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I’ve been doing research about youth engagement in church for a history class.  Our group is looking at the 1940’s in America among the Lutheran churches.

What’s really amazing is that we think the challenges we face in the church today are new.  LOL.  Not even close.  Now remember, the 1940’s is the decade in which the church was on the rise and close to the height of what it would be in the 1950’s – at one with the culture.

Yet, there are articles in youth magazines lamenting why there is a lack of youth leadership in church.  Sound familiar?  It should.

Here’s a few reasons the author of an article on this challenge thought this was so:

“The first reason was that the lack of interest and indifference on the part of the young people is directly due either to the lack of interest or indifference of the pastor or adult leader or to his inadequate leadership.  There are a number of pastors and adults who are out of sympathy with the whole young people’s movement. They still hold the notion that young people should be seen and not heard, and they do not encourage such participation by the young people themselves in the program and work of the congregation.  There are others who never make any attempt to lead the young people and there are others who try to do it all.”

“Then there is another group of counselors who have interest but lack knowledge.”

“Thus an organization which should be training leader through experience in leading and responsibility becomes merely a young people’s organization, managed entirely by one or more adults.  Such a method may help the young people somewhat, but it does not make leaders of them.”

Source: Luther League Review – 1943, pg. 2.

Could have been written today, couldn’t it?

But we think our problems and challenges are so very different and unique.  When will we learn?

By the way, if you substitute in other words for youth, I argue that the same thing the author writes about applies.  Substitute in discipleship.  See what you think.

We don’t always have to come up with something completely new.  Sometimes it’s best to learn from the past and then go forward.  Sometimes the “solutions” are not all that complicated. Sometimes the solutions aren’t things at all – just a way of living and interacting.  You know, living out what Jesus calls us to be and do.  It’s not a new program.  It’s a new life, a new way of living.  One that’s not really all that new.  Just one that isn’t tried very often.