I love students. They are passionate, full of energy, and possess amazing potential to make a lasting impact for Jesus Christ. This is why I have spent the last 10 years sharing the gospel with students. This is the reason I have spent the last 10 years trying to produce mature disciples of Jesus Christ. This is the reason I have pushed students to share Christ in their schools and serve Christ in the church. This is the reason I have taken students across the country and across the globe to share the gospel. And, this is the reason we need to stop saying, “The students are the future of the church.”
I get it. The goal is to acknowledge the value of students and the important role they play in the future of the church. Here’s the problem: it implies that students are not part of the church right now. It suggests they will be important to the body of Christ in the future, but they have to wait to make a significant impact. This isn’t true, though. Students who have repented of their sin, trusted Christ alone for salvation, and followed the Lord in believer’s baptism are part of the body of Christ, and they have gifts, talents, and abilities that can be used to glorify God and edify the church.
Students can contribute to the church in significant ways, and we need to start affirming their gifts and using them to serve in the church now. Let them help with childcare. Let them help collect the offering. Let them teach a lesson or a portion of a lesson. Let them help participate in worship (or even lead worship). Let them serve in the community. Let them go on mission trips. Let them be involved! As an added bonus, let them serve with older and wiser Christians who can invest in them and mentor them. The students will get to use their gifts and abilities to encourage the body of Christ, and older Christians will be given an opportunity to impart some of their wisdom in the next generation.
So, let’s stop saying, “The students are the future of the church.” They’re not. They may be the future leaders of the church (pastors and deacons and teachers), but they are part of the body of Christ now, and they can serve the church and edify the body now. Let’s give them opportunities to serve, cultivate their gifts, and invest in them.