Crusade for Youth in 1941

A look at our efforts to reach young people.

By A. W. PETERSON, Secretary of ihe 3/1. V. Department

I would like to share some rather confidential facts with the field workers in the North American Division. In the year 1939, the baptisms among young people, re­ported for the North American Division, were 3,664. In 1939, there were about 7,600 young people who reached the age of decision, that is, who attained the age of fourteen years. Ac­cording to this information, the number bap­tized was only about 48 percent of the total number who reached the age of decision. This would mean that somewhere between 52 and 57 percent of the young people above fifteen years of age connected with Adventist families are unbaptized.

A few years ago in one union conference a very careful survey was made, and it was found that the number of young people of fif­teen and over, connected with the families of the church, who were unbaptized, was above 57 percent. So it would seem that the figures for 1939 are rather well substantiated. This large unbaptized group drift out into the shadowland of the world and are lost sight of usually because they lose contact with the church.

One of our conference presidents recently told an incident that is thought provoking. One of his workers had had an automobile ac­cident which resulted in an indictment and a trial. This president said that when the case came to trial, the judge of the court, the prose­cuting attorney, and the chief of police were all men who, as boys, had grown up in Seventh-day Adventist homes. Had these men been converted and trained for the service of God, the abilities which brought them into positions of influence and responsibility in the world would have enabled them to render strong service for Him,

No one can estimate the loss which the church has sustained in the loss of its young people. Those young people who have never been baptized, and who drift away from the influence of the church, cannot be recorded among those who have apostatized, for one cannot apostatize unless he has once been a member of the church. Elder C. H. Watson once said, "We cannot hold what we have never won."

There are no more actual apostasies among our young people than among adults, and perhaps less. But I wish we might think of that 52 to 57 per cent of our young people who are never baptized. This is the field which shames us, and which must challenge us. At our recent regional councils for young people's workers, which were attended by many confer­ence presidents, the following recommenda­tions were adopted:

Evangelism for Youth (Resolutions)

Whereas, Evangelism for our unconverted children and youth is designated as "our first work," and -missionary work of the highest type ;" and, Whereas, The records indicate that many of the children of Seventh-day Adventists who have come to the age of accountability are yet unconverted and unbaptized,

We recommend, a. That in order to give impetus to our efforts to win the unconverted youth in our churches, we launch a crusade for the saving of our young people, beginning January s, 1941

  1. That in order to make this plan effective, earnest effort be made to obtain the names of all unsaved youth in connection with every Seventh-day Ad­ventist family.
  2. That the young people whose names are on this list be made the special field for systematic mission­ary endeavor during the year.
  3. That the conferences be requested to make pro­vision for the church through its missionary society and Missionary Volunteer Society, and, by special solicitation, to provide money to supply complimen­tary subscriptions to the Youth's Instructor for a period of six months for these unconverted young people.
  4. That a special effort be put forth to invite the unsaved youth to the young people's meetings, and that in order to make the invitation most effective, a Christian young person of acquaintance be assigned as the one to extend the invitation, and to work especially for one of these unsaved youth.
  5. That in order to save embarrassment to any un­converted young person in the church, the plans recommended above and the carrying out of the same be done in as private a way as possible.
  6. That as an additional means of winning and holding all the children of Seventh-day Adventist parents, an earnest effort be made to enroll in our denominational schools all of them who are of school age.

Resolutions Passed at Autumn Council

We recommend, That the following actions adopted by the Autumn Council of the General Conference, held in St. Paul, Minnesota, October 15-23, 5940, be adopted and put into operation in the territories and unions represented :

'We recommend, That all ministers and church workers make a continuous, concerted effort to bring the 'lambs of the flock' to a decision for Christ,

"a.  By holding in our churches short series of evangelistic services, especially designed for young people, and that special attention be given to the Missionary Volunteer Spring Week of Prayer.

"b.  By cultivating a sympathetic interest in the youth, and engaging in personal work for them.

"c.  By training and encouraging the youth who 'really love Jesus' to work for the conversion of their young companions and others who are not acquainted with the message due the world at this time ; i. By holding meetings for the public in schoolhouses or in other places that may be obtained for the purpose; 2. By conducting cottage meetings and giving Bible studies. Film strips should be used for best results in carrying on this work; 3. By organizing and conducting branch Sabbath schools, or Sunday schools that later may become Sabbath schools.

"d.  By counseling with the officers of the Mission­ary Volunteer Society, thus helping them to make then- society meetings and activities not only interest­ing and inspirational, but soul winning in character."

Let no one minimize the importance of win­ning and baptizing young people who are growing up in Seventh-day Adventist homes. He who saves a youth not only saves a soul, but saves a lifetime of service for God. And who can evaluate a lifetime of devoted service? We need to think of: (1) The souls which may be won during a lifetime of earnest consecration; (2) The help and encourage­ment which the church may receive from such a life; (3) The funds which may be given to the cause as tithes and offerings during a lifetime of loyal support of the church; (4) The encouragement to older ones who see these youth grow in sturdy Christian character and service. Many a parent has become discour­aged in his Christian experience and let go because he has seen his children drop out. No, let no one minimize the importance of winning and baptizing our children and youth.

Some years ago a survey was made of 1,244 church members. Of this number 55.14 per cent were converted before they reached twenty years of age, and only 2.26 per cent were converted after forty years of age. How rapidly a young person's chance of being bap­tized diminishes as he grows older ! And this is not at all strange, because the practice of sin in the life of a young person increases the power of that sin in his life.

What we hope to see done for the boys who must eventually face the problems of the draft, we ought to do now. Let us study the fore­going resolutions and see what can be done in our church. Shall we not indeed make 1941 a year of crusade for the saving of our youth?

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By A. W. PETERSON, Secretary of ihe 3/1. V. Department

May 1941

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