An Old Challenge for a New Generation
Apr 14, 2023 | 4 min read | Dave Patty
How can we stay relevant when the youth we serve are in constant change?
Youth culture is continually evolving. Today’s young people have different music, different styles, different habits, and even use different words than the generation before them. How can we keep up with this never-ending change and communicate to them in a way that is contemporary and fresh?
Sometimes to reach the future we have to dig deep into the past. Every year our JV Poland team does a special conference called “Sto Stopni” which means “100 Degrees.” The point of this weekend is to equip Polish leaders to be “boiling” with passion and resources from God so they can be effective at discipling young people in their local churches.
The topic for this year’s conference may sound a bit strange at first. The entire weekend was focused on idolatry. Many young people believe that idolatry is an issue of the past, or only relevant for places like India or Africa. What they don’t realize is that idolatry is a very human problem, cropping up in different forms in every culture and generation. This is because our heart naturally turns away from God, and the vacuum that is left must be filled by replacements of our own design. As John Calvin said, “The human heart is a veritable factory of idols.”
The key is knowing how to spot them in their latest iteration. To hone their idol discovery skills, the Poland team started “Sto Stopni” with a deep dive into Jeremiah 17, where the symptoms of idolatry are described in a way that helps us track an idol’s trail. Then, they took the youth leaders through 2 Kings 23, where Josiah cleansed the land from seven types of idols. Since the human heart doesn’t change, we must create similar idols in our lives today. Our counterfeit gods accomplish the same purpose for us as imposters like Baal and Asherah did for the nation of Israel.
To make sure none of this just stayed theoretical, the Poland team went through the same study nine months before the conference, and made courageous applications to their own lives. As each idol was described, a member of the team gave a personal testimony of how God had uncovered an area of hidden idolatry in their life. Then, he or she shared the change that came when they removed it with repentance and faith.
A total of 160 youth leaders from 39 churches were trained in the old skill of idol detection and removal. Idolatry might sound like an outdated concept for a new generation, but they found the ancient truth of scripture surprisingly relevant to the challenges young people are facing today. Many of them experienced personal breakthroughs during the weekend, and they are returning to their youth groups excited to pass on the profound truths they learned.
Josiah’s reforms in 2 Kings changed a nation. Who knows what kind of long-term impact this conference will have on youth groups across Poland. Thank you for helping us bring an old challenge to a new generation.
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