Our Youth Challenge the Ministry

This world war has put an urgency into our work for the youth of the church which heretofore has not existed.

By ALFRED W. PETERSON, Secretary of the Missionary Volunteer Department

This world war has put an urgency into our work for the youth of the church which heretofore has not existed. After our eighteen and nineteen year-old boys get into the Army, the church will, to a large degree, lose contact with them. What we are to do for these boys must largely be done before they are called to military service. Not only our young men are affected by the glamor and spirit, which are a part of the war effort, but the enlistment of women in the defense effort will profoundly in­fluence our young women as well. There is a new and increasing need for intelligent, pow­erful, evangelistic effort in behalf of our young people. Every pastor and district leader ought now to lay larger plans for the winning and teaching of the youth under his charge.

"When the youth give their hearts to God, our responsibility for them does not cease. They must be interested in the Lord's work, and led to see that He expects them to do something to advance His cause. It is not enough to show how much needs to be done, and to urge the youth to act a part. They must be taught how to labor for the Master. They must be trained, disciplined, drilled, in the best methods of winning souls to Christ."—"Gospel Workers," p. 210.

The action of the 1942 Autumn Council call­ing upon our leaders to organize study groups of youth to be "trained, disciplined, drilled, in the best methods of winning souls to Christ" is a far-reaching resolution, and will make it pos­sible for the minister greatly to multiply his success as a minister.

Before the development of the present emer­gency, however, certain facts had conic to light which must be a challenge to every worker. These facts are set forth in "Workers' Aid No. 10," which was recently issued and is available upon request at the M. V. Department of the General Conference. It is the result of a num­ber of carefully made surveys. Tables 9, 10, and ii under Section V reveal very clearly the influence of the family altar and of Chris­tian education upon young people in their rela­tion to the church. For example, Table II shows that of the young people who had been brought up in united Christian homes and had had the opportunities of Christian education, 87 per cent remained faithful to the church. Only 8 percent had been disfellowshiped, and only 3 percent had not been baptized. In con­trast to this, of the young people brought up in united Christian homes and educated in secular schools, only 54 percent remained faithful to the church, 14 percent having been disfellow­shined, and 32 per cent being unbaptized.

These surveys reveal another fact that must challenge every worker. The most recent of these showed that of marriages among the young people surveyed, 52 per cent were those of believers with unbelievers. Of our young people who were church members and married church members, 89 per cent remained faithful and only II percent had been disfellowshiped. But of Adventist youth who married non-Adventists, only 40 per cent remained faithful and 60 percent had been disfellowshiped. In this war-time atmosphere the danger that Adventist youth will marry unbelievers has increased enormously. Ministers ought frequently to in­struct the youth in their churches regarding the importance of Christian marriage and to counsel them against marrying unbelievers.

Table 8, showing a graph of the number bap­tized at the various age levels, is a survey of 2,523 young people, of whom 97 per cent were baptized before the age of twenty and only 3 per cent afterward. The table, which shows the peak age of baptisms to be twelve years, places a new emphasis upon the importance of our Junior Missionary Volunteer work as a means of shaping the attitudes and ideals of boys and girls during the years before they reach the age when they must make their deci­sion to become members of the church. We must win them while they are young, or the probability is that we shall not win them at all.

The survey of 8,963 young people in seventeen conferences brings a mighty challenge to the church. Of the young people in the age group 15 to 25 years, 57 per cent have never been baptized, and yet, "the future of this cause depends upon our young people. The Mission­ary Volunteer movement is the whole church organized to save our youth and train them for service."—.T. L. McElhany. There is need to­day of stronger evangelistic effort in behalf of the young people connected with the families of the church. We must win them to Christ. We must captivate their imaginations with a clear, inspiring vision of God's purpose for them in these stirring times. We must indoctrinate them thoroughly in present truth. We must teach them the meaning and application of the ten commandments to present-day problems. Faithfulness in Sabbathkeeping, cleanness of speech, purity of life, honesty, a sense of the sacredness of human life, reverence for God and for the things for which His church stands—all these have their basis in the ten command­ments.

This work for youth must not be another campaign. It must be a strong, steady teaching effort on the part of our ministers to win our youth to Christ and to promote the growth of rugged Christian character.

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By ALFRED W. PETERSON, Secretary of the Missionary Volunteer Department

February 1943

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