The Church
that was in the way
Steven P. Wickstrom

In the mid-seventies, my dad was the pastor of a church west of Chicago at the outer reaches of the suburbs. The church stood beside a two-lane road that ran north and south. The church building was in a central location exactly seven miles from the three nearest towns. For over one hundred years that church maintained its vigil beside the road.

In the early seventies, as the Chicago suburbs continued their westward expansion, the Department of Transportation looked at that north/south route and decided to expand it into a four-lane road to help ease traffic congestion. There were the usual problems and glitches that take years to work out before construction could begin, and so the waiting commenced. The problem we had with the construction project was with the church property. The church's parking lot and front lawn just happened to be in the road's right of way, or expansion zone. Simply put, the church was in the way.

A little over twenty years later, in the late nineties, the church built a new building about a mile away to the west. The old building was torn down and the road was expanded to four-lanes. Despite all the efforts to prevent progress, the church building had to go. A gas station was later built beside the four-lane road in the remaining space where the church building used to reside. People now get physical fuel where they once received spiritual fuel.

There is another road construction project going on that directly concerns you. It also concerns the church that you attend. The church, that large body of believers, stands beside a road that is in the process of expanding. Do you know which road I am referring to? I will give you a hint. It is the road that leads straight to hell. Satan has an ambitious expansion project going on. Let me tell you about it; you will find this to be very interesting.

The devil is adding more lanes on his highway for kids and teenagers. Are you surprised? You shouldn't be. Satan concentrates his efforts on the youth. It requires more work and is more difficult for God and the church to get them back when they are adults. If Satan can get the youth to want to “fit in” and “be accepted” by the world, then God has to work harder to convince the youth to follow Him, to not “fit in” and to not “be accepted.” Peer pressure is a very powerful tool and devil knows how to use it to his advantage.

Satan uses fishhooks like cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and sex, to catch the youth of today. He is catching so many youth and putting them on his highway to hell that he needs to expand. There is just this one little problem with his expansion project. Do you know what it is? You may have guessed it: the church is in the way.

Many local churches have decided not to fight the expansion project. They have decided that the project cannot be stopped and that it is just too big for them to take on. They have given up on their youth and have moved their building several miles to the west to get out of the way. This may be sad yet it is very true. Many churches today have very few youth or even young adults in attendance. It was easier to move than to fight. To put it bluntly, they didn't know how to fight for their youth, or they just didn't care about their youth enough to fight for them.

How many churches today have no program(s) geared for the youth or young adults? The number would probably stagger us if we knew what it was. How many churches actively teach their youth that to follow God and serve Him is better than trying to “fit in” or “be accepted” by everyone else in school? How many churches teach their youth that the consequences of serving God are far better than the consequences of serving the devil? How many churches teach parents how to raise their children in a Godly manner according the Bible? Are our churches and parents willing to say no when our youth want to do what we know is wrong? Or are we willing to just hand them over to the devil? What is your church doing?

The reason that most of the youth start smoking, drinking, doing drugs, using foul language, and having sex, is to be friends with the world. Yet the Bible says in James 4:4 that to be friends with the world is to be an enemy of God. Why do allow our youth to become enemies of God? Are we really that ignorant? Do we not know what our responsibilities are? Do we really not care about the spiritual future of our youth? After a time, the youth will forget why they started imitating the world, and will in turn lead others down the wrong path by their own example. That frightens me and it should frighten you. First Corinthians 15:33 (NIV) says “Do not be misled: bad company corrupts good character.” Who are we allowing our youth to have as friends? If our youth are befriending the world, or vice-versa, that influence will have a negative impact.

I hope this does not come as a complete surprise, but the devil does not want the church or parents to be teaching their youth how to serve God. He does everything he can to make sure that does not happen. The devil wants churches and parents to let their kids smoke, drink, do drugs, use foul language, and have sex. He wants our youth to want to fit in and be accepted by his world. He does everything he can to make you give in and not to say no. He does not want the youth being taught what is right and what is wrong. He wants our youth to become enemies of God.

It is unfortunate that many churches and parents oblige the devil. Many of our youth are not being raised as God would have us raise them. It is the responsibility of both parents and the church to raise children according to Biblical principles. It is deplorable that many churches and parents have decided to give in and to give up. They fondly remember the “good old days” when the youth were taught how to serve God, but they themselves don't do it.

The question is this: Are you and your church are willing to stand in the way of Satan's construction project? The way I see it, the church can stubbornly stand in the way and halt the progress (and be an exit ramp off the highway to hell), or it can get out of the way and let the expansion continue. The responsibility rests with the church and with parents. The church can resume its role in the upbringing of the youth, or it can give the job to the devil. Our choice depends on how important our youth are to us. What will you decide to do?

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