.pcacep.org/yxl/northeast. For those that live west of the Mississippi, you may want to check out YXL Glorieta in Glorieta, New Mexico July 10th-17th. Find out more information at www.yxlglorieta.org. Danny Mitchell, CEP Youth Ministries Consultant.