Young People’s Work
Parental Responsibility: Responsibility rests upon parents to train up their children in the ways of God, and this should include instruction in the scriptures with a clear presentation of the gospel. No community or church provision for religious education, however Bible-orientated it may be, can relieve christian parents of this obligation. The family is an important factor in the growth and stability of a church because the character of the families comprising each fellowship will reflect its spiritual calibre. Children must learn the fifth commandment and its implications. They must learn obedience. They are to be taught to obey because God has commanded it, and such obedience should be given willingly, as honour afforded to the parent, and not grudgingly. The Bible teaches the parents to use reproof and punishment, tempered with wisdom and mercy. Children ought not to be exasperated, discouraged or subjected to physical cruelty. Children should be brought up in an atmosphere where all problems are dealt with in the context of scripture. All such teaching must be in the context of an acknowledgement of. God as creator and .man as his creature.
Eph. 6:1-3; Prov. 13:24; 19:18; 29:15-17; Eph. 6:4.
Church’s Responsibility: The church may do well to strengthen the hands of the membership and repair any deficiencies in parental instruction by means of special classes either on Sundays or other days. Such classes will be taught ‘by church members appointed for their spiritual qualities as well as natural teaching gifts, because the teaching of God’s Word is by practice as much as by precept. The Bible will be the text book, and will be taught out of a firm conviction of its divine authority as God’s Word, its capability to make the sinner wise unto salvation and fully equip the believer for all that God requires of him in this life.
Sunday Schools: Sunday Schools were first introduced as a means of evangelism among children of unbelievers or unconcerned nominal christians. The needs of all children are the same. In some situations the absence of family instruction may make it neither practical nor wise for the church to seek to fulfil its obligations to its own families alongside the children from pagan backgrounds, who lack all teaching and example. The reaching and gathering in of children from unevangelised homes is a most proper and rewarding means of gospel ministry. The same high standards must be maintained in the appointment of teachers and in the teaching itself. Indeed, particular care should be taken because these children are not being instructed in christian truth at home.
Bible Classes: Traditionally, older children are given special instruction in groups appropriate to their ages, often called Bible classes. Outreach work may be done on weekdays, perhaps utilising different methods but with the same end in view namely conversion and training in the Word of God.
Youth Meetings: Young people’s activities with clear spiritual principles are to be commended to meet the needs of the families of christians. The social need for recreation may be used as a means of reaching pagan society with the gospel. But there can be a danger in confusing the social needs of the families of christian parents with those of others. Care must be taken to avoid worldliness and the lowered standards of pagan society, for the encroachment of these influences would destroy the spiritual ministry of the church, whether on its own premises or elsewhere. Generally speaking, social welfare work is better undertaken under the administration of the local education and health authorities where christians can fulfil their duties to the community as good citizens and also bear an effective christian influence and testimony to the gospel.
Teaching Aids: The church’s use of teaching systems in its Sunday School or classes demands the exercise of constant care. Any system employed should be closely aligned to the faith and order of the church. It should be realised what is involved in effective teaching and learning. Scripture reveals timeless principles – for example, direct question and answer catechism, and memorisation of the scripture. It is important that new means to disseminate facts and ideas be used as efficiently as possible, provided that the methods themselves do not detract from the gospel.
Exod. 13:8; Deut. 6:7 and 20-25; Josh. 12:26-28.
Whilst no case can be made for fragmenting the worship or fellowship of the church on grounds of age or sex, yet there is reason for using the ease with which women are gathered together as a special opportunity for evangelism. Many churches find themselves able to convene regular gatherings of unconverted women and to present the gospel to them. All such outreach should be under the direct control of the church and accountable to it. All the programming should be consistent with the church’s standing and only speakers used able to meet this requirement.
Acts 16:13; 17:4.
Home Study Groups
The unconverted are frequently reached by the discreet use of meetings held in the homes of members where the Word of God can be expounded in surroundings acceptable to the community at large. Such ministry should be regulated carefully by the pastoral leadership of the church and the inexperienced or untaught should not engage in regular teaching. Unwise laxity in this can lead to unbalanced emphases in teaching and formation of ‘house-churches’ of a divisive character calculated to breach rather than further fellowship.
Acts 16:31, 32; 20:20, 21; 1 Cor. 1 :10-18.
Utilisation of Places of Worship and Halls
Christian places of worship are not set apart in any sacramental way as were the tabernacle and temples of Israel. The people of God themselves constitute the Temple of God. The provision of specialised buildings is a convenience but not a necessity. Though they cannot be desecrated yet thoughtless usage can hinder the gospel. The church’s evangelistic outreach and its fulfilment of christian concern towards the community may justify use for such purposes as nursery schools, playgroups, charitable care of the aged and handicapped, youth groups, clubs, coffee-mornings, wedding receptions, etc., as well as the gathering of the church socially. All such use may be lawful yet be deemed not expedient in a local situation. Careful discrimination ought to be exercised lest the testimony of the church of God’s holy people be damaged by any indiscretion. Let all be done to the glory of God and all else be excluded.
1 Cor. 3:16, 17; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Cor. 11:20-22; 6:12; 10:23; 1 Pet. 1 :13-16; 1 Cor. 10:31.