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‘You can’t save everyone…’

Posted on: May 15, 2008

“You can’t save everyone…” – that is the phrase mentioned to someone I know in regards to starting some youth work at said persons church (I keep things vague purposely!). Now as a Christian (and if I’m honest one who isn’t a calvanist!) this annoys me…however as a church youth worker this seriously frustrates me.

The Times (todays I think) had an article all about church decline and how it’s predicted that in 40 years if the church continues to decline then no-one will be left…young people in particular seem to be few and far between in our nations churches…but the question I ask is “have we given up?” Now on the surface the phrase ‘You can’t save everyone’ is less of a phrase and more of a fact, I know full well that every young person I come into contact with is not going to become a Christian however when we take the ‘you can’t save everyone’ in the context meant in the first paragraph it comes less truth and more surrender…God never gave up on us, when the Israelites kept messing up God was always looking for new ways to save them…to save us…and finally He sent Jesus who did just that, He came to save us. So why do we suddenly forget this persistancy of God and give up? I stated above that I know every young person I come into contact with won’t become a Christian, some may never become Christians others may just require time…however if we’re not there to sew the seeds then how will they ever know about God? The church (generally) let down young people, we expect them to swing along with whatever older generations are used to, and yes I agree there has to be some in between, some mix of the old and new however these young people aren’t tomorrows church as we so happily throw around in defence of our youth work (I don’t!) they are the church of today!

The attitude of giving up on young people saddens me…and I’m pretty sure it saddens God, the New Testament makes it clear that no-one (neither Jew or Gentile, Slave or Free) is not open to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, so why are we making a rule that young people are? (In some places) I’ve said it before and I shall say it again, the idea of ‘youth churches’ makes me uncomfortable, I firmly believe we need a family dynamic in the church, we need the wiseness of those who are old-in-the-faith, we need the ‘floaters’ who perhaps aren’t called to help out but are dedicated, passionate prayers for the work going on, without these people I suspect many of our churches attempts would fail miserably! However the more I think about it the more I wonder if the ‘old church’ is leaving us with no option but to have youth churches, if these churches are a place where young people feel valued, loved and accepted then to me it is filling the gap the wider church misses, if these places explain the gospel in the exciting, passionate way Jesus did then they are filling the gap often missed by the wider church and if these places allow young people to enter into a relationship with God and disciple them into the faith then I can really have no grounds for dismissing youth churches because often they’re not treading on toes (although a few sheep may shuffle) but they’re filling in the missing gap…reaching out to the group that often seems so difficult to reach to the average church or even the group your average church have given up on in a ‘well you can’t save everyone’ mentality then I am not going to critique them.

I do however hope my generation and the next generation learn from this and don’t fall into the ‘I want church my way’ trap because church was never intended to be about ‘us’ but about God – praising Him in everything

Note: Some churches do not fail young people, there are plenty that do the opposite, there are plenty that create an awesome family feel and operate in a way accessible to everyone, providing the right things for young people and older people alike, actively reaching out into communities and discipling in those who give their lives to Christ.