There is a genuine revival taking place among the youth and young adults of my local church. Read that first sentence again, please. And again.
This is not a hyperbole or exaggeration; it’s the wonderful, God-glorifying truth. Let me tell you the story.
ARISE held its first Australian program at the Kingscliff Church in early 2013, five years ago. Since that inaugural program, there has been an Australian ARISE program every year. These ARISE programs, based on our The Story curriculum, last about 14 weeks. The first year we had 26 students, including several of our local church’s young adults. Every year since 2013 the number of students has increased, until the last two years we’ve reached our maximum capacity which is about 45 students.
This year we had 44 and 23 of them were teenagers.
This is coming at a time when the church is increasingly and desperately wrestling with the fact that we are losing many of our young people. Estimates vary, but the numbers are sobering and it sure looks like a large percentage of Adventist young people are walking away from the church and God.
…we’ve invested in discipling our young people.
Church leaders, administrators, pastors, and parents are wringing their hands in confusion and sadness—“What can we do?” I hope you’ll forgive me for, perhaps, oversimplifying a bit, but I don’t think this is a particularly difficult question to answer.
Here’s why I say that. If you were to come to my local church, a church of between 300-400+ on Sabbath morning, you would see young people everywhere. Early teens, late teens, early twenties, mid-twenties, late twenties, etc. They are preaching (six of them just preached a joint sermon two Sabbaths ago), they are traveling overseas to hold evangelistic meetings (a group leaves in three weeks to the Philippines), they are feeding the homeless, they are speaking at their school chapels, they are attending youth-created, youth-focused programs called Friyay every month, they are singing and playing music for church, they are leading out in youth Bible studies, and…
they are attending ARISE.
Not all of them, but many of them. This year, for example, we had seven of our local teenagers, all fresh graduates from high school, attend ARISE. And even for those who don’t attend, because of other university plans, jobs, or long-planned travel, the vibe, urgency, and culture of ARISE rubs off on them. It’s a beautiful thing to behold! I wish you could be here to see it.
We’ve baptized dozens of our youth and young adults over the last couple years. These kids really love Jesus! They’re coming to Sabbath School, reading their Bibles, ordering their lives and relationships after God’s design and counsel, and so much more.
Jesus has used ARISE to create a culture of revival and godliness among our youth and young adults. The secret to this phenomenon has been pretty simple: as a local church and local conference, we’ve invested in discipling our young people. This involves teaching Scripture (in ARISE, sermons, Sabbath Schools, youth Bible studies, chapels, etc.), modeling what an authentic—though not perfect or artificial—Christian life looks like, and spending lots and lots of time with them.
So, to summarize: truth, time, and trust.
The truth of Scripture; lots of time spent together in various contexts and situations; the trust that has developed between us and our young people over the years.
Revival is just around the corner, if you put in the time…
ARISE is all about discipleship and discipleship is all about a growing, dynamic, and authentic connection with Jesus. If you haven’t already, check out the discipleshipunfiltered.com website to get a feel for what we’re all about here at Light Bearers in our ARISE program. ARISE has existed since 2003 and it’s gotten better and better every year. And it’s contagious. Friends tell friends, siblings tell siblings, parents tell children, and children tell parents; we’ve seen all these and more.
You may not have a yearly ARISE program at your local church, but you can employ the ARISE “recipe” for discipleship: truth, time, and trust.
Tomorrow, I’m baptizing another one of our young people, Matthew. Matthew is 19 and his three younger brothers are named Mark, Luke, and John! I’m not kidding. Luke is just down the hallway with my sons in their bedroom studying the Bible. I’ve got a house full of young adults showing up in less than an hour for a meal, a Bible study, and to open the Sabbath.
This is our “normal” here in Kingscliff. And it can be yours too, whether your church has 400 or 40 members. Revival is just around the corner, if you put in the time, are grounded in the truth of Scripture, and cultivate a culture of trust.
Revival is for everyone!
David is a speaker/director for Light Bearers and ARISE co-founder and instructor. Since his baptism in 1999, David has traveled the globe preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He and his wife Violeta are the happy parents of two boys, Landon and Jabel.