Updated: Sep 14, 2019
By Teresa Goins
This is the second of a three-part article that represents the results of a small survey conducted at our church, with the help of a few members of our youth group. Twelve young people were interviewed with one two-fold question: What are the most troubling of issues for a young person today; and how does your involvement in church help you cope?
In June’s article, we concluded from the 12 interviewees* (who voiced a total of 25 responses) the four issues they considered the most distressing. They were (1) the demanding nature of school (at 44% of total answers); (2) bullying (24%); (3) fear of violence (12%); and (4) drugs and alcohol (8%). Three outlier responses (each representing 4% of total or one response each) were family money concerns, peer pressure, and suicide. This Part 2 article will report the interviewees’ answers to the second half of our question: How does your involvement in church help you cope with these issues?
The benefits our young people believe church affords them were reported in 20 responses: a personal relationship with God (35% of total answers); confidence and peace (20%); fellowship (15%); and instruction (15%); with three outlier benefits of intimate prayer, thanksgiving, and salvation (each representing 5% of total or one response each).
Two responses that characterized church as a haven for building ‘a personal relationship with God’ were: “Church is a peaceful place where I can talk to God and ask for help;” and “Church is where I go to God and know that He is there to help me behave positively.” Similarly, church was described as a benefactor of personal ‘confidence and peace’: “I am shy but can speak up [during Sunday School Reflection] because I know my granny is in the congregation;” “At church, I can think things through and get away from everything;” and most strikingly, “Church makes me relax, and I’m not as angry as I was before.”
According to our survey, church is a place of ‘fellowship’: “Church allows me to be with good friends that love me;” and “I talk about my problems in Sunday School and feel better.” Others surveyed are convinced they receive valuable ‘instruction’ within the church walls: “Church helps me learn to live a good and godly life;” “Lessons and scriptures help me solve my problems;” and ultimately, “Church teaches me right from wrong.”
One 14-year-old said the church helps her to cope through ‘prayer’: “At church, I pray for those that hurt me (because they need prayer, and I need to know why they do what they do).” The same interviewee stated that ‘thanksgiving’ helps to alleviate her stress: “When I’m at church, I remember and thank God for all the good things He has given me!”
However, of all the telling responses as to how church helps our youth cope, one stood out as the most profound and philosophical. It came from a teenager who said, in three simple words, “Church saves me.” Superficially, this response could be written off as nothing more than Christian colloquialism. Don’t we all know, young and old alike, that we can be saved at church, through a profession of faith? Yes; but when we delve deeper into this innocent response, we are reminded of a powerful, most enlightening truth about the message of the church.
We preach the salvation of God for ALL maladies of life – temptation, fear, anxiety, sickness, hopelessness, waywardness, distress, and need – and ALL His promises stand true! There is a way of escape when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13); strength when we are afraid (Isaiah 41:10); peace to overcome anxiety (Philippians 4:13); healing when we are sick (Isaiah 53:5); expectation for renewed hope (Jeremiah 29:11); direction for waywardness (John 14:6); comfort in times of stress (Psalm 9:9); and provision for everything we need (Philippians 4:19). Our young interviewee believes that, through Christ, God promises to save us; and the infallible evidence is in 2 Corinthians 1:20: “For all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in Him …” Amen!
Stay tuned for our third and final youth survey article in next month’s newspaper. In Part 3, we will discuss the ways the church can better encourage and support her young people. In 1 Thessalonians 2:11, the Apostle Paul urged the early church to exhort, comfort, and charge each other, “as a father doth his children.” Shouldn’t we today, take note? Young people are undoubtedly God’s children, but they are also ours, in the faith.
* NOTE: All interviewees were between the ages of nine and 16. For more detailed demographics as to race, gender, and place of residence, see last month’s Part 1 article. As with any other careful survey, detailed demographics of individual interviewees, per each response, are kept confidential.