Erin Rathier

musings of a ragtag heart

A few weeks ago in church, our pastor was talking about building our lives on a strong foundation.  We were looking at the familiar story of the of the wise man who built his house upon the rock, found in Matthew 7:24-27. 

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

As the message went on, our pastor said something simple about foundations that affected me greatly.  He said, “If you want to grow tall, you must go deep.”  Immediately, my mind went to my children.  I asked myself, “Am I leading my children to build a deep foundation with Jesus?”  Then, my mind went to all the teenagers I have had the privilege to love.  Have  I led them to build a deep relationship with Jesus? 

I sat for a moment with sadness in my heart.  With my own children, I have been and am very intentional about helping them build a deep foundation of faith, and a real relationship with Jesus.  With the youth groups I have led, I hate to admit, that was not always the case.  It hurts my heart.

I always tried to run a great youth group, where students were loved, made friends, had fun, found a family, and met Jesus, but the deep foundation was not always the focus.  I know, you are wondering how this is possible if I was a youth pastor, shouldn’t discipling teens be the main thing?  You would hope so, but unfortunately, it is not always the case.

Over the last few months, one of the things God has been asking me to think about is how I spend my time in what I call “ministry”.  This is multi-faceted, and over the next few weeks, I will try to break it all down, but it has made me question how we “do” church.  I question, are building organizations or followers of Jesus?  I feel this same way about youth groups.  We lament the statistic of 88% of teenagers leaving the church, and many times their faith, after high school, but we are not making a change. 

William Lane Craig said it this way, “Unfortunately, our churches have largely dropped the ball in this area.  It’s insufficient for youth groups and Sunday school classes to focus on entertainment and simpering devotional thoughts.  We’ve got to train our kids for war.  We dare not send them out to public high school and university armed with rubber swords and plastic armor.  The time for playing games is past.”

Well, I am done playing games.  I know I am still called to disciple teenagers, but I want to get it right this time.  I want see a generation of young people in love with Jesus and prepared to face this world with strong spiritual armor.  Over the last few months, I have had a number of high school students reach out to me and say they feel far from God, they do not feel like they are learning.  Each one has said to me, “I go to youth group, but…” they feel like they are missing something.  We have to do more.  

I have heard these same sentiments for years from teenagers, and I did not quite know what to do with them.  As a youth pastor, my hands were a little bit tied.  The church had expectations, and I only had so much time.   But now?  God has moved my life around, taught me many things, and I am so excited to announce, God has put a new dream on my heart. 

Beginning January 6th, we are starting a high school Bible study in our home, on Sunday evenings.  We will focus on going deep in order to grow tall.  Any and all high school students will be welcome.  We will study the words and life of Jesus, no counting kids, no efforts to attract, no paid staff, no budgets…just Jesus and teenagers.  Sounds like a little piece of Heaven.

Thank you so much for reading today.  I would love for you to join me as we begin studying Jesus with these teenagers.  I don’t know if we will have 2, 20 or 200 come through our front door, but I know we will see growth as our students grow in their relationship with Jesus.

If there is any way I can pray for you today, please don’t hesitate to send me a message.  I love to pray for you all!  Have a blessed day!

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