How important are our youth?

That is a question that deserves full attention from anybody at any level of ministry. I have a very prejudiced reason for saying that. In the early 1970’s there was a pastor’s wife in a small town in Maine who always noticed the teenagers. She always took time for teenagers: teenagers that went to the church; teenagers that had never stepped inside the church; teens that were stoned; teens that were straight; teens that were gay; teens that came from wealthy families, middle class families, and poor families. Every Thursday this lady went to the bus stops to invite all of the high school kids to a meeting at her house that night. She made sure every teenager in that town had an opportunity. She noticed them. She invited them into her story, which meant she was inviting them into the God story. She invited them to learn how to pray. She taught those teenagers how to intercede for the toughest youth in the high schools.

This lady gave me my first Bible. This lady discipled my wife Janet. This lady made room for us, believed in us, tutored us, challenged us, blessed us and released us into ministry. She was not a “cool” lady. She was not edgy. She did not talk like a teen. Her dress was plain. Her style was quiet. Get this—she actually had rollers in her hair sometimes when she dropped the invitations at the bus stop! But, make no mistake about it, that woman heard from God, obeyed God, feared nothing, and always noticed teenagers!  This lady led a teen revival that, to this day, is yielding much fruit!

Many of you reading this are senior pastors, youth-teen pastors or young adults’ pastors, and I cheer you for what you do. So, here is an encouraging word: Notice the youth. Pay attention to them! Listen to them, bless them, speak that blessing loud to them, give them a place at the table and watch what happens. As a senior pastor, my life has been enriched through the last three and a half decades by the young people that God has allowed us to notice, love and cheer for. Always walk humbly before the youth that are around your life. Bow to them once in a while because you do not know who is before you.

Phil Strout
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