Prior to coming to serve at the Evangelical Alliance, I spent 14 years working for Youth for Christ. I loved seeing many young people come to faith and was constantly encouraged by the overwhelming percentage of people in the UK who do so under the age of 25. I was also quite taken with an image from Wes Stafford (Compassion USA) that, when it comes to evangelism, young people are like ‘wet cement’ and older people are ‘dry cement.’ In other words: it’s a lot easier to make a profound impact on a young life.
Therefore, as a church, we must keep pouring value and resource into youth and children’s ministry. As my friend, the chairman of Care for the Family, Rob Parsons, says, “if your church roof has a whole in it, stick a bucket under it, but don’t stop pouring resources into youth and children’s ministry.”
In other words: it’s a lot easier to make a profound impact on a young life.
Since joining EA, however, it’s become more important to me to find out when older people might be more likely to come to faith. Yes, the greatest fruitfulness in our witnessing may well continue to be amongst younger generations, but we need to be aware of what might be significant in older generations too.
The reality seems to be that most adults come to faith at ‘junction moments’. These are any periods of drastic life change – for better or worse – that bring us out of the everyday realities of life, such as: you get married, lose your job, move area, lose a loved one, have a baby etc.
Junction moments can make us reflect on life and look for answers to deeper questions – certainly a lot more than we might normally do day-to-day. We, the church, need to be ready and willing to support people as they face these moments. Let’s not be so busy with our own lives and church programmes that we miss others as they transition through these times.
The reality seems to be that most adults come to faith at ‘junction moments’.
I was out running a few months ago, when I had an overwhelming sense of the Lord pointing out that the whole of the UK is facing a ‘junction moment’ of its own over the next couple of years.
Whatever we think about the current political landscape, however we voted over Brexit, and whatever our assessment is of the UK’s spiritual health, there’s little doubt that much uncertainty lies ahead. No one fully knows what the next couple of years will hold for this nation, and many things people previously relied on seem in doubt. Within all this change, and possible chaos, openness to the Gospel is potentially far greater than when things are calmer and more straightforward.
This current ‘junction moment’ provides the church with a wonderful opportunity to show what is different when we too face this uncertainty, but we do so with Jesus. How does this impact the way we behave? What difference should it make to our sense of hopefulness? How can we help those who don’t know Jesus to see the difference this hope makes?
We, the church, need to be ready and willing to support people as they face these moments.
We find ourselves in a time when much is up in the air, and the certainty we have in Jesus seems more counter-cultural than ever. Now is a key moment to let your salt bring flavour and your light shine even more brightly than normal. It’s a chance for our faith in Jesus to lead us to even greater holiness and distinctiveness, and, out of this, for many others to come to know Him too. We certainly don’t have all the answers, and we may also be concerned about the future, but, in contrast to the world, we can hold tightly to that often quoted saying, “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” We can live in full assurance of the presence and plans of God, at a time when our nation is struggling with great uncertainty.
Let’s not miss the opportunity presented to us to see many of those we know impacted for the Gospel as we all face this ‘junction moment’ together!