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Youth Supplement – Seven reasons to smile – Heidi Simms

July 2007 | by Heidi Simms

Seven reasons to smile
when you’re the only person your age in church!
 

The media tell us that church attendance is decreasing. Right – so an increasing number of churches have very few young people. Let’s face it, this is a hard situation to be in. But despite all the negatives there are some advantages.

Gospel witness

First, you have a unique opportunity for gospel witness. It’s easy not to bother about asking friends to church if a lot of your friends come to church anyway. But it’s different if you’re the only one. If you want to see a change in your church, start making it happen!

Second, with a number of teenagers in a church, relationships can get messy. Half the girls may be refusing to speak to one lad, and relationships can get complicated via current or ex girlfriends or boyfriends. Distracting it is! If you’re not in that situation you can concentrate on witness to your non-Christian friends.

Third, smile because you’re not focused entirely on you and your Christian friends. If there is a group the same age, it’s very tempting to cluster together and not speak to anyone else. But if there are very few (or only one) of you, then you have the chance to talk to and learn from your older brothers and sisters in Christ – who may be more spiritually mature than you and able to encourage and pray for you.

Challenging situation

Fourth, smile because you have the opportunity to encourage other people. While you can be strengthened by older Christians, it’s also possible for you to bring blessing to the church by encouraging them. Try asking someone you wouldn’t normally talk to how their week has gone, or saying that you’re praying for them (and then do so!).

Fifth, being alone in this way can strengthen your faith. When you have a good social life and lots of Christian friends, it’s easy to forget about God. But being in a challenging situation – like being the only young person in church – makes us trust God that much more. Yes, it’s tough, but you can show the world that you’re relying on God not on your friends in church. What a witness that will be to your non-Christian friends!

Sixth, smile because even though you are the only teenager, you are able to attend church. Many Christians all over the world cannot go to church on a Sunday without risking imprisonment or persecution. In some countries there are only a handful of Christians. You could have much bigger problems than having no other young people in your church!

God’s sovereign plan

Seventh, smile because God is in control. ‘I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11). You may think that nothing good can happen when there’s only you and a couple of other teenagers in your church, but trust in God. He is sovereign and he’s got a big plan for you. Have faith in him!

And if you’re privileged to be in a church with lots of young people? Then thank God for the situation you’re in – and start praying for those in different and more demanding circumstances.