Youth leader and co-chairman/director of Jesus Global Youth Day, Ron Luce believes if senior pastors were more hands-on with the youth then churches would be full of young disciples.
Luce is spearheading a historic Jesus Global Youth Day on August 8-10 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. The 3-day event will be streamed live to thousands of locations around the Philippines and then the world on the final day of the event.
Organizers are encouraging Christians everywhere to pack their churches with young people united in the name of Christ. Over 83,000 churches have already signed on to participate in the broadcast with the possibility of reaching almost 10 million young people.
Leaders from various denominations in 45 nations have come together to host the event that will feature world boxing champion and Philippines Senator Manny Pacquiao, actor Stephen Baldwin, and Nick Vujicic, founder of Life Without Limbs. There will also be worship from Christian artists such as Planetshakers, Lecrae, Miel San Marcos and others.
As studies show a decline in youth attendance in churches worldwide, Luce is hoping ministers everywhere will get serious about reaching and discipling the younger generation.
Below is an edited transcript of an interview between Luce and The Christian Post in which he shares about the inception of JGYD and how ministers everywhere can reach the heart of their young people for Jesus.
Christian Post: What is the genesis of this event? How did it come about?
Luce: Jesus Global Youth Day was conceived when Bishop Efraim Tendero — the general secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, which is in, which you might know, 129 nations around the world and it’s been around for over 100 years — looked at me and said, “Ron, the Catholics have done Catholic World Youth Day for decades. Why has there never been anything for Protestant youth on a global scale? We need to do a global event for young people and you need to lead it,” as he points his finger at me. And that was a number of years ago. That was about four to five years ago and we’ve literally been dialoguing and then planning ever since.
The idea is this massive event for young people from all over the world, both as they travel to Manila to be part of the live event, and to be part of the global broadcast that we’ll have on August the 10th, around the world, uniting the younger generation in the name of Christ and at the same time empowering and inspiring leaders all over the world, that is youth leaders and senior pastors, to begin to focus on reaching and discipling the next generation.
CP: People of God are having a hard time reaching the youth. Considering your long experience in youth ministry, what would you say the church has gotten wrong about youth ministry?
Luce: The data says that fundamentally, most places that are Christianized all around the world are not reaching the younger generation. You could look at any number of Pew studies, things like the median age of Christians is 30. The median age of Muslims is 23. You could see the average age of a megachurch attender in America is 40. The average age in a small church in America is 53. The average age of an attendee in U.K. is 61 years old. You can look at South Korea where at the height of the revival they had 33% of the population were Christian, now with the younger generation, it’s 1.7%.
So we have a phenomenon called the grain of the church, which I document thoroughly in my upcoming book, Faith at the Speed of Light. It’s a chronic and global issue that the church is facing. Even in places like Nigeria, where there’s widespread revival, the revival is more among the adults than the young people. The young people are simply not in the churches.
Part of our issue is that as great as some youth groups are and even as great as some youth conferences, youth ministry has sort of been seen as the stepchild, the necessary obligation of the church.
If we have a really great one, we get a really cool guy, he tracks a lot of us, he leaves in a few years, those kids go off to college and they then don’t feel like that church is even their home church because the person that pastored them is gone. They call it their parents’ church, not their church.
We know all the data about young people not continuing in their faith when they go into college but very few have done anything about it. The good news is that there’s some best practices that I found around the world that are breaking this whole mold, where they’re very effective at reaching and discipling. Among these best practices, what they do differently is that the senior pastor takes responsibility for the younger generation, not just those that come to his church or whose parents belong to the church, but they think and they plan about how to effectively reach the younger generation in their community because they know that they are the most prone to come to Christ and then they map out a plan to disciple them once they come to Christ.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jeannie Law