When we think about teens in the church, we often believe that they do not have the same responsibilities as adults. We think that teens are not able to benefit the church with their ideas. We tend to think that teen ideas are immature or unnecessary. This idea unintentionally removes all responsibility from teen Christians. Some of this lack of responsibility falls on the teens as well. We tend to think that everything is “Someone Else’s Job” rather than doing it ourselves. Teens have the same ability and responsibility to teach and to help the church grow. Of course, we may not have the same opportunities that adults have, but we do have our own chances to glorify God and help His church (1 Timothy 4:12).
This idea was one that bothered me for a long time. I knew that there was more I should have been doing, but I didn’t really know how to help. I finally found an answer to that question when I visited a youth event in Jacksonville, AL. My friend Daniel Webster had started a weekend camp called Upward. It was an amazing moment in my life to see teens taking leadership roles. On the way home from the event, I thought about what had taken place that day, and a thought kept running through my head, “What if I did this?” I kept thinking about what I had heard my dad and many other preachers say: “Ability plus opportunity equals responsibility.” If I had the ability and the opportunity, then didn’t I have the responsibility? I decided that I would give it a try. I met with the elders at the congregation that I was attending and asked them if they would be behind having a weekend youth camp. After two meetings, they agreed, and Outward was started in 2018.
I don’t say all of this to brag on myself. This is not the story of how great Joshua Kennedy is, but rather about what God can do with a normal Christian. Anyone who is willing to stick behind an idea and make it happen can do the same thing. Teens have an unlimited amount of potential, but we as the church need to find ways to turn that potential into action. We must stop this passive Christianity. God gave us a command to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Matthew 28:19-20). That is not age specific. This charge is for all who wear the name of Christ. It is time for us to show the world what God can do. I hope that we can all see our talents and go Outward.