I spent a summer working with my uncle on his tree farm grafting tree saplings. It is an intriguing process: You cut the saplings so that they fit together. Then you join and tie the two different saplings together. Then you give the new plant time to heal and start growing as one. Through grafting you can create a new plant with better qualities, fruit, and resilience. The Bible tells us that God grafts those who have repented and believed in him into his eternal family, the Church (Romans 11:17-24). As a part of God’s family a person has righteous qualities, produces righteous fruit, and is able to stand against unrighteousness, not only as an individual but as an active part in the local church.
A great thing happens when righteousness is lived out in the local church, the church’s righteousness authenticates God’s truth and the love of the church (1 Cor 13). Young people need to witness this, they grow in love for God and their love for others by it. In a day where the validity of God’s truth and the church is under question by many young people’s hearts and minds, the righteous togetherness of the church body can help young people know God, trust God, and live a righteous life, both privately and corporately.
So how can we help young people see the love of God through the church? Three ideas for us to consider:
1. Explain church membership to young people – Church membership is vital because it identifies who’s “in” the church body: who has repented and believed, who desires to be held accountable, who desires to be shepherded, who desires to serve, and who desire to represent Christ to others. Church membership also has a personal, spiritual benefit as well for all the same reasons: it provides ongoing accountability, shepherding, service, Christlikeness. Church membership is valuable to both the church and the individual.
2. Serve others alongside young people – In servicing a person’s knowledge is made real. Serving is a way young people can take what they know and put it to action, which is something God rewards. Combine that with the fellowship of an older more mature Christian and the act of service transforms into discipleship time.
3. Bring young people to member meetings – young people can get a glimpse of the church’s love portrayed outside of a Sunday morning. They see the fellowship, worship, guidance by God’s Word, prayer, and reliance on each other to make sure they remain faithful to God.