The following is a part of our weekly devotional series, which is a companion to the 2013 Foursquare Life Journal. This week’s Bible reading comes from Leviticus 15-27; Numbers 1-2; Psalms 13, 24-26; and Acts 18-24.
One of the most interesting passages in Scripture is the story of Eutychus, a young man who fell sound asleep in a church service, dropped three stories to his death below, and was restored to life by the power of God.
The Holy Spirit inspired Luke to include this story in Acts 20, not only to mention another resurrection miracle, but also to provide insight about engaging the younger generation in effective ministry.
Luke intentionally described Eutychus as a “young” man—someone between ages 24 and 40. For some readers, this description is associated with irresponsibility and immaturity. Falling asleep in a serious moment reinforces such an assumption.
But, to be fair with young Eutychus, it was late at night, the lights were dimmed, and Paul, who admitted having sound theology but poor public speaking skills, had been talking for a long time.
The poor kid was literally bored to death.
We are going to lose an entire generation if we do not find creative ways to include, motivate, mentor and challenge young people. And rather than blaming such a loss on their immaturity and lack of attention, we must be willing to admit that is our responsibility as church leaders to proclaim the gospel in such an appealing way that no young person will find the gospel boring.
Paul took responsibility for this tragic loss. While everyone else looked at a young dead man, Paul instead saw a young man with much potential. He declared, “There is life in him!”
In the same way, we must choose to see and proclaim the life and potential in our emerging generation.
We had an 18-year-old young man on our church-planting team. He was broken, with a sense of entitlement, poor people skills, distrust for authorities and many character flaws. While others thought little of him, we decided to see the life and potential in him. We invested resources and hired him on our church staff, but he disappointed us repeatedly.
On one occasion in particular, I was about to fire this young leader. With one decision, I could have pronounced the death of his ministry. Instead, I spoke to him life and potential.
I have found that young people respond positively to this approach. A great miracle happened: This young man is now 26, and God has anointed him to be a prophetic voice for his generation. He is one of the main teachers in our weekend services, and he is getting ready to plant a church in a couple of years. There is certainly much life in him, and I thank God we did not lose him.
To reengage the crowd standing around staring at Eutychus, Paul didn’t lower the lights. He didn’t play loud music or exchange his tunic for skinny jeans and a trendy shirt. Instead, he cleverly stopped lecturing and led the church to a practical teaching and remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice. Then, they shared the Lord’s Supper. We should never underestimate the power of a communion service.
I have discovered that “cool stuff” may entertain and attract young people for a little while. However, they come fully alive for the long haul only when we challenge them to follow Jesus’ example and motivate them to sacrifice it all for the sake of the gospel.
If the young people around you seem to be disengaged or dead to the things of God, declare the life and potential God has placed in them. Furthermore, proclaim the gospel in a way that connects with them, remember with them the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross, and challenge them to give up everything for Jesus.
They will engage and become alive to advance God’s kingdom.
By: Fernando Castillo, supervisor of the Hawaii District
Download the yearlong reading plan (PDF, 80 KB), or sign up for the full, online version of the Life Journal. To purchase a Life Journal for your own use, or to place a bulk order for church-wide use, visit www.foursquarejournal.com. Learn more about Foursquare’s 2013 Life Journal project.