I do not get mad very often, but today I was mad.
Today was Youth Sunday. All students from seventh to twelfth grade participated in three of the four services. The youth praise band began each service with beautiful music and singing. Four high school students gave testimonies about the value of youth group in their lives. They described friendships formed during annual mission trips, weekly Bible study, and Sunday evening meetings. They also included specific ways that God was helping them make decisions regarding time management and planning for the future. Their words clearly came from their hearts and the sincerity of their thoughts was touching.
So what made me mad? Let me explain. During the early service (the only one I attended at 8:30 am) ten people left, some during the opening music, and the rest throughout the service. The music, was not the kind that is usually played. So??? Who could resist the praise band led by a junior in high school, who eloquently conducted the service, prayed, and gave a benediction. So??? The cross and flowers were removed from the altar, replaced by a white cloth and votive candles. So????? Four students gave the "sermon" instead of one pastor. So???
What really made me mad was that those people who left, could not open their hearts to worship "youth style" for even one Sunday. They missed a wonderful opportunity to be with God and worship with an energetic sincerely committed group of young people.
OK , here's the clincher. Two people came to my husband after later services, saying that the reason they were leaving was because the American flag was removed from the front of the church-- for one Sunday of the year, so that there was room for a skit that the youth presented, room for the vocalists who sang with the band, and room for a television to show a video related to what the teenagers do during their Sunday night meetings.
I don't get it. If people leave whenever something doesn't go "the way we've always done things" what does their action say about his/her life with God? If I pray and God doesn't answer, do I give up on God? Do I throw away my Bible? Do I refuse to go to church? What type of example does this type of behavior show to children and young people? Leave if something doesn't go your way?
What would Jesus do? I don't know. What do you think? What would you do?
God, I am saddened when those in your kingdom close their hearts to any new expression of being with you. You told us to love one another and to encourage those who are growing in faith. Help us renew our interest in these young people. We are praising you for the way their faith is woven into many parts of their lives. They are an example to others. May we be like them. Amen.