Dr. Ed DeVries is the President of the School of Biblical & Theological Studies. School of Biblical & Theological Studies (SB&TS) is to provide a vehicle by which individuals called of God into Christian service may reach their goals while receiving a solid, conservative, biblically based education. SB&TS offers diploma through doctorate in the fields of Bible, Ministry, Theology, Religious Education, and Biblical Counseling. You may view his personal web page at: http://edwarddevries.weebly.com
If you read as many religious publications as I do you have undoubtedly noticed the large number of ads for youth conferences, youth rallies, youth camps, and other activities designed to entertain our teenagers this summer. Most of them have made this old-fashioned Baptist preacher sick to his stomach.
As a teenager I can remember going to church camp and having my heart strings tugged as we sang the old songs of the faith. Songs like Amazing Grace, Nothing But The Blood, There Is A Fountain, Only a Sinner - Saved By Grace, Power In the Blood, Victory In Jesus, At Calvary, and others. Then a man of God would stand behind an old pulpit and open his Bible (and it always read like everyone else's Bible) and preached the truth about Heaven, Hell, Dating, Sex, and whatever else we needed to hear. I also attended conferences where thousands of teens would meet in a big auditorium from Monday through Friday and listen to preaching and singing with a few skits mixed in from about 9 am until 9pm stopping only to eat lunch and dinner.
It was at one of these meetings that I received assurance of my salvation. It was at another that I surrendered to preach. As men of God fearlessly preached the Old Black Book I turned from my sin, established solid convictions, and devoted my life to clean and holy living. I thank God for some old men who were not afraid to preach the truth to a Hell bent teenager who "didn't want to hear it." Today I am saddened because I fear that we are not giving today's teenagers the same opportunity to hear the truth and make lasting decisions for Christ that we had when we were their age.
As I read the advertisements that are coming across my desk I can not help but notice that modern youth ministry is nothing more than worldly entertainment. The same type of worldly entertainment that was preached against a generation ago. Now instead of singing "What can wash away my sin? - - - Nothing but the blood of Jesus" we bring in some long hared maggot infested homosexual looking rock and roll singers and call it a Christian concert. Afterwards a "youth speaker" will get up and give a 10-minute devotional out of whatever "version" he is trying to sell so that our kids will feel better about themselves and achieve self-esteem.
Instead of singing spiritual songs around the campfire at our church camps we have worldly styled concerts. Instead of preachers we have "speakers", and instead of Bible doctrine we have pop psychology. Our Youth conferences are no longer 5 days of preaching, but rather the kids are taken to amusement parks, water parks, zoos, beaches, and other such things during the day and then after they are too tired to do anything but sleep they are brought to the big auditorium where they will sing shallow, meaningless songs that have only 10 words repeated 1,000 times and given a pep talk by some "youth speaker" who refuses to preach against their sin for fear that he may offend someone.
There is no preaching against sin, no encouragement to holy living, no emphasis on doctrine, and no separation from the world.
Parents today have to worry about things that our parents did not have to worry about a generation ago. Drugs, automatic weapons in the classroom, gangs, and other such things used to be the exception and not the rule. Now they are the normal everyday way of life in most cities. Because of this parents are doing everything they know to do in hope that they can point their children away from sin and the consequences thereof. They know that music, movies, TV, school, and friends are all pushing their children in the wrong direction, so they send their children to our church youth activities, youth conferences, and youth camps hoping to send their kids away from all of the pressures of the world. After all, when they went to camp they heard godly music and old-fashioned preaching, so they assume their children will hear the same. Instead their kids hear worldly music, and devotionals that are nothing more than pop psychology with a few Bible verses attached.
Instead of having their faith in the Bible strengthened, it is weakened because they are bombarded with 120 "versions" (each one designed to correct the mistakes in the other 119), and so now they do not know what to believe or if they should believe anything at all.
Concerned about their child's "Cop Killer" CD, a loving parent sends their child to camp thinking that an old-fashioned preacher will take the Bible and show their child the sinfulness of such music. Instead, the camp has a RAP group for the music program.
The parents send their child to camp because they want their child to leave TV for a week and find God. Instead, the child has no interest in finding God because he is too busy watching the big screen TV at camp.
Perhaps the parent sends their rebellious hell bent child to camp hoping he or she will turn from their wicked lifestyle and be saved. Their child makes a "profession of faith," but instead of coming home a "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17) he is still a rebellious wicked perverted hoodlum because the "youth speaker" at camp never preached against sin and so he never genuinely repented.
Psalm 119: 89 says, "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." We can re-write the Bible every six months and come out with 120 more "versions", but God's Word DOES NOT CHANGE! Therefore we should not change. And neither should we compromise!
Romans 10:14, "And how shall they hear without a preacher?"
I am saved today because a preacher took the Bible, preached against my sin, and fearlessly proclaimed the Gospel. First Corinthians 1:21 says, "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." If our teenagers are going to be saved then we need to get rid of the "youth speakers" and bring back the preachers.
I thank God that as a teenager I went to a youth camp where an old-fashioned preacher was not afraid to preach against my sin. If I had gone to a modern day youth camp I probably would not be living for God today. The Bible says in Isaiah 58:1, "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression." If our teenagers are going to live clean lives then we must preach against their sin.
Every conviction that I have today was established as a teenager. I discovered the great doctrines of the Bible as a teenager. I decided that I was going to believe every word of the Old Black Book when I was fifteen. I stopped attending movies and burned my rock music at age thirteen. I decided to only date modest and godly girls and to marry a godly wife when I was sixteen. I abstained from sexual impurity and kept myself for my wife because of preachers who were not afraid to preach I Corinthians 7:1-3, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband." (And touching includes kissing, handholding, petting, etc.) I surrendered to preach the gospel as a teenager, and I have done so ever since. I became a full-time worker in my local church as a teenager and I have been in full-time Christian service ever since. I am an evangelist and a seminary president today because of the decisions I made at camp and at youth conference. I walk with God today because when I was a teenager there were some youth directors and some preachers and some youth camps that were willing to risk offending me in order to tell me how to live a life that would please God. If our teenagers are going to make these decisions then they will make them the same way, as a result of Bible preaching and the example of older Christians who walk what they talk.
We owe it to our teenagers to preach against sin. We owe it to our teenagers to draw a line between worldliness and godliness. We owe it to our teenagers to preach "Thus saith the Lord." We owe it to our teenagers to insist that they live holy.
If we do not show our kids the horror of Hell, they will burn there forever and ever and ever and ever and ever! If we do not show our teenagers how to live holy they will live in sin. If our children are to be saved, if our society is to survive, we must give our teenagers the same opportunities we had when we were their age.
Deuteronomy 14: 2, "For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself."
Deuteronomy 26: 18, "And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments."
Titus 2:14, "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
First Peter 2: 9, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."
The Bible says that Christians are supposed to be different. We should look different, talk different, act different, and live different. We should enjoy different things, laugh at different jokes, listen to different music, and so on. It is time to stop imitating the world and live as new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Instead of having our teenagers wear tee-shirts that look just like a Budweiser or Coca-Cola shirt with a Bible verse on it, lets have our teenagers dress different from the world. Instead of allowing our teenage girls to dress like the trampy girls in the world with miniskirts, tight jeans and cut off tops, lets adorn them in modest apparel (1 Timothy 2:9). Instead of having worldly music with "Christian" words, let's have Christian music with Christian words.
The Bible says in First Thessalonians 5:22 to "Abstain from all appearance of evil." I have heard many so called "Christian" rock, rap, and country songs that sounded just like the music they play in bars and nightclubs. If it looks like a rat, smells like a rat, or sounds like a rat: IT IS A RAT! I have never known of anyone who mistook Amazing Grace for a worldly song.
If we are going to teach our young people to be clean and chaste then we should also teach them dress in such a way that others will not lust after them. If we are going to tell them that "Cop Killer" is wrong then we should not allow DC Talk and other such worldly trash in our youth activities. We must draw a line! Black must be black and white must be white! There can be no gray! Second Corinthians 6: 14 - 7:1, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
Romans 12:1-2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
We will not win the world by imitating them. We will win the world by preaching against sin and lifting up Jesus Christ (John 12:32). Like John the Baptist, we must insist that our teenagers "bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (Matthew 3: 8).
If we want our teenagers to turn out right we must change the way we do youth ministry. We must change back to the old way. Jeremiah 6:16 says, "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein."
We must decide that we will teach our teenagers the same old-fashioned standards of holy living that we were taught at their age. We must refuse to compromise, change, or waiver.
We also must decide that we will refuse to take our teenagers to any camp, conference, or activity that compromises these convictions. If your denomination's youth camp is having Christian rock music, DO NOT GO! If they do not have old-time preachers, DO NOT GO! We must decide to do right even if it means leaving a fellowship, association, or denomination. We must decide to do right at any cost. Remember Hebrews 13:12, "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach." If enough churches refuse to send their teenagers to these worldly camps and conferences our denominations will be forced to turn back to the old time way. Until then, you must do like our church and have your own camp. It is easier than you think. Just rent a campground for a week and have camp. Drive your teens to a campground about 200 miles away, sing and preach, have a few athletic events and some wholesome games and have camp. You can also have your own conference by inviting the youth departments from a few like minded churches to one church and just having a conference. Have each youth pastor prepared to preach and each church come prepared to do a skit. Sing, preach, eat, and have a conference. The delegates can stay in the homes of the sponsoring church's members.
Pastors and youth workers must not be afraid to preach the whole counsel of God to our teenagers (Acts 20:27). They may not want to hear it, neither did I and neither did you; but they need to hear it or they will never live for God. We need to stop trying to give them what they want and start giving them what they need.
I am not against taking teenagers to an amusement park. I am against driving them 500 miles to a youth conference just so that they can go to five different amusement parks in five days. Our churches can take our teenagers to local amusement parks without the hassle and expense of driving to a so-called youth conference.
I am not against pizza, Pepsi, or volleyball. I am against youth programs that are all pizza and Pepsi with no preaching.
Let us take our teenagers to amusement parks, feed them pizza, take them to ball games, love them, and show them how to have good clean wholesome fun. And when we go to the ball game lets teach them to be the best dressed, best behaved, and cleanest living people at the stadium.
We should have youth activities that are fun. We should also have activities that teach our teens how to be saved, how to live separated from the world in a way that pleases God, how to share the Gospel with their friends and school mates and lead them to Christ, and how to pray and read the Bible. Let's teach them the great doctrines of God's word so they will be prepared to stand in this evil world.
When we have youth conference lets have good old-fashioned singing and preaching like we used to have. Let us have preachers who are men of God with a message from God. Then let us conclude with a public invitation so our teenagers have an opportunity to do something with what they have heard. And let our camps be like they used to be. A place where our teens could escape the pressure of the world and find God.
Let us show our young people their sin. Let them know that it breaks the heart of God and will only lead to a life of heartache and misery. Show them that sin is only pleasurable for a season (Hebrews 11:25) and that "the way of transgressors is hard" (Proverbs 13:15). Give them an opportunity to "taste and see that the LORD is good" (Psalm 34:8).
Open up the Old Black Book, "CRY ALOUD AND SPARE NOT" (Isaiah 58:1)! Our children's future depends on it.
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