The Journey Away from Jesus
When I turned 18 and finished high school, I left my home, my home town, my family, my church and my friends to join the Air Force. I reflect back on that moment as the time when I began deliberately rejecting Jesus. I never doubted that he had died, executed by the Romans. I never doubted that he had risen to life and still lived. But I deliberately decided to ignore that.
However, the journey away from Jesus began much earlier than when I left home. As I became a teenager and grew in independence, I began gradually extracting myself from engagement in the Christian faith and community. I stopped going to youth group, although I still went to a youth leadership camp (with eyes for a particular girl!). I stopped going to church with my parents and allowing them to disciple me. I didn't have or want relationships with Christians who were significantly older (and more mature) than me. And I didn't understand (perhaps I wasn't taught this?) that church isn't a consumer product, but a community in which I belonged and which I could serve. By the time I left home I had totally disconnected myself from these important influences in my life. I had set myself up nicely to decide Jesus wasn't for me.
As youth pastor here, I want to avoid my story being the story of teenagers at TAC. I want to help parents disciple their teens, help establish relationships between generations, help teens understand how they belong in and can serve this community, and help them keep following Jesus beyond the safety of school and youth ministry.