Yesterday I posted about the much talked about exodus that happens from the church after people graduate from high school. There are many different numbers tossed around and many theories as to why this happens. I went on to share some of my story of how I fell away from the church as a young adult myself. I also promised to share why I believe I came back.
Jesus was once asked what the greatest commandment was. The person asking the question was trying to trip Jesus up but he, unknowingly, gave Jesus an opportunity to simply life for all those that would choose to follow Him. Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. Jesus then went a step further and said that the second commandment was like it, “love your neighbor as yourself”. Jesus said that all the law and the prophets hang on these two things. In essence he was summarizing much of the Old Testament in these two short sentences.
So, what does this have to do with why I came back to church?
Through my many different experiences in the church, both good and bad, there was something that got planted in me that just didn’t go away. Throughout my childhood and youth and even into the period of time that I was away from church, I always loved God. Obviously when I was away from the church I was not loving him “with all my heart, soul and mind” but the love was still there. The other thing that I always had throughout my childhood and on to this very day was a genuine love for people. When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” I really did love them. Now, I was not great at this for many years and I still have a lot to learn, but I really did love others.
The last thing that was ingrained in me was a desire to serve. Even as a preteen and through my teenage years I served in the church. I remember helping with the offering as a preteen. As a child I remember going around after Lord’s Supper and picking up all the cups. On into my teenage years I helped found a puppet ministry that went on to win awards at puppet competitions and is, today, extremely well known in our area.
We could take time to analyze the programs that existed in the churches I grew up in. We could closely examine the relationships that I had with other people while growing up, but at the end of the day, the bottom line is that at some point during my childhood implanted in me was a love for God, a love for people, and a desire to serve.
What are you doing in your ministry to help kids learn to Love God, Love Others and Serve with Joy?Matt Norman
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