Young people, what is your role in the church of God? How ought you to fill that role? Are there things you should be active in as a member of the body of Christ? Do you consider your place in the church important? Is it a significant and valuable place in Christ’s church?
I can assure you that do have a role, and it is important. In fact, it is so important that it is necessary for the very survival of the church of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:18 and 27 teach that each of us is a member according to his purpose. God’s purpose is important: “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” From the perspective of an elder, I assure you that your place and function is of great importance to the body of Christ in the church today. Along with all God’s people, you young people are called to serve.
How are you to serve? There is a multitude of ways, but to address all of them here is outside the focus of this article. One thing, however, is certain: You need to know how to serve. You need to be trained, and training requires listening to God. To hear God speak requires Bible study. To be of service means to be a servant. To serve requires knowledge and the activity of getting knowledge. Faithful church attendance and paying heed to the doctrine of pure preaching are primary. The preaching is unique because it is Holy Spirit infused. I trust you know that going to church is not optional but required, and that you are faithful to attend worship twice every Lord’s Day.
Now let’s talk about the other ways you are called to be active in gaining knowledge. Certainly you attend or have attended catechism. This also is considered your calling. This instruction, like the preaching, is official church instruction. But there is a third way for you to gain knowledge of the truth. This is the way of active society life.
Why is Young People’s Society such a big deal? What makes it vitally important for you? There are many reasons. Here we will consider seven of them. As we do this let’s apply the words of instruction Paul gave to Titus, his younger fellow servant in the gospel ministry: “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2: 6-8 and 12). Young people’s society is an excellent tool for developing the life of the godly, lively, and sober servant of the Lord.
The first of the seven reasons society life is important is that God speaks to you personally through the Bible. It is his word to you. The words of scripture are the most important words you will ever hear. To read and make a serious study of them is life itself for you. Would you choose death? To ignore your Father’s word is to do exactly that. For you to do so is unthinkable. Scripture study involves taking in and thinking deeply about the word. It is the story of the purest love that exists. It is the story of salvation in Christ. It is also the Father’s word by which you receive his guidance and admonition.
Yes, it is true: you could read and study God’s word alone in a closet. You would not be ignoring his pure word of grace and salvation. But you know that being strong alone is not easy, nor is it right to isolate yourself. It is not normally the experience of the sin-battled saint to be an active student of God’s gospel alone. The God-designed way for you to be the sober, lively, active servant is in the context of the covenant. This is why we emphasize the concept of the covenantal community in all aspects of our daily walk and life. Young person, value this covenantal community! Be active in your Bible study society life!
The second reason that society based-Bible study is important is that God’s word is your guide to godly living. Very likely you have sung the words, “How shall the young direct their way? What light shall be their perfect guide? Thy word, O Lord, will safely lead if in is wisdom they confide” (Psalter 322). How you are to live your life is the most basic, fundamental, practical thing you will ever consider.
Third, young people’s society is the template (pattern) for becoming active in Bible study for a lifetime. Society life does not end when one makes confession of faith. This marks the beginning of a lifestyle, one that will be marked by diligent searching of scripture together with other like- minded saints. We find a good example of persistence in Bible study in Acts 17:10–11: “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Young people, follow the example of the Bereans.
The fourth reason for active society life centers on fellowship. In the context of society life, you have opportunity to develop close friendships within the broader covenantal community. This can be the best circumstance for getting to know one another on a deeper and spiritual level. This potentially represents steps that may lead you to find your life’s mate, and if not that, then it is still the setting that when developed properly will bring you into the closest friendship possible this side of heaven. Bible study with others is the pathway that leads to the deepest and most often intimate friendship and fellowship.
Fifth, young people’s society affords you the opportunity for good, godly activities. It is in this setting that other activities for young people are developed. Many of our young people’s games, evening get-togethers, and day trips are organized through our societies. Good activities include hiking trips (for some western churches) to the mountains, canoe and kayak river trips, boating and tubing adventures at the lake, cook-outs, and barbequing at the beach. Other worthwhile events include sports and games at one of our local Christian schools. These are ways to get to know one another and use up some of your youthful, endless energy in good, clean, healthy activities. These types of things bring balance to the daily life of the Christian young person.
Sixth, your society life serves as springboard for interactions within the congregation. There is the traditional singspiration, which is good, but there is also smaller group singing and making of good Reformed music at church or in our homes. Other worthy interactions include young people’s hosted dinners. Some serve as fund raisers for convention expenses, an excellent idea. But better than that is to do what some of our congregations are enjoying: young people’s society hosted supper and game nights for the seniors. This activity is expressly for the young people and the 70 and older members. This promotes excellent interactions between the youth and the seniors of the congregation. In this type of activity the elderly members are literally thrilled, and the young people are surprised (sometimes amazed) at the fun that can be had with “those old people” we call our more elderly members.
The seventh reason is that society life is the place where you can become involved in wider denominational activities. It begins with the annual young people’s conventions. Many local young people’s activities are directed toward the good goal of fund raising for the convention. Attending the annual convention ought to be top on the list of every young person. Our conventions are great opportunities to get to know others from the entire denomination and provide an excellent way to grow in godliness, in faith and in life. There are also regional retreats organized by some of our western churches. These smaller group settings are also worthwhile for personal growth in the truth and for additional inter-congregational fellowship.
Your active society life is also likely to lead to the days when as an older young person you may be privileged to attend those fantastic post high school retreats. A person who begins as an active teen aged society member will be ready and excited to continue, God willing, to attend retreats in the west and in Canada. And, I will add, some of you may even be so blessed as to be able to attend the British Reformed Fellowship conferences. Having experienced yong peoples conventions as a young man and then as chaperone, post high retreats and also several BRF conferences, I heartily recommend these aspects of society life. Remember, young people, it begins with the right involvement and good habit of faithful attendance in young peoples society.
Active bible study and covenant based fellowship are central to your active and lively place in the church. When we think about the future of the church, an older person such as myself sees your place as very important—in fact, more important than is mine. This is true because you are the hope for tomorrow. On your shoulders, young people, rests the future for our congregations and denomination. In the older generation we see today’s leadership, but for tomorrow, you are that portion that will be called to carry out Christ’s command to lead in the way of truth. This is your place; you are growing into that role. You will become the mothers, fathers, Sunday School teachers, society leaders, pastors, elders, and deacons in the near future.
The future begins now. Are you thinking about this? As leading, you must serve; as servants, you must lead. This is what the church is about. You are called to be servants ready to lead. You won’t do this by yourselves. God’s grace is there. Exercise yourself in his grace! You may be assured, young people, that God will guide you. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Young people, be lively, sober servants! Be active in society life!