Here are two sermons I recently preached at CrossPointe.
Recently we started asking our teens to text, IM, and email us questions about the Bible, faith, and life. On the first Sunday of the month we address the questions we received the month before. I wanted to share with you what teenagers are asking, because I’m sure these questions are being asked by teenagers everywhere. Here are some questions and a short excerpt of how I answered them.
1. I know hate is wrong, but how do I stop hating someone who is always looking to hurt me?
This one is hard to answer, because the answer is simple, but doing it is hard. We all know Jesus said forgive 70 times 7, but doing it is tough. I encouraged our kids to realize that this individual is probably hurting on the inside. If we can take compassion on those hurting us it helps us realize what they are doing (though it seems personal) is really their way of reacting to the hurt they have from someone else. Also we know Jesus said hate is a sin just like murder. We can’t allow someone else to lure us into willful hatred and sin by their (albeit immature) behavior.
2. What do you do when you feel like giving up?
First I explained that as teenagers, often their emotions haven’t found balance yet. They will have super high highs and super low lows. I explain that as you age your emotions mature and you can handle more emotionally challenging situations. However, the problem is todays teenagers are facing harder situations more often than generations past. Many of todays teens have been through divorce of their parents, addiction (to drugs, alcohol, porn, etc) and abuse (physical, mental, sexual, by peers, etc.)
I took them to 1 Kings 19:4-16. We talked about Elijah and how depressed he was. He was so depressed he wanted to die. When I was 15 I was placed on some medication for severe acne (I would show you a pic, but i burned them all). This medication is now known to cause depression and suicidal thoughts in teens. I remember at 15 wanting a clear face so bad I’d die for it. The mix of medication and hatred for my physical appearance was depressing, I never attempted suicide, but it was the longest year of my life. Now it seems comical getting upset over pimples, but to a teenager it was life and death. Elijah had to realize he wasn’t done yet. God had big plans for him. The same is true for all of us. We can’t give up, we aren’t finished, and He’s not finished with us yet.
3. Are more people headed to heaven or hell?
This question is on the minds of many young teenagers who realize how big the world is, and how little the church world they were raised in is. We looked at Matthew 7:13 and, sadly, we realize the way is broad which leads to destruction and many people go the wrong way, but we can make a difference and shine the light. If we shine like a city on a hill we can lead many to the truth and salvation. Still, the answer seems discouraging, but Jesus himself said it.
I hope these questions help us understand a few simple truths. 1. Teens ahve questions we don’t address often enough. 2. Teens don’t always know what we assume everyone knows about the Bible. 3. Teens want to know how to live for God…don’t just tell them, SHOW them.
Report from the Religion News Service
(RNS) While mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. continue to experience decades-long decline, the memberships of Pentecostal traditions are on the rise, according to new figures compiled by the National Council of Churches.
Mainline Protestant churches that have seen a fall in membership since the 1970s continued their decline; the Presbyterian Church (USA) reported the greatest membership drop (2.6 percent) of the 25 largest denominations.
The membership declines in mainline churches led to a 1 percent decrease in total U.S. church membership, to 145.8 million.
Pentecostal churches make up four of the 25 largest churches, and both the Assemblies of God and the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) increased in membership. Only six of the 25 largest memberships increased over the previous year.
Jehovah’s Witnesses experienced the greatest growth percentage overall, gaining 4.37 percent according to the yearbook. Several historically black denominations continued a years-long practice of not submitting fresh figures.
The 10 largest Christian bodies reported in the 2011 yearbook are:
1. The Catholic Church: 68.5 million, up 0.57 percent.
2. Southern Baptist Convention: 16.1 million, down .42 percent.
3. The United Methodist Church: 7.8 million, down 1 percent.
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 6 million, up 1.42 percent.
5. The Church of God in Christ: 5.5 million, no membership updates reported.
6. National Baptist Convention, USA: 5 million, no membership updates reported.
7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 4.5 million, down 1.96 percent.
8. National Baptist Convention of America, 3.5 million, no membership updates reported.
9. Assemblies of God: 2.9 million, up .52 percent.
10. Presbyterian Church (USA): 2.7 million, down 2.61 percent.