Too Precious to Lose

THEY ARE at the periphery of every congregation and may be the bane of the preacher's pastoral existence. You know them well--the long-haired kids wearing platform shoes--the boys in loud clothes that don't match, and the girls in slinky long dresses or minis. They appear to think only of today--- its fun, its food, its fantasies. In the church organization they are apt to be thought of as the hangers-on, habitually late, often absent, participating unenthusiastically, if at all, in church activities. . .

-an assistant book editor, Review and Herald Publishing Association at the time this article was written

THEY ARE at the periphery of every congregation and may be the bane of the preacher's pastoral existence. You know them well--the long-haired kids wearing platform shoes--the boys in loud clothes that don't match, and the girls in slinky long dresses or minis. They appear to think only of today--- its fun, its food, its fantasies. In the church organization they are apt to be thought of as the hangers-on, habitually late, often absent, participating unenthusiastically, if at all, in church activities.

They are the ones whose parents con front you with frightened eyes. "We're so concerned about Richard lately." "Marcia just isn't the same girl she was a year ago. She needs help."

How, in this mad world, can these young people be reached? Can they be influenced to let the Holy Spirit work in their hearts and thereby change their lives? No matter what our feelings may be toward today's youth, we can agree on one point: They are too precious to lose.

Recognizing this fact, the Review and Herald Publishing Association recently conducted a survey to ascertain the reading interests and needs of Seventh-day Adventist teenagers. The project was carried out at Takoma Academy in1 Maryland, with the cooperation of Dr. J. P. Laurence, principal of that school 'for more than 25 years, and one of the country's outstanding educators.

As the nearly 200 survey sheets were tallied, a pattern began to emerge. In stead of the casual, couldn't-care-less facade presented by some young people, we discovered youth who are concerned about their church, their relationship with God and their families, and about their future.

Following are samples of the type of remarks that the students jotted at the end of the survey:

"We need books on how to have a better relationship with God and how to go about getting this relationship. Also, on healthful living and every thing that goes with a healthy life."

"I want to know how to study the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy with more understanding."

"How can I get my family more closely knit together in Christ without them thinking I'm sort of a 'holy Joe'?"

"We especially need a book on the young Christian and his entertainment."

"I want to know how to answer for myself problems such as theater-going, eating out on Sabbath, how far girl-boy relationships can safely go, and pre-marriage considerations." "I'm interested in last-day events, and how to be a Christian when some of our friends don't keep up the standards."

"I'm interested in God, in my relationship with God, in my life and its effect on others, and in trying to be a better person and getting ready for heaven. In how to be a happy Christian and to show Christianity to others simply by my life and in making others happy."

"I can only say what I myself am interested in I want Christ to come. I want His character perfectly reproduced in myself, and I want to be able to relate Him successfully to my friends. What does God expect of me? How can I fulfill His goals for me?"

Survey Results

Following is the survey used with the results indicated by percentage of response. The Bible class students were instructed to check as many of the suggestions for books as they might be interested in actually reading.

In the Bible, God is spoken to at least three times in a very warm and loving way, almost as if He were being called "Daddy." Should a human being speak in such a familiar way to God? How should I address Him? Can I pray when I know I've sinned, maybe on purpose? Does God get "mad" at me when I've done wrong?

A book on how and when to pray ---38%

My family and I have a hard time understanding each other. How can I help them get along with me better?

A book on family relationships ---57%

The big plunge. One of these days, it's out into the cold world from my safe little school nest. Can I make it? Will the folks "out there" like me? How can I witness for Jesus Christ while on the job, without acting like I think I'm a superior being? And what kind of job shall I look for?

A book on job relationships ---46%

They say that Jesus Christ is my best friend. I could use one, but sometimes I don't feel that close to Him. Did He really have problems like mine? How did He solve them? How can I know Him better and relate to Him?

A book on personal relationship with Jesus ---53%

As an Adventist, I know that Jesus will come again. I know things will go from bad to worse before that happens. But what exactly will happen, and when, and how? Do I need to make some preparation for that time, or just take it as it conies?

A book on last-day events ---52%

So, I'm in love and it's terrific! Every date is good and they're getting better. Maybe we'll marry and maybe we won't but it's fun! But, how far can we go safely? Since we are in love, is sex really wrong?

A book on dating and sex ---68%

Naturally I like the idea of living for ever, always being happy, never sick, etc. But I'm stuck in this world and things aren't that way. Is it possible and practical to live in such a way HERE that I'll be ready to live THERE ---in heaven? And since I hear that salvation is a gift from God, do I have to work at being good to receive it?

A book on righteousness by faith and preparing for heaven --45%

I didn't ask for this dirty old world, but it's all I've got right now. What is my obligation toward improving it, and if we think the whole thing will end soon, should I try?

A book on me and my environment ---31%

I've been reared a Christian and my conscience is pretty sensitive maybe too sensitive. Some of the things I've done keep hanging around my mind. I feel guilty and it's no fun. Can I get rid of it?

A book on how to cope with guilt ---38%

Isn't there more than one way to be a Christian? What about this Secret Rapture belief? And speaking in tongues? After all, they did that in Bible times, didn't they? And does God ever work through the agency of the occult? Does the devil ever actually possess people in this day and age?

A book on religious phenomena ---30%

I've got to believe there are good people in all churches the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, for instance, are really in earnest. And who is more self-sacrificing than Catholic missionaries? Aren't all Christian churches good?

A book that takes an objective look at other denominations ---37%

If someone asked me what my church believes, I'd have to gulp and mutter something about the Second Coming and the Sabbath. Don't we have other doctrines too? What does my church believe?

A book on the beliefs of the Adventist Church ---41%

I know I should read and study my Bible, but some of it just doesn't seem ---well, interesting. Is there a systematic way to enjoy Bible study and profit by it? And what about the many versions and paraphrases? How can I know which are best for me?

A book on successful Bible study ---38%

I've heard about "guarding the avenues of the soul," but does that mean I should listen only to hymns and watch religious programs and read the Bible and biographies of great people? Can a Christian shut out all worldly influence while still in this world, and should he?

A book on the young Christian and his entertainment ---62%

Health reform I'm not too great on reform, but I like the health part especially with cancer, heart disease, and mental illness running wild. Are there some really practical, proved ways for keeping the four phases (physical, mental, social, spiritual) running together smoothly?

A book on healthful living ---45%

Do Adventists make too much of keeping Sabbath? There are some really great people who go to church on Sunday. Are they going to be lost and only Sabbathkeepers get to heaven? Has the Sabbath been kept ever since Creation, or was it forgotten for a while? A book on the history, present, and future of the Sabbath 25%

The Review and Herald feels that a challenge has been presented that must be met. We are now searching for people who have an experimental relationship with Jesus Christ who can also write to meet this need. We have no reason to think that only the young can reach the young, and in the new, youth-oriented series of small books that we hope to produce, we will feature authors of various ages and back grounds. If you wish more information on this project, you may address your letter to:

Book editors

Review and Herald Publishing Assn.

Washington, D.C. 20012

Attn: Bobbie Jane Van Dolson


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

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-an assistant book editor, Review and Herald Publishing Association at the time this article was written

October 1975

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