Sadly, I see it a lot in the church: that treatment of young people like they don’t have a voice, like they aren’t really members yet. I felt it. My friends felt it. But we didn’t do anything about it, because we thought that way too. We constantly told ourselves that we didn’t have to worry about being active members, coming up with ideas of how to better get the Word out into our community, or even doing deep Bible study, because we were young and we were still learning. We thought there were plenty of mature, experienced Christians to do “the big stuff.” We only had to worry about gaining our maturity, having fun, and taking advantage of our youthfulness because that was the picture of modern youth that the world made up.

Haven’t we learned yet that the traditions and beliefs of the world have no place in the church?        “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV)

   “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

Working for God is not just for adults. Studying the Bible in depth is not just for adults. Bringing others to Christ is not just for adults. If it were just for adults, God would have given us an age limit in His Word. But He doesn’t. It could have said “Go mature Christians” in Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19,20 but it doesn’t. 

My grandfather, whom I call “Pappaw,” has probably been the family member who I’ve been closest to in my life, besides my parents and brother. I love him with all of my heart, but he’s not a Christian. All my life he has pushed away any mention of his salvation. Growing up I always thought it was my parents’ job to convert him. My dad is a minister and my mom is his daughter. I thought they were the best option in getting through to him. I would sit with my parents, brother, and Pappaw thinking, “why won’t they say this?” or “why didn’t they take that opening?” When I got a little older, and was asking in my head why they weren’t doing or saying certain things, I finally asked myself the question, “Why can’t you?” I, of course, came up with the common excuse of “I’m too young.”

Young people tend to believe that being biblically knowledgeable enough to teach others and show them the truth is just for adults. The excuse of someone being “too young” is used numerous times in the church. But, God doesn’t take that excuse.

     “Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’ But the LORD said to me: ‘Do not say, “I am only a youth,”; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,’ declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 1:4-8 ESV)

Jeremiah thought the same things most do today about youth, but, according to this, God is telling us that we must do whatever He commands us, no matter our age, because He is with us.

God uses youth throughout the scriptures. In 1 Samuel, Saul told David he couldn’t fight Goliath because he was “but a youth” (1 Samuel 17:33). But, David knew the Lord would deliver him from the hand of Goliath (v. 37). No one, not even the King had the right to tell someone they were too young to do what God wanted them to do. It’s the same today.

     “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV)

Here we are told to let no one despise our youth. It even goes a step further to say that youth are to be an example, and not to non-believers, but believers! Hold on a second, this is saying that people younger than us can be our example? That’s exactly what it’s saying! God knows the value of young people! Jesus knew the value of young people when he told the disciples, who were asking Him who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaventhat the child there was who they had to be like in order to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven!

If we are to be like Christ, we should be doing God’s work from a young age. In Luke 2, Jesus’ family lost him at age 12, and guess what he was doing!

     “Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought you anxiously.’ And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ (Luke 2:46-49)

At just 12 years old Jesus said that He was to be about His Father’s business! So what are we to do in our youth? Be about our Father’s business!

We cannot hold back youth from doing things for Christ! Making young people think they have no voice in the church is in no way what God would want! In the same way, we young people cannot put away doing God’s work or studying His Word because we think that kind of work is for mature Christians. The first step in putting God first in our youth is realizing that our age is not an excuse for inactivity in the church. We are not any less of a member just because we are younger than the rest. Even if we are the youngest person in the congregation, we could be doing more for God than the eldest, but that will never happen if we think and are told that we are the church of tomorrow and not today.

I recently heard Kyle Butt speak on this subject, and he told a story I hadn’t heard that really amazed me. He said that the creator of Braille was only when he started making Braille, and only 15 when the language was finished! This was a fact I’d never heard, but was in awe of. This proves that youth can do amazing things as long as they are not held back or belittled by this man-made belief that they’re too young to be great and do great things! When you obey the gospel and are added to the church, you become a part of Christ’s body just as anyone else, no matter your age. If we say that youth can’t do certain things God has commanded because they are not old enough, we are being exactly like the different parts of Christ’s body in 1 Corinthians 12:13-26:

     “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”

We cannot all be an adult just as we cannot all be an eye! We have to use the gifts God gives us and not try to learn to be like others who have been given much different gifts! Youthfulness is a gift! The church needs to use youth, just as the body in this verse uses its hearing! To put God first in our youth, we must first learn that we are a part of the church just as much as the 40 year old sitting next to you on Sunday morning is! Young people need to be encouraged to follow God’s commandments and do His work from a young age or else they may fall away from God much easier because all they get from the church is that they are not “good enough.”

    “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youthbefore the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

We need to remember our Creator now while we are still young so that we are stronger when things get difficult! Our voices do matter if we put God first and remember that God is with us! God doesn’t hold back youth from being about His business, so why are we?!


     Ellie Grace Ridgeway lives in Ironton, OH. She is the 17 year old daughter of Jason & Cindy Ridgeway

              and the granddaughter of Bud & Betty Ridgeway